What can you say about Spencer P Jones that would do the mans musical legacy justice? The amount of bands the man played in would be well into double figures, and the amount of musicians that ave graced the stage or studio with him would be pushing three figures, and of course all the young musos he encouraged and bands that got a little extra rub aving his name on their poster or LP sleeve. Combining elements of punk, garage, country, blues and dirty rock n roll, Spencers life and career was that of a true rock n roll warrior. No list of great Australian songwriters or guitarists is complete unless his name in any top ten list.
Thinking of all the bands and LPs the man produced its so hard to think of a favourite, but its even harder to think of any bad songs or records, because I don/t think he ever did one. While he played with so many great bands its always the solo stuff that I come to first. Most people the solo stuff is considered secondary to whichever band made em famous, but the bands that featured Spencer P Jones up front was where we saw how good he was. While he did incredible work before he went solo, up front, with that voice, guitar and song writing skills, was where you saw what a triple threat he was. Again while its hard to pick a favourite, for me the LP that has gotten the most playing in my stereo has been 2010s Sobering Thoughts.
His vocals are incredible on this. He may not ave been a singers singer but the shear emotion in his voice is something you can/t learn, its something you ave to feel. When he sings I hate to see you cry you know he means it. Its an LP of heartbreak disappear and fun. Unfortunately only by bogans.
Bouquet of Flowers – A stable of the Escape Committees live set, a short punk meets blues number, which ace slide guitar from Kim Volkman, nice little happy short foot tapper to start.
(What Can I Do to) Change your mind- One of the few songs that makes me cry. For me this song contained his best riff and the solo at the end is brutal after hearing the words spit out. The line you want your life I don/t want mine feels like a kick in the teeth.
Trust –Never again will I place my trust in you is one of the lines in this song. No idea if this is an autobiographical song but the way in which Spence delivers that line you can tell he means it. Again you can/t fake that
I Hate to See you Cry- Title says it all. Love the added use of violin with a classic Jones guitar lick.
Have Some Faith – Best track of the LP for me. When he sings bout hanging with village barflys and tragic men you know hes been round the characters he is describing. He wasn/t some guy that read a Bukowski short story comp and wrote a song bout it. He was a the dive joints he was sounding,
China Doll- if I play my guitar will you fall for me. Killer line that, and with the way he played anyone who say that great man feel under his spell.
Show I Care – Ace Beasts of Bourbon Style riff to start, like to think he wrote this for the band themselves but thought nah fuck it im keeping it for my own band.
The Bogans- Sigh. Unfortunately Spencer was right. The Bogans ave all the fun. Nice little piece of social commentary and humour. Mind you some of the references im not sure are true in 2018. Do Bogans still wear ugg boots? And are sandmans the car of choice? I really don/t give a fuck what the answer is. But mentions of footy and five Cougars are still relevant and hilarious.
Dancing Barefoot- Cracking cover of the Patti Smith classic. One of the last lines Spencer sings on the LP is oh god I fell for you. What a powerful way to end the LP.
As mentioned the man never made a dud LP, but in a highly incredible career this would be close to his finest work. It sounds like the music blasting out of a smoky St Kilda jukebox and three in the morning. The Escape Committee was a cracking outfit that completed SPJs style and sound.
A one off unique personality and musician, one that we/ll never see again. Its been said a lot recently, but Spence thanks for showing us a real cool time. Thanks.
RIP Spencer x