6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Ferocious, Cherry Popping Fodder.,
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!!!!.