- 13 October 1979 (UK)
WHAT WITH all the furor a couple of months back concerning the Sex Pistols' rejuvenation with Jimmy Pursey at the helm, and its ultimate abrupt collapse, you could hardly blame the rock rags for getting well cheesed off by the very name "Sex Pistols" and stifling a yawn whenever said handle was brought up.
The Pistols - or Steve Jones and Paul Cook as they're known to their kinfolk - did not appear to have any masterplan up their sleeves after this abortive venture so it was with a certain hint of the blase that an NME writer chanced upon a much slimmed-down Steve Jones last week. Talk was amiable and strafed with the usual unintentionally humorous remarks from Jones.
He and Cook, he told, had located a new manager in one Fachtna O'Ceallaigh, the Boomtown Rats' supremo, who was "an alright geezer - for a paddy!", whilst activities in the musical area had been kept simply to rehearsing. An invitation to hear "some of the songs" ended up with our unsuspecting scribe accompanying Jones and Cook to Little Venice in London's canal region where a barge, one of the two owned by Virgin boss Richard Branson, had been converted into an extremely pleasant 16-track-studio.
It was here that Jones and Cook set up their gear with the help of long-haired types who I took immediately for roadies. The name of a third partner-in-crime - referred to as "Andy" who "played bass" with the pair- was constantly being mentioned until I realised that the roadie-lookalike with ginger hair halfway down his back and a manic face was, in fact, the bassist in question.
As soon as such matters as tuning and attaining the correct frequency for each instrument were attended to, the three-piece set to work in remarkably perfunctory fashion.
The first track established the pattern of workmanship. Messrs. Jones, Cook and Andy Allen ("a mate from the old Speakeasy days" - the hirsute bassist is also the guitarist for The Lightin' Raiders) simply laid down the basic track in no more than two takes - one was the norm, in fact- after which Jones would be left alone in the studio to lay down the guitar overdubs.
These overdubs starting with the first track 'Rockin' Mick' - "about this Ted we know," muttered Cook - where Jones simply beefed up the rhythm thrust with a "Wall of Sound" layer of three or more guitars, started getting beefier and more fearsome with the second cut, 'Madhouse', and finally reached a plateau of thickly inspired chord progressions / hookline motifs / descending / ascending rifts that made a song like 'Another Dream' or 'Kamikaze' positively adventurous.
As the night progressed Jones just seemed to get better and better.
"There's no stopping the boy!" muttered Cook. "This is what he lives for - playing the guitar, doing the overdubs, hearing them and being told how good he is."
Meanwhile, on the other side of the glass, Jones is throwing himself around arching his back to throw out another brace of power-chords as the fourth overdub to 'Skull And Crossbones', a fairly complex, hard rock construction in the Thin Lizzy mould.
Of a projected twelve or thirteen cuts, at least nine are well in gear with originals like 'Rockin' Mick', 'Madhouse', 'Another Dream', 'Kamikaze' and 'Skull And Crossbones' still to be added to.
Two non-originals are also projected, The Ronettes' 'Do I Love' You' and an obscure George McRae number.
Amidst all this positivism two problems lurk. Lyrics, for one (primarily the work of a bashful Cook) need a definite tending-to, whilst the band obviously need another guitarist to tackle their material live.
But the essentials are there. Jones has developed a strong voice that owes a debt to scarcely anyone and the basic muscle of the songs makes for grade-A hard rock.
Financially, Cook and Jones are still suffering from the legal situation that placed their respective booties in the hands of The Official Receiver - a shady-sounding bunch whom the pair regard with something less than fondness, due mainly to the body in question's unrelenting stickliness in doling out a reasonable cash-flow.
Nor are the pair over-enamoured with Virgin still squeezing their back catalogue for all it's worth.
Meanwhile, though, Steve Jones is whipping out his fourth overdub on 'Kamikaze', parrying a dagger-sharp five note motif against the bank of chords and thrashing,
The album should be ready soon and..…well, we'll just see how it's greeted by all the parties involved.
"Just tell 'em we won't be charging seven and a half quid for it,' mutters Jones..
All material ©1998/2002 'Philjens'/www.cookandjones.co.uk