Slow descent

The greatest rock and roll band of all time.

That is how I have long referred to Slow, the Vancouver-based combo that gave the world the ‘grunge’ blueprint Have Not Been the Same and burned brightly for such a brief time that it left behind but one album, one single and a Christmas song. There was also a shocking performance that remains the only reason to ever speak of Vancouver’s Expo ’86, plus a tour that ended (as did the band) with the epiphany that driving across Canada to play gigs for less than gas-money kinda sucks.

It was, in so many ways, the perfect rock and roll career.

Last November, some 31 years on from that magnificent disaster, the members of Slow uncharacteristically quietly reunited for an unannounced live performance at a North Vancouver art gallery. Very-much-announced shows in Vancouver and Victoria followed, without incident. Last month, Slow reportedly entered the studio to begin work on a new album. There is talk of a tour. Against the Glass, long out of print, is once again available for purchase in your favourite format.

Slow is back!

Moreover, Slow is, frontman Tony Anselmi told the Vancouver Sun, “much better” than it was back in the day. For one thing, he noted, “Everyone is a great musician now.” As for the audience, Anselmi enthused of having felt “some kind of engagement and connection to the people” at those November shows.

And so ends Slow’s three-decade reign as the greatest rock and roll band of all time. It was a good run. I, for one, look forward to seeing the band in a town near me soon. For old time’s sake.

Meanwhile, let us congratulate the new greatest rock and roll band of all time title-holder, elevated from the second spot. (It’s a bit like an Olympic athlete awarded gold after the first-place finisher has been disqualified for doping. Of course, this is rock and roll; think of it as being caught not doping.)

I refer, of course, to A Taste of Honey, the group that chose as its name a Herb Alpert hit and that provided the world with the only two chart-toppers we will ever truly need.

The first, the 1978 disco smash Boogie Oogie Oogie, not only got people out on the floor at 54, but successfully introduced the word “oogie” to the English language. (Twice!)

A lesser band might have hung up its its its its boogie shoes after such an accomplishment. Not so, A Taste of Honey. Three years later, after careful consideration, the band returned for a second stab at glory with a precious cover of Kyu Sakamoto’s enduring ballad Sukiyaki. Forage through the annals of rock and roll (insert annal-foraging joke here); nowhere will you find a two-hit-wonder that covered so much stylistic ground. Well played, Honey.

Fair enough, I hear you say, but was A Taste of Honey rock and roll? Hey, it’s all rock and roll! Relevant? The band’s third album was called Ladies of the Eighties (#feminism). Punk? Founding member Perry Kibble (a punk-rock name if ever there was one) later moved from Los Angeles to Calgary. Calgary! It doesn’t get more punk than that. Significant? Co-founder Janice-Marie Johnson is a member of the Native American Music Association Hall of Fame.

And if you want to talk world music, well, Sukiyaki.

As for the title of second greatest rock and roll band of all time, well, a few bands are in the running. (I’d need time to think about it. Maybe Opus?) Slow is, alas, not one of them. Still, before we say a fond farewell (and hello again) to the Vancouver-based rockers, let us allow them the final, shouted word.

We’ll always have Expo ’86.


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