This album has a blue cover. It is apparently a collection of remixes and leftovers from their Acme album. The liner notes say this came out originally in 1999. I just found this album. I am living in the past. Next I'll be jamming to the latest hits from Huey Lewis and the News.
It opens, drowning in blues guitar. Wait A Minute, apparently. I like Eskimo Pie? What kind of lyric is this? I like Eskimo Pie? Indeed, I love it! I want to be Eskimo Pie. God DAMN mutha fu** I feel like I'm outta luck This is the kind of lyrical quality I've come to expect from Jon Spencer.
The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion somehow reminds me of Blueshammer from the movie Ghost World somehow. Can I use the word somehow again? God DAMN mutha fu** I feel like I'm outta luck What's the difference? I think it's the sense of humor running through the lyrics in a lot of cases. Of course, half the time it sounds like incoherent rambling that makes Bob Dylan sound cohesive and linear.
Is this really the blues? Is Robert Johnson really the blues? What is the blues? Why the hell does this album have a blue cover? Why is it the Blues Explosion? Why? Answer my questions, you worthless little plastic disk! Let's talk about the BLUES, you little two cent pressed chunk of plastic and metal!
Suddenly I hear a children's choir singing In My Room by the Beach Boys. What the hell? iTunes has become my mortal enemy and has arbitrarily decided to shuffle the CD tracks here with the mp3s in my mp3 collection. Is Apple's programming team led by a hamster spinning in a wheel? DID THESE PEOPLE LEARN HOW TO PROGRAM FROM A BOOK WITH CLIFF CLAVIN ON THE COVER? God DAMN mutha fu** I feel like I'm outta luck
Finally, Apple's evil programmers have met defeat at the mighty hand of my mouse click. Get Down Lover jams even harder than the first track. So far, this sounds nothing like the techno-blues fusion of Acme, which is what I expected from an album called Xtra Acme USA. A minute and a half of squealing guitar and someone going YEAH! ..... YEAH!! ..... reminds me of high school gym class, when I was made to stand on my head for the entire period as punishment for getting on the house microphone in the gym and screaming "IT IS INDEED TIME TO JAM OUT MUTHERFU****S!!!" and playing Spin the Black Circle by Pearl Jam. The coach, who was like a mix of Marlon Brando from Apocalypse Now and Hulk Hogan, actually climbed up to the audio booth, ripped out the microphone, glared at me like Gunnery Sergeant Hartman from Full Metal Jacket and screamed, "YOU'RE GONNA PAY NOW, YOU LITTLE SON OF A B****!!" YEAH! ..... YEAH!! ..... Feel that blood rush to your head! YEAH! ..... YEAH!! .....
God DAMN mutha fu** I feel like I'm outta luck I am falling in love with that phrase.
Confused rocks. What the hell? THIS SONG ROCKS LIKE JESUS!!! I swear, there are times when I listen to music that rocks against my skull and I begin to transcent my mortal coil. I leave my body and float around the room, watching myself bang out to the music. Jesus is there, and we share a twenty five minute jam session, in which I am playing an electric banjo and Jesus plays a mean two string / one string / no string guitar. We play Clapton, we play the Dead, we play Zeppelin. Jesus tells me stories about the day that he and Jim Morrison drove from Los Angeles to San Francisco along Highway 1, listening to Jimi Hendrix tapes and talking about Watergate. Jesus says that Jimi, Janis, Jim, Elvis -- they're all still kicking it upstairs, and he can't wait until I can come jam with the band. Jesus rocks, man. Jesus listens to s*** like the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. JESUS JAMS WITH MUTHAFU****' JIMI HENDRIX!
My mind is melting into a gigantic colored swirl like the tables at the IHOP last night. I ate a big stack of pancakes and flirted with the waitress. I poured every single flavor of syrup onto my pancakes and devoured the big stack all down. The waitress sat down with me and we talked about God and sex and To The 5 Boroughs and Barton Fink. It's all here. Jon understands. Magical Colors (31 Flavors). An alternate version of the original. It doesn't suck.
The waitress had just turned eighteen and was working for some spending money the year before her first semester in college. The restaurant closed, and still we sat there and talked. I played with the syrups on my plate, and she wanted to go home with me. She looked good, and she knew Barton Fink. Onions ... mustard ... sauerkraut ... I'd like to eat a hot dog with you, baby. I think of her this morning. God DAMN mutha fu** I feel like I'm outta luck
There are sirens everywhere. The police are at my door. They're asking questions about my next door neighbor. "Bill was a quiet guy," I tell them. "He kept to himself a lot." They keep asking questions. "Did Bill ever give you any boxes to keep?" "No," I lie. They go away. I open up Bill's box. Inside of the box, I find seventeen issues of Boy's Life magazine, a bottle of Kaopectate, a monocle, and a discarded Burger King wrapper. Not Yet blares from the speakers. I lay on the couch staring at the ceiling, reading an issue of Boy's Life. The comics in the back are funny. I realize Bill doesn't really exist, nor do the police. Well, the police exist, but they didn't come to my door right now. Damn sirens in the middle of Not Yet. This song sucks, but at least it ends soon.
I just saw myself at age 70. It'll be a lot like Bubba Ho-Tep. I'll be laying in a hospital bed, convinced that I am Kurt Cobain, and my only friend will be a black man who swears he is Ronald Reagan. Together we will fight crime and stand up for justice in between our back pills. Get Old is some sort of cowboy adventure song with galloping horses and a chicken crowing. My cat attacks her yarn ball with a lazy vigor. The ceiling fan slowly turns. Anderson Cooper is on television. Anderson Cooper is a handsome man. I'm watching cable news again. Don't you know that cable news lies to you and turns you into a conservative?
Come on baby... let's do it... all NIGHT long! Strings stolen from a blaxploitation film try to mix with blues guitar. I rock out. Bacon's the name, molesting my eardrums is the game.
Do you remember that part of Ghost World where Enid and Rebecca go to Seymour's record sale after they begin to feel bad about faking him out on a blind date? Seymour gives Enid an old blues record and the supposed "indie girl" goes home and realizes that old blues musicians from the 1920s are just as awesome as the New York Dolls? I have no point. Go buy a Robert Johnson record. Talk about the BLUES!
We could do a kind of blues explosion, where we begin from some point and emerge out of that explosion into some kind of blues form but we won't be bound down to it, and periodically it may shift and go into some other direction. But one of the main things we'll try to demonstrate is...
The remix of Blue Green Olga on here rocks like Blueshammer after a giant week-long acid trip on a desert island with a stack of Jimi Hendrix, Mississippi John Hurt, and Devo records. It rocks like Mr. T in a junkyard for the last twenty minutes of an episode of The A-Team. It rocks like that time I was locked into my brother's bedroom for several hours when I was eleven. I was really hungry and I found a bunch of leaves in his top dresser drawer and I proceeded to eat them all. Most of them were marijuana, but there was some Canadian thistle and jimsonweed in there as well. Things got weird. I listened to Back in Black over and over again and stared out the window at the dog playing in the yard. Jesus told me that I was to be a professional golfer. Mary Lou Retton was there.
This is the letter A. A stands for A**hole. A is what I would get on my report card. I am an A student. I am the kind of A student that forgets to call his seventy year old father on his birthday. God DAMN mutha fu** I feel like I'm outta luck
Heavy! The ninth album slot sneaks in another remix of an Acme track, If you've not figured it out, I have this deep love/hate relationship with Acme, which is the precursor to this album. I love all of the songs on it, but the album sucks. I mean, they're supposed to be a blues band, right? Did Robert f'n Johnson need Dan the f'n Automator? How could Beck make Mississippi John Hurt any more badass? The blues don't NEED no remix! Thus, Acme sucks, even though the songs kick ass. I want to jam with Robert Johnson in heaven.
Heavy? Do you wanna get heavy? I went on this long bicycle ride this morning. I rode to another town and back. On my way home, I was riding along a very familiar track of sidewalk, minding my own business, when suddenly I was struck on the side of the head by a very damp pillow. Given that I have the dexterity of an elephant stuck in a Jim Beam factory, I dropped to the ground like a sack of potatoes. It turns out that last night, apparently, one of the neighbors from down the street -- I've seen him a few times, but couldn't tell you his name -- believed his wife was out of town, so he brought a coworker over to his house for a night of hot passion, and apparently (at least, how I imagine it in my mind), just as she was reaching a mind-blowing orgasm, the wife enters the room. Chaos ensues. Pleading, shouting, yelling, two out of three people nude. I imagine an amalgamation of countless movie scenes in which the hurt lover discovers her philandering mate. So, I'm laying on the ground, having just been hit in the face with a wet pillow, when I discover that their entire yard is full of the man's belongings. Everything from ties to shirts to what looks like a moose head with a broken antler. The lady of the house is just tossing stuff into the yard, and there are neighbors watching; one of the neighbors actually checks to see if I'm OK, and from them I find out the story. Do you wanna get heavy?
Do you wanna REALLY get heavy? Ask yourself: why was the pillow wet?
Jesus and I just jammed again. He messed up the bridge of Welcome to the Jungle, but his vocals made up for it. Jesus says that Axl Rose will have a place in heaven, but he might have to go to the quiet room, too. Jesus also told me to tell you all the complete track listing, and that Buddha is a big fan of The RZA. I told Jesus to hold off for a bit until I'm done with the CD.
There's some sort of piece in which someone's talking and the same riff is being repeated over and over. This "piece" of "music" is called Lap Dance. I want to ROCK, people! I got the BLUES! I don't want to hear some guy talking about a lap dance over a repeated guitar riff! Let's talk about the BLUES!
I'm about ready to throw this album discussion/description/review/pile-of-crap into the trash because the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion sucks/I suck/Everything Sucks. But then we rock. Leave Me Alone So I Can Rock Again ROCKS, people! Rock freak out! Blues Explosion on my mind like ugly on a Baldwin brother! I'm rockin' like Papa John Creach on an early Jefferson Starship album! (Damn, I f'n sound OLD!) How about: I'm rockin' like Ted Nugent at a Damn Yankees concert! (Somewhat better ... maybe) How about: I'm rockin' like Fred Durst! (probably an apt description of my way-too-old-for-this young-person-wannabe ass hanging out with college students and pretending to be cool ... actually, let's stick with that one)
Soul Trance sounds like (I kid you not) a five minute rant by a misogynist dwarf over a bluesy instrumental piece. This is weird sh**. This is like having erotic thoughts about your pet weird. This is like sitting in a cold room in a tub full of Jello mix reading a Chuck Palahniuk novel weird. This is like catching your mom and dad having sex weird. This is like getting hit in the face with a wet pillow likely filled with the love juices of a person you don't know weird (*shudder* I hope REALLY hope that isn't true). Man, I gotta go take a shower.
I restarted the album and cranked it so I could hear it while I was in the shower. I only use Dove soap; it has a nice low pH, and high pH soap messes up my skin. THE BLUES is when you use soap that's too basic, and your skin starts to melt off of you. I used homemade soap way too early once, and the lye that hadn't yet reacted did some NASTY things to my arm. God DAMN mutha fu** I feel like I'm outta luck Hot dating tip for the menfolk: I also use Herbal Essences shampoo. Yes, I am male. Here's the hot tip for attracting females: a multi-layered array of pleasing odors does wonders for attracting those of the feminine persuasion. I find that using Herbal Essences shampoo and Old Spice together often make an alluring combination for the ladies.
My comfortably clean body re-enters the explosion with Electricity, the most straightforward rock song by far on the album. I jump up in my white-and-red striped boxers and white Hanes t-shirt and rock around the room, feeling the genuine electricity in the song. I replay this a few times, running around my apartment pretending to be a rock and roll star. No one looks in the window, but my cat watches me in semi-awake amazement, in almost-catatonic amazement at my ability to ROCK! Either that, or she's napping. In fact, the song segues so effectively into New Year that most of the time I continue to rock through that song as well, entertaining the millions - and I mean millions - of my fans with my rock and roll antics on the arena stage in my mind.
It's official -- the rock has put my cat to sleep.
Lovin' Machine (Automator) is one of those songs that goes on for a minute or two too long. Here's a list of songs that go on for a minute or two too long (this trait is subject to your opinion -- this is mine): Magic Carpet Ride by Steppenwolf, Hey Jude by The Beatles, In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida by Iron Butterfly, Stairway to Heaven by Led Zepellin, Insert Any Song Here by Oasis, and perhaps intentionally, Tribute by Tenacious D. This list could go on, but then I would be providing some degree of dignity to bands like Man O War (weightlifters in their underwear pretending to rock do not ROCK, people!).
Sometimes, songs try to rock, but somehow they don't quite make the cut. For example, see the entire recording career of Megadeth. Chowder is one such song. Chowder is the one song on this album that perhaps should have been left in the dustbin of the recording vaults. Chowder is like a can of Campbell's soup when the microwave doesn't work and you're too lazy to clean a pan and cook it on the burner. Chowder:Jon Spencer Blues Explosion::Intolerable Cruelty:The Coen Brothers.
Thankfully, the next track is damn near transcendent. T.A.T.B (For the Saints and Sinners Remix) is a remix of one of the best songs on Acme, Talk About the Blues, interspliced with a sermon from a Southern Baptist church. This is GENIUS, people! This is like rum and Coke; this is like absinthe and Oscar Wilde; this is like Jay-Z and The Beatles! This is a snippet of what the inside of my head sounds like, people! TALK ABOUT THE BLUES - RIGHT NOW!
People ask me what the inside of my head sounds like on a regular basis. I don't know why this is; I think it's because I'll often be reading a novel and have NPR and Pearl Jam (or other rock music) on at the same time. It all mixes together in my mind on seperate tracks, and reality becomes like Acid Pro. The elements fuse and tear apart and make themselves known on multiple levels. Stone Gossard takes on Garrison Keillor. All Things Considered meets Corduroy. An American Tragedy lyrically intertwines with Vitalogy. And now, the Baptists meet the blues. To some, this is like the ninth circle of hell; to me, it is what life is. Life is a mixing of elements together into a giant stew of understanding.
To me, hell is a lack of these elements. Hell is nothing. And, indeed, Hell is nothing. It's not bad in itself, it just falls utterly flat following T.A.T.B. It's like following a glass of seventy dollar tequila with some Jose Cuervo. It's like reading Wizard and Glass right after The Wastelands, or chasing Fight Club with Survivor. It gets the job done, but it feels like a letdown after the stunning predecessor.
Calvin (Zebra Ranch) takes the first track of Acme, discards the vocals, and makes the thing sound like it takes place in the petting zoo portion of the circus after all of the children have gone home and the animals are having some sort of giant, slow orgy. The zebras and horses are conjugating; lions and tigers are sharing some hot, rhythmic passion. It all erupts into a cataclysmic cross-special eruption, an orgasm of incompatible chromosomes resulting in sterile products that sit along the shelves of musty old biology rooms. Calvin is just like that, actually. The album finishes with Shhh, which is apparently an advertisement for the precursor album Acme. Nothing special, but rather amusing, I suppose.
Suddenly, Jesus appears and I follow his long-set-down commandment:
Obligatory Basic Album Information
Album Name: Xtra Acme USA
Artist: Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
Label: Matador Records
Matador Records Catalog #: 376
Pitchfork Media's Krappy Record Review: 7.1/10.0
1. Wait A Minute (3:48)
2. Get Down Lover (3:47)
3. Confused (3:04)
4. Magical Colors (31 Flavors) (4:09)
5. Not Yet (4:08)
6. Get Old (1:46)
7. Bacon (3:32)
8. Blue Green Olga (remix) (4:30)
9. Heavy (remix) (3:13)
10. Lap Dance (3:26)
11. Leave Me Alone So I Can Rock Again (5:06)
12. Soul Trance (4:28)
13. Electricity (2:30)
14. New Year (2:58)
15. Lovin' Machine (Automator) (3:39)
16. Chowder (3:16)
17. T.A.T.B. (For The Saints and Sinners Remix) (7:29)
18. Hell (3:25)
19. Calvin (Zebra Ranch) (4:08)
20. Shhh (1:36)
If you like the blues with a bit of electronica and a lot of rock thrown in, and you don't want it to take itself too seriously, get this album - NOW. On the other hand, if you're content in your rocking chair, listenin' to your Barry Manilow records and singing along with I Write The Songs, well...