STEVE JONES – Mercy [Rock Candy remastered] (2019) *EXCLUSIVE*
Rock Candy Records has just ‘Remastered & Reloaded” the two ’80s albums by STEVE JONES. Founding member of British punk pioneers the Sex Pistols, when the band disintegrated in 1978, the guitarist involved himself in a number of diverse projects but also faced some serious lifestyle issues. Relocating to the USA, amidst a period of serious drug dependency, he looked to a process of recovery by building a career as a solo artist.
Signed to MCA, his debut solo album “Mercy”, issued in 1987, showcased a new hard rock–minded guitarist. Choosing to focus on songs and melody, the record turned heads for an entirely different reason than the Sex Pistols.
The big, long hair on the cover renders him virtually unrecognizable to the fresh-faced bad boy of the Pistols era, and the only thing more surprising than that cover image is the music itself. There’s no punk rock on “Mercy” at all, but melodic rock / radio friendly songs. Jones recorded most of the music by himself, with the only musical assistance coming from drummers Jim Keltner and The Cult’s Mickey Curry.
As a first foray into the world of a solo career, Jones did it very well. By his own admission, he’s not a strong vocalist, as he had never really taken on the role as a front man before. Yet many of the songs here don’t really require a strong voice, as the singing blends nicely with the mellower poppy stuff on offer. Instead, “Mercy” highlights how versatile of a guitarist Jones had become.
Lead track and minor hit ‘Mercy’ sets the tone. It’s tuneful MTV soft rock with a wonderful melodic guitar line. The fact that it was used in a high profile episode of ‘Miami Vice’ did it no harm either.
We then roar into the albums first rocker, ‘Give It Up’. Yes, it has that patented guitar chug and ends in a veritable firestorm of metallic soloing but it still has a mellow L.A. sheen to it – perfect for cruising down endless sunset highways.
And those two tracks on a loop pretty much sum up the rest of the album. The ballads all take their cues from the title track – chock full of soul searching crooning, twanging guitar and big ’80s keyboards. Several of these tracks gained exposure through appearing on various soundtracks (‘Sid and Nancy’, ‘Something Wild’), which did Steve’s profile no harm.
Then there are the rockers like ‘With Or Without You’ and ‘Through The Night’, all featuring that Steve Jones mammoth guitar sound – powerchords mixed with Mick Ronson influenced solos – thunderous, bruising and endlessly multi-tracked. But controlled, tuneful.
We finish on a genuine curveball – a faithful cover of ‘Love Letters’ – Jones giving it some full-on Elvis crooning over a piano, another hint at his softer, tune-loving side.
In many ways “Mercy” bring to my mind Andy Taylor’s brilliant solo album ‘Thunder’ (released the same year and co-written and performed with Jones) a fine body of powerful rock&pop with a mix of LA glammy hard rock and even a touch of AOR.
No longer a punk (although, somehow, that attitude could still be felt between the grooves) with this first solo album Steve Jones was embracing Rock.
The remastering by Rock Candy Records is also first class, the album has never sounded better. “Mercy” might have been a sleeper, but it is a pleasure to listen to thirty years on.
You’ve seen it first here, at 0dayrox
01 – Mercy
02 – Give it Up
03 – That’s Enough
04 – Raining in My Heart
05 – With You Or Without You
06 – Pleasure and Pain
07 – Pretty Baby
08 – Drugs Suck
09 – Through the Night
10 – Love Letters
Steve Jones – lead vocals, guitars, bass
Mickey Curry, Jim Keltner – drums
Bob Rose, Kevin Savigar – keyboards
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