Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Matt Oliver, Mastered by Sam Patlove
What's not to love about The Black Keys? We're all crazy about them and for dozens of good reasons. They're dirty, they're kinda sexy for a couple of Ohio boys and they're totally fucking bad ass, but let's stop for a second and give it up for the old timer who resurrected the skuzzy, dirty, swampy blues before them. What's not even MORE to love about Jon Spencer and his Blues Explosion, a group of musicians who reek of that authentic sound of being broke, fueled mostly on whiskey and beer and hopelessly outcast by general society. None of that is of any concern. So fucking what.
Spencer has burned through songs and days for decades, writing songs that are never fully written. They are the sketches of songs that change often, that assume new blasts and new firepower every time they're performed. They will pin you up against the wall in the back of the room and they will bruise you, singe off all of your hair. You will cheer this. You'll take the closest plastic cup of draft beer and you'll dump it over your own head. You'll look up at the rafters to locate the fan. You'll find a chair that will get you close enough so that you can jump, grab onto the blades and spin around until you get dizzy, fall off and onto the back of a grizzly bear or someone else who doesn't even know what any of the hours before 9 o'clock at night look like. Who needs them anyway? Jon Spencer is a hero for any of us who don't believe in heroes, or have little need for conventional ones - you know, people who want to see you blossom, reach your potential, become a good father and prosper. He would like you to read more comic books and he'd like you keep forgetting to shower for weeks at a time. He would like you to keep saying the first things that come into your head, whether they make any goddamn sense or not. Better yet, let's all hope that they're bat shit crazy. Let's all talk about alligators eating beef jerky and seek out all of the ways that we're confounding and ridiculous and let's preach them.
Spencer is a maniac. He sounds as if he takes and bashes out glass bottles and pool cues over heads, broken cleanly, just like in the movies. And that's on a good night. No, a great night. These things happen and then they become the footnotes to the evenings as everybody involved in the melees has a nightcap - arms over buddy shoulders - at another bar down the block, differences set aside. Blues Explosion songs are meant to feel hurried and forceful and almost effervescent even. They sound as if they're coming out of the lungs of a much younger man, someone who time hasn't caught up to yet, or a man who refuses to ever change his ways due to the physical and mental properties of aging. There still needs to be that built-in time meant for the tavern and that time for chasing tail, drinking swill and tearing it up with your friends. May the dirty fun never stop.