While Jon Spencer spent much of his time in Pussy Galore trying to destroy rock & roll as fans know it, by the time he got the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion rolling, he'd come to the belated conclusion that old-school rock and R&B could be pretty cool after all, and since the history of Boss Hog -- one of Spencer's seemingly infinite number of side projects -- overlaps with Pussy Galore, you get to witness this transformation over the course of their recording career. While Boss Hog's first album was a nearly unlistenable morass of aural sludge, six years later, their self-titled major-label debut turns out to be a very solid album in the same rootsy grit-rock vein as the Blues Explosion's best work. If anything, Christina Martinez, Spencer's partner in crime (and spouse), is a stronger vocal presence on this record, if only because she hasn't developed quite as elaborate a shtick as Spencer -- she just belts it out in a sturdy blues-punk style, unlike Spencer's often amusing but sometimes irritating collection of blues and rockabilly affectations. Boss Hog also displays a far greater willingness to get funky than JSBX; they're not ready to face the Meters in a battle of "on the one," but the best cuts here boast a more sensuous feel for groove than the prime suspects have shown in the past. In short, Boss Hog shows that somewhere down the line Spencer and Martinez learned the importance of getting a groove on, and though that groove is rough, noisy, and ill-tempered, you can still dance to it.
Boss Hog Review
by Mark Deming