SLACKERS, THE: Live at Ernesto’s: 2 x LP

Dec 03, 2020

The first big ska revival hit when I was about fifteen or sixteen. Although I eventually came around to the point where I had to admit the first Specials album was pretty great, my stance tended to be mostly along the lines of, “We’re sixteen years old and drinking beer in a basement, why are we listening to a guy playing trombone?” Truth be told, I still consider this a fairly valid stance. When ska came back around again in the late ’80s/early ’90s, it had its moments where it was fun and all, but it really seemed like bro music at that point—it drew a pretty douchey fanbase, at least around here. I think the last ska record I bought was the first Voodoo Glow Skulls album in 1993; awareness of the genre really pretty much faded from my consciousness. In recent times, however, I’ve been wondering if ska (or something) isn’t due for a comeback, conditions being such that maybe a form of music not largely constructed by bored white males might serve the greater good. This double album—originally released on CD some twenty years ago—captures this NYC eight-piece on stage in the wilds of the Netherlands in 1999, and strikes me less as straight-up ska (a term derived from “speed calypso,” by the way), and more of a mish-mash of ska, rocksteady (which was the slow thing that followed ska), original reggae (circa 1968), rock, jazz, punk, and everything else. I do not taste the revolution in its hips, but it’s certainly competent. That said, why are we listening to a guy playing trombone? BEST SONG: “Married Girl.” BEST SONG TITLE: “Mush One.” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: Arrows: 5. Checkers: 0. –Rev. Nørb (Hellcat / Pirates Press)