SummaryThe Jon Spencer Blues Explosion were one of the most viscerally exciting indie rock acts of the 1990s, but making their blast of frantic energy work in the studio was sometimes a challenge if you were going for anything more than sheer gutbucket stomp. On Orange and Acme, JSBX used strings, hip-hop beats, and various production niceties to add texture to the two-guitar-and-drums onslaught, but with Now I Got Worry, they moved forward into the past with the fiercest and most elemental set they'd released since Crypt Style. Now I Got Worry kicks off with Spencer screaming his head off while Russell Simins lays down a funky, muscular backbeat, and that sets the tone for what follows; the album plays at full-blast from beginning to end, even when the tempo shifts and the band eases back a bit in the name of dynamics. The blast-furnace tone is consistent, but the approach jumps from cut to cut, as JSBX tackle proto-hardcore on "Identify," shift into country-blues mode on "Rocketship," party with Rufus Thomas on "Chicken Dog," lay into a punishingly funky groove on "R.L. Got Soul," and wander through a pool of drug-addled dub on "F*** Shit Up." But, ultimately, extremity is the point on Now I Got Worry, and even when it seems relatively gentle, it's never subtle; the production (mostly by Jim Waters) isn't afraid to push the music into the red zone, and Spencer's fearsome vocal wail, the attack of Spencer and Judah Bauer's guitars, and Simins' relentless drumming connect with the force of a fist into the solar plexus. Now I Got Worry may not be JSBX's best album, but it does capture their taut, blazing, live sound and their eccentric studio approach with a better balance than anything else in their catalog; if you want to get slapped upside the head while you boogie all night long, this is the album for you.
In 2010, Majordomo Records released an expanded and remastered edition of Now I Got Worry that doubled the track count from 16 to 32. This doesn't mean twice as many songs, though, since four of those bonus tracks are radio commercials for Now I Got Worry, some of which already popped up on the compilation Jukebox Explosion. The bonus material also suggests that the album's stripped-down and riled-up sound was in part a product of editing, since much of the unreleased material finds the Blues Explosion exploring more languid and experimental territory, often with a keyboard assist from Mark Ramos Nishita [aka Money Mark], who the band met while touring with the Beastie Boys. In expanded form, Now I Got Worry feels like an album that could have been the precursor to Acme if the band had been willing to let their loopier side show at the time. The package also includes plenty of unseen photos and new liner notes from Mike Edison, who addresses the critical backlash against JSBX that raged when the album first came out in no uncertain terms.