Slackers – The Great Rocksteady Swindle

January 01, 1970



In the mid-‘90s, ska bands were about as ubiquitous as
pigeons on the New York City
streets. And if you did any kind of college radio back in those days, chances
are you had more subpar two-tone crammed down your throat than you care to
mention. The Slackers, however, have always stood out from the pack, seemingly
more interested in expanding the boundaries of modern ska to incorporate elements
of dub, R&B, jazz and even British Invasion beat rock in an approach that
more recalls the authentic adventurousness of such new wave-era greats as The
Beat and Madness than anything their Operation Ivy-cribbing peers of the Third
Wave era brought to the table. 


As the Brooklynites approach their 20th year in
business, they continue to prove why they are the last ska band standing on The Great Rocksteady Swindle, an album
that finds the group returning to the classic “Jamaican rock ‘n’ roll sound” of
such past triumphs as 1997’s Redlight and 1999’s The Question. Recorded in
two days, this 10th Slackers record also marks the first time all
six members of the group were involved in the songwriting process, resulting in
a smooth collision of disparate styles that fall swimmingly into the sonic Dutchie
– with Vic Ruggerio & Co. cooking up their indelible flavor. 


Sabina”, written by bandleader Ruggerio, harbors an upbeat, almost
Grateful Dead vibe, while “Cheated” recalls the experiments in bass and echo the
band dabbled in on 2005’s underrated An
Afternoon in Dub
collection. Meanwhile, tracks like “Daddy” and “Thank
You”, both written by saxophonist Dave Hillyard, exhibit some serious Memphis soul, whereas the
fuzz-drenched swamp blues “Bo Evil” and the tender, Jack Johnson-esque
“Anastasia”, each penned by trombonist Glen Pine, stand as two of the most
straightforward rock songs in the Slackers canon to date.  And then you have an instrumental rendition
of Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine” that comes off like Booker T. and the MG’s
on Tuff Gong.


Great Rocksteady Swindle
is by far the best album of The Slackers’
two-decade-strong career and a fine testament to the preservation of quality
ska in 2010.


“Mr. Tragedy”, “Sabina”, “Daddy”, “Bo Evil”, “Ain’t No
Sunshine” RON HART



Leave a Reply