Formed in 1991 after the demise of Jon Spencer's seminal band Pussy Galore, the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion has always included drummer Russell Simins and guitar ace Judah Bauer. Taking cues from rock, punk, R&B, garage, hardcore, and hip hop idioms, while transcending the limitations of each, the Blues Explosion created a new sound which they've spent the last 16 years honing and redefining. Their music is as deft and bold and life-affirming as the Meters, the Magic Band, or the Birthday Party.Beginning in 1992, The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion earmarked songs from their recording sessions for their Jukebox Single Series on In The Red. The singles, which were based on a similar series done by rockabilly legend Charlie Feathers in the 1970s, featured some of most incendiary, hyper-charged tunes the band ever cut. From their spastic take on Chain Gang's "Son Of Sam" to "Ghetto Mom" (the final single from 2002) these seven-inch sides always showcased the band's full-throttle punk rock side.Now, for the first time, all five out-of-print singles have been collected in one place on Jukebox Explosion, along with eight previously unheard rarities from the band's early days that are every bit as action-packed, frantic, and furious.Jukebox Explosion captures one of the most exciting, original, and influential bands to emerge in the 1990s at the absolute peak of their powers. If you dig rock 'n' roll music, this stuff is absolutely essential.
Review by Mark Deming
Given their fervent belief in all that is loud, sleazy, and butt-shakable, it's no great surprise that the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion saved some of their most raucous performances for that most all-killer, no-filler of audio formats, the 7" single. Jukebox Explosion crams 18 JSBX sides that were previously available only on 7" vinyl (most as part of In the Red's Blues Explosion Jukebox Series) or were never before released onto one CD for the turntable deprived, and if this set lacks a bit of the coherent flow of the group's best albums, for sheer party-down noise this is high-octane frenzy at its most satisfying. While some observers have grumbled that JSBX's work in the 21st century hasn't been up to the standards they previously established, even the newer tracks on Jukebox Explosion roar like a mountain lion on steroids, with the Plastic Fang outtake "Ghetto Mom" sounding as good as anything on board. Other high points include "Caroline," a venomous kiss-off to the band's former record label; the slow and melodramatic "Jailhouse Blues" (a cover of an old Andre Williams number); the heavy-grinding "Showgirl" (featuring Cristina Martinez of Boss Hog on backing vox and previously available as a giveaway from Sassy Magazine, of all places); and "Curfew Blues," a soulful strut Spencer confesses was ripped off from Earl King at the fade. If you prefer JSBX's more polished efforts such as Acme and Plastic Fang, Jukebox Explosion may not be your cup of cheap whiskey, but if you want to hear this band rocking full-stop, this does the job as well as anything these guys have released since Crypt Style. Points added for the excellent cover artwork by Mort Todd, which should look familiar to fans of the Back from the Grave series.