#TBT Morning Fuel: Jon Spencer Blues Explosion - Chicken Dog
This is the most sublime form of musical nonsense. I remember when I first bumbled into the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion via the Scream 2 soundtrack back in 1997. Soundtracks were a big deal then, okay ? As I was saying, it was JSBX’s cover of “Right Place, Wrong Time” that got my attention. It was so beguilingly bonkers, especially considering everything else going on in that soundtrack (which like many 90s soundtracks was better than the movie it accompanied.) Coincidentally, I also discovered Dr. John oeuvre and his insane original “Right Place, Wrong Time” through JSBX’s cover, but that’s a story for another time.
I immediately wanted to hear more of this band that took the blues and mixed it with, well, batshit. I special-ordered two of their CDs (haha it’s funny just thinking about that) through my local music store: Orange and Now I Got Worry. While I liked Orange (and still do), Now I Got Worry’s musty vintage keyboards and cheap splortchy guitar sounds were a shot in the arm for a grunge kid like myself who was beginning to widen their musical tastes into other realms.
“Chicken Dog” was a track that always stuck with me, because it is the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, here with guest star Rufus Thomas, embracing the primal blues-punk madness they do best. The haphazard clavinet thrown in just provides some nice accent points. Rufus’ lyrics are so nonsensical they come right back around like a bad joke and a bad story that’s so strange both end up being good again. It’s a track, especially that moment when people start chanting “Chicken Dog!” with increasing intensity as if trying to summon UltraMegaChicken (sssh! he is legend!), that is one of a kind and is forever seared in my auditory memory.
From this marker I went on future musical sojourns, like the aforementioned journey into Dr. John and his whole world of musical voodoo cosmopolitanism, but most importantly JSBX ended up introducing me to R.L. Burnside, Rufus Thomas, and a bunch of other blues dinosaurs who didn’t play twelve bar shuffles but played something much more anarchic. Anarchic and thrilling in a way that JSBX could dilute and polish into something still compelling but more secondhand.