20 Miles – Twenty Miles

Judah fuckin’ Bauer, baby, yeah! Look, I love me some Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. Anything else this guy wants to do, I will line up and buy it first day.

This début side project record is perfect proof as to why. Through the hairy Intro and the gut-stomp slide workout of Junkyard, with lines like “What could I do, I can’t kill you all…?” Oh man, you already know you’re in blues heaven. Well, the next song (which is another pure rip-snorter) is called Place Called Hell, so call it heaven if you like. I sure do.

She Don’t Know picks it’s way through a bluesy instrumental chunk of beauty, and Piece Of Clay (a Mississippi Fred McDowell tune) is a primitive, shuffling shout from the very pits. My Back Door doubles the pace and brings the best traditions of all those early 60s garage rock bands, as filtered through the Delta, of course. I’m Not A Man brings the fife into play (hence the Othar Turner in the album’s subtitle, one could presume). But around that thin whistling sound builds this rough blues track with staccato snares… so great.

Come Right In is a danceable, joyous clatter. The guitars hold it together while managing to sound messily haphazard. It shouldn’t work but it does! My Little Baby is an hypnotic riff that morphs and grows while staying roughly between the ditches of the song’s intent. Pure blues, I can hear John Lee Hooker doing this. And lastly, Mississippi Bolero is another glorious instrumental, and brings back the fife again, here and there. But the guitar work! Actually, this whole album is incredible for guitar parts. Damn.

The subtitle on this record stands as “R.L. Boyce Othar Turner Fife & Drum Spam.” Well OK, then. Hell, I even remember where I bought this, years ago. Toronto it was, on Queen West near Yonge, at Kops Records. I remember picking it out of the bin and clutching it to my chest, making sure no one else could get it before I did…

Shout-out to Donovan for all his contributions on this record, and to Fat Possum for once again totally kicking my ass.

Wherever it pleases you to go on your search for this, get it now. It is raw and glorious.

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