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ALBUM REVIEW: "The Slackers" 

The Slackers

"The Slackers"

Special Potato/Rare Breed

Just like a homicide dick has to tighten his guts at a crimes scene so he can do his job impartially and keep his wingtips clean, I've gotta sit here and pretend I don't like The Slackers. But I can't because I do. Ever since this Brooklyn-based ska band's 1997 release, "Redlight," took up semi-permanent residency on my turntable, I've been a big fan. And imagine my thrill to get its new CD across my desk this week. I cracked it open, donned my headphones, fired it up, and immediately started spinning 360s in my swivel chair to the bump and jump.

The disc is pure ska amid the band's non-traditional hints at jazz and rock 'n' roll's various sub-styles. The band keeps it ska with nods to these American roots, yet it still comes off pure. The Slackers' command of rocksteady's relentless jump, rattle, and drive is just a couple of clicks north of frenzied. Unlike some contemporaries who let things get too fast, or too lazy, the band shows remarkable reserve — it always has.

"The Slackers" is brilliant. It opens up the whole affair like a carnival off its axis with "By The Time I Get To Sleep." The track "I Want To be Your Girl" is the perfect blend of Ska with a garage rock snotty grind and throb. "Run Till We Can't Outrun" hints more than a little bit at Motown as if the band were the Shangri-skas (no apologies, I couldn't help it). "Go Go Go!" is stylistically a bit of a departure I'm not really wild about. But overall this album absolutely slays me.

The horns keep it punchy, polished, and bright, while the organ pumps in between, around, and underneath the vintage-tinged vocals of singer Vic Ruggiero. Production was handled by three cats on the board: New York City producer extraordinaire, and former original Dap King, Victor "Ticklah" Axelrod; The Slackers guitarist Jay "Agent Jay" Nugent; and Jr. Thomas & The Volcanos member Brian Dixon. And though these three have their individual fingerprints all over "The Slackers," the album is cohesive as if only one cat was twiddling the knobs.

As a ska fan this is a must-have platter. And if you're a newbie, do yourself a favor and don't be a slacker.


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