Tuesday, November 15, 2011

90's Hit Parade #14

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion - Bellbottoms/Ditch

I saw JSBX 3 times: twice at the 40 Watt, once opening for the Beastie Boys at the enormous (and notoriously acoustically impaired) Omni. All three shows rocked, but strangely enough, the best was the Omni. They were just so far down into the groove, so tight and so loose. When they played "Bellbottoms," the band was just going off on this extended jam, Jon just wailing on the guitar. He started playing this three-note riff that I think he might have stolen from KISS: Alive! (from the extended jam on "Let Me Go Rock n Roll"). Then he switched up suddenly, and started playing this boogie-woogie riff, like the one Angus Young plays on "Let There Be Rock" right when they're going into the unending guitar solo, but much faster. And if I've failed to explain how awesome that moment was, it just points out a larger truth about JSBX live shows: you had to be there. None of their albums capture it, but they do come pretty close on the best tracks on Orange (the first three and last three or four tracks are all prime. The rest is a'ight). "Bellbottoms" starts with a skronky one-note riff (here, listen to the full version, since this is all cut out of the video), which turns into a blaxploitation film theme with string accompaniment, then goes through a rather silly attempt at a James Brown "Sex Machine"-style vocal intro, and then just breaks the fuck loose, climaxing in a wild feedback jam (although nothing close to what you'd hear from them live on a good night). Then it segues into the funky "Ditch," which climaxes in an incredibly hard drum breakdown, with Jon hitting the hell out of the vocals: "I'm gonna dig that...DITCH!!!" And THEN it explodes into some nasty saxophone torture.


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