The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion – Meat and Bone
By Jamie Wolfert
Since 1991 Jon Spencer and his Blues Explosion have been unapologetically mangling and perverting blues, soul, and rock 'n' roll for their own fiendish purposes, while Spencer yells “Blues Explosion!!” over and over again with a drunken Elvis sneer. In 2004 they went on hiatus, seemingly just as the general public was becoming aware of scuzzy punk blues via lesser groups like The White Stripes, The Strokes, and The Black Keys. That style of music now appears to be at something of a popular zenith, but JSBX never quite got it's due. Fortunately, the hiatus is over with The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion's newest record, Meat and Bone.
If you got worry about whether Spencer, Judah Bauer, and sharp-dressed caveman drummer Russell Simins can bring the noise properly after all that time off, allow me to ease your mind. Meat and Bone is just what its title would suggest; a raw, bloody document of JSBX doin' their thang. They've experimented liberally with style, presentation, and collaboration in the past, but their reunion album finds them focusing on the trio and what they do best. Songs like “Bag of Bones” and “Boot Cut” are classic Blues Explosion, with fuzzed-out Stones-y grooves and Spencer howling like a madman through a wash of slapback. “Get Your Pants Off” sounds like a post-punk James Brown, and “Danger” just sounds like snarling, wailing, post-nothing punk rock. Meat and Bone closes with a mostly instrumental tribute to Spencer's main axe, the lowly, under-appreciated Zim-Gar, appropriately titled “Zimgar”. It is hilarious and awesome.
If you loved Blues Explosion during the golden age of Extra Width and Now I Got Worry, then Meat and Bone will put a smile on your ears. If you've yet to become acquainted with JSBX, then this wouldn't be the worst place to start. Age hasn't tamed these guys a bit, and thankfully they're smart enough to get back at it by cranking up the amps and sticking to what they do best. Blues Explosion!!!
Stream Meat and Bone at rollingstone.com: