Old Rockers never die; they just get the Blues!
I can’t for the life of me remember when I first encountered Slack Alice, possibly the best part of 40 years ago I suppose; when they were the support band de jour for many rock bands visiting the area.
Jump forward to August 2014 and a friend who knows of my music writings mentioned that a friend of his was in a band and would I like to hear their latest album. Normally these are words I dread; so out of courtesy I said yes and he brought it from the car.
I nearly gasped when I saw it was Slack Alice!
It would be wrong to say I was transported back to my teenage years; because my memories are of a very loud rock band; and thankfully age has taken its toll on singer Cliff Stocker as he no longer sounds like Ozzy and a lot more like Eric Burdon; with the band no longer trying to frighten bull elephants as they now play their instruments like the master craftsmen that they are now.
The album opens with some sweet guitar and harmonica interplay before Cliff’s rumbling voice declares he’s ‘The Preacher’ and proceeds to use Biblical metaphors to declare his love for his woman. I was hooked instantly.
As a man of a certain age Cliff Stocker; who had a hand in writing all bar one of the songs, looks back on his life occasionally and on the Honky Tonk Still Singing the Blues he sounds like he should have been brought up in New Orleans as he describes all of the trappings of his success (or fantasy) while a Dr. John style pianist tinkles in the background and I wouldn’t be surprised if this was to turn up on a Joe Cocker album.
I’m pleased to report that Slack Alice cover the whole gamut of the Blues with 8 minute belters like Monday Morning Bluessitting comfortably alongside a real tearjerker of a ballad, There Goes Another Dream which has quickly become my favourite track on the album.
If I have a gripe it’s the self-indulgent instrumental Conversations which may have its merits but sounds completely out of place plonked in the middle of a Blues-Rock album.
One track manages to be included twice; once with keyboards and once without; and the 12-bar boogie Don’t Come a Knockin’ is apparently dedicated to friends of the band who have retired and bought a motorhome with that legend emblazoned on the back! I’m pretty sure this will become a stage favourite whenever it’s played as the chorus has sing-a-long written all over it.
If you get the chance to see Slack Alice at one of the many Blues Festivals across the UK I urge you to go; if not, this is perfect music for motorway driving.
#Update – sadly singer Cliff Stocker died in late April 2016.