Boss Hog Biography

The soul-inspired punk rock creation of Cristina Martinez and Jon Spencer, Boss Hog’s intermittent recording history has often led to the band being viewed as an ad hoc side project of the couple’s involvement in the better known Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. In fact, Boss Hog predates the Blues Explosion and by the mid-90s had finally settled on a stable line-up and begun to release albums that are arguably more inspired than those of the Blues Explosion. Martinez and Spencer have been romantic partners since the mid-80s and were also briefly musical partners in ‘scum rock’ legends Pussy Galore. In 1989, following the messy break-up of Pussy Galore, Martinez and Spencer hastily formed Boss Hog (named after the biking magazine and not the Dukes Of Hazzard character) to fulfil a live date at CBGB’s. The couple went on to record the Drinkin, Lechin’ & Lyin’ EP for the hip Amphetamine Reptile label, with help from a stellar list of indie rock musicians including drummer Charlie Ondras, bass player Pete Shore, and guitarists Jerry Teel and Kurt Wolf. The provocative cover, featuring a naked Martinez, was not matched by the substandard garage rock style within, which for most of the time seemed bound by the conventions of the scum rock scene. Subsequent releases, Cold Hands and the Action Box EP, suffered from the same identity crisis and eventually the band disintegrated in a flurry of clashing egos.

Spencer concentrated on the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion for a while, before returning to a revived Boss Hog alongside Martinez (the band’s de facto leader), Jens Jürgensen (bass, ex-Swans) and Hollis Queens (drums). The new line-up recorded the Girl+ EP in 1993, on which less attention was focused on Martinez’s state of undress (naked, but shot from the shoulders-up) than on her band’s first coherent musical statement. For once the music sounded as dirty as the subject matter. The EP was a major independent hit and led to a major label recording contract with Geffen Records. Boss Hog took the indie/roots blueprint of the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion and gave it a groove-heavy, funk swagger bursting with sexual energy. After losing their position on the Geffen roster following 1999’s Universal takeover, Boss Hog made their long awaited return the following year on the In The Red label. Whiteout, featuring new keyboard player Mark Boyce and a host of leading independent producers, lacked some of the grit of its predecessor but was still a highly infectious collection of faux-soul sleaze rock grooves.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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