Lucid Culture


CD Review: The Slackers – Self Medication

For over 20 years, while some of the greatest minds of their generation have been drinking themselves to death, the Slackers have been putting out great albums blending equal elements of ska, reggae, classic 60s soul, blues and occasionally straight-up rock. Simply put, there is no other third-generation ska band with such a rich, deep catalog of songs. They tour constantly and consistently deliver a passionate, fun, cleverly improvisational show. This cd, their latest, is one of their best, a tad more subtle than their usual fare, for example, the deliriously fun Live at Ernesto’s cd from a few years back. As usual, the fat groove of the rhythm section is spiced with soaring, virtuosic horns and the smooth, bubbling organ work of main songwriter Vic Ruggiero.


The cd kicks off with Every Day Is Sunday, an anthem for the new depression: “Every day is Sunday when you’re unemployed…Friday never comes.”  Funny and apt beyond words, it’s basically just a super catchy pop song in a porkpie hat. From there they go straight into oldschool roots reggae with Don’t You Want A Man. Don’t Forget The Streets begins with a big soul rave-up intro and then goes classic rocksteady with a country melody and a nice minimalist electric piano solo from Ruggiero: “We still stick together/We still get along.”


Estranged has an eerie intro like the Specials’ classic Ghost Town but more ornate, then goes reggae with a darkly spacy dub feel. With more than a nod to the Beatles’ psychedelic period, the vividly metaphorical Stars is a big anthem with an echoey Lucy in the Sky George Harrison-esque solo and a phaser-fueled outro straight out of All You Need Is Love. Finally, on the cd’s sixth track, they do a straight-up, oldschool ska song, Leave Me, as in “Leave me, I wannna be alone again.”


They go back to reggae, with a strikingly complex 70s Steel Pulse or Aswad feel with the minor key, harmony-driven Eviction, followed by Happy Song, reverting to a vintage Skatalites feel right down to the dumb prosaic lyrics and a sweet Glenn Pine trombone solo. The title track, a reggae tune, reflects on how hard it is to keep your stash to yourself. There’s also a Johnny Cash-style country song with a gorgeous western swing guitar solo, an apocalyptic rocksteady number and a cynical tribute to the brilliant and the obscure, with a long, crescendoing ska jazz intro. It’s everything Slackers fans have come to expect, and a great way to get to know one of the most popular New York bands of alltime that you may have never heard of. Available at any punk rock record store, online and at The band is currently on European tour; watch this space for NYC dates.

January 26, 2009 - Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , ,

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