Like being smashed repeatedly about the head with a drumstick, the Blues Explosion method is not subtle and after some time it starts to hurt. While most of the world is still recovering from last year’s belligerent ‘Acme’ opus, [a]Jon Spencer[/a] has seen fit to release a whole album of remixes and extra tracks from those thrillingly prolific sessions. With 19 tracks, and at a draining 74 minutes long, ‘Acme-Plus’ is like listening to ‘Acme’‘s slightly deranged brother labouring you about his round-the-world trip, but with an unnecessarily detailed slide-show thrown in for extra sense-dulling effect.
It’s an album of B-sides, essentially, and we all know how entertaining they can be. Frustratingly, Blues Explosion quality control is virtually non-existent, so rather than introducing hardcore fans to a whole new, radically altered dimension of their ubiquitous blooze – as 1995’s more successful and adventurous ‘Bellbottoms’ remix EP achieved – ‘Acme-Plus’ is simply more (and more) of the same gnarled riffage and raddled porch-front gospel preacher man routine that’s characterised, well, every JSBE release ever.
So you can ignore new tracks like ‘Get Down Lover’, ‘Confused’ and their ilk because you’ve heard better elsewhere on frequent occasions, while let’s just say ‘Soul Trance’ won’t be begging the kids up at Gatecrasher to put their hands in the air.
Only when ‘big name’ producers are involved do proceedings become mildly distracting and Spencer is dragged, kicking and screaming, into something resembling the future.
Moby‘s production softens Spencer‘s irascible howl on ‘Wait A Minute’, ironing it into a disco Stones pastiche; and David Holmes‘ ‘TATB (For The Saints And Sinners Remix)‘ masterfully dilutes the traditional spray-on soul ‘madness’.
Two out of 19 isn’t a great strike-rate, but then that’s probably not the point. This is the blues, after all, and the blues, as Spencer always insists, is a law unto itself. Frankly, arrest this man.