This is the first new studio material from Slice Of Life since 2015’s excellent LOVE AND A LAMP POST. After 3 years, I was hoping there would be more than just a 7” to follow up, but with other commitments including continued collaboration with Paranoid Visions, I guess Mr. Ignorant has been busy.
It’s the same core of Carol Hodges, Pete Wilson and Steve Ignorant (along with new bassist Pete Row) who have built this sound around Steve’s vocals, and there’s little to suggest that it has shifted away from primarily being a vehicle for his speaking, ranting, singing and screaming. With its curious mismatch of THAT voice and somewhat ruminative backing, we are treated to another round of passionate ideas wrapped up variously in pensiveness, controlled anger and free-fire invectives – or business as usual!
What really stands to Slice of Life is the raw personal thread afforded to everything… digging for humanity rather than consistently attempting to broadside whatever’s in the crosshairs. Any given musical vehicle from Steve Ignorant’s past could mask the misfires of earnestness under a distraction of volume, but Slice of Life is bare bones and affords no such comfort.
Luckily, the clarity of experience is the catalyst here, not to mention the goodwill Mr. Ignorant generally commands for his contribution to what we all know and love. And there’s still something captivating and unique in a voice has reared our ears through decades of punk, even if it appears in this context.
STRETFORD BLUES is based around vocal and piano, and as with everything this group does, serving the lyric is prioritised. However, the contribution that Carol Hodges makes to this material cannot be understated. Without her, the Slice Of Life aesthetic would suffer greatly. A very raw version appeared on the Live At The Forum 2015, and is testament to the group sounding its visceral best in a live format. SLAUGHTERHOUSE is an anti-religious sentiment that comes and goes too quickly – it has the strongest hook of these 3 tracks. Finally, S.A.D is Steve Ignorant channeling his inner Bowie in a trace of melancholy. It’s all mighty fodder but there simply isn’t enough of it.
If you’ve been under a rock for 35 years and your tastes were more “Troops of Tomorrow” than “Where’s The Pleasure” then this will definitely rub you the wrong way. And it’s probably the reason that a set of crass covers will always pull an infinitely larger audience than a Slice Of Life gig.
This 7” is released on Harbinger Sound, home to a slew of diasporic misfits – Consumer Electronics, Ramleh, The Urinals, Chaos UK and the Sleaford Mods. It is the later, along with Interrobang‽ and Slice Of Life that best embody the fiery energy and spirit of Crass in 2017. Each group uses a very divergent palette, but the ancestral roots are blatant… and in the case of Mr. Ignorant, there’s no escaping it with that voice!