The Slackers

Live at Ernesto's

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AllMusic Review by

Are the Slackers America's finest ska band? Maybe so, though there are a few close competitors in the band's hometown of New York, and at least one that comes close on the other coast. As the tide of the most recent ska revival ebbs and takes scores of lightweight wagon-jumpers with it, what's left behind are the real heavyweights: the Stubborn All-Stars, the Toasters, Hepcat, and the Slackers. And, as this live album demonstrates, the Slackers rip it up in concert as well as -- and in some cases better than -- any of them. In this context, singer and bandleader Vic Ruggiero sounds even more guttural and thuggish than usual, which has the effect of accenting even more than usual the sophistication and grace of his songs. "Sooner or Later" and the rock steady anti-skinhead anthem "Keep Him Away" are both based on chord progressions that go far beyond the usual three-chord ska rave-up, and when the band lets loose on "Work Song," you can almost hear Art Blakey skanking up in jazz heaven. And "Feed My Girl" is hysterical. Highly recommended.

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