Jon Spencer Blues Explosion

“I crave the taste of blood, Good Lord Almighty, Good Lord above, My soul is lost, I said I curse the day that I ever was born.” — “She Said,” The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion

While the Vatican of Rock spans a wide range and often worships false idols, Jon Spencer and his Blues Explosion are particularly soulful pontiffs. Plastic Fang was recorded at Manhattan’s Oorong Sound, with Steve Jordan (producer) and Don Smith (engineer). Their combined experience includes time spent with The Rolling Stones, Stevie Wonder, Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, and countless other rock pioneers. Like those giants, there’s nothing small about Plastic Fang, and it marks the first time that this powerhouse band has been accurately represented on vinyl (or, you know, disc).

Jon’s voice has never sounded better; over time he’s developed the depth and control that characterize the best rock and soul singers. He and Judah’s guitar’s are massive here, yet retain the distinct qualities that were sometimes lost in the past, and Russell’s innovative style is in full flourish. Most importantly, this is quite simply their strongest collection of songs yet. With a tighter and more considered approach to writing and recording this time around, Jon’s growth as a songwriter is explicit, though the band’s style remains wild. With its vivid imagery and lustful, adrenalized music, Plastic Fang cages the resolute intensity of possibly the best live band playing today.

“Shakin’ Rock ’n’ Roll Tonight” and “Money Rock ’n’ Roll” are classic examples of the Blues Explosion’s rock attack. “Down In The Beast” exemplifies Jon’s allegorical storytelling style, finding him literally in the belly of the beast, the swinging rocker recast as an intoxicated Jonah at the bottom of the cold, black sea. “Sweet n Sour” provides a thunderous, menacing opener, “Killer Wolf” is a brooding chain-gang lament, and “Mother Nature” is a heartfelt lullaby. Other tracks, such as the lupine single “She Said,” smolder with a fiery blues/gospel intensity born of personal experience. Special guests Dr John and Funkadelic keyboardist Bernie Worrell contribute to the Big Easy-styled “Hold On” and the funky “Over & Over” respectively, but this is definitely the Blues Explosion’s eclectic floorshow.

Formed in 1991 after the demise of Spencer’s seminal hatefuck band Pussy Galore, the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion has always included drummer Russell Simins and guitar ace Judah Bauer. Taking cues from rock, punk, r&b, garage, hardcore, and hip hop idioms, while transcending the limitations of each, the Blues Explosion created a new sound which they’ve spent six records both honing and redefining. Plastic Fang encompasses everything that’s ever been great about this band, then ups the ante still more: It’s a mindbendingly soulful record by three musicians whose abilities have yet to be fully recognized, as deft and bold and life-affirming as the Meters, the Magic Band, or the Birthday Party.
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