Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion - Orange


The Blues Explosion oooowwww, the Blues Explosion ooooooowwwwwww...  So, if you were to count how many times Jon Spencer either sings or screams The Blues Explosion on one record, it would be... lots.  All the old blues men did it but usually because they were either so pissed or stoned, they couldn't remember their lyrics, so they'd say their name over and again, kind of the forerunner to modern-day branding, I guess. (In reality, I don't know if this is really why, but it sounds like it could be so...)  I guess Jon likes to think of himself as an old bluesman.  Either this or he's afraid we'll forget the name.

Let me make one thing clear: this aint gonna happen.  Once you've seen this band live, you'll never forget them.  My first time (ooo, I sound positively virginal) was watching a defunct Australian music show called Recovery.  This was a live show, aired on Saturday morning and meant for either those of us who could make it up and plow through our hangovers to watch it or those of us who hadn't yet gone to bed.  The show was hosted by a maniac called Dylan Lewis.

He had the energy of a blowfly trapped in bottle and enough survival wit and instincts to get away with pretty much anything.  But when JSBX (as they are affectionately shortened to) came on the show, Dylan was absolutely out-maniac'd by Jon Spencer, who ran riot through the studio audience and wrecked the set.  It was superb television and won Spencer and Co. many fans.  If you've not seen this before, check it out here.

JSBX, or The Blues Explosion, as they now prefer, have also provided some of the most memorable nights out as well.  Okay, I would like to say these are memorable and they were, but once again folks, years of excess has wiped a lot of the good bits.  But I remember these shows were memorable, so I guess this is something.  Orange was the soundtrack for a lot of shenanigans at various parties back in the day too.  It even made me wanna shake my ass like a mofo, which is really saying something.  Listening back to it now, it still makes me wanna let it all hang out in my rockin' chair.

I honestly forgot how dirty, raw and dang good this is.  In fact, I'm naming it my second Forgotten Gem.

VERDICT: TURN IT UP, rip off your shirt, mess up your fucking fauxhawk, wannabe, and howl at the moon like you mean it!


I've seen them live, and after listening to Orange, I'm convinced that's the best place for them.  Listening to this CD, I just had a picture in my mind of a bar - no, maybe a dive - which doesn't even exist anywhere any more.  You know, with the dim lighting and the scuffed floorboards and a bar all the way down one side with some random bowls of dubious snacks and smoke hanging in the air and a couple of pool tables in the back and some hard-bitten regulars and equally hard-bitten bar staff.  With a small stage at the end where the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion have a regular Friday and Saturday night gig that packs the place to the gills and generally ends in some sort of brawl.

I miss those days.  I mean, I know I can go out any night of the week and catch a live act, but in my town the venues are getting fewer and further between, most of them have poker machines (slot machines), you can't smoke (although as a reformed puffer I say thank goodness), and with the Responsible Service of Alcohol, the bar staff can and do cut you off if you're looking more than a bit squiffy.

But I do recall wild nights spilling out on to the pavement outside various live-act bars around town.  And I feel that's the best place to experience the Blues Explosion.*  It doesn't work so well in the car - but it might be OK as a soundtrack for doing the housework.  I have mentioned I don't really like the blues, but these guys can make it work.  It just doesn't seem to flow so well off the CD, and maybe that's because I'm feeling a live vibe.

* erm, why do they feel the need to mention the name of the band in almost every song?  Gets a bit cheesy and annoying after a while, FYI JSBX.


For more information:

In our collection we also have Extra Width, Now I Got Worry and Plastic Fang


  1. I have a couple of their albums and never really play them. I saw them live at a free concert on a beach when I was living in Taiwan. It was a strange but cool line-up as fas the internationals went with The Dirty Three following Andrew W.K. JPSX played last and were great.

  2. Chris, I guess the problem with having a considerable collection of music is how much we forget we've actually got. Mine and YourZ (truly) are really loving this project as it is bringing out some discs we had forgotten how much we enjoyed.

    Out of curiosity, did you go back and listen to JPSX after reading this review?