Meat and Bone
Mom & Pop Music
It’s nice to have Jon Spencer Blues Explosion back – that’s the obvious, immediate feeling I get every time I hit play on new album, Meat and Bone. The next obvious, immediate feeling I get every time I hit play on new album, Meat and Bone, is that I want to hit play again when it gets to the end. And I do.
The band killed it a couple of years ago – and they’re back in New Zealand any day now to (likely) do the business once again.
But it’s been a hard last decade or so for Jon Spencer and his Blues Explosion – there was the hiatus more recently, an end – for a while. Before that there was the name change, to Blues Explosion, back to Jon Spencer and – really – there’s been uncertainly since 2002’s Plastic Fang. Seen as a softening/sell-out by many, a retooled Stones trawl of sorts, I always loved that album. (And I say that as someone on board from earlier in the band’s discography, Acme, Orange, Extra Width, Now I Got Worry – and on, and on…)
But the thing I remember most vividly about Plastic Fang was not the music – but a review I read suggesting that Spencer was likely mad given he was killing it nightly, rightly, way back when Jack White was still picking out his colour scheme.
I’ve always wondered if that was – in some way – (actually) the case. Could a bitterness at the hip young things being candy-coloured and capturing the market be (a part of) the reason behind the Jon Spencer Blues Implosion? I reckon so. In some way, for sure.
That was on my mind when I saw the band nail it live recently. And it was on my mind – still – when I plugged in to Meat and Bone the first few times.
Also, I thought of The Black Keys – and I hoped as I first listened to Meat and Bone that Spencer and crew were not heading in that direction.
I think Meat and Bone lines up well with the earlier Black Keys albums – but not because of any planning, or listening on Spencer’s part. It also lines up well with The Stooges – where Spencer came from in a sense and King Khan and the Shrines – among the many acts to feel an influence from the Blues Explosion.
I like, too, that once again you can actually feel the sweat coming through off the record. You get a sense of the visceral live show, the energy. You get a sense too – here, especially, on this record – that Spencer’s trio gives a shit about not giving a shit; they’re working hard to appear nonchalant. They care. They know they had it – they had an audience for the taking. And whether fair or not, they lost that – and have to regain it nightly. They do. Obviously. They deliver the rock’n’roll goods. But this isn’t so much the big announcement as it is the audition-piece. And I like that too. Spencer never (really) did humble. It seems he’s giving it something of a go on this album. I can’t wait to hear these songs live.