The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
Meat & Bone
, September 20th, 2012 11:22
Man alive – has it really been seven years since the release of the last album by The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion? That’s seven years that’s seen their descendents in the form of The White Stripes (and Jack White’s attendant side projects and subsequent solo career) and The Black Keys rocket from cult status to mainstream acceptance and planet-striding success. Not that Spencer’s been work-shy during that period; three albums with Heavy Trash have seen him expand on his modus operandi while other musical concerns have kept the man busy, but there’s nothing quite like the chemistry he concocts with guitarist Judah Bauer and drummer Russell Simins by his side.
Unlike the children they unwittingly spawned, The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion have always operated in a rarefied space that’s completely their own. Despite what their name implies, the trio has always had less to do with the blues and have been more concerned with subverting the genre and form while gleefully adding huge dollops of funk, hip-hop and a degree of madness and stupidity. Basically, a heady musical stew.
Meat And Bone is a consolidation of sorts. Gone are the guest musicians and the roll call of impressive production talent. This is The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion in its purest form, three musicians grabbing the reigns and making music for themselves and by themselves. It’s also an affirmation as Meat And Bone returns to the core values of two guitars intertwining with each other and riffs push and pull in all manner of directions with beats so solid and precise that it beggars belief they were created by a human being. And, of course, Jon Spencer’s manic and howling delivery which is part-preacher, part-demented torment.
‘Black Mold’ is a superb opening salvo as its descending riff detonates with a nuclear force - it’s as if the last seven years hadn’t happened. Moreover, the band hasn’t sounded this scuzzy and downright dirty since 1996’s Now I Got Worry. But there’s more to The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion than heads-on, full-steam-ahead ramalama. The salaciously-titled ‘Get Your Pants Off' is a wonderfully sleazy grind of funk that fuses all of their trademark elements into something else all together while ‘Bag Of Bones’ twists and turns into a groove that grinds itself into the ground. But it’s with tracks like ‘Danger’ that the band truly hits paydirt thanks to an unrestrained abandon that’s impossible to resist.
Meat And Bones is a welcome return from a band whose absence has been keenly felt over these last few years. Let’s just hope we don’t have to wait so long for their next album.