Vinyl Vlog 456

Vinyl Vlog 456

Thursday, 22 October 2020
“Blue (Dub version)” from the “Blue 7” single by The Slackers.

A deeper look at the grooves pressed into the “Blue” 7” by The Slackers. Within the context of political discourse, it has not been uncommon to see songs appear which promote one side of the proverbial aisle or the other (some musicians have based careers on it, in fact), but it has been a while since such an event occurred (at least, to this critic’s recollection). Because nature abhors a vacuum however, The Slackers have surfaced from their recent reissue release endeavors with the “Blue” 7” – in support of the Democratic party’s efforts in the 2020 Presidential election. Pressed into four different colors of vinyl, the cover is stamped as being the “Election 2020 Reds vs. Blues” edition”As the press release which accompanied my copy of the single explains, “Normally, in the months leading up to arguably the biggest election of our lifetimes, you wouldn’t want to go about releasing a new record for your band… Unless of course that song was a taste of the color and voice you want to lead the dialogue.”

With such an introduction, it feels as though this single may indeed have something to say – but (as the A-side plays) it takes a moment to realize that the discussion here is more poetic than it is literal.

As “Blue” opens with beautiful and deep downbeat overtones, it quickly becomes obvious that The Slackers have no intention of waving a flag for anyone, but simply chronicling the significance of color, in the band’s eyes – particularly in this year when everything has seemed to be divided so clearly by color (be it black or white, red or blue). Lines (which have been printed in the liner notes which accompany the single, presumably to ensure everyone knows what was said here) like, “Blue is the color of my blues,” “White winter clouds the sky,” “Big orange sun gives his heat to everyone,” “Red was the color of my eyes/ On the day we said goodbye,” “Green, of course, green is jealousy” and “Gold was the color of my dreams/ Gone forever or so it seems” all speak volumes about the political climate in the United States at the moment – more indirectly than directly, of course – but the beauty of it is that the lines allow listeners to decide how important each color is to the conversation, and how much more directly one may affect it than another may (because, as anyone who ever took art class in elementary school can tell you, red, blue and yellow (or gold, in this case) are primary colors, while orange and green are secondary; the result of combining primaries. In its own way, it is a very potent statement and poignant to the moment of its release, as intended; when the song ends, listeners may discover to their surprise how activated they feel – the song is very abstract in design but very effective in presentation.

Of course, because this release is a vinyl record and records normally have two sides, The Slackers have elected to do what fans likely expect of them and turn the reggae song on the A-side into a dub variant (read: remove most of the lyrics and let vibe be the focus) on the B-. That’s fine in theory, but feels flawed in practice; because “Blue” goes to such lengths to articulate the conflict inherent to the figurative color scheme, removing the discussion also removes the conflict – and does the song a great disservice as a result.

So what is the verdict on this 7” single? It’s a mixed one. I appreciate the A-side for addressing the political discussion of 2020 while standing on one side of it in only a poetic way, but I know that A-side deserves better than the B-side offers as resolution. It could be argued that such is exactly the point; because the discussion hasn’t played out yet, because there is no resolution to press, it makes sense that the cut on the B-side would be disposable but, I ask, “Why not just press a one-sided single?” That would be reasonably poetic in its own way, and it wouldn’t be the first time Pirates Press has done it. In that way, I suggest that “The Slackers’ ‘Blue’ single ends up asking more questions than it answers.” It’s good, but does not offer a sense of fulfillment. [Bill Adams]


The Slackers – “Blue” – [Youtube]

The Slackers’ “Blue” 7” is out now. Buy it here, directly from Pirates Press Records.

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