Raging Slab

Pronounced Eat Shit

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Well, it took nearly a decade and a few false starts, but with 2002's hilariously Skynyrd-referencing Pronounced Eat Shit (complete with cover art tribute), it is safe to say that Raging Slab has finally returned to form. Having exorcised a decade's worth of record industry "downers" with the previous year's terribly pessimistic The Dealer, the Pennsylvania-based veterans truly seem revitalized here. A snappy version of Todd Rundgren's "Little Red Lights" opens the proceedings, winding down with dive-bombing guitar runs that lead into the massive groove and chorus of the "Boogalooser" single, where a leering Greg Strzempka drawls away with the self-effacing charm of old. The next number, "Ruby," is exactly the kind of gem its title suggests. A soulful shuffle sweetened by spot-on slide guitar work from the ever reliable Elyse Steinman, it is dedicated to Black Oak Arkansas backup singer Ruby Starr, and ranks among the album's most memorable highlights. Another dedication (this one to Joey Ramone and Brain Surgeons guitarist Billy Hilfiger), "Dry Your Eyes" boasts a circular guitar figure to die for, and Strzempka's inspiration runs deep throughout the disc's second half as well, from the powerful start-stop-start tricks and organ licks heard on "Black Bell" to the hiccupping blues grind that is "When the Cock Crows." And as she'd done on their last outing, Steinman tackles lead vocals herself on occasion, lending her frightful rasp to the comical (at least one hopes it's meant to be comical) "Hell Yawns Before Me," then actually singing (yes, singing!) her way through the quite delicate, banjo-infused "Bury Me Deep." Finally, the first couple of modern Southern rock performs a duet for the first time in recent memory on the excellent closer, "For What You're Worth," which features some very beautiful harmony guitars (and is dedicated to a whole bunch of other people). With the band now confirmed as a true survivor, here's hoping Raging Slab keeps on chugging for a few years yet.

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