...distorted hillbilly shrieking, feral grunts, obscenity, basic rock 'n' roll riffs.
Nick Reynolds 2007
Welcome to the world of Jon Spencer. It’s a world where Elvis didn’t make movies and never got fat. Instead, the King moved to the backwoods, took too many amphetamines and listened to too much Ornette Coleman. The result is the Blues Explosion: an intense, extreme mix of distorted hillbilly shrieking, feral grunts, obscenity, basic rock 'n' roll riffs, stop-start rhythms and twitchy drums.
This album gathers together ten singles made by the group a decade ago for In The Red records. Short, sharp single bursts are perfect for this music, as listening continuously for long periods is likely to send a man plain loco. Single number one “Shirt Jac” throws down the gauntlet: it’s “Blue Suede Shoes” rewritten by the Cramps’ out of control, out on parole, psychotic younger brother. The b-side “Son Of Sam” is a wild cacophony of screams, saxophone and murder.
Other highlights include the twisted, scatological blues of “Caroline”, and “Get With It” where honky tonk piano and harmonica fight to be heard in a dissolving soup of beeps and raw, almost unlistenable guitar. The Explosion grab hold of anything that can make a noise and add it to their sonic assault, including the primitive synthesizers that squelch and squeal on “Showgirl” and that saxophone prowling around looking for a punch up wherever it can find one. Single number four “Ghetto Mom” is an absolute classic. The band stop jerking around, lock into a fast groove and deliver a prime slice of head shaking rock 'n' roll.
The CD is completed by rare tracks, some of which aren’t great. But “Jailhouse Blues” sounds like Pere Ubu covering “Are You Lonesome Tonight” and is brilliant, while “Down Low” is lean, mean and nasty.
Who’s the world’s greatest Elvis, then? Jon Spencer gets my vote.