The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion / Pussy Galore – Record Collector (PRESS, UK)

April 2000 Parker Mead Limited No. 248

NOTES:
April 2000 issue of Record Collector features Jon Spencer interview, article and discography on The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion and Pussy Galore.
ARTICLE TEXT:

The Jon Spencer
Blues Explosion

The Underground Legend Relives His Career
by Jack Kennedy

The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion make music that is unhindered by boundaries. Recently they have flirted with hip-hop, rockabilly and even a barbershop quartet to achieve their unique sound. Always at the core is Spencer’s love of blues and rock’n’roll, which manifests itself most obviously when the band plays live. Here they are a raucous, stop-start, almost punk threesome – as exhilarating as they are innovative.

The Blues Explosion’s most recent album “Acme” finally saw an open acknowledgement of funk and hip-hop’s influence, a development that had been on the cards for some time. Indeed, when Spencer enlisted the help of Judah Bauer and tub-thumper Russell Simins (formerly of the Honeymoon Killers) in New York in 1989, he had already sampled Public Enemy with his previous hardcore outfit Pussy Galore.

A smorgasbord of producers and mixers helped with “Acme”, including Dr Octagon producer/artist the Automator (aka Dan Nakamura). Also at the helm was the legendary Big Black leader and one-time Nirvana producer Steve Albini, Dub Narcotic Sound System’s Calvin Johnson., Cypress Hill’s T. Ray, Sonic Youth and Public Enemy’s Nick Sansano. If the phrase “too many cooks” springs to mind, then perhaps it’s worth looking back over the band’s career to understand fully how such a glorious amalgamation came to be…

PRIMAL

When the Blues Explosion began recording their sound was mildly reminiscent of Spencer’s previous band Pussy Galore, with a primal 50s rock’n’roll slant, as their privately-pressed debut “A Reverse Willie Horton” (later reissued as the “Crypt Style” import and “The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion”) reveals. There were songs about women and clothes and, rather oddly, cheese. Spencer sang with the intonation of a sleazy blues singer, fused with the raw energy of punk, while the band were an unusual combination of two guitars, drums and no bass. Numbers regularly clocked in under two minutes, and made more sense the louder they were played.

The follow up, “Extra Width”, revealed more about the band’s diverse influences. Insistent and heavy, yet soulful and bluesy at the same time, the album touched on many areas of American music. The band had developed into a disparate showcase for savage catchy guitar riffs, pounding beats and wonderful female backing singers. It became clear at this point that the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion had its sights set on something higher than just ordinary rock music.

With 1994’s “Orange”, the Blues Explosion shot out of cult rock status and into the major league. From the opening track, the single “Bellbottoms”, the album yelled sophistication and ingenuity. It boasted a unique sound, which still acknowledged earlier influences, but embraced more besides. Strings were used for the first time, to stunning effect, and there was even a guest rant from current boy wonder Beck (a favour Spencer returned on the bonus track “Disko Box” on Beck’s “Odelay” album). The use of the vintage electronic instrument, the theremin, came to the fore in live performances, which Spencer often played at the same time as his guitar. Its spooky feedback-like sound complimented the power of the threesome handsomely. As their sound blossoms and more techniques are used to create their records (sampling, gospel sings, etc) the absence of bass becomes even more insignificant.

’96’s “Now I Got Worry” was The Blues Explosion’s return to its rock’n’roll infancy. It’s less of a party album than it’s predecessor, with the highlights somehow more muso than “Orange”. Bluesman R.L. Burnside and hip-hop hero Money Mark guest and the overall mood is something more akin to “Crypt Style”. The weirdest moment, perhaps of the band’s whole career, has to be the cover of Dub Narcotic’s “Fuck Shit Up” which is a sonic blitz of almost unlistenable proportions. Also released at this time was he promotional album “Controversial Negro”, which features the band performing at a hotel in Tucson. Showcasing a set comprising songs from every stage of their career, Simins is on top form, pounding the skins and keeping the whole group tight as ever, with Bauer and Spencer clearly revelling in what must have been intimate surroundings.

Which brings us to the live studio techniques of Steve Albini, evident on much of 1998’s “Acme”. The album captures the sound of a band taking musical genres in their stride. Opener “Calvin” sees the hip-hop that was long on the back burner come firmly to the forefront, and “(Do You Wanna Get) Heavy” has the feel of a barbershop quartet! Then there’s the more traditional Spencer tunes – “High Gear” has more than its fair share of adrenaline, with its lyrics (in a way only Spencer could manage) revolving around road-kill and Christmas!

ORANGE

Spencer’s packaging too was given a new lease of life. Gone were the grainy photos of Pussy Galore days, replaced by slick computer graphics that nod more towards Radiohead that Jon’s brand of Rock’n’roll. The recent “Acme Plus” CD was presented in a sealed rubber sleeve with a see-through window in the shape of the word “Acme”. The “Orange” album had a metallic silver sleeve, while “Now I Got Worry” featured an elaborate logo more befitting of a stained glass window. The orange theme continues on the most recent releases, with all the singles from “Acme” daubed heavily in the brightest tangerine. As Spencer admits, he has always overseen the design of the records personally, even if he is not physically producing the art as he did with Pussy Galore.

Spencer himself is an easy person to talk to, reminiscent of Elvis with his intonation of “Thankyouverymuch”. But there’s always the possibility that he could blow his top and yell like a man possessed, in keeping with the dynamic of the Blues Explosion’s live shows. Clearly, he has toned down his treatment of interviewers from the days of Pussy Galore, when he often gave only monosyllabic answers, but there’s still the feeling that he’s two steps ahead of the conversation…

What’s the biggest mistake people make about the Blues Explosion? Is it that you’re a blues band?

I think people get confused by the word ‘blues’ in the name of the band. I intended the name to be something flippant or crude – a crazy name for a band y’know, and like I said, some people get tripped up by the word blues, and others get confused by the different influences in the music. The old music particularly, like blues, rockabilly, country, rhythm and blues or soul music. Everybody in the Blues Explosion listens to a lot of music. That comes through in what we write.

So is there any type of music you can’t stand?

I guess what they call smooth jazz, things like Kenny G, easy listening kinda stuff. I don’t much care for that.

NO ACCIDENT

How important is a producer to you?

I think we only really started using outside producers, I think it was with “Acme”, I used to just do it myself. We sorta wanted to do it before with the “Experimental Remixes” record.

Do you still appreciate the different musical approaches that people like the Automator bring to your music?

It wasn’t an accident that we worked with Automator, we’re fans of his, and we’re fans of the Dr. Octagon record, but I think the influence has always been there. It may have not always been so obvious as far as the production was concerned, but the music and what I’m saying and how I’m saying it has always had a strong influence from hip-hop. Even in ’95 we did that “Experimental Remix” record, that was a pretty hip-hop thing. But even before Blues Explosion, with Pussy Galore, it was always an influence.

What else has influenced you?

Well, we gotta go way back to, like, ’85, when I started with Pussy Galore. At that time – the mid-80s, I think, I was into indie rock. the independent scene. There were definitely labels I was into, like Touch & Go, Homestead.

Did you collect them?

I don’t think there’s ever been something I’ve bought, just because it was on a label. If I like the music then I buy it. I never went in for getting everything. Although, y’know, Sub Pop had some good stuff, and what’s that other one… Amphetamine Reptile. Definitely labels that I liked a lot.

What’s the underground music scene like in America at the moment?

It’s definitely changed from the scene 15 years ago. Back in the day I definitely felt part of something close to a scene, but I don’t really now.

That sounds sad.

It’s a little sad, but I think it’s due to a lot of things. Different kindsa music are being made now, that whole structure doesn’t exist anymore because of, you know, the success of Nirvana and everything. I’m older now – the kinda music I listen to has changed. Most of what I listen to is old music. But there are still bands around today that I like.

Like what? Do you listen to anything from England?

No, I make it a rule not to. Come on, if it’s good it’s good. Doesn’t matter if it’s from England or Germany or Australia. I’ll tell you what I’ve bought recently. Or I could just look at it and you can guess what it is!

Get on with it…

Okay…I bought a collection of Everly Brothers from when they were on Warner Brothers which was ’69.

Is it their harmonies that appeal to you?

They sure do sing pretty, don’t they? But I like the music too, of course. Speedy West and Jimmy Bryant, kinda like western swing, instrumental music. What else… Handsome Boy Modelling School – produced by Automator. I also got a compilation of stuff by the Creation, a 60s English band. A collection of stuff from Mickie and Sylvia, some Link Wray. The Make Up.

They always seem to get compared to you over here.

That’s kinda old. I got some Kool Keith, Jurassic 5, Jim Morrison, Robert Ward, Buddy Holly, Daisy Payton. A mix of old and new stuff, you know. There’s a few people from England in there. As far as the Make Up thing goes, that whole comparison, that was like four or five years ago (seems genuinely perturbed) when they first came out, everyone was saying that. I don’t really care, you can say what you like. To me they sound like a psychedelic group. They sound like Love.

Their earlier stuff was more like yours.

Well what can I say. They have good taste. I like their latest record.

It’s hard to imagine you in a studio.

With the Blues Explosion?

Yeah.

Why?

Well, seeing you live, and then trying to imagine that condensed into the studio, it’s hard.

Oh…well, when we’re making a record we start out playing live, but it’s a different thing. We do play live but we calm down. We concentrate on different things.

How did you learn to play the theremin?

I’m still trying to learn. It is a very hard instrument to play. It’s the same as anything. I just took a stab at it. I think that if you wanna try it, go ahead and try it. If you’ve got something in you, some sort of soul or music, then it’ll get out.

What about scratching?

I can’t scratch, we get friends in. On “Acme”, most of the scratching was done by Dan The Automator. we kinda had to twist his arm, he was bashful about it.

Does he ever play live with you?

We did one show in San Francisco about a year ago and Dan came up and got behind the turntables, we don’t normally have them on stage. Dan got up and did a five or six song encore with us. We did all the songs that he worked on with us. He had a sampler as well. He brought one record, a Frank Stallone record, and that was the only thing he used. That was pretty impressive. So we only did it once and it was a lot of fun.

You’re currently a member of you wife’s band, Boss Hog, What’s the difference between being in JSBE and Boss Hog?

It’s different roles. I guess the main difference is the people in the group. The Blues Explosion is my band, and I’m kinda leading the way. We are writing music together, and it’s the same thing with Boss Hog. Just a bunch of people writing music together. So I guess the biggest difference is the people in the band.

What if you come up with a really good riff, how do you decide which band to put it in?

A lot of people ask this question. It doesn’t happen like that. Like I said, the bands write together. I prefer to write with other people. We jam, it’s not like I sit at home scratching my head trying to bang something out. I like to write with people, I think that’s what I like most about music, it’s making something with other people. Especially when you play live, you get a whole lot more people. Creating something and doing something and feeling something with a group, with other people.

Is that how it works when you collaborate with other artists?

It depends. As far as a musician or somebody adding something in the studio…it’s usually something that a lot of times will happen one of two ways. Either I get an idea and think like “Oh, I can really hear this clarinet part” in a song if I can’t really play it – or a string section – I couldn’t pull that off. If I can fake it I’ll just do it myself, ‘cos I can hear a part in my head. But if I can’t get that out then we’ll look around and try and find somebody, call somebody up or hire somebody to play it.

A real sharing experience?

Yes, but it’s not quite the same as writing with Judah and Russell, or as playing a concert with them. I think hiring somebody to come in or having a guest do something is not quite the same.

What do you think you added to “Exile On Main Street” when you covered it with Pussy Galore?

Many layers of dirt and a lot of bad attitude. I don’t know. I think it was an interesting thing. It was a pretty fucked up thing. There are good parts. It’s an interesting document.

Do you like the Stones?

Yeah, at the time though I’d never listened to “Exile…” and when Pussy Galore did that project, one guy, Neil Haggerty, it was his job, because he’s a very talented person, he listened to that record and deciphered each song, he went through them one by one and taught it to the rest of the band.

Do you have a picture of the sort of audience that you have?

I think I’m just thinking about myself. I’m making a record that I would enjoy. That we would enjoy. I think people sit around and try and second-guess an audience. Maybe some people can do that, but I think in most cases it doesn’t make for very good music. (yells) That’s not wheat I’m interested in!

But you modelled in a Calvin Klein advert, didn’t you?

They asked me and they offered me…

Free clothes?

No. Something better than that. Cash money.

Cash rules everything around you?

Well, you know… it does help with a lotta things.

What do you hate your music being compared to?

I can’t stand it when people talk about the Make Up.

Shut up!

I think the thing that hurts the most is when critics try and read too much into it. Not so much comparisons. They try and over intellectualise it, pulling something out of the music that I really don’t think needs to be done. Or there are people that, err…I lost my train of thought.

Let’s talk about noise then.

Let’s talk about noise.

You didn’t think “Afro” was loud enough, did you?

Then I remastered it.

Is noise important then, or volume or whatever?

Oh yeah. Mastering is important. I want my records to sound as loud as they can be. I spend a lotta time and a lotta money on mastering, and I spend a lotta time in the studio trying to get things to sound a certain way when I’m mixing. People may listen to a record like “Now I Got Worry or “Orange” and think that it’s just lo-fi and strange, but it’s not like that. Lo-fi means that something’s kind of accidental you know, and there was a lot of time and care put into those records to make them sound the way they do, and it was done deliberately.

Your records look fantastic too.

Oh thank you very much!

Do you still have a big say in that?

If I don’t do it myself I get somebody else to do it. I think I’ve done everything apart from the last album.

Is it important to you?

Yeah. It’s like when I say about feeling good when you get something new, I think that’s part of it, the way the thing looks.

It sound like you’re a control freak.

(firmly) Yes.

Does that make it hard for you to let people remix your work?

Not at all.

Who would you like to remix you that hasn’t?

Let me think. We tried very hard to get Portishead to do something. The Bomb Squad and people affiliated with the Public Enemy production team, a lot of kinda older New York City DJs like Red Alert, Chuck Chillout, the Dust Brothers – the ones from California, the Chemical Brothers – the ones from London, Rick Rubin…who else? Flood, he’s an English producer. They’re people that we have approached to do mixes in the past that influence us.

You worked with Dub Narcotic Sound System didn’t you?

Yeah, on the “Experimental Remix” record in ’95. They did a mix of Soul Typecast for us, and then we did a whole album at their studio, that came out this fall, and yes, it is on K records (see K records video reviews elsewhere in this issue). I guess it’s kind of underground and garagey.

Is the Blues Explosion the best band you’ve ever been in?

Yeah, I think it is. That’s a nice thing to say.

But when you’re in two bands, you don’t want to start a war or anything?

No, and I’m not dead yet, either.

The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
Discography
UK Singles & EPs
Cat. No. Title Current
Mint ValueThe Red ITR 042 Get With It / Down Low (7″ with jukebox insert, 11/96) £5
Matador OLE 262 Rocketship (CD, EP, unreleased, 1997) £20
Mute MUTE 202 2 Kindsa Love / Let’s Smurf (7″, p/s, 10/96) £4
Mute CDMUTE 202 2 Kindsa Love / Fish Sauce / Cool Vee (CD, 10/96) £5
Mute MUTE 204 Wail (Video Mix) / Judah Love Theme / Radio Spot (7″, p/s, 1/97) £3
Mute LMUTE 204 Wail (Mario Mix) / Flavor (live) (7″, p/s, grey vinyl, 1/97) £4
Mute CDMUTE 204 Wail (Video Mix) / Yellow Eyes / Buscemi / Turn Up Greene (CD, B-side features Money Mark, 1/97) £4
Mute MUTE 222 Magical Colours / Confused (7″, p/s, yellow vinyl, 11/98) £4
Mute CDMUTE 222 Magical Colours / Bacon / Get Down Lover (CD, 11/98) £4
Mute MUTE 226 Talk About The Blues / Wait A Minute (7″, p/s, orange vinyl, 3/99) £3
Mute 12MUTE 226 Talk About The Blues (For The Saints And Sinners Remix) / Lovin’ Machine (Automator) / Calvin (Zebra Ranch) (12″, stickered sleeve, heavy vinyl, 3/99) £4
Mute CDMUTE 226 Talk About The Blues / Lovin’ Machine (Automator) / Calvin (Zebra Ranch) / Talk About The Blues (For The Saints And Sinners Remix) / (Video) (CD, sealed with sticker sheet, 3/99) £4
Slut Smalls SMALL 004 New Year (Destroyer) / Barry Adamson: The Crime Scene (split 7″, p/s, 2,000 only, 6/99) £6
Mute MUTE 239 Heavy (Radio Mix Edit) / Give Ya Some Hell (7″, p/s, orange vinyl, 8/99) £3
Mute 12MUTE 239 Heavy (Radio Remix Edit) / 2 Kindsa Love (Duck Rock 105.9 Remix) / Attack (Detroit) / Do You Wanna Get Heavy? (Duck Rock Hip’n’Bass remix) (12″, stickered sleeve, heavy vinyl, 8/99) £4
Mute CDMUTE 239 Heavy (Radio Remix Edit) / 2 Kindsa Love (Duck Rock 105.9 Remix) / Blues Power / Do You Wanna Get Heavy? (Duck Rock Hip’n’ Bass Remix) / Attack (Detroit) (CD, 8/99) £4
Mute JSBX 4 Bacon (Radio Edit) / Not yet (Sci-Fi Mix) / Bacon (Dub) / Not Yet (Splatter Mix) (12″, mail-order only, 3/00) £4
UK ALBUMS
Matador OLE 052 1 Extra Width (LP, 5/93, also on cassette) £8
Matador OLE 052 2 Extra Width (CD, 5/93) £12
Hut HUTLP 3 The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion (LP, same as US PORK 01, 12/93) £8
Hut HUTCD 3 The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion (CD, 12/93) £10
Matador OLE 105 Orange (LP, silver sleeve, 10/94) £15
Marador OLE 105 Orange (LP, silver glitter vinyl, many are warped, 10/94) £20
Matador OLE 105 CD Orange (CD, silver sleeve, 10/94) £12
Mute STUMM 132 Now I Got Worry (LP, 9/96) £12
Mute CDStumm 132 Now I Got Worry (CD, 9/96) £15
Mute Stumm 154 Acme (LP, 10/98) £10
Mute CDStumm 154 Acme (CD, 10/98) £10
Mute Stumm 184 Acme Plus (LP, 9/99) £10
Mute CDStumm 184 Acme Plus (CD, 9/99) £10
Mute JSBX 1 Extra Width / Mo’ Width (2-LP, reissue, 3/00) £15
Mute JSBX 1 CD Extra Width / Mo’ Width (CD, reissue, 3/00) £15
Mute JSBX 2 Orange (reissue, 3/00) £10
Mute JSBX 2 CD Orange (reissue with multimedia videos for “Bellbottoms”, “Dang” and “Flavor”, 3/00) £10
Mute JSBX 3 Experimental Remixes (2-LP, includes “Tour Diary”, “Implosion”, “Explo [Plunderphonic Remix]” and “Blues “XXX” Man [Prince Paul Remix]” 3/00) £15
Mute JSBX 3 CD Experimental Remixes (CD, includes “Tour Diary”, “Implosion”, “Explo [Plunderphonic Remix]” and “Blues “XXX” Man [Prince Paul Remix]” 3/00) £10
SELECTED OVERSEAS SINGLES & EPs
In The Red ITR 007 Shirt Jac / Latch-On (US 7″, p/s, with jukebox insert, 10/91) £15
In The Red ITR 011 Son of Sam / Bent (US 7″, p/s, with jukebox insert, 1/92) £12
In The Red ITR 019 Train No. 3 / Train No. 1 (US 7″, p/s with jukebox insert, 3/92) £8
Clawfist 13 History of Sex / Write A Song / Smoke Cigarettes (US mail order 7″, p/s, 1,400 only, 6/92) £25
Sub Pop SP 180 Big Yule Log Boogie / My Christmas Wish (US 7″, 2,500, p/s, green vinyl, 11/92) £30
Au-Go-Go ANDA 231 Rocketship / Chocolate Joe (Australian 7″, p/s, 4/98) £6
Au-Go-Go ANDA 231 CD Rocketship / Down Low / Dynamite Lover / Flavor / Full Grown (Australian CD, 4/98) £9
Au-Go-Go ANDA 251 Calvin / Wait A Minute / Get Down Lover / Confused (Australian CD, 4/99) £5
Au-Go-Go ANDA 251 CD Calvin / Wait A Minute / Get Down Lover / Confused (Australian CD, 4/99) £6
SELECTED OVERSEAS ALBUMS
Pubic Popcam Productions PORK 01 A Reverse Willie Horton (US LP, privately pressed, same track listing as eponymous release on Caroline, stickered sleeve, 500 only 2/92) £70
Crypt EFA115022 Crypt Style (US CD, includes all tracks from “A Reverse Willie Horton”, plus additional tracks, 4/92) £15
1+2 1+2 CD 024 Crypt Style (Japanese CD, 5/92) £15
Au-Go-Go ANDA 166 CD Mo’ Width (Australian LP, 7/93) £20
Caroline CAROLCD1719 Jon Spencer Blues Explosion (US CD, reissue of Pubic Popcam LP, 1/97) £12
Matador OLE 376 Xtra Acme USA (US 2-LP, 9/99) £15
IMPORTANT UK PROMOS
Atlantic PRCD 6027 Bellbottoms (1-track CD, 12/94) £10
Atlantic PRCD 6203 Flavor (1-track CD, 5/95) £6
Matador OLE 227 2 Kindsa Love / Fish Sauce (7″, different p/s, 10/96) £5
Matador OLE 246 Radio Spots (7″, p/s, 1/97) £15
Matador (no cat. no.) Controversial Negro (LP [OLE 255] in pizza box, with stickers and T-shirt, mostly given away as prizes, 6/97) £100+
Matador OLE 255 Controversial Negro (LP, live in Tucson, 6/97) £40+
Mute EXPLOSION 1CD Controversial Negro (CD, live in Tucson, 6/97) £14
Matador OLE 325 Acme (cassette, 10/98) £8
JON SPENCER GUEST APPEARANCES
Geffen GED24908 Odelay (by Beck; Spencer guests on “Diskobox”, 6/96) £12
Matador OLE 214 A Ass Pocket Full of Whiskey (by R.L. Burnside, CD, 6/96) £12
Jon Spencer With Dub Narcotic Sound System
K Records KCD 103 Sideways Soul (In A Dancehall Style) (CD, 9/99) £12
K Records KLP 103 Sideways Soul (In A Dancehall Style) (LP, 9/99)
Matador OLE 077 7 Afro / Relax-Her (7″, p/s, some in white vinyl, 7/94) £7
Matador OLE 111 7 Bellbottoms / Miss Elaine (7″, p/s, white vinyl, 2/95) £10
Matador OLE 111 1 Experimental Remixes: Bellbottoms (Old Rascal Mix) / Flavor (Part 1) / Flavor (Part 2) (Beck & Mike D remixes) (12″, p/s, 5/95) £6
Matador OLE 111 2 Experimental Remixes: Bellbottoms (Old Rascal Mix) / Flavor (Part 1) / Flavor (Part 2) / Soul Typecast / Greyhound (Part 1) / Greyhound (Part 2) (CD, 6/95) £6
Matador OLE 227 2 Kindsa Love / Fish Sauce / Cool Vee (CD, 10/96) £4
In

PUSSY GALORE

“Look, Pussy Galore. It’s over. It’s done with. Right?”

So stated Jon Spencer, somewhat angrily, here in this very magazine in 1993. While the frontman may have moved on both musically and in terms of attitude since then, the legacy of his semincal hardcore band lives on. Their records, released between 1985 and 1990, were deemed by many to be the archetypal soundtrack to the genre, over such luminaries as Big Black and Husker Du. High praise indeed, in retrospect.

The band formed (embryonically at least) at a Jesus & Mary Chain gig in Washing in mid-1985. It was here that Jon met his guitarist and future wife Cristina Martinez. Pussy Galore released “Feel Good About Your Body” as a 7″ on their own Shove label in October the same year, after Spencer persuaded Martinez to take a more important role in the band than just sleeve photographer.

FEROCIOUS

In the post-Nirvana era, it’s hard to imagine the revolutionary nature of bands like Pussy Galore, but at the time American audiences (and later English ones, too) were wooed by Spencer’s new take on blues and rock, and more importantly were blown away by the pure eneergy and ferociousness of the band when they performed live.

Spencer and co grew to hate what they saw as the insular and cliquey outbursts against the city’s famous Dischord label earned them a reputation as troublemakers. They moved to New York, where they felt they could side-step the hang ups of a parochial scene. It was at this time that they recorded and released (in frustratingly limited quantities) their ‘interpretation’ of the Stones’ “Exile On Main Street”. Some saw it as response to Sonic Youth’s oft-stated desire to cover the Beatles’ “White Album”. Spencer has long since denied that there was any animosity between Pussy Galore and the Youth, however. Perhaps it was more mischief…

The band were receiving good reviews at this point wand hailed in Steve Albini for production duties, while Cristina left the band. As their reputation few on both sides of the Atlantic, and the cult of Pussy Galore began to take shap, the strain became evident. Guitarist Neil Haggerty. the man responsible for deconstructing “Exile…”, was the next in line to quit. It seemed that artistic differences were as much to blame as their punk ideologies. Inevitably, the band broke up, or rather, imploded, after just a handful of now extremely scarce releases.

These days, the members of the original line-up can still be found in prominent places on the American music scene. Cristina Martinez fronts Boss Hog (with husband Spencer) and has just released new album “Whiteout”, Julie Cafritz was last seen on guitar duty in the Sonic Youth spin-off Free Kitten, whilst John Hammill and Bob Bert both write and perform for the Action Swingers. Neil Haggerty went on to be a major part of the stars-on-the-ascent Royal Trux, while Spencer’s own career trajectory knows no bounds.

Pussy Galore Discography
SINGLES & EPs
Cat. No. Title Current
Mint Value
Shove SHOV 1 Feel Good About Your Body (12″, p/s, 10/85) £40
Shove SHOV 2 Groovy Hate Fuck (12″, p/s, 6/86) £40
Shove / Buy Our Records
SHOV 4 / BOR 12 010 Pussy Galore 5000 (12″, p/s, 1/87) £40
Product Inc. MPROD 15 Sugarshit Sharp (12″, p/s, 10/88) £15
Sub Pop SP 37 Damaged II / Tad: “Damaged I” by Tad (‘Singles club’ 7″, 2500 only, 6/89) £40
Supernatural (no cat. no.) Penetration of a Centrefold (Japanese 12″, p/s, 10/89) £75
PUSSY GALORE ALBUMS
Shove SHOV 3 Exile On Main Street (cassette, 500 only, 12/86) £40+
Product Inc. 33 PROD 19 Right Now! (LP, 9/87) £15
Vinyl Drip SUK 001 Groovy Hate Fuck (compilation LP, 2/89) £15
Product Inc. INCLP 001 Dial M For Motherfucker (LP, 4/89, also on CD) £15
Rough Trade ROUGH 149 La Historie De La Musica Rock (LP, 5/90, also on CD) £15
Hut HUTLP 13 Corpse Love: The First Year (LP, 5/92, also CD) £12
With many thanks to Phil Leigh at Norman Records (0113 274 4774), Mark at Southland CDs, and Laura Galbraith.

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