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” If they were mocking anyone, it was their critics. They made a solid name for themselves, surviving a jump from Matador Records to Mute (and also Bauer’s battle with drugs), and even brought a few friends along with them on the road, introducing the Yeah Yeah Yeahs to Europe via an opening slot on tour. The audience response became increasingly less enthusiastic, until the band’s new home, Sanctuary Records, pulled the plug and the band went on hiatus.
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There was no bass to even out the unrelenting treble of the two-guitar assault of Jon Spencer and Judah Bauer.
Russell Simins maintained order with the beatings he gave his drum kit.
Russell’s kind of the mediator; he’ll be in the middle, breaking the tension with a story. I think Judah, as he’s grown as a musician and as a person over the years, has been through a lot.
SIMINS: We have a lot of respect for each other, and we’ve certainly learned over 20-plus years how to deal with each other, and that’s a really good place. There’s a certain role that Jon has as the leader of the band, but we are all very much involved in the decision-making process when it comes to things on the creative and business levels. SPENCER: Being in a band is not like being in The Monkees. He more and more wants to do his thing and have more of a say in the way that the band goes. We all contribute, we all do our thing, but there’s a reason why it’s called The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion.
Except for the attitudes and adrenaline of punk, the Blues Explosion ignored most of what had come before in the 40 years after rock’s inception.
These were no students of the “art form,” channeling riffs and songs in the manner of Richards, Beck, Page or Clapton; their sound came from an attempt to reanimate the attitude and energy of the originals.
The deepest tones on the songs were often Spencer’s voice.
There was a lascivious sexuality in it, summoning something between Isaac Hayes and Barry White when not rivaling Jerry Lee Lewis or Little Richard in the unadulterated audacity of his screams.
How could there not be with call-to-dance songs like “Afro” and “Bellbottoms”?
It seemed obvious and harmless enough, but it was this type of jocularity—coupled with that damning word, “blues,” in their name—that gave rise to the accusations that the band were being too ironic in their approach to what was apparently a sacred cow.
Bauer put out albums under the name 20 Miles and then joined Cat Power.