the jon spencer blues explosions


Winona Ryder in Jon Spencer Blue Explosion music video (October 1998)

“New York’s premiere blues-punk noisemakers, The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, will return to record racks next week with a new album, “Acme,” but you won’t see the band doing their thing on MTV any time soon. Instead, you’ll see Winona Ryder as frontman Jon Spencer, “Saving Private Ryan’s” Giovanni Ribisi as guitarist Judah Bauer, and “Boogie Nights’” John C. Reilly as drummer Russell Simins in the band’s new video, “Talk About The Blues.” The clip turns around the old soundtrack video formula as the actors belt out the song while the real band stomps through scenes apparently lifted from a crime thriller.” - MTV News (October 12, 1998) 

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion "Orange" (1994)

I have a memory of seeing The Beastie Boys in either 2002 or 2003 and The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion opened for them. I had never heard of them before I was there to see the Beastie Boys. Not the ideal setting to discover and embrace new music. I actually remember booing- which I feel really embarrassed about now. But the people I was with weren’t into them either, and we had traveled all the way from Umass to New York City (via New Rochelle, where we parked our car at our friend’s dad’s house and then hopped on the train into Penn Station) and just wanted the Beastie Boys to start already! My wallet was stolen out of my backpack during that concert, which was probably karma for my booing at Jon Spencer and his Blues Explosion. But the Beastie Boys show was so good and I remember feeling so sad that someone could have thought to reach into my backpack and steal my wallet at such an awesome concert, because it really felt like everyone was there for the same reason- to love the Beastie Boys together. When you see a band live and feel like the strangers around you them love them just as much as you do, it’s such an uplifting and amazing experience and I remember feeling that that night, until I discovered my wallet was gone.

Anyway, since that concert, I’ve gotten to know Jon Spencer Blues Explosion a little more- mostly through Alex playing them sometimes, and I usually like what he puts on, but I’ve never consciously listened to one of their albums all the way through. So let’s put it on!

In my defense, I still feel like they aren’t the best band to open for the Beastie Boys. I like what they’re doing here, but part of me feels like I don’t quite get it. It’s actually kind of surprising to me that Alex likes this band so much because he hates blues rock. He says that this music is like punk but bluesier and funky mayhem, but I don’t know if thats totally accurate. I feel like I’m kind of hearing this music the same way I heard Blondie. I like it okay. It sounds like good and kinda unique rock and roll, but it’s just not making me feel anything exciting. Alex is air guitaring rather aggressively right now, and I am feeling like the opposite of air guitaring right now. Honestly, the feelings I had at that Beastie Boys concert are kind of coming back to me. But I still feel bad for booing.

I like how they keep referencing the blue explosion in their lyrics though. It’s kind of funny.

Alex Says: I’m only jumping in here because Sarah is having a hard time with this review. She is bored by the Blues Explosion. In fact she is actually lying down and groaning about having to listen to the side B.

And maybe it is boring. It’s hard for me to tell, because it’s too wrapped up in my memories of band practices where we would fight over whether the riff from “Dang” was actually the riff from The Gories’ cover of “Trick Bag,” and we’d play them both back to back and gripe about it. Or how I used to ride around in my mom’s egg shaped Honda Accord that had blown out speakers from me playing music too loud, and sing “Blues x Man” with the windows rolled down at the top of my lungs. This was a rock album, but a couple songs like “Flavor” and “Greyhound” had hip hop elements, and it wasn’t cheesy as hell like the Judgment Night soundtrack

This came out in 1994 which was sort of a musical awakening year for me. I started looking backward to the music that inspired the stuff I was listening to at the time, but it was also the year I joined my first band(s), and this album came out, and Shellac At Action Park, and there were a million amazing bands where I lived - Couch, Scheme, Chore, Galen, Tiger 100. It was all so overwhelming.

But unlike other bands I listened to at the time, this still sounds as exciting and weird and exotic and self-aware as it did when I was listening to it as a kid. I think if Sarah was listening to this in the same spirit she was listening to, say Adam Ant, she’d be into it. Jon Spencer is a dumb goofball character, and we’re supposed to listen to it in that spirit. I don’t think that’s going to happen, though, because it looks like she just fell asleep.

PS: I know I should probably file this under ‘J’. One of the many things I’m learning from this project is my alphabetization schema is atrocious.

The Ever-Evolving Sandman Slim Devilish Songs Playlist

Hells Bells by AC/DC

Highway to Hell by AC/DC

I Walk The Line by Alien Sex Fiend

Get Behind Me Satan by The Almanac Singers

Sex With The Devil by Ann Magnuson

Blue Spirit Blues by Bessie Smith

Mutiny In Heaven by The Birthday Party

Evil Ways by Black Mountain

Beat the Devil’s Tattoo by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

Heaven And Hell by Black Sabbath

Hot Rails to Hell by Blue Oyster Cult

Old Devil by Bo Carter

The Devil Ain’t Lazy by Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys

Rid the Devil by Bourbon Crow

No Lucifer by British Sea Power

The Devil Went Down To Georgia by The Charlie Daniels Band

Straight to Hell by The Clash

Devil Or Angel by The Clovers

Lucifer’s Memory by Comets On Fire

Me and the Devil by Cowboy Junkies  

Aloha From Hell by The Cramps

Crossroads by Cream                     

If There’s A Hell Below We’re All Going To Go by Curtis Mayfield

Sleeping In The Devil’s Bed by Daniel Lanois

Devil’s Flame by Dawn Kinnard

Hellnation by Dead Kennedys                 

Satan by Deerhoof

Devil Come Down Sunday by Derek Miller

You Must Be Certain Of The Devil by Diamanda Galás

Stranger Blues by Dream City Film Club

Devil in Disguise by Elvis Presley

Devil Tango by Evan Lurie

There’s Going To Be The Devil To Pay by Fats Waller

Feelin’ Devilish by Fess Parker

Lucifer Rising by Flaming Lips

Devil’s Dance Floor by Flogging Molly

Seven Devils by Florence and The Machine

Old Devil Moon by Frank Sinatra

Dead Heaven by Gary Numan

Race With The Devil by Gene Vincent

Train To Satanville by Gin Gillette

A Devil In The Woods by The Gun Club

Devil City Destiny by Halo Benders

Straight To Hell_ Satan Is Real by Hank Williams III

Seasons In The Abyss by Hellsongs

God Bless The Devil by Hybrasil                              

Your Pretty Face Is Going To Hell by Iggy and The Stooges

Devil With The Black Dress On by Jack Off Jill

Putting Salt On The Devil’s Tail by Jack Teagarden

Hell by James Brown

The Devil Is My Friend by The Jazz Butcher

I’d Rather Be The Devil by John Martyn

Devil’s Right Hand by Johnny Cash

Devil Got My Woman by The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion

Lucifer by Junior Murvin

Pagin’ The Devil by The Kansas City Six

Stray Bullet by Kmfdm

Sympathy for the Devil by Laibach     

The Day The Devil by Laurie Anderson

Where’s The Devil… When You Need Him? by The Legendary Shack Shakers

Hellish Rag by Ma Rainey


Devil’s Island by Megadeth

Devil’s Dance by Metallica

Donkey Ride (Straight To Hell) by Michael J. Sheehy

All Hell Breaks Loose by The Misfits

Devil’s Whorehouse by The Misfits

Misfits - Devilock by The Misfits

Devil with a Blue Dress by Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels

Devil I Know by Motorhead

Devils by Motorhead

Devils in My Head by Motorhead

Demon Brother by The Murder City Devils

And This Is What The Devil Does by My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult

Daisy Chain for Satan by My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult

Devil Bunnies by My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult

Lucifer’s Lament by Neva Dinova

Bellringer Blues by Nick Cave & Grinderman

Up Jumped The Devil by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

Help Me I Am In Hell by Nine Inch Nails         

Came Back Haunted by Nine Inch Nails

Oh You Devil You by Oliver Brown

I’d Rather Be The Devil by Otis Spann

At The Devil’s Ball by The Peerless Quartet

Lucifer Sam by Pink Floyd

The Devil by PJ Harvey

Tying A Knot In The Devil’s Tail by Powder River Jack & Kitty Lee

Miss Lucifer by Primal Scream

The Devil’s Chasing Me by Reverend Horton Heat

Superbeast by Rob Zombie

Lucifer Rising by Rob Zombie

Crossroad Blues by Robert Johnson

Me and the Devil Blues by Robert Johnson

Hellhound On My Trail by Robert Johnson

Don’t Shake Me Lucifer by Roky Erickson & The Explosives

Sympathy For The Devil by The Rolling Stones

Train To Satanville by Ruby Ann

Little Demon by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins

Dust Devil (Suite) by Simon Boswell

The Devil Has Thrown Him Down by Sister Rosetta Tharpe

Devil Got My Woman by Skip James

Hell Awaits by Slayer

South of Heaven by Slayer

Burn Devil Burn by Soul Messengers & The Spirit Of Israel

You Will Miss Me When I Burn by Soulsavers Feat. Mark Lanegan

Devil’s Stompin Ground by Southern Culture on the Skids

Christmas with the Devil by Spinal Tap

Devil by Stereophonics                                  

Frankie Teardrop by Suicide

Down, Down, Down by Tom Waits

Damnation by Trent Reznor

Hell is Round the Corner by Tricky

She Belongs To The Devil by Washboard Sam

Super-Charger Heaven by White Zombie

Chased Old Satah Through The Door by Woodie Brothers

Devil Doll by X


The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion - Talk About The Blues

starring  Winona Ryder, Giovanni Ribisi, John C. Reilly