CD Reviews for 04/14/10 – Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Heavy Trash

Compact Capsules
by Dan Ferguson

The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
Dirty Shirt Rock ‘n’ Roll
MajorDomo Records 11709

The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
Now I Got Worry (reissue)
MajorDomo Records 11767

The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
Controversial Negro (reissue)
MajorDomo Records 11816

Heavy Trash
Midnight Soul Serenade
Big Legal Mess Records

22 slabs from the first decade of the wampus and righteous rag-tag blues skronk jettisoned by The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion comprises Dirty Shirt Rock ‘n’ Roll. It’s the kickoff to the big gulp of reissues of the entirety of the JSBX catalogue to include original tracks plus oodles of extras. These dudes always had a primitive, take-no-prisoners approach to their in-your-face garage blues. It scared the traditionalists and drew in the neophytes and it’s still way rockin’ with mega-beat to spare.

Hot on the heals of Dirty Shirt Rock ‘n’ Roll is the reissue of two JSBX wallops, the long out-of-print 1996 album Now I Got Worry and the heretofore Japan-only live recording Controversial Negro. Now I Got Worry followed the groundbreaking album Orange which put the JSBX on the map. Recorded in Memphis and Mississippi, it found the JSBX diving deep into a primitive blues type of sound and also marked the first collaboration with Hill country blues legend R.L. Burnside, not to mention Memphis icon Rufus Thomas and Money Mark of Beastie Boys. The reissue expands the original 16 tracks to 32 added in a variety of B-sides and unreleased material. Released in Japan in 1997, Controversial Negro captures the JSBX in the flesh and sweat of a Tucson, AZ appearance. Like Now I Got Worry, it expands on the original 16 tracks adding 14 bonus tracks of live material. Featuring remastered sound and brand new booklets with detailed essays, these reissues are no brainers for the JSBX faithful.

Spencer’s side project when on hiatus from the Blues Explosion is Heavy Trash where he teams with guitarist Matt Verta-Ray of Speedball Baby fame. Midnight Soul Serenade is the latest and finds the duo setting aside the rockabilly that dominated the band’s first two releases. With Spencer and Verta-Ray’s two-pronged guitar attack leading the charge, the sounds are plenty raw and soulful with the music surfing into the blues, the garage and back again. As forward looking at it is retro, the common denominator through it all is cool. Visit or

Heavy Trash appears at Club Hell located at 73 Richmond Street in Providence on Monday, April 19. The Cobra-Matics open. Show time is 8 pm.

Dan Ferguson is a free-lance music writer and host of The Boudin Barndance, broadcast Thursday nights from 6 – 9 pm on WRIU-FM 90.3. He lives in Peace Dale and can be reached at [email protected].)