Monday, September 17, 2012

New Wave for the New Week #163

Most sensible people agree the Washington DC scene was an incredible one, packed with talented musicians playing outstanding music in any of several excellent bands, with styles spread across the spectrum of musical genres.  Of course, as in any scene, a few names loom considerably larger in importance and legacy in DC's history: The Teen Idles, Minor Threat, Bad Brains, and Razz to name a few.  But they were all beaten to the punch by DC's original DIY combo, The Slickee Boys.

Starting out in 1976 and briefly fronted by a female singer, The Slickee Boys crossed straightforward bar-band rock with the emerging sounds of the New Wave, creating an edgy psychedelic-blues-garage sound with more than a little bit of attitude.  In their first year, they released the completely independently produced Hot And Cool EP, one of the earliest American DIY releases of the era.  An independently produced and distributed debut album, Separated Vegetables, appeared a year later, mixing covers of forgotten '60s garage nuggets and current DC scene favorites with an original or two, the album was pressed up in an issue of 100 copies.  Good luck finding an original!

Original singer Martha Hull was soon replaced by Mark Noone, and the best-known lineup of Slickee Boys was in place: Kim Kane and Marshall Keith on guitar, Noone on vocals, and Dan Palenski on drums.  Two more EPs were recorded (Mersey, Mersey Me and Third), which were then combined with the original Hot And Cool and released as Here To Stay in 1982.

All of this set the stage for their must-have masterpiece, Cybernetic Dreams of Pi.  Released in 1983, the album scorches from the incredible opening cut, "Escalator 66," on through a series of fresh originals ("When I Go To The Beach," "Nagasaki Neuter," "Life Of The Party") and covers both obscure (Hamilton Streetcar's "Invisible People") and almost expected (Status Quo's oft-covered "Pictures Of Matchstick Men").  A stunning album.

Having found their musical footing, they issued Uh Oh...No Breaks! in early 1985 - a collection padded with early Slickee Boys material re-recorded by a more confident band.  Only a step or two below Cybernetic Dreams, even retreads like "Jailbait Janet" and "Gotta Tell Me Why" sound sparkly and new.

Two more albums would hit the shelves before The Slickee Boys' run was over: Fashionably Late in 1988 seemed to focus more heavily on the band's affinity for bluesy rock; 1989's Live At Last is an accurately titled collection.  In the years since, The Slickee Boys have stayed semi-active by playing at least one reunion weekend a year.

For this week's NW4NW entry, enjoy a pair of clips from The Slickee Boys' classic Cybernetic Dreams Of Pi album: "When I Go To The Beach" and "Gotta Tell Me Why."  Enjoy!