Review by G. W. Hill
It wouldn’t be a big stretch to imagine Jimmy Jax Pinchak Band – Make It Better was some long lost album from the 1970s. There is a genuine retro quality to the set. It’s got a lot of great music on it, too. The hooks are generally memorable and the grooves are meaty. That’s a combination for success in my world.
Celtic elements merge with psychedelia on the opening of “There Is More.” JimmyJax vocal hooks are catchy and mainstream. The tune really does a great job of combining classic rock sounds with more modern rock. There are some killer riffs on the piece.
“On the Run” is a hard-edged rocker that’s riff driven and quite tasty. The retro organ sound is one of the classic rock highlights on this. It also makes me think of Bon Jovi a bit. The vocal hooks are catchy and this is another classy number. The fast paced, fired up jam later in the track is particularly noteworthy. It has some rather Jimmy Page like guitar blasts. Another smoking hot hard rocker, “Tell Me” is more blues rock based than the two that preceded it. Somehow it feels meatier, too. It’s still got plenty of classic rock in the mix, but it also feels more modern. There is some especially meaty guitar soloing on this number.
As the title track opens I love the combination of retro keyboards and tasty rocking guitar riff. They work it out into a killer soulful hard rock groove. It really has some of the most accessible hooks of the whole disc. It’s one of the highlights as far as I’m concerned. “Into the Fire” has a real retro rock sound to it. The chorus hooks are infectious. The song is a rocker, but very much set in a pop rock 1970s kind of sound. Personally, I think it’s a little too light weight in comparison to the rest of the stuff here. I mean, it’s a great tune, but doesn’t hold up to some of the others. It seems to me that “Free Your Mind” has a real glam rock vibe to it. It’s got plenty of blues rock and roll in the mix, too. The slide guitar soloing adds to that second observation. It’s another that’s catchy and energetic. I’ve always like Tommy James quite a bit. So, this cover of “Draggin’ the Line” is right up my alley. They play it pretty close to the original. That said, the guitar solo later has a bit more of a had rock, almost metallic vibe to it. Some of the female backing vocals don’t work all that well for me for some reason. Still, this is much more success than it is failure.
The final cut is another cover tune. This time a song by Santana is the source material. Drums start “Soul Sacrifice” and the instrumental is delivered with a lot of energy and style. Personally, I don’t think it’s as successful as “Draggin’ the Line” was. It’s more or less a jam band kind of piece. JimmyJax include a drum solo and a journey into fusion for a time. It just doesn’t seem to gel as well as some of the other stuff here did. I think perhaps a different tune might have made a more effective closer, really.
I’d love to hear more from this act. I think Jimmy Jax Pinchak Band got a great groove going on and have created some timeless music here. It’s not perfection, but what is, really? For one thing, I’d like to hear a little more nuances to set this apart. As it is, though, it’s pretty darned good.