Top 10 Jon Spencer Blues Explosion Songs

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion Songs

Our top 10 Jon Spencer Blues Explosion songs list looks at the body of work of an American outfit known for its impactful career in the blues rock scene. The band was formed in 1991 by vocalist Jon Spencer who had just ended his tenure as the frontman of the garage rock outfit Pussy Galore. Spencer was joined in the band’s lineup by drummer Russell Simins and guitarist Judah Bauer, who would occasionally take on the lead vocals role. While the band has been most renowned for its blues rock sound, its members also featured garage rock, punk blues, R&B, and soul influences in some of its releases.

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion’s Career Beginnings and Breakthrough

A few months after the band’s inauguration, the trio issued its first recording A Reverse Willie Horton through the label Public Pop Can. A Reverse Willie Horton was quite incomprehensible and peculiar, juxtaposed with most of the band’s albums. This punk blues/alternative rock release lacked coherency hence never made received critical acclaim. However, this was just but a start for the band which at the time was trying to solidify its presence in the blues rock scene.

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion would issue an eponymous studio album that served as the band’s debut album, followed up by the album Crypt Style. Unlike A Reverse Willie Horton, these two albums felt a little comprehensible thanks to the improved composition of the songs. However, with elements of the band’s first release still featured on these two albums, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion had quite a tough task breaking into the mainstream. Nevertheless, the band’s promising future saw its members tagged on The Jesus Lizard 1992 US tour as a supporting act.

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion’s star started shining in 1993 after the band issued its third official studio album, Extra WidthExtra Width might not have made it to the mainstream charts but played a significant role in Jon Spencer Blues Explosion’s breakthrough. “Afro,” a single from Extra Width, received some airplay on MTV introducing the band to a larger audience. In July 1994, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion reissued some of its songs from Extra Width on the recording Mo’ Width. Other noteworthy releases by the band include the covers of the hits “Ole Man Trouble” by Otis Redding and “There Stands the Glass” by Webb Pierce.

In 1994, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion went on to issue Orange, one of its most definitive recordings of all time. Orange saw the band blend garage rock with punk blues and experimental funk sounds. “Bellbottoms,” “Flavor,” “Ditch,” “Brenda,” and “Dang” are the best Jon Spencer Blues Explosion songs from the album. The song “Flavor” featured appearances by Mike D of The Beastie Boys and the Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Beck.

Now I Got Worry, issued in 1996, marked the fifth studio album by Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. The album featured guest appearances by Money Mark of The Beastie Boys and R&B/soul icon Rufus Thomas. Now I Got Worry was a mainstream success, peaking at the fourth spot on the Billboard Heatseekers Albums Chart. The album also made it to the Billboard 200, peaking at number one hundred and twenty-one. Now I Got Worry also made it to the UK Albums Chart, peaking at number fifty. “Wail,” “2Kindsa Love,” “Chicken Dog,” and “Rocketship” are the most popular songs by Jon Spencer Blues Explosion from the album.

In 1998, the band issued its sixth studio album, Acme through Matador Records. The album saw the trio take on a blend of punk blues and alternative rock. Acme was a mainstream success, rising to position seventy-two on the UK Albums Chart. The album also made it to the Billboard 200, peaking at position one hundred and eighty. “Magical Colors,” “Talk About the Blues,” “Heavy,” and “Calvin” are some of the best Jon Spencer Blues Explosion songs from Acme.

Plastic Fang, issued in 2001, marked that band’s seventh official studio album. This Steve Jordan-produced album featured guest appearances by former Parliament Funkadelic member Bernie Worrell, Dr. John, and bassist Willie Weeks. Willie Weeks is remembered for his work with Donny Hathaway, Rosanne Cash, John Mellencamp, Vince Gill, Aretha Franklin, Gypsy, Rod Stewart, and Randy Newman. “She Said,” “Sweet ‘n’ Sour,” and “Shakin’ Rock ‘n’ Roll Tonight” are top musical gems by Jon Spencer Blues Explosion from the album Plastic Fang.

In 2004, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion issued its eighth studio album, Damage. The band issued this LP under the moniker “Blues Explosion.” Unfortunately, the album failed to garner the band the much-needed attention on the mainstream. Jon Spencer Blues Explosion would eventually take a long break without issuing any new album until 2012 when it issued Meat + BoneMeat + Bone featured some of the best Jon Spencer Blues Explosion songs including “Black Mold,” “Bag of Bones,” and “Get Your Pants Off.”

Freedom Tower – No Wave Dance Party 2015, issued in 2015, marked the band’s tenth and final official studio album. While the album failed to make it to the mainstream charts, it featured musical gems such as “Betty Vs The NYPD,” “Do The Get Down,” and “Tales Of Old New York: The Rock Box.” Unfortunately, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion went on hiatus in 2016 with no plans of regrouping.

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion’s Legacy and Other Musical Pursuits

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion remains one of New York’s most revered blues rock outfits. The band also played a significant role in the revival of garage rock before sticking to its blend of punk blues and alternative rock sounds. Jon Spencer Blues Explosion went on to create a lasting impression on its audiences thanks to its astounding live performances. The band has also released collaborative albums with the blues singer R.L. Burnside and the indie-funk outfit Dub Narcotic Sound System. Jon Spencer Blues Explosion has also worked with other artists including The Beastie Boys, Solomon Burke, Elliott Smith, Steve Albini, and Beck among others. Here we present the ten best Jon Spencer Blues Explosion songs of all time.

#10 – Bag of Bones

Ushering us to the top 10 Jon Spencer Blues Explosion songs list is the incredible track “Bag of Bones.” The song is one of the astounding rockers featured on the band’s ninth studio album, Meat + Bone. “Bag of Bones” might not be as hard-hitting as the album opener to Meat + Bone, “Black Mold.” However, the song oozes special funkiness evocative of the band’s successful mid-‘90s. Other songs from Meat + Bone that prove that Jon Spencer Blues Explosion hasn’t lost touch with its prime ‘90s funkiness include “Black Thoughts” and “Get Your Pants Off.”

#9 – Magical Colors

“Magical Colors” introduces us to Jon Spencer Blues Explosion’s sixth studio album. Acme had some of its songs delivered in an archaic Blues Explosion manner. “Magical Colors” is one of these songs that showcase the old-fashion blues rock delivery by the band. This soul-influenced blues rock hit is delivered in a slow tempo. The funk-blues guitar riffs and Elvis Presley-like vocals by Jon Spencer add some glamour to this classic. “Magical Colors” was a mainstream success, peaking at number eighty-four on the UK Singles Chart.

#8 – Sweet ‘n’ Sour

Coming in at the eighth spot on our ten best Jon Spencer Blues Explosion songs list is the ravishing hit “Sweet ‘n’ Sour.” The song is among the best cuts off, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion’s album, Plastic Fang. “Sweet ‘n’ Sour” has Jon Spencer Blues Explosion vocalist Spencer giving us a taste of his magical howls. The song features some killer guitar riffs that boldly invite this song’s listeners to a rock and roll fest! “Sweet ‘n’ Sour” spent a week on the UK Singles Chart, peaking at number sixty-six.

#7 – Burn It Off

“Burn It Off” is a catchy hit off the band’s eighth album, Damage. The song is among the musical gems by the band that dressed Damage with some glamour despite the album not faring well on the mainstream. “Burn It Off” received stiff competition from the blustering boogie track “Crunchy” and “Hot Gossip,” a song that features the vocals by Chuck D of Public Enemy.

However, “Burn It Off” wins the contest here, thanks to its mesmerizing instrumentation. The song features an aesthetic accompanying music video directed by Stylewar, a Swedish collective known for its work with Moby on the hit “In This World.” “Burn It Off” managed to rise to position seventy-seven on the UK Singles Chart.

#6 – Talk About the Blues

Number six on our top 10 Jon Spencer Blues Explosion songs list is the raving hit “Talk About the Blues.” The song is featured on the band’s album, Acme. “Talk About the Blues” contains samples of the hits “Get Up, Get Into It, Get Involved” by James Brown, “Tiny Gun” by Harlem Nights, and “Gucci Time” by Schoolly D.

The accompanying music video to the song, directed by Evan Bernard, premiered on MTV. Evan is also known for his successful work with The Beastie Boys, Moby, and Green Day. “Talk About the Blues” made it to number one hundred and twenty on the UK Singles Chart.

#5 – Wail

Now I Gonna Worry is home to the fifth pick on our top 10 Jon Spencer Blues Explosion songs, “Wail.” The song is delivered in a grueling funky groove that is perfectly complemented by Jon Spencer’s vocals. “Wail” is among the songs by Jon Spencer Blues Explosion with profound lyrical content. The “Weird Al” Yankovic-directed music video adds glamour to this song’s overall feel. “Wail” managed to rise to position sixty-six on the UK Singles Chart.

#4 – She Said

“She Said” is among the top musical gems by Jon Spencer Blues Explosion from the band’s album, Plastic Fang. The song finds the singer Jon linking a werewolf with infidelity allegations metaphorically. “She Said” rose to become one of the concert staples of Jon Spencer Blues Explosion thanks to its stunning groove. The song’s music video was directed by Floria Sigismondi who is best known for her successful work with Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, Katy Perry, and Marilyn Manson. “She Said” is the band’s highest-peaking song on the UK Singles Chart, peaking at number fifty-eight.

#3 – Flavor

The third pick on our ten best Jon Spencer Blues Explosion songs list is the incredible hit “Flavor.” “Flavor” is among the top musical gems by Jon Spencer Blues Explosion featured on the album, Orange. The remix version of this song features singers Beck and Mike D of The Beastie Boys. “Flavor” gives us a taste of the band’s blend of punk blues, garage rock, and experimental funk. While “Flavor” never made it to the charts, it is one of the timeless cuts from the band’s mid-‘90s career.

#2 – Afro

While the band might have had quite a tough start, the whole narrative changed when the band issued the album Extra Width. Thanks to “Afro,” one of the best Jon Spencer Blues Explosion songs from the album, that the band was able to rewrite its story and achieve mainstream success.

The song received some airplay on MTV introducing Jon Spencer Blues Explosion to a larger audience. “Afro” didn’t make it to the charts, but its impact on Jon Spencer Blues Explosion’s career cannot be overlooked. Lead vocalist Jon Spencer revealed that “Afro” was born out of listening to Rufus Thomas and Otis Redding.

#1 – Bellbottoms

Number one on our top 10 Jon Spencer Blues Explosion songs list is the stunning hit “Bellbottoms.” The song is among the top musical gems featured on the album’s Orange. “Bellbottoms” is the prototypical hit that fully exemplifies Jon Spencer Blues Explosion impact in the blues rock scene.

The song never made it to the mainstream charts but guided Jon Spencer Blues Explosion to greater heights of its career. Spencer revealed that “Bellbottoms” is one of his best Jon Spencer Blues Explosion songs citing that the song is a result of pure hard work from each band member.

Feature Photo: Graeme J Baty / Shutterstock.com

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