JON SPENCER BLUES EXPLOSION
Spencer and his boys haven't learned many new tricks in the years that have elapsed since the release of Orange and its subsequent remixes--they retreated to the garage on last year's Now I Got Worry, and in some ways the new Acme (Matador/Capitol) puts them right back where they left off in '95. But they perform the old tricks with new feeling. Despite a cast of nine engineers and remixers, ranging from Dub Narcotic's Calvin Johnson to Atari Teenage Riot's Alec Empire to Big Star knob-twirler Jim Dickinson, Acme comes off as more coherent than Orange, magnifying and perfecting the formula and exorcising most of the shtick. Instead of ironically dabbling in hip-hop or hard R & B like before, the Explosion and numerous guests--including Delta 72 frontman Gregg Foreman and Chicago's Lonesome Organist on keys--dive into each experiment with sincere gusto. The Automator-produced "Do You Wanna Get Heavy?" juggles doo-wop harmonies, acoustic guitar, and muffled breakbeats; the Steve Albini-produced "High Gear" is a twangy, high-volume ditty; and "Talk About the Blues" (also produced by the Automator) expertly blends rap samples, electronic hums, and chopped-up guitar licks with Russell Simins's in-the-red kit drumming and Spencer's characteristically cocky crowing. He still has nothing to say except how damn much he likes his own music, but this time the tracks justify his enthusiasm more than ever. Alex Chilton opens. Saturday, 7 and 11:30 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 773-549-0203. PETER MARGASAK
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Marty Perez.