Music Reviews

The Slackers and Friends

And Friends

Special Potatoe

And Friends is a logical extension of the Slacker’s exploration of the nuances of Jamaican music. It is a riddimic saunter across the Jamaican music continuum, a compendium of sorts that encompasses ska, reggae, dub and dancehall. Their debut, Better Late Than Never, kept the tradition of ska alive while a whole lotta white boys with horns and no sense of riddim (or rhythm, for that matter) traduced the form. Their last album, Wasted Days, further delved into the Jamaican musical tradition, moving away from ska and rock steady to explore dub and dancehall. And Friends is a re-presentation of songs originally laid down by some of Jamaica’s (and Canada’s – as is the case with Chris Murray) finest, and is by far the Slacker’s best album.

“The Party” and “Thinking of You,” both featuring Doreen Schaefer, will have the listener fumbling through the liner notes to ascertain if some Coxsone Dodd-produced Skatalites’ track, circa 1963, somehow made its way onto this record – as will the Slackers pairing with Cornell Campbell on “Come Come.” And then there is Chris Murray’s acoustic-minimalist ska (“Running from Safety” and “I am a Rastaman”), Ari-Up’s dancehall stylee “Matey Exterminator” and the dubby, roots riddims of the Congos’ “Mash Down Babylon” and “Grabalicious Man.”

Point is, this an album meant to be heard and danced to, not written about. It is one of the most interesting Jamaican (I don’t care if it was actually recorded in New York City) records since, well, the days when Lee Scratch Perry was Boss DJ.

The Slackers:

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