Rob Price
Gutbrain Records
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2020 February 17 • Monday

Who knew that Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones did soundtrack work? Not me but I do now! His music for Scream for Help is the 609th Soundtrack of the Week!

The record opens with "Spaghetti Junction", a peppy '80s rock instrumental with Jimmy Page on guitar. It's basically a repeating riff with some keyboard and guitar playing over it. It's got good energy and as you might expect, the guitar playing is solid. John Paul Jones plays all the instruments besides the guitar.

After this comes "Bad Child", in which Jones plays everything and also sings. It's a slinkier and groovier number: "Walking down the street / Got no place to go / Hear some music playing / From a radio". Like the first track, it sounds familiar, a comfortable fit in the mid-'80s rock and pop landscape.

"Silver Train" again has Jones on all the instruments but this time with Jon Anderson on vocals. It starts with a snarly and impressive guitar riff that sets up a tough and loud country rock vibe, just right for Anderson to start singing about hearing the whistel of the silver train arriving. This is one of the strongest songs on here.

Side A closes with "Crackback", in which Jones is joined by Jimmy Page again and also Graham Ward on drums. This is a very Zeppeliny track, reminiscent of "Black Dog" and "Dancing Days". It's pretty cool.

Side B opens with "Chilli Sauce", a very '80s electropop instrumental with Jones playing everything.

On "Take It or Leave It" Madeline Bell joins the one-man Jones band to sing a love song which starts with an unusually sinuous line before getting into a jumpy sort of poppy new wave disco groove. "You always thought you were out of danger / Well I'm here to say / It's your turn to pay / And get what's coming to you."

Jon Anderson returns to sing on "Christie", which also has Colin Green on guitar. It's a piano ballad love song and I guess it might be on the cheesy side but I like it.

"When You Fall in Love" has Graham Ward on drums again as well as John Renbourne on guitar with Jones once again adding vocals to the various instruments he plays here. This one is really kind of swinging and haunting and has a feel like, I don't know, "Escape (The Piña Colada Song)" or something like that.

The record closes out with "Here I Am", featuring Madeline Bell, Colin Green and Graham Ward with Jones. It's a slow 3/4 song with piano, brushes on the snare, and a laidback, late-night jazzy feel with Bell singing about "Watching the clock tick away / Not sure if it's night or day / Wishing my sadness away".