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.....
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.