Dirty Shirt Rock 'n' Roll: The First Ten Years

Dirty Shirt Rock 'n' Roll: The First Ten Years

by The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
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Dirty Shirt Rock 'n' Roll: The First Ten Years

We needed this. The excellent Jukebox Explosion, which collected all the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion's singles, was released in 2007, and it was a serious boon for those who didn't have access to turntables or decent record stores. What we didn't have was a representative portrait of the insane mind-explosion wildness, shambolically combustible diversity, and bravado that could never be contained on a single album by the band. Each record was as different as the collective waste-oid mood that Spencer, Judah Bauer, and Russell Simins shifted. This massive 22-track set collects many of the group's album tracks -- sequenced by Spencer -- that capture the entire range of the psychotic, roots-drenched roar that was JSBE. Spencer's band was able to take roots rock, blues, R&B, and even funk and twist and turn them into something simultaneously ugly and irresistibly seductive. Check the opener, "Chicken Dog," where, assisted by the great Rufus Thomas, they managed a Memphis rock & roll not heard since the Panther Burns' earliest days, pasted onto a two-chord riff and taut, slamming beat with a huffing bag's worth of airplane glue. It's followed by "Magical Colors," with Spencer vampirically hosting the ghost of Mick Jagger (à la Emotional Rescue) and marrying it to Memphis soul, slippery guitar, and bass riffs that the Rolling Stones are no longer capable of. Contrast this with the rage of "History of Sex," from 1991, where punk rock and early Chicago blues hook up against a wall for some filthy fun in a glass-strewn alley on a sweat-drenched summer night. The polluted funk of "Afro," from 1993, contains sampled flute sounds, a monolithic bass vamp, and a B-3 cranking over the wah-wah guitar. Spencer alternately croons and growls all but indecipherable lyrics before his ten-second guitar solo turns everything within earshot into nuclear waste. Check the clavinet funk in "Buscemi" and the use of strings in "Bellbottoms" for further evidence of murky devil funk and groove consciousness, where the beat is as big -- and real -- as the boast. "Shake 'Em on Down" is here in edited form from the A Ass Pocket of Whiskey collaboration with R.L. Burnside, as is "Love Ain't on the Run" from the unholy union between JSBE and the Dub Narcotic Sound System. These songs are two versions of the blues that conjure the spirits of the Delta via misanthropic musi-erotic fantasies of forbidden unions in the dimly lit juke joints from Spencer and his mates' collective imagination. Some see irony in JSBE's music. It's there but not because of amplified imitation; it's mockery of how far rock & roll had traveled from its origins. For ten years, JSBE gave indie rock, grunge, and everything that came after a gigantic, righteous middle finger. This big-slice reminder of that is exactly what we need in the 21st century when the wildness inherent in rock's backbone has all but utterly disintegrated.

Product Details

Release Date: 03/30/2010
Label: Shout Factory
UPC: 0826663117097
catalogNumber: 11709
Rank: 56201

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion   Primary Artist
Rufus Thomas   Vocals
Andre Williams   Vocals
R.L. Burnside   Guitar,Vocals
Kenny Brown   Guitar
James Luther Dickinson   farfisa organ
Rick Lee   Noise
Money Mark   Organ
Jon Spencer   Guitar,Theremin,Vocals
Dan the Automator   scratching
Russell Simins   Drums
Greg Talenfeld   Harmonica,Background Vocals
Hollis Queens   Vocals
Cristina Martinez   Vocals
Mark "Money Mark" Ramos-Nishita   Clavinet
Luther Dickinson   Sitar
Cody Dickinson   Washboard
Calvin Johnson   Vocals
Steve Jordan   Acoustic Guitar,Vocals,Hand Clapping
Judah Baker   Guitar,Vocals
Jeremy Jacobson   Organ,Piano
D.A.P.   Turntables

Technical Credits

R.L. Burnside   Composer
Steve Albini   Engineer
Mario Caldato   Remixing
Doug Easley   Engineer
Davis McCain   Engineer
Don Smith   Engineer
Jim Waters   Producer,Engineer
Jon Spencer   Composer,Producer
Dub Narcotic Sound System   Composer
Greg Talenfeld   Engineer
Matthew Johnson   Producer
Peter Arsenault   Engineer
Explosion   Composer
Chip Kidd   Art Direction
Jeff Palo   Producer
Dubnarcotic   Composer
Mike Diamond   Remixing
Suz Dyer   Engineer
Calvin Johnson   Engineer
Steve Jordan   Producer
Mike Edison   Liner Notes
Beck Hansen   Remixing

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Dirty Shirt Rock 'n' Roll: The First Ten Years 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
poughkeepsiejohn More than 1 year ago
How freaky is The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion? They managed to get soul music master Rufus Thomas to record "Chicken Dog" with them. They also managed to get bluesman R. L. Burnside to tour and cut a song ("Shake 'em On Down"). They have done cool, oft-kilter videos with Winona Ryder and The Beastie Boys. A few of those videos were even directed by, of all people, Weird Al Yankovic. Not bad for a band that have never had a Top Forty album or won a Grammy. But if a group can attain fans as varied as these, how many contradictions are we talking about here? There are a number of reasons for this. Firstly, Jon Spencer is never one to play it straight. Secondly, he and his band does play blues music. They also, however, play 50's style psychobilly ("Money Rock And Roll"), rambunctious 60's garage rock ("Blues X Man"), funky 70's soul ("Afro") and even do a little bit of psychedelia with some scratchy Beck-style rapping ("Flavor"). Jon Spencer would perhaps the first to say he's no genius. Is he a genuine rocker? You bet. Playing whatever he wants to play with sweaty ferocity and total reckless abandonment. By all rights, The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion should be stars now. "Dirty Shirt Rock 'n Roll" captures some of the best moments of the group's albums---including a few cuts from their rarely heard first album, "Controversial Negro". All of Jon Spencer's have been re-released and they all come recommended---particularly "Acme", with a better sound and additional cuts. Start with "Dirty Shirt" and then, try to imagine Jet Screamer of "The Jetsons" fronting Southern Culture On The Skids. It could very well be The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion.