Joey C Jones - Melodies for the Masses

It's time to style and profile......

Flashback to December 1985 and an EP was released that had all us glam wannabes rushing for the peroxide and crimpers based on the cover photographs alone! The record was the debut release by Sweet Savage and it rocked!!! Vocalist Joey C Jones had been approached by Dana Strum in regard to auditioning for the Vinnie Vincent Invasion - Strum ended up producing the Sweet Savage EP at Baby-O Studios in Hollywood. The band appeared to have a better chance than many others at breaking out into the big time when they relocated to Los Angeles with the financial clout of some major investors behind them but, as is unfortunately the case with 99.9% of fledgeling musicians, the promise never turned into reality and the band broke up just as several of their contemporaries broke big.

Frontman Joey C Jones remained busy! He collaborated with CC DeVille in the latter's narcotic induced post-Poison project Needle Park; joined hard rockers Shock Tu; formed The Gloryhounds; worked with Cheap Trick's Robin Zander and Rick Nielsen; recorded a CD sporting his real surname 'Crabtree' and joined Orange Helicopter - phew!

'Melodies For The Masses' is an exhaustive 20 track curio made up of songs from all of Joey's projects. The insipid and uninspired cover artwork is a bizarre choice given that the CD is bubblegum bursting with all the colours of the power-pop rainbow! It's easy to namecheck Enuff Z Nuff when reviewing heavy guitars mixed with a Beatles-esque sensibility but while that musical style is the core and lifeblood of the different chapters of Jones' career, this CD contains proof that he could roll with the punches as the alternative and grunge scenes became the mainstream.

Opener "Hey Strawberry" is from one of Joey's latter day outfits, Orange Helicopter, and is a great tune complete with School Of Fish guitar, a 'Daydream Believer'-esque hook and lyrics lifted from a Jellyfish song. "Sensation Of The Ages" could be W. Axl Rose fronting Enuff Z Nuff if it wasn't for the crazily heavy bridge and following fat riff. "Spilling Glitter" is the first example of Jones' ability to mix it with the 90's alternative retro power-poppers and has a good Redd Kross-style vibe. "Space Fatigue" and "Plastic Grin" showcase a shift towards a grungier influence; the former has Bowie-esque sci-fi veering into Alice In Chains territory - the latter is a real heavy offering that perhaps offers a tip of the hat in the direction of Saigon Kick. "Arsenic Bubblegum", another from Orange Helicopter, is a pure 1970's glam stomper and is the highlight of this release. "Summer Song" appears to be a song from way back in the Sweet Savage days that eventually turned up on the Orange Helicopter album - catchy and hook filled, it mixes power-pop with Bon Scott vocals to great effect. "(I Can) Wait All Night" is The Gloryhounds single that was produced by Robin Zander and Rick Nielsen. The song is pure Cheap Trick meets the Fab Four and is a real highlight, sadly cursed by inferior sound quality. "All We Need Is A Dream" opens up a four track run on the CD where everything threatens to fall down. A 70's stadium rock intro seques into a MOR soft rocker and the next three tracks - including the CC DeVille co-penned sugary pop/rock ballad "Broadway" - plod out of the speakers and threaten to bring you down like heavy rain. Luckily, "Gimme Help", another 90's alternative rocker, gets things back on track. "Late Last Evening" has more of a classic rock sound and hails from the Shock Tu days. The song features some big hooks and Vince Neil/Mike Tramp hybrid vocals. "Picture Yourself" is straight ahead catchy pop rock that has had the hairspray residue dusted off as it emerges from the Sweet Savage era. The CD ends with the proverbial whimper with a few mid tempo rockers and ballads with "All I Need To Know" - a kitschy alternative sci-fi power ballad(!) - being the best of the bunch.

Yeah, the CD runs out of steam and falters in the middle but we have to remember that this collection is more of a time capsule than a regular release. As a twenty track album, listening from start to finish may be a tough call for some, but picking the guts of this CD will be of great interest to some of you. I'd like to say Joey C Jones completists but I'm not sure how many of them there are out there. Instead, I'll recommend this release to anyone who nostalgically fingers the pages of the 'Hollywood Rocks' book and wonders "whatever happened to...."

When grunge blew up and forever tainted our radios, many hairsprayed he-she's threw on flannel shirts, grew their fringes out, trimmed their new goatees and thought they could compete. 'Melodies For The Masses' is proof that Joey C Jones had the tunes to fit right in with the then new alternative power-pop kids on the block like Celebrity Skin and the afore-mentioned Redd Kross, but the anti-rock star aesthetic of the filthy grunge movement (which, bizarrely, didn't stop the cardigan wearing antichrist from sucking the corporate cock of the Geffen Records dollar - swollen with the blood of Whitesnake, Aerosmith and Guns 'N' Roses sales figures!) would never have allowed any success for the former singer of Sweet Savage, crimped hair and all......

by Gaz E

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