Jon Spencer & The HITmakers
Spencer Gets It Lit
(In The Red Records)
As he has been famous for doing since he first founded the Blues Explosion in 1991, Jon Spencer has succeeded in confounding his fans by including a couple of songs which didn’t appear on the vinyl release of his newest album, Spencer Gets It Lit, on its CD counterpart.Fans may be less than surprised at Spencer’s choice (the guitarist has a long history of augmenting the track lists depending on where and when they come out, as was illustrated when all the stray tracks got compiled and released as definitive editions of the JSBX catalogue by Shout! Factory in 2010), but even those who appreciate the guitarist’s penchant for hiding Easter eggs (a group among which I number myself)will likely be surprised that two additional songs were included only on the CD release of Spencer Gets It Lit, the songs do not appear on the vinyl release and do not appear on the bandcamp download of the album either. In fact, the only reason this critic discovered that the extra songs exist at all was because he happened to be browsing around on Youtube and noticed a discrepancy in the number of songs listed in the video stream versus the number of cuts on his vinyl review copy.
…And, no, you can’t bootleg the two extra songs by simply copying the links into a Youtube to MP3 converter, reader. You can try, but every converter I tried crashes, when one attempts to do so. No, apparently, you can listen to the whole album – extra songs included – on Youtube, but the only way to ensnare a complete copy of Spencer Gets It Lit for yourself is to buy a CD copy of the album either from Amazon.com or directly from In The Red Records.
To Spencer’s credit, the treasures among the tracks on Spencer Gets It Lit are certainly worthwhile. Listeners will find that they’re already good and warm after the rapid fire pacing installed in songs like “Worm Town” (which glows, thanks to Spencer’s funky guitar line and his wry delivery of lyrics like, “Twinkle, twinkle little star/Tried to run, but I didn’t get far”), “Bruise” (which revels in its decidedly “honky” performance, bolstered by Spencer’s stringy guitar sound), the grunting, shoving movement of “Layabout Trap,” the wracked, hair-tearing vibe of “Rotting Money” and the jubilant skronking of “Get Up & Do It” and, on the LP version, they’ll find that what they’ve received is more than enough to sustain them for the duration – but, on the CD edition, fans will find they can indeed still be hungry for some more. After “Get Up & Do It” crashes to a close, “Germ Vs. Jerk” bulls in right away complete with screeching guitars and a fantastic, menacing low end which just rolls over listeners who thought they might have had enough. In a way which could only be considered “per usual,” Spencer lets the song’s lyric sheet (sort of) develop as the song moves along (lines about everybody needing to fall in line and battle cries like, “Everybody’s doing time!” firm up with repetition, but don’t really go anywhere) but listeners will know that the song was half-done when it ends.
The final summation of “Germ Vs. Jerk” is that it would be pretty ‘standard issue’ if not for that sinister low end pinning both the song and listeners down, but that fact gives great relief to “The Devil’s Ice Age,” which happens to feature one of the most dramatic lyric sheets that Jon Spencer has ever written. There, the guitarist searches with a tone of desperation in his voice as he confesses that he doesn’t know how it happened, but he’s lost and doesn’t know what happens next and fears that chaos is coming. On one hand, some of these lyrics play exactly like something they’d expect from Jon Spencer, but the tone in the vocal as well as the lyrics which express complete thoughts instead of simply running stanzas over repeatedly are all instantly rewarding – and then the song cinches shut tightly, and the whole thing’s over; the end is clean, but listeners’ collective world will have been decidedly rocked; while “Get Up & Do It” could conceivably leave listeners hoping for more, “The Devil’s Ice Age” locks Spencer Gets It Lit down cold and beautifully. It is the close listeners want from Spencer Gets It Lit, without a doubt. [Bill Adams]
Ground Control Magazine – Jon Spencer & The HITmakers – Spencer Gets It Lit LP – [Vinyl Vlog]
Jon Spencer & The HITmakers – Spencer Gets It Lit – [Stream]
The Spencer Gets It Lit CD by Jon Spencer & the HITmakers is out now. Buy it here, on Amazon.