(All Album Reviews by AdmKirk)
Since Led Zeppelin's demise in 1980, bassist/keyboardist John Paul Jones has spent much of his time producing albums for other people including Mission UK, Heart and Diamonda Galas. Jones may be best known for his second and third solo albums, Zooma and The Thunderthief. Little has been said, however, about his first album, the 1985 soundtrack for the film Scream for Help. The movie never gained much recognition nor did the album, which featured Jimmy Page and Jon Anderson on two tracks each.
The album opens with the instrumental "Spaghetti Junction", one of the cuts with Page. The track features a keyboard riff that Zeppelin would have had a field day with but suffers, as much of the album does, with robotic electronic drums. Jones revived this one for the Zooma tour but it missed Page's solo. Jimmy uses his B-bender Telecaster on the album version and takes a wonderful solo.
Several songs feature Jones on vocals and one immediately can see why Robert Plant was Zeppelin's lead vocalist. Jones isn't horrible and has an understated approach to vocals but he isn't anything to write home about as a singer either.
Elsewhere Jones has Jon Anderson sing lead on two cuts: "Silver Train" and "Christie". The former is an up tempo rocker with Jones playing all instruments. It puts Anderson's vocals to good use. "Christie" is a somewhat sappy ballad.
Jonesey gets to show off his guitar skills in addition to his usual instruments of bass and keyboards. John Renbourne guests with guitar work on one track and Madeline Bell also takes a lead vocal on a track or two. When real drums are present they are handled by Graham Ward.
The instrumentals tend to work best on the album with the aforementioned "Silver Train" being the best vocal cut. Anderson's talent would have been much better suited than Jones on "When You Fall In Love", another of the album's ballads.
Of course this is a soundtrack so it has to fit with what's happening in the film so it's a little hard to know exactly what to say about much of the record without seeing the film. With that in mind, four tracks make the album worth while: "Spaghetti Junction", "Silver Train", the synth heavy "Chili Sauce" and the Page/Jones co-write "Crackback". "Crackback" features a Zep worthy riff and plenty of Page's guitar army overdubs topped off with a classic Jimmy solo. The album is really worth owning for this track alone.
In the end, if you are not a Zeppelin completist, then I suggest you stick too his other albums as Scream for Help suffers from many of the pitfalls that plagued many albums from the mid 1980's