I dig your groovy hips
I dig your barbecued lips
It’s all about context isn’t it? in some circumstances the above could be a highly threatening, possibly the last thing your victim heard before the freezer door shut, in another context it could be a slightly unhinged come-on, which it is here on Boss Hog I Dig You. I bought it because I had a serious man-crush thing going for Jon Spencer. I saw the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion open for the Beastie Boys at Manchester Academy in 1995 and they just blew them off stage, they really did and the Beasties were/are my favourite band. I bought Orange and was blown away. Then when I found out that he had a second band going with his wife, I wanted in.
I heroically didn’t let the fact that said wife Cristina Martinez was a seriously hot chick deter me and so I picked up the 12″ of I Dig You on April Fool’s Day 1996. Frail man that I am I also rather fell for the cartoon chick on the cover*, fishnets, bikini bottoms and an unfeasibly tight crop-top being perfectly practical attire for gardening/playing in the sand as far as I’m concerned. Oh yes.
In fact never let it be said that 1537 shies away from confronting sexual politics head-on. Martinez, right from the very first Boss Hog show, which she played in the nude, has never been afraid to show her feminine strength and reject societal norms by reclaiming her body as her art, as opposed to something to be gawped at by men – all by, seemingly, freeing herself on a pretty regular basis from the tyranny of wearing any clothes at all^. Whether this is a genuinely feminist statement, a high-minded rejection of norms, or a great way to sell records to lusty simpletons like myself who, fancying themselves as rather high brow, wouldn’t be seen dead making eyes at whichever pop phenomenon was making it big in the charts that month by parading around in their under garments. There’s a difference. There really is. Albeit it tends to get blurry after this remove and all you’re left with are pictures of Martinez lolling around in her birthday suit. It’s all about context, again.
Since Christina and Spencer had met in Pussy Galore** musically I was expecting something a bit closer to that nihilistic punk strop, what we got though is almost a punked up disjointed take on Tom Waits Rain Dogs, a less rocky take on the Blues Explosion. ‘I Dig You’ contains the only vaguely threatening use of marimbas I can think of. It’s a strange track, I keep waiting for it to achieve lift-off and it never does so it was an odd choice for a single. I don’t want to sound like the sex-pest I possibly am but I am rather taken with Martinez’ sultry, sulky tones.
The B-sides were two non-album tracks, ‘Hell Mary’ which sounded like a particularly raucous witch singing along to ’96 Tears’ and ‘Soultrap’, which is really good. In fact ‘Soultrap’ is everything I hoped ‘I Dig You’ would be, it sounds like an evil rocked up version of the B-52’s, the guitar is particularly great and raw. Things conclude with a noble attempt at a cover of Wire’s ’12XU’, which even has the cheek to include some Jon Lord-style organ in the quiet bits. True. So it was good in places, not in others – it never pushed me into buying anything else by Boss Hog.
Anyway I’m off to scour the internet for pictures of Cristina Martinez expressing her inner strength. In the correct context of course…
*I have previous here, just ask Betty Boop and Jessica Rabbit (still my ideal girl, all these years on).
**1537 faves, the LP title Dial M For Motherfucker surely tells you all you need to know.
^if you don’t count long black boots that is.