Category: jon spencer blues explosion

Jon Spencer “Spencer Sings the Hits” 2018. Sho…

Jon Spencer “Spencer Sings the Hits” 2018. Shove Records, limited edition (300 copies) tour edition, signed by Jon Spencer last night in Madison, WI where Spencer played in support of the Melvins at High Noon Saloon. It was AMAZING! We were so close to Spencer that I got a bit of the sweat of the Blues Explosion on me.

Spencer and his backing band played a mix of tracks from his new record (the retail edition set to drop in September) and a few select songs from JSBX and Heavy Trash. I was able to snag the set list from one of the drummers (the guy on the standard drum kit, the other percussionist, Bob Bert, sat behind what appeared to be a refabbed car engine atop a bass drum and hooked onto a trash can; he hit his kit mainly with hammers).

Songs that appear on Spencer Sings the Hits that he played last night are (from Side 1): “Do the Trash Can,” a seriously funky ass-shaker with Spencer’s signature guitar sound, “Overload,” which is both funky and creep-slinky – a bit reminiscent of the vibe from Plastic Fang, “Time 2 Be Bad,” fuzzed-out with an addictive beat, “Ghost,” the most blues-smashing, sinister and experimental song of the night and “Beetle Boots,” which is wild and, on the recorded version, Boss Hoggy with the backing vocals. From Side 2, Spencer performed “Hornet,” another groovy funkster, “Wilderness,” which is super-heavy, “Love Handle,” a slower tempo’d beat-complicated burner, ‘I Got the Hits,” which I think really could be a hit it’s so goddamn good, and “Cape.” 

Spencer also included a couple of JSBX songs in the set, including “Dang” and “Shirt Jac,” the video links from the High Noon show at the end of this post, plus Heavy Trash’s “The Loveless” and Pussy Galore’s “Pretty Fuck Look” and “New Breed.”

After the show, Spencer was at the merch table so we got our album signed, bought a t-shirt, got a couple of photos (Joe and Jon opted for some silly faces) and chatted a bit.

We did not pick up a poster because I’m friends with the artist, Fran Ramirez of Bureau of Print Research and Design who made the Melvins/Spencer print for the High Noon show and I opted to get it directly from him. Here he is in his workshop with the print that will soon be hanging on our wall. (He has a few prints still available for sale)

The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion “Orange” 1994….

The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion “Orange” 1994. Matador Records. I’m spinning my favorite JSBX album today because it’s Mr. Judah Bauer’s birthday (b. June 18th, 1971) (thanks to the excellent Pop Catastrophe for the exact date; memory is such a weird thing: I knew Judah’s birthday was in June and I can remember his and other friends’ phone numbers from the 1980′s but can’t remember if I saw a movie that came out last year). Here’s a picture of Judah from 1987:

Orange, JSBX’s third or fourth (depending upon how you count the first two releases from 1992) LP, is at times sparse, chaotic, funky, punk, bluesy but always amazing. The lead track, “Bellbottoms” swells with strings and a funked out groove before hitting the staccato’d “bellbottoms” anthem. The song inspired Edgar Wright to write the recent movie Baby Driver, the soundtrack to which was nominated for a Grammy (the song “Chase Me” in the movie is a remix of “Bellbottoms” by Danger Mouse featuring Run the Jewels and Big Boi). “Wright laid in his bedroom listening to the song on repeat, visualizing a car chase set to “Bellbottoms.” He also started coming up with the idea of a character: a getaway driver for a bank heist, who cannot do his job properly without the right music playing.” (IndieWire) “Ditch” is hip-shaking sexy and “Dang” has fantastic, crazed harmonica solo by Judah, matched by Jon Spencer’s insane theremin. The first of two excellent instrumentals on Orange comes next: “Very Rare” slows down the beat to a hypnotic beat overlayed with Spencer’s signature guitar twang. “Sweat” is iconic JSBX giving us the classic line “That’s the sweat of the Blues Explosion!” “Cowboy” is weirdly mangled country-western (not my favorite track on the album) but the title track “Orange” returns to the slinky JSBX groove (Spencer name-drops ‘Star Trek’ and manages to make even that sexy). Side B leads off with “Brenda” with Spencer singing longingly, just a little too high out his range, for a girl and her money. “Dissect” is thick with musical chaos and “Blues X Man” is a “12-bar back-country roadhouse blues and back-alley back-seat eros to Lower East Side boasting about the Blues Explosion’s musical virility. It begins sparse and skeletal before adding a female backing chorus and DJ turntablism, turning traditionalism upside down and scraping country and city down to their nubs in order to make everything bleed.” (Allmusic) “Full Grown” is balls-out insanity beginning with the line “Baby baby you sure like to fuck FUCK!” and “Flavor” is hilarious, name checking all the cities where the Blues Explosion is number one and the band gets Beck on the phone to croon out “flavor.” Orange concludes with my favorite JSBX track, the instrumental “Greyhound” which is monstrously awesome, best played at 11. 

New Jon Spencer solo track “Do The Trash Can” …

New Jon Spencer solo track “Do The Trash Can” from his first solo LP Spencer Sings the Hits!, set to arrive early this fall via In the Red Records. 


Jon Spencer Blues Explosion “Rocketship” b/w “…

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion “Rocketship” b/w “Chocolate Joe” 1997. Au Go Go Records. “Rocketship” appears on the 1996 release Now I Got Worry and “Chocolate Joe” was included on the 2010 expanded reissue of Now I Got Worry. The name Chocolate Joe refers to Bob Log III, a punk slide blues guitarist who toured with JSBX as part of the duo Doo Rag. It’s slinky and grooving with Spencer wailing: the classic JSBX sound. I have to be honest, “Rocketship” is probably one of my least favorite JSBX tracks from Now I Got Worry, an otherwise super-solid record (i.e. “Wail,” “R.L. Got Soul,” etc.), and I think it’s the lyrics that bug me and also a feeling that the song just never fully develops.

Runout groove side A: GOODBYE LITTLE HONDA   Runout Groove side B: CONGRATULATIONS WALTER!

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion “2 Kindsa Love” b/…

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion “2 Kindsa Love” b/w “Let’s Smerf” 1996. Mute Records, limited edition 7″ on pink vinyl. Today, February 5th, is Jon Spencer’s birthday (b. 1965) according to the excellent all-things JSBX pop-catastrophe. “2 Kindsa Love” appears on their ‘96 album Now I Got Worry, a record in my top 5 of JSBX releases (soooo good: “Wail,” “Can’t Stop,” “R.L. Got Soul”) . It’s hard-hitting, ass-shaking funky and features Thermos Malling of Doo Rag (a 90′s lo-fi punk blues from Arizona who toured with Beck, JSBX, R.L. Burnside and Ween) “for the banging.” “Let’s Smerf” is a riotous freak-out jam that was included on the 2010 CD reissue of Now I Got Worry

Jon Spencer “Big Yule Log Boogie” b/w “My Chri…

Jon Spencer “Big Yule Log Boogie” b/w “My Christmas Wish” 1992. Sub Pop Records, Sub Pop Singles Club limited edition on green vinyl. Probably the coolest – and weirdest – Christmas music in the Vault. Recorded just at the beginnings of Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Judah Bauer plays raw and unrestrained guitar while Spencer whoops and wails a gleeful “CHRISTMAS!!!” and signature “C’mon honey” at the start of “Big Yule Log Boogie.” It’s a Hasil-Adkins level lo-fi devolution of rockabilly blues and simply amazing. Side B’s “My Christmas Wish” is a woeful holiday lament, swampy country-blues with gritty sliding electric guitar. Both tracks were eventually included on the 2010 reissue on Shout! Factory’s pressing of Extra Width + Mo’ Width. The run-out grooves have writings and scratchings (due to a pressing error between Spencer’s 7″ and Wolverton Brothers’ single of “My Assassin”), Side A: Special Merry Xmas to XNA and Side B: Love Always, Jon. (Thanks to the excellent Pop-Catastrophe website for the details and lyrics)

“Big Yule Log Boogie”

Come on honey and fly with me

We’re gonna get some lovin’ on Christmas eve

Christmas time rock ‘n’ roll

Holiday season with a little soul

You got to try
Holiday’s-a lovin’, baby
You and I

I’m gonna love you this Christmas love you

Calling all elves all around the world
I got a yule tide date with my kind of girl

Seen ’em alive
I’ll be your Santa Claus
I’m gonna love you this Christmas
Rock ‘n’ Roll

Happy New Year dad
I’m the dude that’ll kick your ass
I’m gonna get drunk this Christmas
I’m gonna tie one up

Remember me

I’m gonna get a little lovin’
Going more on Christmas eve
Honey, this do mean honest
I got the spirit of giving

I’m gonna love you this Christmas


Oh lord

Andre Williams “Jail Bait” a compilation of si…

Andre Williams “Jail Bait” a compilation of singles from 1956-1958 on Detroit’s Fortune Records. Today, November 1st, is Andre “Mr. Rhythm” Williams’ birthday (b. Zephire Williams, 1936). Williams’ entertaining lyrics, laid-back rhythmic talk-sing style and often wild live performances earned him another nickname, the “godfather of rap” and some lasting success, including many collaborations with modern indie rockers over the past couple of decades. In the 1990′s and early 2000′s he had releases on Bloodshot Records and recorded with The Sadies, The Dirtbombs and Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. It was around the time in 2000 when he cut “Lap Dance” and Black Godfather (both on In the Red Records) with JSBX (also recording with Williams on Black Godfather: members of the Cheater Slicks, The Dirtbombs and the Countdowns) that we saw Andre Williams perform at Milwaukee’s Cactus Club. We think we may have also gone down to Chicago to see one of his shows there as well, but recollections from this time are murky at best. It was at one of these shows that I do remember Williams playing ‘The Greasy Chicken” and some lunatic running  down a hallway shrieking “greasy chicken! greasy chicken!” “The Greasy Chicken” appears on this LP, as do other local R&B hits like “Going Down to Tia Juana” and “Jail Bait.” One of his biggest hits, “Bacon Fat” does not appear on Jail Bait – Fortune Records leased the song to Epic Records and with their national reach and distribution, that single hit #9 on the Billboard R&B chart. Fortune refused to do the same for Williams’ subsequent singles and the label’s small regional Midwest reach and lack of distribution kept sales modest. 

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion “Plastic Fang” 200…

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion “Plastic Fang” 2002. Matador Records. Limited edition double LP (with four bonus tracks). Halloween music, JSBX style: funky, raucous, weird punk blues: “She Said” (villagers with pitchforks, silver bullets and werewolves), “Killer Wolf” (monsters feeling no pain, teenage heads with rotten brains), “Midnight Creep” (an ass-shaker with one of my favorite JSBX lines “Right now, go ahead baby, I gonna stick my head in gravy”), “Down in the Beast,” and “Like a Bat.”   Also plenty of get-down blues funk with “Money Rock’N’Roll,” “Hold On” (with signature “That’s right ladies and gentlemen, that’s Blues Explosion all the way from New York City!”) and “Shakin’ Rock’n’Roll Tonight.”

We saw Jon Spencer Blues Explosion at the Modjeska Theater in Milwaukee when they toured for Plastic Fang in May 2002. Fortunately I was writing for the Shepherd Express at that time – and reviewed the show – because I would not have remembered the details some 15 years later. The clip is pictured below but I will highlight a few of the more memorable moments here: Spencer played the theremin with his tongue (ooof! this has me recalling the classic line from the song “Can’t Stop” on Now I Got Worry “Throw their hands in the air and kiss my ass ‘cause your girlfriend still loves me”) and drummer Russell Simins getting pelted by ice, storming off stage for a few minutes but fortunately returning. Dub Narcotic Sound System was supposed to open for JSBX (they were late because of the clichéd band van breakdown). The band joined JSBX on stage and toward the end of the show, their singer Calvin Johnson pulled a throng of audience members onto the stage. The scene devolved into anarchy, culminating in Modjeska’s security pulling the plug on the concert.

We have Plastic Fang on both vinyl and CD. The vinyl has four bonus tracks: “Like a Bat,” “Tore Up & Broke,” “Then Again I Will” and “Do Ya Wanna Get It?” and both copies have some pretty amazing, vibrantly colored artwork pictured in a multi-page booklet. (I thought for some reason that when we first got this back in 2002 that it also came with some actual plastic fangs, but I might be confusing that with Vault-boy’s obsession with collecting vampire teeth a few years ago.)