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Toxic Punkabilly

The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion - Plastic Fang
(Matador Records)
3 1/2 Stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: April 17, 2002

Jon Spencer

By Tony Bonyata

Delta bluesman "Mississippi" Fred McDowell once proclaimed the he, "don't play no rock 'n' roll." Despite their misleading name, it should also be noted that The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion don't play no blues.
Led by one-time Pussy Galore frontman, Jon Spencer, this stripped down, in-your-face hard rocking trio may not play traditional blues but the one thing they nailed was the 'explosion' part.
On their ninth album Plastic Fang, Spencer, along with cohorts Judah Bauer (guitars) and Russell Simins (drums) trash the joint with pounding rockers and punkabilly numbers like "Down In The Beast," "Sweet and Sour," "Money Rock 'n' Roll" and the lean "She Said," which sounds like Joe Jackson with a jug of white whiskey at a monster truck rally.
What Spencer is best at is, though, is conjuring up a seedy, subversive slice of early '60s counterculture. B-movies, greasy fries, drunk hillbillies and the smell of carburetor cleaner abound on this fun, high-octane collection. With the help of New Orleans piano professor Dr. John, who actually adds his own funky brand of swamp guitar to the track "Hold On," Spencer's deep guttural growling sounds like Iggy Pop at a Holiday Inn Elvis convention, while Bauer and Spencer's guitars scrap and spar back and forth on the white-knuckle punk closer "Point of View."
Call it toxic rockabilly, punk or just good old fashioned garage rock, just don't expect any basic 12 bar blues from this explosion.

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