Wayne Bledsoe: Jon Spencer Blues Explosion still goes for the 'Meat and Bone'

The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion will perform at 10 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 15, at the Pilot Light.

The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion will perform at 10 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 15, at the Pilot Light.

The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion's new album "Meat and Bone" is classic rock 'n' roll. It's raucous. It's dirty-sounding. It touches on punk, gritty R&B and electric blues.

It other words, it does not disappoint.

"We didn't really plan to make a raw-sounding record, but we definitely enjoy making rock 'n' roll," says Jon Spencer in a phone call. "The reason we keep doing it is that we really believe in this kind of music ... I suppose the Blues Explosion is really a garage band at heart."

Spencer was late getting around to rock 'n' roll.

"When I was a kid it was more the music used in television and film. "I got the soundtrack to the movie '2001: A Space Odyssey' one year," he says. "I think my parents have a picture of me with big old headphones on looking at this album with this gatefold sleeve ..."

The Blues Explosion began catching the ears of college radio listeners in the early 1990s. Like Nirvana and the grunge acts coming out of the Pacific Northwest, the East Coast-based Explosion had lovably rough edges. But Spencer and company had a sense of history.

The group has regularly collaborated with other great artists, including R&B legends Solomon Burke and Rufus Thomas, Big Star/Box Tops vocalist Alex Chilton and Beastie Boy Ad Rock.

Spencer says one of the most special periods was working with legendary bluesman R.L. Burnside on the album "Ass Pocket of Whiskey."

"That was, if not perfect, a very special, wild time," says Spencer. "I really couldn't believe we were with this living link to classic blues. He learned from Mississippi Fred McDowell ... but it wasn't like we were historians. We're not into museum pieces. We're into great music."

Ike Turner, though, turned the group down.

"Maybe me and the Blues Explosion are on the other side of the hill now. Maybe now we're the weird older guys."

Spencer says the music world has changed a lot, but he's not attempting to go back. The group still records albums meant to be listened to in their entirety, but how people listen is not important.

"When we had our son we already had a CD player. It's a lot easier to change a CD with a baby in your arms than change a vinyl record."

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