Tuesday, February 28, 2006

What Becomes A Footnote Least? The Legacy of Nelson Slater

You can be forgiven if you have no idea who I'm talkin about. Hey, I wish I didn't. Slater was the discovery/protege of one Lou Reed who also coerced & produced Slater's one lp to date, 'Wild Angel' for RCA in 1976 (also Reed's label at the time). "I first knew Lou when we played together in a band at school in upstate New York. We kept in touch, & the last time he was in San Francisco he decided it was time to unleash me on the world". (Slater's notes on the back of the WA lp). I dunno about you, but to me 'unleash' is a verb that insinuates that something wild is gonna happen. This album is about as crazy as letting grandma out in the driveway at dusk. Okay, so she's had a couple of snifters of sherry but still, it's her driveway & besides, the porchlight is on. And dig the crazy Mick Rock cover. What's goin on fellas?
Soundwise this is 98% better than 'Rock & Roll Heart' (what isn't?) & 30% worse than 'Coney Island Baby', Reed's 2 lp's that fall-roughly-into the same time frame. If your a Lou Reed fan & don't know it, it's worth the 4$ you might have to spend to get it 2nd hand. That's if your sure you can get 2 of'em back when you resell it an hour later. Or if your really into sub marginal records of the 70's this one fits that criteria like a pie to the face. There's really nothing redeemable about the record & I'd have forgotten all about except.....

He's back.

That's right, Nelson Slater is on a 21st century comeback run. Now based out've Cincinnati, Oh, he has seemingly beguiled a number of Columbus music denizens-notably a guy by the name of Tom Derwent-to enlist his legend & talent into their pool. The results are underwhelming. Two of the cdr's I've heard, going under the moniker 'Bored Teen War Team' are pretty sub par exercises in the old, can't-really-play, improv racket. The other one, a duo of Slater & Derwent on vocals & un/detuned guitars sounds like a shitty bootleg tape of a last gasp performance from an exit version lineup of the Velvet Underground. Without a drummer. And then there's the double cd of stuff that I couldn't take beyond the 1st song. Entitled 'The Sound Commander From Venus', it is a complete & utter wholesale swipe of Magazine's 'Song From Under The Floorboard'. I mean, it's laughable!
So if the guy's so bad, why mention him at all you ask? Because I am trying to warn you dear reader! It's only a matter of time before this shit slips into the bloodstream of Fusetron or some other distributor of New Weird America cdr's. And from then, how long until some label like Eclipse or Load take the bait & make it "legit"? At any rate, remember you heard about it here _____.
It's been 30 yrs since Slater's debut. How long can a guy riff on the 'personal friend of Lou's' line? Well, I guess 30 yrs! Or maybe there's some Velvet Underground thing goin on, like he's wowed all these kids w/tales of personal experiences w/VU. If that's all it take's, I'd rather listen to anything w/Don Howland on it than Nelson Slater. Don's dad saw the Velvet Underground once. And he never talks about it. Which is fine by me.


slavelover07 said...

Christgau gave it an 'E'! Must be a classic!

Conan said...

Why you gotta be so hard on the guy? I've heard Slater's music and maybe it's no VU but the guy's got some interesting material. And he's not afraid to experiment with sound. Sure it's weird sometimes but it ain't "rock & roll", it's psychedelia. Slater challenges the listener to reevaluate their understanding of "music" and to listen with a fresh perspective. Who wants to hear the same three chords repeated endlessly? Obviously, if Lou Reed liked his work it can't be all that bad. At least it's different.
Besides, I've met Nelson and no one would promote his work based on "personality" alone. He's a nice enough guy, but he deserves every penny of his disability check for the simple fact that he's just too out-there to function in the "straight" world.
Like Daniel Johnston, he is consumed by his visions(s) and would be lost without is art.

NelsonSlater said...

Dear Mr. Woodbe,
Thank you for the review. I thought it was insightful and hilarious. Not sure what exactly you heard, but I like your style.
Tom Derwent and others were upset, but I found it inspirational, as compared to the pandering and adjulation I usually get. The DeVoto song was a loose paraphrase and I would acknowledge the Magazine song properly if it were formally released. Before "What Becomes A Footnote Least", I was a little too comfortable with my very small scene. Lately I have been getting the lead out and back in the game.
If you ever need to get pissed off again see myspace.com/nelsonslaterandhisboredteenwarteam
Plus Sony/BMG is releasing a bonus version of Wild Angel and other things as you feared.

Greatfully yours,NELSON SLATER

Noosagard said...


Having been a lifelong LR fan I bought the original Slater album when it was released. I really liked the title song (I've packed the album away so can't remember who played lead - Bob Kulick???) Anyway, I thought it was worth buying and have kept it. It reminds me of several artists of the time: Garland Jeffreys, Lewis Furey etc. If Duran Duran can continue to release albums, then Nelson can have his due.

iamerica said...

Actually , That first comment was meant in Subtle Irony . Lost to the writer , I'm sure . The guy doesn't "know me". His sucker punch was all he'll ever get. Tom says I went out with a girl he liked . My current success is revenge enough for me . Someone pointed him out to me at a show , he was too pathetic to bother with . But friends and Family are outraged and I am not responsible for any enentuality .

raggaragga said...

I think "Wild Angel" is a great album, and much of Nelson's recent material blows away 90% of the two bit garbage I hear now-a-days. I would like to hear something this blog writer has penned. Yeah.

Jason said...

Half of you can't spell and the rest of us still don't give a shit about Nelson Slater. And here it is 2015. Some things never change.

Mary Benedetti said...

Huh. Very interesting review. Seems like if he's not worth mentioning, all you're doing by mentioning him is to say "Here's this guy I want to damage." Odd. I thoroughly enjoy Nelson's music, even when I don't always understand it; he has enormous talent and the courage to do things others wouldn't dare. He is also a kind, decent human being. As far as being a "footnote," good heavens, how many huge talents in music aren't? Not everybody gets the breaks. If anyone should have, it is Nelson.

Dwight Dowson said...

Do not listen to this person who does not even know Nelson Slater personally. He is not a credible source.

I do know Nelson Slater personally and respect his Talent!


Dwight Dowson

Grime Ethics said...

He's just a damn MAN. Can you at least give him that? You are calling Nelson a con man or a charlatan in the midst of naivety. Deep down inside he still puts his pants on one leg at a time like the rest of us. He FEELS, he BREATHES, he a MAN damnit. Nevermind the disability, the drunken debauchery, and the endless tales where New York is his Mecca and the citizens there build public statues of him in the neighborhoods with his Casio keyboard and ginormous ego. Hell, I've heard him spiel about tin foil hat, alien apocalypse, mind control satellite subjects til the wee hours of the morning. His soul is spiritually sacred and he was put here to change the very course of Rock N Roll in a way that only Nelson Slater can do. It's like spitting in the mud to heal a blind man, you just don't see it yet. Is it worthless thrift store bargain bin material or a cosmically charged massive reawakening with Nelson Slater at the helm and a legendary album to boot? Everything's gonna be hippy-groovy, man. Nelson Slater has the answers to some of the most profound questions in creation. Do you know what this means? His followers are not just music fans but part of a religious movement of New Age Steampunk values. He is the leader and the rest are just followers. Hollywood showed his grace on the big screen in Back To The Future 3 where his true culture was realized cinematically. Jimi Hendrix said his favorite band in the world was ZZ Top, so when he "stepped aside" for Nelson Slater's uprising, ZZ Top was the obvious pick for the movie. It's really that deep. I could go on with the stories but in the end he's just a damn MAN! For Christ's sake, the love of God, and all that is holy, connect with this man while you still have the chance.

raggaragga said...

Alex Chilton has a cover of Dominating Force on YouTube if you want to check it out. So Alex Chilton likes that album. I do too. I think it's great.

DennisCLee said...

I miss this kind of writing. I might have seen Slater when the Avengers opened for him in SF in the late 70's. A lot of those shows are a blur.