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Meet The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion: America’s Hardest-Working Rock ‘N’ Roll Band

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The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion (courtesy J. Murray)

The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion (courtesy J. Murray)

Pro Pic Chris Coyle
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(CBS Seattle) - New York City’s The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion is back in the Emerald City on Tuesday, making a stop at The Crocodile.

A quick history lesson for those who are unfamiliar with the band — with JSBX, the energy is endless, the sound is primal, the sweat is prevalent, the libido is full-throttle and the quality is crisp, but also rough around the edges. The live show gets plenty of practice because the band relentlessly tours the globe. Spencer and company (guitarist Judah Bauer and drummer Russell Simins) have been mixing primitive punk, soul, blues — and even hip-hop — for more than 20 years and are showing no signs of slowing down despite being “one of those 90s bands” that is still making records.

“I don’t think we’ve ever totally let go of the punk side or the art side or the confrontation side,” says Spencer. “We started this band because we were so in love with a lot of different, strange records — and really in love with the idea of what we truly thought rock ‘n’ roll should be.”

And perhaps the musically rebellious nature has contributed to the band’s longevity; The band has a new record out called, Meat and Bone. 

“We circled the wagons, and went back to our roots …. in a way this is almost like another first album.”

Meat and Bone leans more toward the rawness side of the band as opposed to the experimental side heard on relatively recent records like Damage (2004) and Acme (1998). JSBX has never been shy about adding drum loops or bizarre effects into songs; that could be the reason as to why reaction to the new record among record geeks, music bloggers and headbangers is that the band has returned to its wild roots, providing a 40-minute sonic explosion with the guitars and howling out in front.

“When we’re working, when we’re writing, when we’re making a record, we don’t usually discuss things too much,” says Spencer. “We don’t like to make plans, we’d rather just make the music and see what shape it takes. I think the kind of songs that we wrote for Meat and Bone were just best suited for this, kind of, raw approach.”

Spencer says re-issuing the albums Extra Width (1993), Orange (1994), and Now I Got Worry (1996) back in 2010 was also an influence for the new record. He admits going through the old material gave the band a feeling of empowerment. The band was “reacquainted” with songs (and sounds) it had forgotten about.

There will be no shortage of sweat, promiscuous dancing, genuine boogie and fuzz guitar on Tuesday night. There will also be an ample amount of people who cannot legally drink alcohol — this is an all-ages party!

The John Spencer Blues Explosion gig starts at 8 pm with Quasi opening the evening — tickets are $15 in advance.

-Chris Coyle, CBS Seattle

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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