Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
Plastic Fang (Matador)
by Jon Sarre
It’s nice to see Jon Spencer Blues Explosion rockin’ unhomogenized again, cuz their last couple records’ stylized missteps sorta brought ’em down a peg or two and left ’em suckin’ wind like Wiley Coyote chasin’ middlebrow audiences that’d drifted away before they even knew they existed (if they indeed existed in the first place). There’s no Dan the fucking Laundry-mator on this one, no Calvin Johnson, no remixes, ‘least not yet (watch for it, it’ll show up plain as the nose on yer face, kid). This here’s a rock’n’roll record, arguably the first Spencer slab so monikered since at least Orange from back in ’94, if not Extra Width. Divorced from the studio bullshit they’ve relied on as of late, especially on their last one, the yicky Acme, ya actually get a glimpse of one of the last great live rock bands and their sweat-soaked attack which ya mighta missed since, at least on record, JS has been starin’ in the disco window and wonderin’ why the bouncer won’t let him in. Plastic Fang shows that the Explosion still is a damn band, even if they have the pretensions to aspire to something other than that.
The record kicks off with “Sweet N Sour,” a true gutter hitter which sets the Explosion off like “Rocks Off” did for the Stones on Exile on Main Street: Ya got the backbeat and Spencer’s voice pullin’ off as much sass as Mick Jagger. The psycho-soul trip of the opener gets upped on “She Said,” like climbin’ a couple hundred steps only to drop off to some improbable Delta low with Judah Bauer hittin’ slide highs’n’in-betweens with distorto’n’over-the-top uhhs and oohs and somethin’ to do with a werewolf which makes it like the Hasil Adkins gem of the same name, which was about wakin’ up to the female equiv. of Cousin It. “Money Rock’N’Roll” is boogie jump-back-jack attack like back-to-the-womb JSBE chuggin’ thunka thump with c’mons and let’s gos and everything but Elvis-imitation “Blooooze Explos-onnn” (ya gotta wait for “Hold On”‘s party-jam schtick for onea them). Ya got the wolf theme continuing on “Killer Wolf” and “The Midnight Creep” and I dunno why for sure, unless Jon’s been watchin’ lotsa Lon Chaney flicks, but “Down in the Beast” is demonic twelve-bar stuck thru with Bauer’s mean-ole-world slide riffs and Russell Simins massive walloftraps. “Shakin’ Rock’N’Roll Tonight” and “Over and Over” are cliché-ridden hilarities that could come offa Kiss’ tongues, but said clichés are still in the right places, so it’s alright. On “Mean Heart,” Spencer takes about a quarter of the “Satisfaction” riff and “Sympathy for the Devil” percussion and decides to babble some nonsense about getting “right with God,” but then changes his mind mebbe on “Point of View,” where the Explosion juxtaposes “Sister Ray” keys with the kitchen sink and everything else plus theremin which had yet to make its appearance until then and blows everything up to… silence, so we don’t know if Spencer got right with his maker, until next time.
(625 Broadway New York, NY 10012)