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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ferocious, Cherry Popping Fodder., 31 Dec 2010
This review is from: Controversial Negro (Audio CD)
As a youngster growing up in southern England during the late 80's/early 90'2, rock 'n' roll & blues were quite far down the list of music deemed acceptable for me to cherish. No, my parents were huge Pink Floyd & Yes fans and they surely expected me to follow suit, how dissapointed they must have been to hear this racket emanating from my childhood bedroom whilst all my old school friends were desperately trying to bestow the virtues of rap upon me (sadly they failed to see the irony of their championing of Vanilla Ice's blatent plagiarism of a black style of music whilst simultaneously lambasting me for my 'white boy playing the blues' tastes). We did have that brief moment where it seemed plausible that Kurt Cobain was about to step out from our television screens and proceed to stampede across all bad music taste and provide an outlet for us repressed rockers to live our dirty little secret in the public domain, but for the main, growing up in the early 90's was an extremely bad time for any genuine music lover. Radio was dominated by either distressing euro disco or any number of forgettable Brit pop combos.

Growing up on a diet of Captain Beefheart (R.I.P) records that I had inherited from my older brother's hand-me-downs, I was already acutely aware of the power of rock 'n' roll. It's vitality, brutality & general air of rebellion gave my life some genuine pupose during a time of much lonliness & loss. But however much Beefheart I consumed, it could do little to prepare me for my true rock 'n' roll epithany. The moment my life changed forever. Sitting on my bedroom floor debating whether to attempt that evenings homework assignment or not (probably not), my brother burst into the room and proclaimed his latest discovery as 'the greatest music ever made'. The cassette that currently resided in his hands was a copy of a copy of music that a friend of a friend had at some point recommended to him in passing (this is long before the time of filesharing & twitter accounts, kids) and upon hearing it had had the enviable effect of altering my elder siblings musical landscape forever more. What delights could that little cassette in his sweaty hand provide me?.

The crushing drum beat, the weird sounds being wired through an ordinary electric guitar, the thumping trumpets and of course that distinctive yelping from a seemingly possesed human-being proclaiming himself the leader of this ghastly rabble. The songs were like a continuous series of ferocious vendettas against the establishment & I loved every minute of it. This was music I would take to the grave. And the name of this record?.... 'Here Are The Sonics' by The Sonics. Sorry. For contextual reasons I'd love to say that it was the Jon Spencer Blues Explosions (hence forth simply known as JSBX) that truly popped my rock 'n' roll cherry but it was to be a further six months before this incredible band were to enter my life. Six months that involved the belated discovery of Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry, The Cramps, The Stooges, Dead Moon & The Gun Club.

But none of the above hit quite as hard as JBSX did, none sounded as depraved, and none sounded as vital. This was music that belonged squarely with the devil, make no mistake. This was the sound of rock 'n' roll/blues gone horribly wrong & it was never to recover. One incredible album after another seemingly took hold of my life. First there was 1993's flawless 'Extra Width', swiftly followed by the seminal 'Orange' from 1994 and then the blistering 'Now I Got Worry' from 1996. But it was with this brutal live recording that I fell hardest for.

'Controversial Negro' is one of those musical artifacts that belong to the ages. Much like The Stooges parting shot 'Metallic KO' or Jerry Lee's 'Live At The Star Club' (and from a personal viewpoint, Ed Hamells 'Ed's Not Dead...Hamell Comes Alive' LP), this is the sort of music that should be taught to teenagers the world over. The bass-less threepeice consisted of Jon Spencer (vox/guitar/noises), Russell Simms (drums) and Judah Bauer (guitar/harmonica) and never before or since have a threepeice hit so hard in a live enviroment. This record is 70+ minutes of sweaty rock 'n' roll played at a ferocious pace, fully charged and gunning for your hips. The sudden change of pace between the funky 'Afro' into the show-stopping 'R.L Got Soul' is a moment to behold, but the entire piece will have the sweat dripping from your ceilings and the blood coursing through your veins.

At the time of their inception some little minded people proclaimed the JSBX as mere fakes. These people were oblivios to the point of rock 'n' roll/blues. This was an all-encompassing music. It didn't matter whether you were black, white, male or female. This was music for the soul and the soul is colour blind.

Enjoy. THE BLOOZEEXPLOSION!!!!!!!!!!!!!WHOA!!YEAH!!!!.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Controversial Caucasians, 5 July 2010
By 
Paul Rayson - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Controversial Negro (Audio CD)
The official Controversial Negro used to be available only in Japan. It was out in 1997 and recorded the year before in Tuscan, Arizona, although the nine songs at the end of this reissue are from 1994. Promo versions had a cool Mick Jagger cover, but they had to replace that when Mick Jagger said so. They replaced him with an ape. The cover of the reissue, which preserves the Japan design, is still pretty cool.

A record of the Blues Explosion in concert is vital. The outtakes and alternate versions of songs, say, on Mo' Width or the Now I Got Worry reissue testify that the band are in an ongoing conversation with rock & roll. A conventional studio album catches only part of the conversation. Collaborations such as those with R.L. Burnside get another side of it, of course. A live version of a song, though, expands more on what they're talking about, and sometimes it's dirtier.

The "hits" are in the set ("Afro", "Bellbottoms", "Flavor"). The show-stopper "Blues X Man" is in the set. The liner notes, as with those for the Dirty Shirt Rock 'N' Roll compilation and Now I Got Worry reissue, are filled with insight and diverse detail (hardware info: they used vintage Music Mann and Sunn amplifiers!). The theremin is in full effect. Enjoy the show.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the Fabulous most groovy JSBX!, 16 April 2011
This review is from: Controversial Negro (Audio CD)
I can't offer much of a 'review' other than to say for 1 millionth time that The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion are an awesome band and should be heard by a wider audience, this is a great live album but you really should just see them live....This also seems a good opportunity to link you to some other great stuff by members of the band, (yes, i do this shamelessly) Going Way Out With Heavy Trash, Public Places, and the finest album post Blues Explosion!! Check it out! The Man Who Lives for Love
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is (metaphorically) 5 stars in the flesh, 4 April 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Controversial Negro: Live (Audio CD)
After I was round at my friend's house one afternoon and listening to this CD, I couldn't wait to get it. We ordered me a copy there and then on his computer. John Spencer has another album out called "The left hand of love" that is also good but not quite as good as this. It is hard to put into words what it is that is so good about this CD. For me it is probably the witty lyrics or the guitars but I'm sure there MUST be something for everyone in here.
I normally like more rocky music (Greenday) or something punk/ska'ish (Less Than Jake) but I found this very entertaining. My friend who is an avid DANCE AND GARAGE music fan (God have mercy on his soul ;-) ,) is the proud owner of this CD.
What more can I say? Amazon deserves your money NOW! BUY THIS CD NOW!!!!!!
To give you an idea of some other music I like, bellow are a few of my favourite bands and a suggested album in brackets
Less Than Jake (hello rockview) Reel Big Fish (Turn the radio off) Weezer (Pinkerton) Feeder (Yesterday went too soon) Greenday (Nimrod) Nirvana (Insecticide) <=== For those bad days!!
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Controversial Negro: Live
Controversial Negro: Live by Jon Spencer Blues Explosion (Audio CD - 2000)
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