I can’t speak French, baby, but
No more l’amour
I had wanted to hear some Raging Slab for years but not managed it before I finally got hold of a second-hand copy of Raging Slab in 2011. They always looked damn cool and how could you resist any band who called an earlier LP Assmaster? It was interesting to note that Warrior Soul’s Kory Clarke and Deee-Lite’s Dimitri Brill* were band members before this LP. They just reeked of cool, in the way that only a NY band choosing to play Southern rock can. I mean just look at the cover: trucks, leather chaps, bootlace ties, hats and ‘taches galore, I love it. Also, how can you not love a band who built their own recording studio and named it Slabby Road?
The music? ‘Don’t Dog Me’, the first track, is the best here by far. The video (below) is just perfect it actually looks the way it sounds, monster truck trailer concert, scrap yards and all. It really delivers on the kick-ass boogie front, but best of all I think is Elyse Steinman’s bottleneck guitar, it really is Raging Slab’s secret weapon and one of the things that lifts them clear from all the other Southern rock pretenders out there – her playing on ‘Bent For Silver’ being particularly great. The other thing that gives them real potency is the fact that they have a punky energy behind their rocking, a bit like contemporaries Junkyard, I think you can really hear it on cuts like ‘Get Off My Jollies’, ‘Sorry’s All I Got’ and ‘Joy Ride’ (‘I saw the Lord in a blown out Ford / Doin’ just about what you’d think he’d do’).
I have to say that at times Raging Slab’s execution is better than the tunes they bring to the table, but their sound on this LP, ably produced by Daniel Rey, is excellent. When they find the tunes and melodies as well, as on the truly mighty ‘Geronimo’ it really is a rare treat. That track’s slow build-up and chunky riffing easily ramp things up to epic status. I’m a bit of a sucker for the ballad ‘Love Comes Loose’ too, but you know me I’m just a bit mushy round the edges,
I’m all wrecked inside
My heart got broke but good
I can’t forget about you
Even though I know I should
I know critics always used to refer to them as ‘Lynyrd Skynyrd meets Metallica’, but listening to Raging Slab again tonight I was struck by exactly how close this sound is to Metallica’s later Load and Reload LPs, okay so Slab’s Southern nuances aren’t there but the basic sound isn’t far away at all**. Just a thought.
Ultimately I enjoyed Raging Slab, but it was more of a friendly desert truck stop (full of ace gourmet vegetarian delights and ice-cold beer) than the journey’s end itself.
Fly away buzzard, fly away crow
Way down south where the wind don’t blow.
*Deee-Lite being behind my favourite ever song to dance to ‘Groove Is In The Heart’.
**although I only like about 4 tracks across both the ‘tallica LPs – but that’s a whole other story/debate/violent-argument-settled-in-a-car-park-with-a-broken-bottle-at-night-with-no-witnesses.