Jon Spencer – [Album]

Jon Spencer – [Album]

Tuesday, 02 October 2018

Jon Spencer
Spencer Sings The Hits
(In The Red Records)

In Jon Spencer’s debut solo album, Spencer Sings The Hits, fans will find a genuine and true revelation about both the singer and his music. Here, they’ll finally get a sense of what portion of the music to which he has contributed over the years (with the Blues Explosion, Pussy Galore, Boss Hog, Heavy Trash, Spencer Dickinson and so on) is actually his; it will suddenly become easy to see where exactly the “Spencer” factor has always appeared. In order to accomplish this, the singer/guitarist elected to leave all of his regular musical cohorts at home and incorporate some new blood (M. Sord of No Monster Club fills the drummer’s seat here, and Quasi bassist Sam Coomes introduces a low end which seldom-if-ever appears on Spencer-helmed recordings) and change up the game with bass included and complete lyric sheets. Such additions might sound almost laughably light to those who are generally unfamiliar with the guitarist’s work but, for fans, these changes are the definition of huge and do re-define a lot of the music here.

As soon as “Do The Trash Can” crashes out to open the album, longtime Spencer fans will immediately be able to note a very delicate balance between the history which can be found in Jon Spencer’s songbook as well as the new vision this album represents. There, the tin crashing of the trash can percussion draws a direct line back to Spencer’s beginnings with Pussy Galore, but the singer’s vocals are more polished and intelligable (like his more recent work with the Blues Explosion), and the combination of those two elements cross-wires what longtime listeners expect of him in the twenty-first century in a most satisfying way. Those changes are great, but it’s the song’s rhythm section which really sets the hook in listeners; the bottomless-feeling presence of Sam Coomes’ bass is a marvel in that it instantly gives the song some muscle and thrust here-to-fore unheard of in the singer’s work, and Sord’s drums compliment that impression as well as articulating the movement of this first composition. That, combined with Spencer’s surly vocal presence makes “Do The Trash Can” a fantastic opener in that it instantly presents the song as focused and aggressive. Here, it’s possible to point directly at the fury in the song – whereas it is normally just an abstract impression left with listeners in Spencer’s music.

The penetrating sneer manifested in “Do The Trash Can” is further exposed by “Fake” – which is simultaneously furious as well as a spiritual throwback to Spencer’s salad days in New York with Pussy Galore – and “Overload” before the album finally turns to touch upon some Blues Explosion tones with “Time 2 Be Bad.” Each of those cuts plays like enduring soul food for any Blues Explosion fan’s heart and also offer a great foil for the more style-conscious fare like “Beetle Boots” and “Wilderness.” Of course, as Spencer plays through each of those turns, longtime fans will find themselves grinning because they’ll easily be able to hear the threads of the music they love and expect from the guitarist, but it also feels like its own triumph because the focus of the music illustrates that it is truly Spencer’s own work; where every other project which has featured Jon Spencer’s name has had some of this same spirit woven into it, each has also deviated into different directions along the way and so diffused the focus. Not so here – there is no other direction to be found on Spencer Sings The Hits, and so proves itself to be a pure expression of the artist’s work.

…And because it can so easily be presumed that Spencer Sings The Hits is a pure expression of the artist’s work, listeners will finally feel as though they truly know and understand the artist after they’ve run front-to-back with the album. The focus is absolute and easy to follow, and so satisfying that listeners will simultaneously feel as though they got precisely what they needed from the album as well as hoping that more may be forthcoming from the guitarist soon. That, it can only be said, is a monumental achievement for Jon Spencer. [Bill Adams]


Jon Spencer’s Spencer Sings The Hits will be released on November 9, 2018 on In The Red Records. Pre-order it here on Amazon.

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