|Dimensions||14 × 12.5 × 1 cm|
CD Review by Sue Robinson
This is the best Halloween EP you are likely to find this year. Slightly Off, a trio of singer-songwriters have always not so much veered towards, as crashed headlong into the macabre. But they manage to do it with a quirky approach, intelligent lyrics and very sing-alongable choruses.
Great Old Tales has a live feel and features seven tracks. In Creep, something evil this way comes. “Dark things peer out from the cracks and flutter their dark wings,” sing the group. This is a howling evil, a skittering terror – but it ends up conquered and tamed by love. As the song says “He gently licked her cheek and growled, I never will be mean.” So that’s all right.
But don’t get too relieved, the next track is about a whale, an old and injured veteran of the sea, still dragging around the remnants of previous harpoon attacks on his life. The whale has seen his family killed by the whalers who are now after him and is a bit fed up to say the least. So with the help of sharks (“Up from the depths swum the hungry pack”) he kills them all. This is perhaps the group’s best-known and most popular song. Both songs will suck you into singing along with the choruses.
Johnny and Ruby is the tale of a clingy woman who just won’t let go. Her Johnny hasn’t moved for months and is stinking pretty badly, and all because she didn’t wait to hear all his news about an upcoming quest. Watch out for the sting in the story’s tail.
Dancing Bear: “Children laugh and play, they toss their coins and they dance with me” but the bear remembers the killing of its mother and plans revenge. Told you it was dark.
Elephant Man starts encouragingly with the “Hoo! Haa!” of a work song. We all know the story, from the movie, but Slightly Off turns it around by pointing out that the man, forced to earn his living being mocked as a carnival freak, might have opinions of his own about the onlookers. “He’d rather be a pachyderm and walk on all four feet, than be like those who mock him as he marches down the street,” they sing.
So there’s this old gypsy woman in Dance You Bones who arrives with a bag of bones which dance for her. The show she puts on is spectacular and a source of fascination to the audience, but they do not enjoy the following threat. She says she’ll return, much later, and dig up the audience from their graves and make them dance too. Great singalong chorus.
Right Wing Folk Songs is sung by Carl, accompanied by disgusted and cynical comments from the other two. “It’s an important song,” he says in plaintively pretty melody, while the others scoff. “Why won’t you listen to my right wing folk songs. No-one wants to listen to my right-wing folk songs. I worked so hard on my right-wing folk songs.” The song echoes the disillusion many left wingers felt when Kevin Rudd lost his job to Julia Gillard. But Carl fails to win over his fellow group members and it finishes with Leila’s strident chorus of “we shall overcome.”
Lyrics are included in the sleeve notes, so get out this EP when the moon is full, pour yourself a glass of wine (red, of course) and howl along – you know you want to.
CD Review by John Williams
This is without a doubt the best CD I have ever reviewed!
(Did I mention that the Publisher/ Editor of Trad & Now, Cec Bucello, is a member of Slightly Off).
On a more serious note I have to say I found the CD interesting and quirky but it would not be to everyone’s taste.
The group write and perform Murder Ballads and, in their own words, ‘Manic Ballads’.
Slightly Off is a three piece group made up of Carl and Leila Desborough and the previously mentioned Editor/Publisher Cec Bucello.
The main vocals are sung by Carl (guitar) and Leila (tenor banjo, clarinet and saw) with backing vocals by Cec Bucello (mandolin).
The first track ‘Creep’ sets the tone. It is a dark ballad that has a catchy tune which speeds up as the track continues. Carl has a raspy voice that grows on you with repeated listening (think possibly Glenn Cardier).
‘Great Old Whale’ is about the revenge of an old whale against the whalers who have caused so much disaster and despair to his species. Japanese scientists look out.
’Johnny and Ruby’ is quite different to say the least. It is about two corpses singing about how they came to be lying side by side throughout eternity. Again, not to everyone’s taste but I found it quite a hoot.
“Dancing Bear’ is thankfully becoming a song of the past due to international efforts to stop the practice. China is the latest country to begin outlawing the mistreatment of bears.
Elephant Man’ is a sad song about its well known subject which mixes his feelings with those who come to observe.
‘Dance You Bones’ uses the musical saw to great effect. I really enjoyed the lyrics but wouldn’t play it to the kids before bedtime.
The final track ‘Right Wing Folk Songs’ is very funny as it tries to ‘balance the books’ where folk songs are concerned. It is so difficult for such songs to be heard or recorded and after hearing this I can’t think why!! The downfall of Kevin Rudd is covered and the singer admits to voting for Mr. Abbott (Finally someone now brave enough to admit it!)
I enjoyed this CD and found the lyrics thought provoking as well as being entertaining.
Slightly Off has audience enjoyment and participation as an aim. I get the feeling from listening to this CD that they would be good fun to watch live and wouldn’t take themselves too seriously. Recommended!
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