FOLK MUSIC has always accommodated the likes of Steve and Peter Jones, young musicians equipped with a couple of guitars, a handful of chords and plenty of causes. Only now, the Joneses of the world have more opportunities to record themselves. Too bad the results aren't always worth preserving.
The nicest thing about the album that bears this local duo's name is its good intentions. On several songs the Joneses embrace the oppressed, the exploited and the disenfranchised through simple, sometimes simplistic lyrics. The Joneses invoke the names of their heroes and villains and wrap their messages in modest guitar arrangements, embellished occasionally by strings, vocals and percussion. While the poignant narrative ballad "Kilkelly, Ireland" and the playful "27-year-Old Virgin" are apolitical, such songs as "If Rosa Parks Can Go to Jail" and "The Gallo Song" (an endorsement of the United Farm Workers boycott of Gallo Wine) are more typical, boasting the sort of catchy chorus any rally organizer would welcome.
Unfortunately, music of this kind, when committed to vinyl, demands far more expressive singers than the Joneses. Though unquestionably sincere, their pallid vocals bring an amateurish folk-hoot quality to the music. Even Luci Murphy, who sings more convincingly on three tunes, can't lift this album out of the doldrums for very long. STEVE & PETER JONES -- "Steve and Peter Jones" (CR301); appearing Sunday at 2:30 at Glen Echo's Arcade Ballrooms.