Record label: Silver sprocket
For the uninitiated, Vic Ruggiero is best known for being the charismatic frontman of New York ska band The Slackers. He’s also written for, recorded with or produced a plethora of side-projects and other acts including the Stubborn All-Stars, Rancid, Kepi Ghoulie and Pink. He continues to keep himself busy (does the man never rest?) with solo album releases including this latest offering.
Almost entirely a piano and voice only affair, this collection of 12 tracks includes completely revamped versions of familiar Vic songs, such as “Yes It’s True” (The Slackers) and the beautiful opener “Never Go Back Home” (Stubborn All-Stars) alongside new delights. Or at least, I think there are new songs – it’s hard to keep up with all the tracks he’s published in one place or another.
The lyric sheet, illustrated with drawings by the man himself, further highlights the (occasionally surreal) bittersweet gems of wisdom he throws out. But it delicately misses out printing the irreverent words of the title track – which is one of the funniest songs I’ve ever heard. You can hear Vic unable to suppress a smile whilst singing.
Like Vic’s solo shows, the humour, pain and longing of his unique brand of story-telling is rich and compelling on this record, with too many memorable, quotable lines, like: “I know you can tell by the way that I smile, all contentment is caused by a sense of denial.”
This is as good a place as any to start if you’re beginning your journey into Vic’s world, but due to the sparse nature of this recording, which may or may not be to everyone’s taste, you’d want to check out his main band The Slackers. Vic will be back in the UK with them on tour in May 2010. Miss them at your peril!
Live photos copyright of Imelda Michalczyk, from Vic’s most recent London show at The Windmill, August 2009, joined by members of Urban Voodoo Machine.