In a reversal of conventional wisdom, Slammin Gladys have gone for the “2 years to write our first album”, and “20 years to write the second” approach.
Proteges of Jani (Warrant) Lane, they recorded their self titled first album in 1992, 2 years after they formed. It was just in time to be too late to catch the Melodic Rock/AOR wave. Not only was their timing out, but their rock/funk formula had to go head to head with Electric Boys, Bang Tango and others, bands who were already accomplished practicioners of the genre. And so their star fell to earth as fast as it had ascended.
20 years later, smack in the middle of the Covid Pandemic, they have released the follow up, “Two”.
Being in the right place at the right time is clearly not one of their key strengths.
But it’s an interesting album (and not in a Chinese way). The Rock/funk survives, Listen to ‘Dragon Eye Girl’ and ‘Light Up’, and witness the taut, tight chordwork and chirping backing vocals, chiming with rubbery bass lines. Both tracks take us back to the Prince and Chic like pop funk of the late seventies/early eighties.
Would we have enjoyed a full album of that? Damn right we would, but…
Instead we get bluesy ballads with pop undertones, full of cowboy guitars and Hammond organs, like ‘Durango’ and ‘Lost In Texas’ (which enjoys a riff borrowed from T Rex’s ‘Telegram Sam’). We get the nitetime groove of ‘Lose My Mind’ and of course ‘Toxic Lover’, which, as the opening track, makes us think we’re in for 40 minutes of tuneful, stripped down garage rock, crisp and tight, reminiscent of The Stage Dolls and The Backyard Babies, in a compact, pop punk kinda way. But of course we aren’t. It’s confusing. We need time to adjust. But we don’t get it.
The balladic, 7 minute closer, ‘Poison Arrow’, just blows us away. It’s knee deep in swampy blues, pop and soul. David Brooks’ elemental vocals, overflowing with conviction, fit just right with JJ Farris’s expansive axework. By some distance, it’s the album’s standout track.
Above all else, they know just how to close an album out with style.
Review by Brian McGowan
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