Angela Lewis on pop

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The Independent Online
How bizarre a concept The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion (below) looked at their birth back in 1990. What had made Spencer, formerly leader of New York's notorious punk wastrels, Pussy Galore, want to don a silver shirt and form a blues band? Quite a shift that, but one that has provided four albums of flamboyantly uncivilised, raw and funky albums to date. Pussy Galore's high sleaze factor lives on, but in place of trashy white noise there's punky black blues-manship. All fun and good stuff for Spencer's studenty alternative fan base who wouldn't know the blues if they sat on a Howlin' Wolf vinyl LP and broke it. For blues virgins, Spencer is pretty freaky and clever to boot.

Six years on, the nucleus of the band is the same. Spencer yelps and squawks up front, Judah Bauer is on guitar and Russell Simins does the wild thing on drums. But the new album also boasts collaborations with seasoned Memphis star, Rufus Thomas, Doo Rag's Thermos Malling and Beastie Boys' keyboards thumper of post-modern excellence, Money Mark Ramos Nishita. It's not the old-meets-new, sound-clash classic Spencer was obviously aiming for with a cool roll-call like that, but it does set the pelvis a-quiver at times.

Live, Spencer is a giddy, shaking Jerry Lee Lewis wannabe, all copybook wobbly knees and southern Baptist church hysterics. But hell, in an Anglo pop scene infested with frontmen who've attended the Noel Gallagher School of Stage Presence, this is a blessed relief. And we shouldn't want it any other way.

The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Bristol Fleece & Firkin (0117 927 7150) Sat; London Astoria (0171 434 0403) Sun