Underground rock aficionados know the name Nelson Slater. Born in Canada, and an integral part of Cincinnati’s music scene, Nelson has played with a number of Rock’s most innovative artists.
Decades ago Slater was a close friend of Lou Reed, and the two collaborated not only in studio on Reed’s material, but the two also put out some interesting material together under the name “Two Boy Army”. Reed also produced Slater’s independent debut “Wild Angel”. Long out of print, Wild Angel is a rather rare, expensive, and interesting pick for LP collectors.
One is liable to meet him around Southern Ohio, walking his mixed Cyotte dog, or hanging out in local haunts. The man has a deceptively youthful look, tall, lean, with a leather jacket he has an almost Bowie’esque air to him. Few Rock fans know that Nelson Slater has also written hundreds of songs in multiple genres, particularly R & B and Rock, going as far back as the 1950’s and some of his songs have been played by music giants like James Brown. He’s personally known, inspired, and befriended hundreds of artists, including Jello Biafra before the Dead Kennedys were even the Dead Kennedys.
Slater’s been sort of lost to the larger music world for decades, but few realized that he has continually made music in and out of several projects over the years, and occasionally plays through Ohio, fronting various project brainchildren of his, such as Steam Age Time Giant.
Well I had the good fortune to hear a few master cuts of his new LP and CD, being put out by his own Are and Be Records, and let me say. This is some great stuff. His material definitely has a steady rock vibe to it, but there is a quirky eccentricity to his arrangements and vocals. There are definitely some critics who just “don’t get it” on this point. Much in the spirit of Tom Waits, or Nick Cave, there is a deeply experimental edge to Slater’s vocals. There is real art to what Slater’s doing. But it may be art inaccessible to a superficial listening. Pieces are layered, with a soulful almost funky vibe pervading it. It is Rock, no doubt, but Rock reaching back to it’s Rhythm and Blues roots, with an eccentric playful twist.
I’m not sure of what the final title of these tracks will be, but I look forward to seeing the finished product. And if I have the case together, I’m definitely going to try to score one of the Vinyl LP’s.
Nelson Slater can be found on MySpace, Facebook, and the Web home for Are and Be Records.