Full disclosure: I’ve known and loved Slink Rand and Craig “Wolfman” Moore for decades, from adolescent double-dating and rebellious rowdiness to Midwest music: working, playing, writing and performing.
Their musical reunion (first covered in the August 2016 Community Word) built on shared times, when Slink played guitar in the Wildcats and Moore bass in GONN, then both joined Ilmo Smokehouse, then went their own ways in the Slink Rand Group, Ready Steady Go, and other retail and wholesale rock ‘n’ roll ventures. The new, mostly original, record revives their signature sound of Wolfie’s gale-force vocals and Slink’s slashing guitar.
Calling Moore’s voice “gravelly” is cruel to quarries. His shrieking, sneering vocals erupt into anger without malice, blending teen angst and senior resentment (he’s 71). Frustration and fear mix with fun and freedom. Slink, 69, unleashes piercing guitar licks and lines that rise like a tide into a warm, cleansing wash, riffs that conjure combustion without mufflers and the sinister fuzz of a dentist’s drill. Only melodic.
Three tracks flirt with nostalgia, then kick it to the curb, “Exiles on Main Street’s” words celebrate innocent, energetic times past and rekindle an enthusiasm and idealism lost to safe playlists, a cutthroat music business and the deep divisions cleaved by social media and mainstream moderation. “Save A Place” surges from Slink’s foundational guitar to recall counter-cultural collisions (lyrically comparable to Five Man Electrical Band’s 1971 hit “Signs”). And “Don’t Tell Your Daddy” is an outstanding salvage job of Loggins and Messina’s innocuous “Your Mama Don’t Dance,” only with a sexually charged plea.
Elsewhere in this jam-packed package (available on vinyl and CD, with a color poster, booklet and other features) is their version of Gershwin’s classic “Summertime,” a creative mashup with an intro line fiercely echoing Johnny Rivers’ rendition of Chuck Berry’s “Memphis.”
Also, “Sunrise” features a fine, fun guitar solo; the slower, softer-but-snarling “Read It in the Clouds” is nicely eerie; and the stopper may be “Legion,” cramming minor chords, major dread, flat notes and sharp pokes to the soul with dark, almost Biblical imagery that comes across as a Yankee “Sympathy for the Devil.”
Background harmonies on “What Doesn’t Kill You” (with its delightful overlapping refrains and choruses) and other cuts are heavenly and dastardly additions to the core sound, which benefits enormously from drummer Matt Warren (and drummer Mark Moretto on “Legion”), and some Sidemen Sizzle from “Rockin’ Billy” Gress, Mike Nellas and Rich Teegarden (who also engineered at his Crabshack studio in Eureka).
In the end, Wolf howls, Slink growls and Slinkenwolf prowls, and turntables and other music players will guarantee our hearts and ears will benefit.
“The Return of the Slinkenwolf” will be available July 1 from Nashville’s United Record Distributing at stores including Moore’s Younger than Yesterday on North University in Peoria, plus online at related web sites and Facebook hosts. The first 500 LPs will be on “bloody red” vinyl. Preorders, including postage, are $25 for the LP and $15 for the CD.