Better Late Than Never (Moon)
by Grant Thayer
Another release by internationally known and respected Moon Records from its own home town – The Big Apple. The Slackers‘ first full-length effort features members of Skinnerbox NYC and Stubborn All-Stars, or perhaps I should say the other bands feature members of The Slackers. Over the past couple years, according to the CD’s liner notes, The Slackers have been “redefine[ing] the boundaries of the listening audience” by slowing down the tempo while other bands have been playing and living faster. Perhaps you won’t be banging your head against the wall to this CD, but you will get caught up in the old skool sway and skank from the 1960’s. The gravelly vocals give an added sensation of experience that I associate with Laurel Aitken. The horns include tenor and alto sax, T-bone, and trumpet, and really capture the first wave sound, leaving me expecting to hear the hiss and pops from a vintage vinyl recording. Wait a minute, I am hearing these sounds at the beginning of the CD and again on “Don’t Know I,” a nicely fitting production move by Victor Rice (of Scofflaws and NY Ska Jazz Ensemble fame). I also like the subtle yet sweet presence of the congas which augment the sharp drumming. It’s hard to pick a favorite song, perhaps “Sooner or Later” with its cool vocal harmonies, or “Our Day Will Come” featuring the pipes of legendary Studio One singer Doreen Schaeffer, or the bass-powered “Run Away,” or “Tonight,” inspired and written in an airport lounge, or… you get the idea. This is a solid CD, with some brilliant songs and arrangements. Better Late Than Never comes with lyrics and liner notes, which means I don’t have to fake knowing the words next time I see them live.