Whatever the weather, the sun always shines when The Slackers drop a new record. These two songs, recorded live at Ernesto’s in Holland are short sharp bursts of The Slackers, cramming melody, melancholy and a couple of strong messages into 5 minutes onto one side of a beautifully printed 12” record. I’ll start talking about Sleep Outside as this is musically perhaps more traditional territory for these guys. Taking roots from the 2 Tone style – you know exactly when those drum fills are going to kick in, signalling some serious dancefloor action. Combined with the traditional staccato ska riffing on the guitar with the warmth of the brass and organ, and you have a great tune. As with the original skank masters some four decades ago, this is a social comment of the “state of the nation”, and it ain’t pretty.
Nobody’s Listening is less of a ska number hence me reviewing this release upside down and back to front. However that is exactly what The Slackers do – when you stick one of their songs on for the first time, expect the unexpected. For me this song works really well in combination of the artwork. The stark black, white and red with the bold messaging remind me of the likes of The Redskins, and the song itself is an upbeat tune with plenty of soul. The fact that this live release was recorded in Holland – thousands of miles from home – is testament to The Slackers being a global phenomenon. Wherever there is a stage, they are in their front room, and you’re all invited in. Tom Chapman