The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion


Skinny, cool and reeking of the blues...the most incendiary call to get funked up is howling out of New York City right now. You know how it goes. BLUES EXPLOSION!

These three dudes in pimp shoes have been carving up sacred cows and serving them up with truly irreverent relish since their inception in 1990. Jon Spencer, founding guitarist/vocalist of Pussy Galore, NY's foremost groovyhatefuckers, disbanded his former group after five years of disorder, and hooked up with Honeymoon Killers drummer Russell Simins, who in turn brought in his friend, guitar ace Judah Bauer. Equipped with guitars, drums, theremin and broken down amps, inspired by the hellbound spirits of Jerry Lee Lewis, James Brown and Howlin' Wolf, the transcendent qualities of gospel and the raw sexuality of the blues they fused a sound that would liberate all who heard it. A string of molten LP's - 'Crypt Style', 'Extra Width', 'Experimental Remixes' - spread their delinquency worldwide and gave them the status of icons. Even Jerry Lee himself was impressed.

Now the Blues Explosion hit `96 with their greatest recording to date, and their first for Mute records. 'Now I Got Worry' is fifteen tracks of seething sensuality and freedom from all constraints. Featuring Stax legend and father of the 'Funky Chicken' Mr Rufus Thomas, Doo Rag's Thermos Malling and sometime Beastie Boys collaborator "Money" Mark Ramos Nishita, 'I Got Worry' crosses the boundaries of time to bring you one righteous blast of nascent revolution. So this is what Elvis sounded like to the Mecca Ballroom goers of 1950's England.

Entirely produced by Jon Spencer and Jim Waters, 'Now I Got Worry' boasts big Jon and Judah on guitar and Russell on drums, the deadly trio fully primed to shake to Spencer's delirious vocal contortions. Their choice of cover version - Dub Narcotic's 'Fuck Shit Up' transformed into a Blues Explosion war cry of intent - and their fine assortment of guest artists highlight the trio's constitution of cool. Rufus Thomas, who co-writes and sings 'Chicken Dog' is a rightful legend of Memphis soul and funk, who first created his own waves of notoriety when he released his debut single 'Bear Cat' on the pioneering Sun label in 1953. As an answer to Big Mama Thornton's 'Hound Dog' (later, of course, covered by Elvis), the single was almost immediately subject to a lawsuit. But nothing was to stop Thomas, a former DJ (along with Ray Charles) on Memphis' hugely influential WDIA station, from achieving a career that is an encapsulation of the history of post-War black music, from R&B to soul and funk and onwards. When Jim Jarmusch cast Rufus in Mystery Train, as the man who meets the Japanese couple seeking The King in Memphis, he had it in mind that Thomas was the King they were looking for.

Meanwhile, from a different side of the tracks, "Money" Mark Ramos Nishita, who guests on 'Chicken Dog', 'Can't Stop' and 'Firefly Child', has been providing the keyboards for the Beastie Boys since their seminal 'Check Your Head' LP and is a much acclaimed solo artist in his own right. His solo Mo' Wax debut 'Money Mark's Keyboard Repair' was celebrated for its inventive trash aesthetic upon its release last year.

Delighting in the bizarre, pulling on the pelvis, testifying like Southern Baptist preachers high on malt liquor and brimstone, 'Now I Got Worry' transports the essential elements of this century's greatest music into the next millennium. And it's no surprise that the Blues Explosion are the only agents of chaos capable of conjuring this kind of magic. They've got the flavour. The time is now.