Since his early days in Pussy Galore, Jon Spencer has been
raising a ruckus that is undeniably rock and nearly scandal proof. His MO has never changed, he charges ahead at
full speed, mowing down all in this path as if they were weeds on an otherwise
beautiful lawn. Yet aside from some
intermittent touring, it has been eight long, painfully quiet years since The
Jon Spencer Blues Explosion released their last record, Damage.
On Meat and Bone, the
blow out the gate with the rough edged “Black Mold” and carries on through
garage rock rooted songs like “Ice Cream Killer”, “Boot Cut” and “Black
Thoughts”, all built solidly on a foundation of distortion and echo that so-called
“hard rocking” bands like Wolfmother and Black Mountain only wish they could achieve. “Get Your Pants Off” is as groovy as nearly
anything Stax ever pressed. That’s
saying something. “Bag of Bones” is textbook garage blues, rocking heavy,
washing the listener in crushing distortion and topnotch harmonica work. “Unclear” dribbles from your ears and down
your back like slush while Jon Spencer’s vocals come on Bowie in his Ziggy years if Ziggy would have
had a giant pair of balls and far less mascara.
“Bear Trap” is one of the few slower numbers on Meat and Bone but that doesn’t make it less fierce. Spencer lays down somewhat clearer guitar
lines with drummer Russell Simins working the set as if he was playing with Budgie
or Captain Beyond in the 1970’s, all
the while guitarist Judah Bauer deals out the low end on his thickly processed
guitar at an ominously addictive speed.
It is rare that I
find every track on a record worth recommending but that is just the case. The absolute champion here is the mostly
instrumental (except for Spencer
whispering zimgar in the opening)
“Zimgar.” An interstellar blues jam
blends Spencer’s expert fingering with Russell Simins’ bowel shaking and
snappy, steady, flawless drum, it is one of The Blues Explosion’s best tracks
and Meat and Bone stands as quite
possibly the band’s best album to date.
The Explosion breaks everything down to its root and reconstructs it all
in a perfect way; it should show a generation of cool kids that may have missed
him the first time around that Jon Spencer is among garage rock’s main guitar
slingers. Do not snooze on Meat and Bone: it is out of this world
and as addictive as Heisenberg’s Blue Sky meth.
Thoughts,” “Get Your Pants Off” DANNY R. PHILLIPS