Shaka Rock - Jet Album Review
WHEN Get Born, Jet's first studio album, was released in 2003, the world of new music was being held in the vice-like grip of the Strokes and the Libertines and seemingly endless waves of imitators. Washed ashore around that time were four Aussie rockers calling themselves Jet and, eschewing the indie punk bandwagon, they delivered a more traditional rock sound. Nic Cester's lead vocal was, and is, a pure rock instrument and tracks like Rollover DJ and Take It Or Leave It couldn't be ignored.
The title of Get Born is supposedly taken from a line in Dylan's Subterranean Homesick Blues and from the moment they first burst onto the scene, Jet have been seen as a bit of a throwback. Even though the Strokes' and the Libertines' music easily evoked the sounds of the New York Dolls, Iggy, the Clash and the Buzzcocks, it was Jet who were most readily labelled revivalist.
When Jet were touring as support for the Rolling Stones, idle music hacks were falling over themselves to point out how, through Jet, the Stones were 'getting re-born'. But whilst support bills generally target the same fan base, no group is supported by their own tribute band (surely Primal Scream would have got that gig?) and it had been Keith Richards' personal request that Jet join the tour. A request to which there's only one answer. Jet's profile leapt further when the single Do You Wanna Be My Girl was picked up by Apple for the iPod campaign and the debut album was a massive download hit, selling in its millions.
Following the poorly received follow-up Shine On, Shaka Rock is the third studio album. After touring Shine On, Jet took a short break before heading back into the studio in 2008 to begin work on the new record. The break seems to have done them good and although Shaka Rock will never have the impact of a debut like Get Born, it is nonetheless a return to form.
Overall, the album is nicely balanced if perhaps one or two of the thirteen tracks could have been held back. Goodbye Hollywood particularly feels like a tired rock cliché, even on first listen. That said, by and large this is decent effort.
But Jet will forever be haunted by the ghosts of other bands and one suspects they will again find their detractors. Admittedly, the album is evocative of seventies rock and comparisons inevitably abound. Penultimate track Start the Show could easily be the product of yet another spurious and irritating Jack White (yawn) project and the opening of the stand out She's A Genius has echoes of the Spencer Davis Group's brilliant Gimme Some Lovin'. None of which is necessarily a bad thing.
Similarities aside, She's A Genius remains the undoubted highlight and the final track, She Holds A Grudge (same She?), proves that Jet can still do the rock ballad despite the best efforts of Goodbye Hollywood to prove otherwise.
Following a shaky showing with Shine On, Jet seemed to have kept faith with their original ideals, otherwise known as 'giving the fans what they want'. Shaka Rock has maturity and pedigree but that alone cannot deliver a Great Album. Far from greatness, Jet have nonetheless delivered a solid rock album with some genuine highlights. Keith will be more than satisfied.