It’s cleaner-sounding, but he’s still shouting and they’re still rocking. They’re still in control, and the blues is still #1!
I’m on sick day #2, here. It’d be awesome being home from work if I didn’t feel like a plague repository. Anyway.
Yesterday, sitting like a sick lump, I watched Baby Driver. It’s ultimately a fairly predictable, dumb little heist movie with a decent cast and occasional bursts of heart, but that’s not the real draw here. Whomever did the music deserves a full damn raise. It’s some of the best uses of music in film since Forrest Gump, in terms of matching to scenes. They even time action sequences to the beats of the songs. Incredible.
And on that note (pun intended), the soundtrack itself is mighty damn fine:
But especially, the film will forever hold a place in my heart for its opening scene, the bank heist timed to the brilliant Jon Spencer Blues Explosion’s Bellbottoms (dammit I LOVE that song, that whole album… YEAH!).
I’m a long-time collector of JSBX records. I have quite a healthy pile of this trio’s screaming blues soul stomp in my collection, and I love every note of it. This band scratches that itch like no other. [Peripherally, I’m thrilled that the live record Controversial Negro has recently been re-released because that sucker has been impossible to find for the longest time. Fellow collectors will empathize.]
Near as I can tell, this is a UK import. Sweet. Here we have off-tracks, remixes and b-sides from the Acme record, and not one of them is a clunker. This set fucking rocks, just like you’d expect JSBX to fucking rock. Blue Green Olga remains one of my favourite songs of theirs, right up there with Bellbottoms. But all of the songs here are awesome. It’s another full-on record from this gang that has consistently proven that they know nothing else except unapologetically loud and brash, balls-out and swinging rock. So hot. Get your copy and play it at top volume. Yeah! The blues is #1!
Another Jon Spencer Blues Explosion release I grabbed off the internets, this single for the track Calvin off the album Acme is highly enjoyable.
The title track starts us off with one helluva groove, equal parts raw blues and vintage soul shouting, all done up modern-style. According to the little note on the back, it’s remixed, so if you can tell the difference, good for you (it’s been a while since I played Acme, guess I should). Wait A Minute, featuring percussion and bass from Moby (of all the frickin’ people, ferchrissakes!) is classic Blues Explosion from the period, though it never really takes off at any point. I blame Moby. I don’t like anything that guy does.
Next up is Confused, a track I love. Try it at high volume. Damn! When they want to, these guys can really chug out a rockin’ blues number, and this is one of ‘em. Worth the price of admission, alone. And lastly is Get Down Lover, which sounds most like JSBX to me out of all of these tracks, and with horns! This is the kind of track you’d want them to play live, ‘cos it’d really get the joint jumpin’.
Same as with the Heavy EP (see review), though, I’d suggest sticking to the main albums (especially Orange) if you’re just getting into the band. And you should get into them, if you haven’t already – what were you thinking? Hop to it. Right now. The Blues Is Number One!
02 Wait A Minute
04 Get Down Lover
Here we have the band in 1999, the Acme period, when Jon Spencer himself was toying with electronic additions to the music, with hip hop scratches and all of that shit. It’s interesting, but not even close to the greatest bits of their music, to my mind.
Whatever, these songs are still (mostly) a lot of fun. The remix of Heavy is a slinky, laid-back groove worth of early G. Love and the Special Sauce. With the remix of 2 Kindsa Love, we get what sounds like a DJ E-Z Rock sample with Spencer’s guitar looped over it. Hm. Not a personal favourite, but can’t win ‘em all. Then Blues Power picks things up again, sounding more like the Blues Explosion that I love best, even when the levels get lost a bit at one point and a hugely piercing sound comes through the speakers to attack your ears. Next up is the remix of Do You Wanna Get Heavy?, which has a groove all its own that recalls the relaxed slip n’ slide of the first track on this disc.
And lastly, guarding our six is Attack (Detroit), a purely techno rave dancehall track that holds no appeal for me whatsoever. I acknowledge that this style of music is out there, and that some people love it, but this is way too far off the deep end for Mr. Spencer (and crew). I’m not against branching out a bit, but this shit is better left to DJ Numb Nuts and The Fucking Idiots, or whatever those tweakers call themselves these days. This is unworthy of JSBX, on every level. It was this type of crap that sent Judah Bauer running for the cover of his own blues side project, 20 Miles, and I can’t blame him one bit (and the 20 Miles records kick ass, by the way).
Look, in sum, this wasn’t a bad EP, and of course I’ll keep it because I’m a collector geek. But if you’re a listener with a passing interest, stick to the main albums. Don’t let this be your first introduction to the band, if you can help it at all.
01 Heavy (remix, radio edit)
02 2 Kindsa Love (Duck Rock 105.9 FM remix)
03 Blues Power
04 Do You Wanna Get Heavy? (Duck Rock Hip ‘N Bass remix)
05 Attack (Detroit)
I don’t think I’ve ever confessed my love for the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion here in the pages of KMA thus far, so allow me to rectify that omission by doing so now: I love these guys! Yeah!
They have such a great sound, and so much energy. Their melding of rock and the blues and their thudding screeching cacophony pleases me to no end. I own all of their records, and most of the singles. I even have most of the side-projects. Given their decidedly huge discography (what with the various side-projects as well), this has been no small undertaking, over the years.
So imagine, if you will, my glee upon finding a copy of their latest release in the rubble of the remaining stock at our dying Music World store at the mall. I rescued this gem as soon as my eyes fell upon it, sure that it was some mistake that so many others had left it sitting there in favour of shit like Beyoncé and Michel Bublé, but there it was anyway. I promised it a good, warm and loving home as I carried it carefully to the cash desk.
(NB If you think it’s more than a little odd that I talked to a CD in the middle of a record store, you don’t know my love of this band well enough yet and, fair enough since I just told you about it a few paragraphs ago. Stick with me).
Jukebox Explosion is a total work of art. Collecting the tracks from their Jukebox singles series (originally only on 45 vinyl) from In The Red Records, these are all tracks that are seeing release on CD for the first time, here. Hallelujah!
And it’s all here, folks. The fuzzy punk rock blues, the stomping and howling, the banging and raving. I laughed at the raised-middle-finger of Caroline, which could be about a girl until you know that that was the name of their first label. Son Of Sam, their cover of the Chain Gang, sends chills down my spine every time. Do You Wanna Get It features Dr. John on the piano, Train #1 and Train #3 totally rock (Train #2 can be found on Extra Width, as you already are aware, I’m sure), and Dig My Shit was meant for a TV performance until it was canned due to language, so it ended up on the What’s Up Matador compilation (which I also own). The liner notes here, though, claim that set was “otherwise completely worthless.” The Blues Is Number One! Yeah! Damn! Haha.
Which ties in perfectly with the cover art (by Mort Todd) for this release. Jon Spencer has always been steadfast in his style, and none of it matches what was popular at the time these were recorded, beginning in 1992. So the cover shows a zombie-fied band shoveling records into an open grave marked Good Riddance (probably a statement of sentiment, not the band of the same name but who knows?). And the bands they’re set to bury? Pearl Jam, Alice In Chains, Tori Amos, Oasis, Stone Roses, Lemonheads, Stone Temple Pilots, Smashing Pumpkins, Jane’s Addiction, Bush, Pixies, Sebadoh, Hole and Red Hot Chili Peppers. Hah ha. I like some of those bands, and I still thought this was hilarious. Jon Spencer has never been anything less than brash, and cock-sure. Right on.
In bright red letters on the cover, this record claims that the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion is a “Jukebox Explosion Rockin’ Mid-90’s Punkers!” Amen to that, brother, and bring it on!
I can’t even begin to tell you how happy this record made me. This will definitely get constant rotation in my playlist.
01 Shirt Jac
02 Son Of Sam
03 Train #3
06 Push Some Air
07 Get With It
08 Showgirls Pts. 1 & 2
09 Ghetto Mom
10 Latch On
12 Curfew Blues
13 Train #1
14 Jailhouse Blues
16 Down Low
17 Do Ya Wanna Get It
18 Dig My Shit