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"Shank Bone" from The Slackers, Close My Eyes (Hellcat)
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The Slackers, Close My Eyes (Hellcat)
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The Slackers, Close My Eyes, (Hellcat/Epitaph)

Imagine Lee Perry’s Upsetters Spent a Dozen Years with Bob Dylan…     Close Your Eyes, It’s The Slackers

The Slackers are setting an inspired pace this new millennium. Their records are timeless, their side projects numerous, and through more than a decade of touring, the Slack sound, a gritty garage-reggae, has left Brooklyn to permeate the globe. Drawing on intimate and global issues, The Slackers release their seventh full LP, Close My Eyes, September 9, 2003 on Hellcat Records.  

The title and album cover are both a lament for and a celebration of New York City. The cover is subtle like the music and lyrics. The young woman has her back to the WTC disaster on the cover of the paper and a mushroom cloud on the television across the apartment. Seeing New York as a symbol of perseverance in today’s post 9.11 world, the band sings, “so feel free, go steal and rob; revolution ain’t my job; and if I sing your happy song; please don’t tell me I am wrong; close my eyes and I am gone.”  

“It is slightly apocalyptic,” admits Vic Ruggerio, “it was just a shit of a year, a couple of years; rough times with family and at the same time they’re attacking NYC. I remember my dad saying the end of the world is the end if it happens to everyone or just one guy. That this world dies every time a man dies because his perception goes with him.”  

“We were always into concept albums, a real piece, not just a collection”, notes Vic, “We didn’t think people would get the concept album at first, but Red Light (released back in 1997) was received well… ever since, we’ve tried to welcome the listener to our world.” The Slackers described making Close My Eyes much like Gertrude Stein explained her writing process; as layered, the way she imagined a painting would be created. And so the band draws from a wide palate of sound; percussion, rhythm, horns, vocals, even a lively MC, adding layers of harmony to fill the canvass. Like a masterpiece with the right balance of form and space, color and light, the musical hues don’t mix into gray, they compliment each other. “This time we only did what comes natural, making a textured sound. It’s under-produced, like Studio One records (the classic 60’s Jamaican studio); the music breathes, jumps off the record and speaks to you. We look for honesty and purity of sound. If we can’t do it live, we’d feel like cheaters if we did it on the record.”  

The Slackers sound is pure roots, but still innovative…Influenced, and even personally taught by the Jamaican originators, the Skatalites, without becoming mere imitators. While Carribean flavors from Rocksteady to Reggae abound, the band sees its music through an American lens. This band is equally appreciative of  old blues,  60’s soul, and R&B.  It is as if the Rolling Stones or the Yardbirds had grown up on Bob Marley as well as Muddy Waters.  

More reggae than punk (no distortion pedals here), Close My Eyes abounds with hooks, soul and innovation. Tired of droning rock, the band compounds rhythms into a dynamic yet smooth foundation for Vic’s gritty vocals. With all the over-worked pop available in the world, finally, here is a real band, struggling and triumphing together, writing and making records, combining styles and flavors, enduring …rhythm everlasting.  

“Today his mind is perplexed and he looks into the perfect cloudless empty blue and wonders what all the bruiting and furore is below, what all the yelling, the buildings, the humanity, the concern… -`All I gotta do is close my eyes and it all goes away`” --- Jack Kerouac, Visions of Gerard