I take it all back — All the bad things I said about the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion in my younger, not as smart days — Things like, “The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion should be imploded,” and worse. Oh, it got much worse. Hell, I had the Blues Explosion on my dream stage with Phish, Rusted Root, Jimmy Buffet, and Barenaked Ladies, where once all the performers had gathered, there would have been a real explosion.
Now, some 15 years past my younger, not as smart days, I find myself in possession of Dirty Shirt Rock ‘N’ Roll, the new career retrospective of the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, and much to my surprise, this thing jams, front to back, non-stop JAMS.
Unlike modern rockers, like the Black Keys or the White Stripes, who take a reverential approach to the blues, The Blues Explosion had a much looser interpretation of what it meant to play the blues. In the Blues Explosion’s world, there’s little room for the downtrodden, woe-is-me, all I’ve got is this guitar and this song stuff. Instead, the blues is a both a lively form of music and a living form of music– A reason to praise the maker you’re alive, a reason to jump up and get on down, and a form of music which was and is still evolving.
The evolution of the blues according to the Blues Explosion included not only the usual suspects — Punk, garage, and rock-a-billy, but also elements of free-form jazz, noise rock, electronic music and hip hop. Guitars are loud, in the center, and in control. The rhythms can range from the standard Rock ‘N’ Roll style to old skool rap beats. And as a frontman, Spencer would often forgo the standard story-telling style of the weathered bluesman, for a heavy, soulful wail, wailing whatever it was the blues made him wail. It’s a sweaty, funky, fiery, and forward thinking mix of sounds, well deserving of the title Blues Explosion.
Dirty Shirt Rock ‘N’ Roll by the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion is out now on MP3 and CD on Shout Factory.