The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion – NME: Burn It! (PRESS, UK)

2002/2003 NME

Article from the NME in which The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion choose their top ten songs.

Thanks to EasyOli for the scan

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion – Burn It!
The nu-blues trailblazers pick their top tunes
Text: Mark Beaumont

1. Johnny Cash – I See A Darkness
Jon Spencer: “This was written by Will Oldham but this is a version recorded by Johnny Cash. Maybe a year or two years ago we were listening to it, before we started recording ‘Plastic Fang’, and we were writing and touring around. It just sorta grew on me. It’s a very beautiful song, a very sad song and part of the reason I’m picking it now is because a couple of nights ago after a concert a DJ played this song, and to hear it again was very beatiful and made me cry.”

2. Bob Dylan – Mississippi
Russell Simins (drums): “I’ve been a Dylan fan since I was a kid. I think his new record ‘Love And Theft’ is amazing. This isn’t really a ballad but a slower, bluesy, older-style Dylan song. It’s a pretty straightforward slow rock tune, but the instrumentation, his vocals, the whole feel of the song really hit me hard.”

3. John Lee Hooker – No Shoes
Judah Bauer (guitar): “The main thing with John Lee is that he just goes got it, he ad-libs and the recording has this air that I wish I could get on a song. It’s a great song, real laid-back and perfect.”

4. Elvis Presley – Love Letters
Jon: “I’m not sure who wrote this one, but his version is from the early or mid-’60s. Again, a very lovely song, very beautiful and very sad. I guess a lot of people have done versions of this song but his is particularly eerie and spooky.”

5. Reverend Charlie Jackson – Wrapped Up and Tangled Up In Jesus
Jon: “This is a gospel song recorded live. It sounds like a congregation and he’s playing an electric guitar. It also sounds like it could be from the ’40s or ’50s, but it’s actually from the ’70s. He tells a story of how he was fishing and he gets a big fish on the line and then he talks about this feeling he gets late at night at home and he has a realisation that he wishes he could be wrapped up and tangled up like that fish. He wants God to get him on the line. It’s a very bizarre song – very powerful though, very strange.”

6. James Brown – It’s A New Day
Russell: “The groove of that song and James Brown’s vocals… I could listen to that groove forever. I wish that song was three hours long. We did a show with him in Japan at a festival. To see him do ‘A Man’s, Man’s Man’s World’ is phenomenal. He’s pretty impressive as a person, pretty out there.”

7. Ol’ Dirty Bastard – I Can’t Wait
Russell: “The guy, to me, is one of the true personalities of music. I don’t wanna over-romanticise him but he has so much character. The most appealing thing about rock is people with a lot of personality, from Jerry Lee Lewis through Dylan, Lou Reed, Johnny Rotten to ODB. That song encapsulates how he’s so out there, he’s punk and he’s got a great rap style. As a vocalist in rap music he goes outside of what people expect, like, ‘I CAN’T WAAAAIT!!!’, he starts freaking out! It’s compelling and crazy. The craziness combined with the talent he has is what makes him great.”

8. Gene Vincent – Jezebel
Judah: “It’s the most beautiful thing, that guy’s voice. Maybe it’s not as good as Elvis but his band was top, totally tight and his singing was passionate. A lot of his Sun stuff was almost lo-fi.”

9. Quasi – It’s Raining
Jon: “About a year and a half ago I became obsessed with this one song from their recent album (‘Sword Of God’). When I was in LA mixing ‘Plastic Fang’ I listened to this song a lot on the car stereo. It’s a very beautiful song. I guess what all these songs have in common is that they’re very emotional and powerful and very sad songs. That reflects where my head’s been at.”

10. The Greatful Dead – Casey Jones
Judah: “That’s just a great band playing. I wish I could get a band together that played like that. Free and soft.”