Steve Jones is best known as the guitar player for the Sex Pistols, thus, he’s kind of the godfather of punk guitar. There’s really no debate: that’s his sound. We’ve all been imitating it since 1977. But, Jones has led an interesting career, aside from the guitar. He’s played with myriad acts that span multiple genres. He’s acted. He’s written. He’s currently a DJ on the radio in LA. I mention this because, one: he kicks ass, always had. He’s one of the major reasons I picked up the guitar in the first place. But, two, and more importantly: I like the fact that Jones has traversed so many sounds and styles for the simple fact that his talent belies the notion that punk in general and the Sex Pistols in particular was dumb music made by a bunch of one-syllable speaking knuckleheads. I mean, it often was, but I’ve always loved the fact that Jones went on to such a varied and interesting career.
Because of the magnitude of the impact it had and the musical revolution he helped to spark, nothing will ever quite live up to Jones’ work in the Pistols, but the man is a testament to being a multi-versed renaissance player and the essential nature of reinvention.
Check out his 1987 MCA release, Mercy. It’s decidedly of the era, with some heavy, floating keys on the power ballads, but tracks like That’s Enough and Give it Up pack a serious, decidedly un-80s pop guitar drive that sets these songs apart from the standard fare of the decade of silly hair and way too many effects. Plus, the album showcases Jones’ serious Elvis-inspired croon, which somehow works, even over the more radio, Miami Vice-ready tracks. His 1989 release, Fire and Gasoline, is even better. It mainly eschews the pop stuff and goes for full throttle guitars. It’s a little metal, I suppose, but hearing it again today, it’s pretty much just rock n roll: big beat, rip saw guitar rhythms and big courses. Again, decidedly not what was popular at the time (I’m looking at you, Hair Metal), and really, a little ahead of its time.