Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Top 100 Songs From the 1990s (No. 77)

77. "History of Lies"
Artist: The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
Year: 1993

After yesterday's song from Brighter, I'm figuring you're ready for something with balls, or "a glorious racket," as a more articulate blogger would say. (See, Swede, I told you I was going to steal that!) I worked in a record store for much of 1993, and it's no coincidence so many of the songs on this list come from that year. Pavement was the "it" band of the moment (rightly so!), and those fellas almost single-handedly put Matador Records on the map a year earlier. Given that track record, we always opened a copy of the latest release from the label to play in the shop. A couple of Matador's memorable moments that year were 'Exile in Guyville' from Liz Phair and this one, 'Extra Width' from the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion.

Album opener "Afro" was the one and only single from 'Extra Width,' but I preferred the next song on the tracklist, "History of Lies," even more. I don't know who Spencer is singing to, but the words and delivery drip with all sorts of conflicting emotions, and the tension is palpable. I don't know if the following piece of trivia is true, but I want to believe it. When the band signed with Caroline Records in 1992, they had an unusual rider in the deal. The fellas wanted the new 10-disc Jerry Lee Lewis box set. They reportedly never got it, and they left the label after one album. When the band signed with Matador the following year, they asked for the nine-disc Stax-Volt Complete Singles 1959–1968 box as part of the agreement. Matador made good with the request. The band went on to enjoy a decade-long partnership with the label. Just sayin'... OK, now turn this one UP!

If you have a moment while you're listening, this show review appears on the inner sleeve of 'Extra Width.' It's a great read that captures the band perfectly. If those eyes are going, you can click on the image to make it a little bigger... old man.


Scott said...

Just had this on at full volume and it did indeed sound like a glorious racket. Rock'n'Roll as it should sound. Just away to play it again..

The Swede said...

Haha! Perfect context for the phrase. 'Exile in Guyville' was one of my favourites of 1993 and I know this far less well - sounds pretty darned awesome though.

george said...

Excellent choice, Brian, I'm a big fan of The Jon Spendcer Blues Explosion. And as Scott says, play loud.