It's no wonder The Blackout sounds familiar. Not only does Speedball Baby revel in the basic elements of rockabilly and blues-punk much like Jon Spencer Blues Explosion does, but two Jon Spencer Blues Explosion members play on this album. Jon Spencer and Judah Bauer are credited for having written the best songs, too: "Wanna Scratch It?" and "Do the Blackout," respectively. Their playing is energetic with plenty of hollerin' and background noises, much like the tracks found on early Jon Spencer Blues Explosion releases, favoring Orange. Speedball Baby's carefully contrived collaborative third release also features Boss Hog's Cristina Martinez singing backup on the Charlie Feathers-ish send-up "The Diddler," which is obviously influenced by beat poet William S. Burroughs' lyrical monotone. Other contributors include the often-suited avant-garde James Chance of James Chance & the Contortions playing saxophone and the under-utilized Mick Collins singing "Cash Cow" -- he was also a guest on their 2000 record, Uptight. The who's who lineup of famed New York City and Detroit-based musicians helps The Blackout be elegant, powerful, and engaging throughout, with the end result treading familiar territory, but there are enough surprises to keep things interesting.
The Blackout Review
by Lisa LeeKing