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Expanding Blues Explosion

Blues Explosion

Blues Explosion - Damage!
(Sanctuary Records)
3 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: Aug. 31, 2004

Review by Tony Bonyata

Although Jon Spencer may have dropped his name from his band moniker, the singer / guitarist has still kept the nucleus of not only his Blues Explosion band (including guitarist Judah Bauer and drummer Russell Simins) but, even more importantly, the gritty blues/rock sound - inspired by the likes of Jerry Lee Lewis, Howlin' Wolf and Stooges-era Iggy Pop - that he's been laying down for the last 15 years.
On their latest album Damage! Spencer has enlisted an army of different producers, including David Holmes, DJ Shadow, Dan The Automater, Steve Jordan and Alan Moulder, resulting in broad mix of different sounds and genres.
While not as focused as their last greasy platter Plastic Fang, Damage! nonetheless finds Spencer and company delivering interesting rockers peppered with rap ("Hot Gossip"), gospel-tinged blues ("Spoiled"), convulsing jazz ("Rivals") and even a bit of punchy pop ("Crunchy").
While commendable that he's venturing into new terrain, Damage! ultimately works best when Spencer revisits the sins of Jerry Lee Lewis and takes them for a joyride down to the Delta crossroads for a piece of pie and cup of joe with the devil. On the title track the band delivers a delicious kick-in-the-gut blues number that eventually erupts into a frenetic drum-and-bass free-for-all. And on the scrappy "Help These Blues" he lays down a dirty riff while admitting that while he's not in the service of the devil, he "sometimes feels his sick breath on his behind." And it's these moments when Old Scratch plays the monkey on Spencer's back that ultimately keeps this album in check.

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