The Slack is Back Jack!

After 25 years and 15(really 15?) albums, The Slackers have released a self-titled album.  Certainly a mainstay in the ska community for over two decades, this band needs no introduction.  Let’s check out this latest offering…

 

  1. “The Boss”- The Slacker’s start the album true to form, heavy on both horns and keys. Complete with laser blasts, this one is sure to please.  Grade: A-

 

  1. “By the Time I Get to Sleep”- Traditional ska with a dash of big band! Not sure whether to skank or to dip your dancin’ partner?  Me neither, but what I do know is that this is a great number.  Grade: A

 

  1. “Go Go Go!”- This one’s a slow “skanker of sorts” with the classic sax wail of Mr. Hillyard. Just when you think the song is done, the lone organ leads the way with the guitar and drums not far behind.  Dual vocalists and steady drum beat march this one out to its final note.  Grade: A

 

  1. “Working Overtime”- Ah yes the all too familiar lament of the every working man. Although Vic hands off the mic to Glen Pine in this fantastic number, his work on the organ is not overlooked.   Dave also makes his presence known here.  Thrown in a pinch of dub action and you’ve got yourself one catchy tune!  Grade: A

 

  1. “Spin I’m In”- “Spin I’m In” is more bare bones musically as compared to the previous tracts. The limited use of horns (up until the very end) lets listener appreciate the truly unique vocal stylings of Vic.  I’m not always a huge fan of slower numbers, but this one’s a gem!  Grade: A

 

  1. “I Want to Be Your Girl”- The Rarebreed records website sites The Beatles and Beach Boys as a few influences incorporated into the musical fabric of this record. If ever there was a Beetles sounding song, this would be the one.  As a whole the song is gritty in nature which contrasts perfectly with the Fab Four inspired vocal harmonization.  Awesome!  Grade: A

 

  1. “Pockets of a Rich Man”-Bending a little more towards rock and roll, “Pockets of a Rich Man” has The Rolling Stones written all over it. Vic even sounds more like Jagger in this one more than any other tune to date.  While this is certainly a change of pace in style, a great song is a great song no matter what.  Thumbs up.  Grade: A

 

  1. “Run Til We Can’t Outrun”-Glen wrestles the mic back in this next track. I can’t place the exact style from which this song reminds me, but is definitely has an early rock feel to it.  Doo-wop?  Motown?  Zager and Evans?   I remain perplexed, yet thoroughly entertained at the same time.  Fantastic song.  Grade: A

 

  1. “Things I Can’t Forget”-“Things I Can’t Forget” begins as a slower, trippy song, featuring a portion of itself being played in reverse. Studio affects and changing rhythms beginning at the halfway point change this seemingly traditional tune into a drug induced, smoke- hazed acid trip of a song.  Grade: A-

 

  1. “Truth Comes Knocking”- This is your standard Slackers ska magic. The most striking part of this song is the trading off of vocals between Glen and Vic was well as the captivating organ solo.  Grade: A

 

  1. “Chewing on a Face”-This song is amazing! There is an overall edginess created by the monotone nature of Vic’s voice and the blaring horns.  The female backing vocals are the icing on the cake.  This ditty sounds like it is straight out of a police drama from the early 80’s.  Grade: A

 

  1. “Spaceman 3104”- The Slackers have taken a song which would be too long for my liking if done by anyone else and created a showstopper in this already epic album.  “Spaceman 3104” is an appropriate title as it does create a celestial feeling while listening.  Groovy!    Grade: A

 

  1. “The Boss (Alt. Mix)” [Bonus Track] – In general I like the idea of alternative versions of songs. While they are not meant to replace the original, they are as the name suggests, another version.  While I enjoy the original version slightly more, this is a fun variation.  Grade: A-

 

  1. “Chewing on a Dub” [Bonus Track]- Well the original is already a scorcher, so I’m not sure how you can improve on it.  Grade: A-

 

  1. “Christine Keeler” [Bonus Track]- This is an amazing instrumental that should have been on the original album, however, I’m sure they only reason it did not make the final cut is because of time constraints on an LP.  This number showcases each horn as well as the organ.  Way to go out with a bang.  Grade: A

 

 

It is difficult to image any band, especially one in a genre that has never been favored by the mainstream to last for 25 years.  Never the less, The Slackers keep touring and cranking out fantastic songs year after year.  While I was always familiar with this band during my early skanking days, it wasn’t until a few years ago, when I got to see them live, that I began to truly appreciate their sound.  With Vic’s one of a kind voice, the Slacker’s style has remained fairly consistent over the course of their discography.   Until now.  The Slacker’s spruce things up by injecting sounds we haven’t heard since the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. Many bands have made a foray into other styles much to their fans dismay or delight which often times seems gimmicky.  Rest assured, there is no gimmick here, just a collection of finely crafted tunes from the masters themselves.  Overall, this is a fantastic recording that sounds as if the band is playing all together vs. each instrument being recorded separately.  Each song is unique in its own right, while keeping constant with the traditional ska meets trippy goodness vibe.  Taking command as lead micman and ivory tickler, Vic allows the rest the band to shine throughout as well.  Although Vic’s voice has grown on me over the years, I still appreciate the energy that Glen brings here as well. The bonus tracks were not needed but greatly appreciated.   Of course buying this album is a no brainer for the longtime Slackers fan, this will appeal to the masses as well.  For those middle agers that want to take a nostalgic trip(pun intended) through their high school  years, this album is for you.  I know it is early in the year, but I predict this to slug it out as one of the best ska albums of 2016.  The Slack is back jack!

 

Grade: A

 

 

 

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