[ KEY REVIEWS | SHORT REVIEWS | DETAILED REVIEWS
Track List: 1. Doom & Good 4:13 2. Heaven Couldn't Find 3:55 3. Do It 3:34 4. Sho' Huff 3:51 5. P. J. Proby 5:02 6. Star of the Street 2:48 7. Lady Luck 3:09 8. Very Blue 3:22 9. Burnt Love 3:48 10. The Way Down 4:52 11. Bright Light 3:22 12. Only My Pride 3:17 (bonus track) 13. Good Love 3:25 (=) All songs written by Jimmie Mack, except 9 & 13: by J. Mack & Earl Slick, and 5 & 11: by E. Slick. Line-up: Earl Slick - lead guitar Jimmie Mack - lead & backing vocals; rhythm guitar Gene Leppik - bass guitar; backing vocals Brian Madey - drums & percussion
Prologue. Earl Slick is quite famous for being a long-time guitarist for David Bowie. Surprisingly, on this album, which is titled "Slick Trax", there are only two songs that were written exclusively by Earl. While the main mastermind behind The Earl Slick Band is the lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist Jimmie Mack. All of it doesn't much matter, though.
The Album. Yet another album of proto-progressive Hard Rock! Furthermore, as well as in the case of "Rifflection" by Flight-09, structurally, "Slick Trax" is not a uniform album as well. All three of the first tracks here: Doom & Good, Heaven Couldn't Find, and Do It, as well as both of the bonus tracks: Only My Pride and Good Love, are just merely good songs of a traditional Hard Rock. All of them were composed by quite a simple couplet-refrain 'scheme' with the guitar-solo based instrumental part in the middle of them. The following two songs: Sho' Huff and P J Proby (4 & 5), are more diverse and interesting than any of the aforementioned five tracks, despite the fact that the musical dedication to Proby is based on Rock & Roll. All of the album's best songs however, are bunched up in the core of it: Star of the Street, Lady Luck, Very Blue, Burnt Love, The Way Down, and Bright Light (6 to 11). In other words, if not to count the bonus tracks, the quality of the original "Slick Trax" album's material grows beginning with the opener of the album and up to the middle of it. Although all six of the core tracks of this CD are excellent, Star of the Street and Very Blue (6 & 8) are, in my honest opinion, the best among them. Only these two songs on the album represent a 'progressive' blend of Hard Rock and the guitar based Art-Rock. Although both of them feature quite diverse and tasteful arrangements, they're hardly more diverse than any of the four tracks that follow them, even though three of them: Lady Luck, The Way Down, and Bright Light (7, 10, & 11), are heavy in their entirety. The frequent changes of theme and tempo, varied interplay between heavy riffs and virtuosi solos of electric guitars and bass, accompanied by a powerful drumming, are typical for these three songs as well. Apart from the inflammatory riffs and virtuosi solos of electric and bass guitars, the latter of them, Bright Light, contains, in addition, the nice passages of acoustic piano and, in that way, is structurally close to some songs from Nazareth's "Close Enough For Rock & Roll". Mack has an original voice, and Bright Light is the only song on the album where he sings almost not unlike Nazareth's Dan McCafferty. Most likely, it's happened just accidentally, 'according' to the instrumental palette of this song, which was composed by Earl, and not by Jimmie. Also, it needs to be said that effective contrasts between the slow riffs of Mack's rhythm guitar and fast solos of Slick's lead guitar are quite typical for all of the five songs that I've just described. Finally, Burnt Love (9) is real classic Hard Rock ballad where fluid solos of lead guitar and beautiful passages of piano are amazingly interwoven with slow, yet, very solid riffs of rhythm guitar and bass.
Summary. In my opinion, "Slick Trax" is on the whole a very good proto-progressive Hard Rock album. Most of the guitar and bass solos, as well as the majority of the vocal parts, are here done really well. While six of the core songs of this CD are excellent by all means. If you have a taste for a traditional Hard Rock, just go for this album.
VM. October 24, 2002
Info on E. Slick:
Metal Blade Records:
[ KEY REVIEWS | SHORT REVIEWS | DETAILED REVIEWS - LIST | BANDLISTS ]