Here’s my track by track breakdown of the debut eponymous Sly Persuaders LP. No filler musings on music journalism. No contextual analysis of the band, or even a quick history of their career thus far. You know all that. You’re a fan. Strap yourself in.
For those who can’t be arsed to read a review, please do check out the album based on the fact that I hate writing LP reviews but that I HAD to scribe this one.
Wild For The Night
Wild For the Night: Written shortly before entering the studio, this sleek riff based number flaunts the band’s strengths so well, that you’d be forgiven for thinking ‘it’s all downhill from here’. However, the nuanced interplay between Blake’s and Coxon’s guitars, Billingham’s firm bassline rippling beneath, each note coupled with Bone’s imaginative drumming makes Wild For the Night not only my third favourite tune, but a wonderful introduction to a group who play as well as they craft. A rarity. A relief.
The warped harmonics played by Blake are on form, and let’s not forget to mention Coxon’s keys which pervade the mix but don’t get in the way of the vocals or the ever inventive guitars (best solo on the album here) which characterise this garage rock with equal parts restraint and release. Blake’s singing often follows an idiosyncratic phrasing which transports the listener to a simpler time in Rock and Roll. Sure, I hear you, the truth is always far more complicated and less romantic but still, you can’t help but surrender to the voice and its simple pining for some femme fatale.
If there is a blatant Hendrix inspired song off this album, it is of course Steve Mcqueen. The long wailing notes of the main guitar score high in my mind, so much so that I feel compelled to hold up a card with the number 8 (if not a 9 out of 10) every time it dives out the speakers. Some might shout studio trickery, but as a fan who first witnessed them live I can assure any doubters that no, what you hear is what they play. The call and response vocals are effective enough to warrant investigation as to what the tune’s about. Sounds like another case of communication between a guy and a girl gone wrong. I’d like to think Jimi would approve.
Played live, this banger is a videographers dream. If you don’t succumb to the urge to fist pump to the ‘hey’s’ in the verse then, my poor friend, somewhere before you encountered this song, you lost your soul. I could go on about Bone’s rampant drumming, but seriously, no wide-eyed sentence could do the talented fucker justice. Go. Listen. Now.
This assembly is probably the weakest cut in among the nine grooves, only because the rest of the Sly’s material is so damn good. The song is a little predictable. Not that they’ve whizzed the crowdfunding money up the studio wall. The instrumental toward the end is rather impressive for the interplay (that word again, and used for good reason. This is a band who listen to each other and counterpoint with the best of them). Perhaps a purposeful filler moment? Fool definitely sets us up nicely for the crest of awesomeness which follows. After all, taking the seismic cultural weight out of the picture, Nevermind’s Drain You arguably exists to make Lounge Act even cooler …
Hands down my second fav track. No contenders need apply for the position. If Billingham doesn’t wake up with a smile on his face every morning for the rest of his life, it’s cos he’s temporarily forgotten how damn lucky he is to play this mean sounding riff. It’s straight out of a gangster flick. The tune wouldn’t be out of place if aligned with a violent black comedy ala Tarantino or some such master of the dark and disturbed. Why the band couldn’t name this track properly is an affront to the catchiness of the sounds within. And oh, the abrasiveness of the six stringed wonders in such capable hands. Like impassioned bison rutting under a moonless thunder cracked sky. Yes, you read that correctly.
Beyond The Rope
Bit of obvious surf rock, but most welcome considering the backing vocals. There is no way that Sly Persuaders have stumbled onto a rather Joe Meek inspired reverb for the ‘ooooh, ooooh’. Collecting my copy of the album at Blake’s market stall in Crystal Palace all but confirms my suspicion that this band has such a disparate set of influences which they’ve barely touched upon for this debut. Big mention has to go to Bones’ change of beat as the coda comes into view. It’s the little things that give the songs such character. Even the number of tracks suggests a caution, a holding back mentality which occasionally bursts forth with belters such as …
Watch & Learn
This is Sly Persuaders letting rip. A no holds barred hulk of a tune which does that thing every songwriter hopes of their audience: this is dance music. Foot tapping at the very least. Like Wild is the Night before it, Watch and Learn begins with the worthy idea that the main function of this tune is that one must move their body in relation to the rhythm. Should you want to get a friend into this group, you could do no better than to spin them this. And if you don’t have a record player and your mate is a fan of visuals, CHECK OUT THE MUSIC VIDEO DIRECTED BY STACY PICARD OF MASSIVE CAPITAL. The cocky vocal, the ‘I’ve-never-paid-for-anything-in-my-life’ bassline and the psychedelic guitars make this the best song in the compendium. No ifs, no buts.
Gun To The Head
Definitely a bid for that stadium filling event they’re capable of, that perceivable arena tour in the not so distant future, Gun to the head is a Rock and Roll monster cloned from the finest of loud/quiet dynamics. A beast then, and one best confined to the aircraft-hanger it seems to continuously roar within. Yeah, I may have gone a tad too far with that one, but remember, Sly Persuaders have been leading up to this since track one. Whereas they may seemingly have blown their load on Wild For the Night, the band were really holding back the behemoth that is Gun to the Head. Should there be any note of negatives? Honestly, the only one could be the limitations of the lead vocal. Blake talk-sings with the best of them though, and for each phrase breathily uttered, there is a potent and heady mix of instrumentation which certifies this band as one of the best signings to Roadkill Records … ever.
Find out more about The Sly Persuaders:
Find out more about Roadkill:
Find out more about John Clay a.k.a. Clark Kent:
Cover photo by Andras Paul: