The Austin Chronicle

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion


November 29, 1996, Music

Liberty Lunch
Saturday, November 30

Smell something funny? It's probably Jon Spencer's pant leg.

Dripping sweat and oozing sex, Spencer, the "Number 1 blues singer in the country" and the bassless Blues Explosion (that would be Russell Simins, guitar, and Judah Bauer, drums) strut back into town Saturday on the heels of Now I Got Worry, a raunchy backslide into the visceral swamps of butt-rubbin' music that'll steam up your car windows all by itself. If their previous record, 1994's Orange, was satin sheets and scented candles at midnight, Worry is a hot, sticky, mid-afternoon of lovemaking on the floor of a one-room shotgun shack. Nothing fancy, nothing forced, just pure gut instinct.

"With Orange, we spent a lot of time and took a lot of care to try and make a record that sounded better than our last one," says Spencer. "With this record, it wasn't so precious with things: We just set up, and let it rip, and it was more of cuttin' loose in the studio."

Spencer says Orange came from the Explosion's live show -- picture Elvis with the mind of Dolemite -- and "shaped up along that Blues Explosion signifyin'." Now I Got Worry, on the other hand, grew out of this year's A Ass Pocket of Whiskey, the Explosion's collaboration with R.L. Burnside, a Mississippi bluesman as famous for his sexual and spirituous appetites as for his low-down gutbucket guitar playing.

"I think we were trying to get something a little more crazy," Spencer says. "There's definitely an influence from R.L. and his band on this latest Blues Explosion record, in the real casual way that R.L. and those guys are with their music. They have a real loose quality in their music."

Just like the bluesmen of old who'd play their asses off all night, then cut the club owner if he didn't pay up, the jive-talking, signifyin' Spencer is someone who takes his looseness seriously. Don't give him no lip, and don't question his motives.

"Why do I do what I do the way I do it?" he asks. "That's the way I think things should be done. That's what I think rock & roll should be."

No wonder your girlfriend still loves him. -- Christopher Gray

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