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The Blues Explosion
DAMAGE
(Sanctuary)

The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion have made some changes in their modus operandi since we last heard from them, on 2002ís Plastic Fang (Toyís Factory). Spencerís name is no longer part of the band moniker, and the group worked with an array of outside producers for this disc, including electronica specialists DJ Shadow, David Holmes, and Dan the Automator. The latter idea isnít actually new, since the JSBE did it on 1998ís Acme (Matador), and itís just as underwhelming now as it was then. Blips, bleeps, and samples donít add much to this bandís sound, and a surprising guest turn from Public Enemyís Chuck D on "Hot Gossip" produces only a bunch of vague, awkward musings on war and national security. Spencer and crew are best when theyíre pushing pedal to metal in time-honored Stones style, as on "Burn It Off" and "Mars, Arizona." But even here, the bandís essential jiveness remains a major sticking point. Long-time fans may argue that a fake can be better than the real thing. I agree, but for that to happen, the fake item needs to be funny or moving or provocative. The Blues Explosion are none of the above.

BY MAC RANDALL


Issue Date: November 5 - 11, 2004
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