Friday, April 12, 2002 Volume 67, Issue 129



JSBX's latest reeks of raw, southern flavor

By Chris Goodier
Daily Cougar Staff

Grit has never been more appealing, thanks to The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion's latest release, Plastic Fang.

Following the success of the electronic-based ACME, the new album cages the resolute intensity of one of today's rawest live acts. It gets back to the
southern sweat-rock vibe of 1996's Orange, while a proactive producer heightens the more cohesive sound.

Singer/guitarist Spencer has come into his own on this one, not as a musician but as a rock star. His Big Bopper/Elvis-style drawl is infectious and
irresistible for a full 48 minutes.

Images of a toothpick dangling between defiantly curled lips, hard packs rolled tightly against naturally oiled biceps and chicken grease-drenched
hands running gloss through dark hair make Plastic Fang the soundtrack to a domestic disturbance call.

Many of the songs are similar, as this is by no means an album of technical brilliance. The gutsy attitude and energy behind these punkabilly jams is
what gains respect, providing a response to Lenny Kravitz's "rock 'n' roll is dead" statement. That would be before Kravitz had a mantel lined with
Grammy awards.

The inaugural track, "Sweet N Sour," barrels down with the momentum of an 18-wheeler into a weigh station. Here, searing Zeppelin-esque riffs
complement cavernous snare cracks in an atmospheric resonance.

The large sound was made possible by the in-studio employment of Steve Jordan behind the boards. With experience working for everyone from B.B.
King to Billy Joel, Jordan gets a full sound out of a mere trio.

More impressive is that JSBX is bass-less, relying on surprisingly effective bottom-heavy guitar tones to fill the void. Jordan accomplished this with "a
lot of different miking techniques, bi- and tri- amping stuff. I didn't want to do a lot of overdubs."

"It's all to (emulate) a live performance ... beyond the technical and creative stuff, he was just egging us on," Spencer adds.

Throughout each track, Plastic Fang retains a die-cast macabre mood, as evident in the chain-gang lamentations of "Down in the Beast." Spencer
takes the role of Jonah and recounts a trip into the stomach of a bayou fish here, bellowing declarations such as "Three miles down, my blood gone
cold. And up came a monster, to swallow me whole."

Whether the thirst be carnal or blood, JSBX's sixth full-length will satisfy all primal inhibitions.

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