Making our way through the wretched hive of scum and villainy gathered on the streets of Mos Ei… sorry I of course meant…Newport, on route to entering our favourite local cantina bar, Le Pub, I’d perhaps be forgiven for thinking I’d actually stepped back in time, to a film set not from the 1970s, but in fact the 1960s and that scene in ‘Blow Up’ where David Hemmings walks in on the Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page version of Yardbirds rippin’ through a rough as they come version of ‘Train Kept A-Rollin’’. That’s because Finland’s finest rabble rousers US are in the house tonight opening proceedings for Jim Jones All Stars, and they are making an immediate (and very positive) impression on those of us in the sweaty confines of Le Pub early doors.

Having recently completed a set of UK shows in support of the fast rising His Lordship, US are not only a band seemingly out of time, but also out of this world, their music falling somewhere between garage rock and out and out old school R&B, with the Helsinki 5 piece not only winning the sharpest dressers in Newport award tonight, but also truly sounding like the real deal too. I could say they remind me of The Strypes, as they look as young as those Irish lads did in their early years, but no, these lads actually remind me of The Sonics, and that’s a world of difference in my book.

US are playing a series of UK shows this summer including a run of 5 shows at this year’s Glastonbury Festival, make sure you catch ‘em while you can, as these guys are going to be going places. 

Having witnessed Jim Jones during his time fronting revolutionary psych punks Thee Hypnotics (first time around and the brief pre-Covid reunion), along with his roustabout Revue years and those most Righteous of Minds days, my most recent encounter with the singer/guitarist was at this year’s Vive Le Rock Awards in London where he briefly put a spell on us all fronting the house pick up band the Vive Le Rockers.

Why do I mention this? Well, simply because the 8-piece band that now makes up the collective known as the Jim Jones All Stars is like the perfect sum of all those already great parts…but (as some welly wearing comedian used to say) there’s more. Much, much more.

I’m not sure exactly what it is, but there’s times tonight where the All Stars sound like they could be Stax or Sun (oh and let’s not forget Bell either) Records recording artistes, there’s just so much soul emanating from the stage, and that extra little touch of class that the dual saxophones bring to proceedings is nothing short of musical genius.

For their hour on stage (which literally felt like it was over in the blink of an eye) we get reinventions of classic Revue tracks like ‘Cement Mixer’, ‘Burning Your House Down’, ‘The Princess And The Frog’, along with a truly off the scale ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Psychosis’ plus there’s a seismic rendition of the Righteous Minds’ ‘Satan’s Got His Heart Set On You’ along for safe measure, something that very well might just have woken up any dozing Rontos chained up outside. (Jeez, I never do any Star Wars references and that’s two in one review). Plus of course there’s the All Stars very own anthem in the making, the hip shaking, ‘Gimme The Grease’, which really is a sign of truly great things to come.

Whilst a lot of the other bars in Newport would see cover bands playing in them tonight, I will bet my mortgage on the fact that none of those bands will have covered both ‘Run Run Run’ by The Velvet Underground, and ‘Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey’ by The Beatles. Unfortunately, there’s no space in the set tonight for the band’s version Of ‘Human Fly’, aired during their inaugural live shows, but I’m more than happy to trade that in for the All Stars’ rendition of Thee Hypnotics’ ‘Shakedown’ that closes things out tonight. Wow! That really is all I can say, apart from this is how I always wanted to hear this song delivered live, and like the wise old sage stood by me during the show shouted in my ear, it really did “sound like The Stooges in their prime”.

With the clock ticking down to the dreaded night club early load out, there was just enough time for a whirlwind run through of the Revue’s ‘512’ before we were all being ushered out into the main bar and ultimately out into the maybe not quite as cold as usual Newport night air.

This long since sold out show will surely feature on many of its (very lucky) attendees’ gigs of the year list, and after seeing Jim Jones perform with all those aforementioned bands, I feel he’s really hit on something very magical indeed with the Jim Jones All Stars. 

This is without question his finest hour yet, truly exceptional stuff!

Author: Johnny Hayward