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John Paul Jones - The Thunderthief CD (album) cover


John Paul Jones

Heavy Prog

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3 stars Oh the irony, as I write this heavy thunderstorms are actually rolling in.

Jones' third solo album is a rather eclectic affair. After the all instrumental Zooma he decided to add some vocals into the mix, his own. As you might expect the style is nothing like Robert Plant's, but not bad to my ears. Jones also plays diverse collection of instruments, including oddly enough 4, 6, 10, and 12 string basses. Maniac. Yeah, he's pretty much a string freak though he does do keyboards, too. John is also supplemented by a percussionist and three guests including Robert Fripp doing a guitar solo on Leafy Meadows. This album is on Fripp's label, by the way.

The afore mentioned Leafy Meadows is nice heavy prog instrumental. John's kind of fond of slide guitar. The Thunderthief is the first vocal, a weird, dark little tune. Hoediddle has a little hoedown/celtic jig flavoring to it. Ice Fishing At Night, the second vocal (both were written by Peter Blegvad) is a nice mellow piece. John takes a break from the strings to do solo piano with vocals, very mellow. Back to the bayou flavor with instrumental Daphne. Angry Angry is another quirky little vocal. Kinda punky. Don't let it get to you. Down To The River To Pray is a bit folksy/gospel flavored and thankfully instrumental, as I don't think I'd like to hear him try to sing a gospel style tune. Shibuya Bop kicks things back into heavy overdrive. Freedom Song wraps it all up with folksy with John on guitar and singing once again in probably his best style for the whole album.

As a bonus, I ordered this one used and it came autographed. I don't know what that says about it, but this might be a hard one to enjoy for the average Led Zeppelin fan. They'll probably take better to Zooma.

Epilogue: after a few hours the storms have passed. Maybe this damn thing actually works. Unfortunately, now I've got to try and get some sleep.

"The Thunderthief, he puts us under. While we sleep he steals our thunder."

Report this review (#212243)
Posted Thursday, April 23, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
4 stars While Zooma showed us how good John Paul Jones can be on his own The Thunderthief introduced some of his flaws as a solo artist. Although instrumentally it's still a great album the quality of lyrics and vocals bring it down just a bit for me.

It's great that Jones Paul Jones pushes things forward by trying new ideas but I believe that he should instead improve on the things he is good at and not try to succeed where other artists can do a much better job with less effort.

Having said that I still consider this release to be highly enjoyable and overall it's a great successor to Zooma. Jones increased the ante by exchanging Trey Gunn's Crimsonesque guitar solos with the real deal. Yes, I'm talking about the legendary Robert Fripp performing on an ex-Led Zeppelin members solo album. The whole concept just blows my mind especially considering what an amazing performance Mr.Fripp gives on Leafy Meadows!

The Thunderthief might not be the follow-up I way expecting from John Paul Jones but it's great to know that he can still surprise the listeners and it's truly a pity that Jones still haven't released a follow-up to this album.

***** star songs: Leafy Meadows (5:10) Daphne (4:50) Shibuya Bop (5:56)

**** star songs: Hoediddle (7:00) Ice Fishing At Night (4:31) Down To The River To Pray (4:17)

*** star songs: The Thunderthief (5:58) Angry Angry (5:54) Freedom Song (2:37)

Report this review (#262004)
Posted Friday, January 22, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Third JP Jones solo album ( I count his duet album with Diamanda Galas as her album, for sure) is music for his fans mostly. And for fans of Robert Fripp, which participates on one song (Leafy Meadows) here. This song is album's opener. Fripp's guitar sounds very KC-like, for both good and band. I like this sound, but all of KC fans listened to it so many times!

Second song has vocals (JP Jones himself), I am not sure that was good idea. John also plays all string (big list) and all keys. In fact, all the musicians team is duo (JP Jones plus drummer Terl Bryant ) with three guest guitarist , each just played on one or two tracks.

The music is complex and muddy, but with real lack of composition. It looks JP enjoy playing so many instruments, mixing the sound in one final product. But too often it is more attractive to himself, than to listener.

"Ice Fishing at Night" ( how many of you know what does it means? I love it!) is a ballade, intention was good, but the musical result is very limited.

"Daphne" has it's roots somewhere in Led Zeppelin's vaults."Angry Angry" shows JP going punky. Plenty of dirty energy in sound, but the result is too faceless again ( or it was the initial idea - just to record real punk opus, which should be faceless, dirty and full of energy).

"Down to the River to Pray " is bluegrass song played acoustic with some eastern scent, sounds better than you can expect. "Shibuya Bop" is a hard fast instrumental with Nick Beggs on Chapman Stick. Sounds as LZ goes KC.

The final song "Freedom Song" (real song - with JP singing) is acoustic Eastern ballade.

Overall, the album is interesting work for LZ,KC and JP Jones heavy fans. Far from masterpiece, it brings some interesting moments from music and musicians we love. Don't think it has any attraction for newcomers .

Report this review (#263149)
Posted Thursday, January 28, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars Second stidio album under his name issued in 2002 named The thunderthif. To me this is equaly good as previous one Zooma. Here we have vocal parts coming from him on some pieces, we have Fripp as guest on Leafy meadows and we have a great album overall. Again the bass is very proeminent from more calm parts like on Daphne to crunchy bass lines as on Angry angry. His voice is not particulary strong, on Angry angry he sounding like is singing from a can or buckett. The instrumental parts are more then ok most of the time with good passages.Some synth appears sporadicaly also made by JPJ and have a prog atmospher , also some King Crimson elements are to be found here and there. Nice one, maybe I prefere little bit Zooma, but this one is close. Nice art work.3.5 stars.
Report this review (#963611)
Posted Wednesday, May 22, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars People who have come across JPJ in their lifes usually realize that he is the most versatile musician in the rock scene, with only Mike Oldfield trailing behind. Funny how two musicians with similar talent end up in different roads. To understand JPJ's versatility I must recall a question usually done to him: - "What did you do before Led Zeppelin?" - "Well, I played in virtually every band."

At that time, pre 70's, JPJ and Jimmy Page worked as session musicians. After building the beast that Led Zeppelin came to be, JPJ had the freedom to choose any path he wanted to. For years, he became an arranger (R.E.M's Automatic for the People; Foo Fighters' In Your Honor) and a producer (Sara Watkins.) Prior to touring with Them Crooked Vultures and Seasick Steve (I love his handcrafted guitars and his blues,) JPJ embarked into the avant-garde rock scene, a process which started by touring with Diamanda Galás. A few years later came the two JPJ solo CDs, Zooma and the Thunderthief.

While Zooma is all about having songs to play bass live once again, The Thunderthief is JPJ having fun in studio. Yet, even when both albums can be branded as avant-garde rock, The Thunderthief is richer in variety. Don't get fooled, this is no masterpiece, it's just one of the most talented and captivating musicians in the rock scene doing his mojo. And the result is brilliant, funny, and musically felt but light-hearted. No need to be profound for JPJ, it is just not his style. Instead, we are offered with groovy, awe-inspiring, and sometimes intricate songs that make you wonder why he hasn't played them live.

The only three songs in the album that can be related back to Zooma are Leafy Meadows (including a solo by you "Kc"now who,) Daphne, and Shibuya Bop. These are all songs showcasing why JPJ is regarded as one of the most influential bassists in the rock scene. Shibuya Bop is my favorite of these three, because that bass line is just terrific. As regards, Leafy Meadows, I have yet to ascertain if JPJ uses his famous lap steel bass in this track, which you can see in any live rendition of Them Crooked Vultures "Noboby Loves Me Neither Do I." That's an jawdropping instrument crafted by Manson, JPJ's official luthier.

Then, there are two other instrumentals: the awe-inspring Hoediddle, and the classic folk song Down to the River to Pray. Hoediddle is just an amazing song I'd rather not spoil to you, just listen to it! Down to the River to Pray is JPJ showing why songs in the like of Going to California and That's the Way are Led Zeppelin fan favourites.

Finally, there are four song sang by JPJ himself, with his not so-nice yet lovely and acceptable voice. Lyrics are mostly absurd, and those four songs are quite diverse in style and atmosphere. Again: variety is the spice of life and the spice of this album. This album has songs from two rock styles widely regarded as opposites: prog and punk. There you have it, JPJ did it again for fun and that's partly what punk's about: having fun in the face of the old naysayers!

P.D.: there are two songs from this era not recorded in studio, but played live and well documented. First, JPJ's triple neck guitar solo. This is my favourite guitar solo, as JPJ uses the loop pedal to raise the bar in guitar soloing. Inspiring and fun. The second is one of the songs I regard as most avant-garde, Them Crooked Vultures' Highway 1. Just hear the magic of that song in TCV's single "Mind Eraser no Chaser." The Köln version of Highway 1, broadcasted by WDR's Rockpalast, is even better.

Report this review (#1510933)
Posted Tuesday, January 12, 2016 | Review Permalink

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