Nothing dates as fast as being futuristic. And Jesus Jones were always looking so far into the future that they forgot where they were. There never seems to be a right revival time for bands like this, that is to say, for bands that were big a decade ago. It’s too recent for some. And too far away for others.
But when they first screeched out of their London boltholes into the real world, back in 1989, they really were trying something different. Years before the KLF tried to spotweld hard rock and metal riffs over the top of whatever the latest modern technology had to offer Jesus Jones had already done it. The Jones boys also managed to do something that others of their ilk never did. They combined this bizarre mishmash of rock band and underground dance act with tunes.
Looking back on it now, with a decade less hair and a decades more flab, Jesus Jones were one of those bands that were under-rated whilst they were around. The fickle press loved them for a short while. Smash Hits tried to sell them as poster boys for the indie girls. And them grunge happened - which made the future look horribly dated.
What about the music? Here you get every single one of theirJesus Jones 13 singles as well as a porky prime cut from each of their four EMI albums, topped off with frankly unremarkable new song “Come On Home”.
Each one of the singles is a bona-fide thrill that not even time and indie elitism can wither. The buzzsaw psychosis of “Info Freako” soon gives way incessant stomp of “Who Where Why?”, the oddly prophetic (and thematically linked) pairing of “International Bright Young Thing” and “The Next Big Thing”, to the slick “Real Real Real”: the best top 5 single to ever mock all those turgid soul singers who blather on about things being ‘real’ - Jesus Jones knew it was all fake, all an act, and yet in these lies, the devil could slip nuggets of truth through the Great Pop grinder.
“Perverse”, their third album, was a major leap forward. In fact, the band don’t even play on it. Everything they did was chopped, plugged, fed and squeezed into computers and came out the other side in Zeroes And Ones. For the whole album existed only in frequencies. There was no such thing as bass on the record - only 20hz to 4khz. And guitars becomes 300hz to 8khz. And at the time (and now) the band were lambasted for it : now everyone does it.
A four year gap - thanks to EMI’s uncertain dithering - near enough buried the band. In those four years Os* came and went. And the world could never be the same again. Five Btles** obsessed Mancunian thugs turned the NME and any attempt at an Alternative Music into a farce. The fickle press turned tail and followed whatever could boost their diminishing sales.
The second CD also shows just how oddly prescient Jesus Jones were - whilst it neglects their considerable selection of undeservedly obscure, and generally interesting b-sides - it instead previews their experimental 12" remix tinkerings. The Aphex Twin and the Prodigy turn up here, squelching the original works into something altogether unrecognisable, whilst other mixes turn far eastern chanting into convincing Stadium House epics and old-skool breakbeat experiments.
There’s been enough rose-tinted retro gushing about stuff that was crap and not very good in the first place - stand up your endless Btles** anthologies, your pale eulogies for numerous unoriginal, dead rap stars, your best of, most ofs, of people from whom the phrase “best of“ would be an oxymoron. Now it’s time to shift that around and reappraise something that was actually good then, and now, whilst dated now, still sends that intangible pop thrill up some people’s spines.
Take your pale Btles** and Rod Stewart clones, your so-inoffensive-its-offensive-stadium-miserabilism, your tuneless experimentalism, and stuff it up your arse. This is a lot more fun. It sounds like someone racing against time in the studio before the money runs out. Urgent. Desperate. And with adrenalin instead of blood pumping through the veins.
7Mark Reed's Score