Thursday, June 25, 2009

MASTERPIECE: THE JONESES’ “PILLBOX"

When I think hard on what might be the greatest rock and roll songs of all time, I get stuck on a small handful that I’d easily listen to anytime, anywhere, tracks I doubt I’d grow tired of in any situation. Even if my car plunged off a steep ravine and I became stuck in a ditch with my hands bloodily pinned behind my back for five days & nights, steering wheel painfully thrust into my chest, with one song playing over and over on a Cassingle auto-loop. I’d probably want to hear PERE UBU’s "Heart of Darkness" if I were stuck in such a pickle. Then maybe “Gimme Shelter”, "Fallait Pas Ecraser La Queue Du Chat" or PINK FLOYD’s “See Emily Play”. Yet I swear I’d be just as pleased if this swaggering 1983 Heartbreakers-inspired punker from THE JONESES were keeping me company in my hour of darkness.

Haven’t heard this one before? What, you don’t own the “Someone Got Their Head Kicked In” comp LP on Better Youth Organization records?? What the Joneses were doing on this thing is beyond comprehension – only their Los Angeles address and their nods to speedy punk rock form keep them in company with lunkheads like YOUTH BRIGADE, 7 SECONDS and AGGRESSION, and the raw glory of “Pillbox” stands out like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the Moishe's Pippic knish counter.

I don’t know all that much about THE JONESES, really, just that after this era in their career they piled their hair up in big poofy poodle cuts and released a mediocre album around 1985 called “Keeping Up With The Joneses”. Their checkered career is captured on the Sympathy CD “Criminal History” (pictured here), which “Pillbox” righteously and deservedly kicks off. I also know that Jeff Drake, more or less the band leader, went on to the SUICIDE KINGS with his kid brother Scott “Deluxe” Drake (later of THE HUMPERS and today’s SCOTT DELUXE DRAKE & THE WORLD’S STRONGEST MEN), and then later went on to the klink for various crimes. If pills are truly a gateway drug to a life of vice, then “Pillbox” is more than prophetic.

The song somehow correlates drug use and the love of a good woman into one fantastic, rollicking blitzkrieg of a glam/punk song. Every big of rockstar swagger you associate with kingpin swaggerers like the NY DOLLS, ROLLING STONES and aforementioned Heartbreakers is rolled up into this song, then played quickly and aggressively like the bastard sons of James Williamson might. The vocals are easily of a league with Mick and David Johanson, at least this one time, and you get the feeling that, A.) the band poured every ounce of talent they possessed into this one 2-minute masterpiece, and B.) that you’d have given a left arm to watch them play it in person. I’d heartily recommend a quick free play or download of “Pillbox” - like how about right here?

Play The Joneses, "Pillbox"



Download THE JONESES - "Pillbox"

10 comments:

DAVE said...

Always liked this tune, glad to see i'm not alone.

Joe Stumble said...

They were an amazing band. The Criminals EP (which was released before the poodle cuts) was great too!

Punk Business Manager said...

Steve Olson was in The Joneses for a while in the early 80's- he was a pro skateboarder in the late 70's and early 80's and is pretty legendary in "the sport" as being one of the first skate punks (and is still kicking it pretty hard at 50). His son Alex Olson is also now a pro skater, by the way.

Anonymous said...

I know Jeff Drake. Jeff Drake is a friend of mine. And you, sir, are no Jeff Drake.

Damon said...

Holy mackerel! I haven't heard this song in...decades? So great.

Anonymous said...

The Joneses had many great songs, not just "Pillbox" and were a very influential band. Jeff Drake produced the first Suicide Kings 7", but was never in the band. After the Joneses, Jeff Drake was in Amanda Jones (Bomp) and the Vice Principals (SFTRI, with brother Scott). Both are great bands, you should check 'em out.

lo-fi jr. said...

Glad to see someone else share my love for this tune. There are also two sleazy/twangy cuts on the Hell Comes To Your House comp.

SRA-D said...

Actually, Jeff wrote "Pill Box" by himself when he was 16.

SRA-D said...

Actually, Jeff wrote "Pill Box" by himself when he was 16.

And "Keeping Up With..." definitely does NOT do them justice. That is the only album that Jeff didn't produce himdelf.

FYI. some of the band members tried to kick Jeff out because he REFUSED to look and sound like all those hair bands. That is just one of the reasons they never made it big

Anonymous said...

I saw Jeff Drake play live with the Suicide Kings more than once. He should have stayed. It helped his famous brother.