History has always pulled for the underdog: David and the Giant, Kurt Warner and his return to football, Billy Joel and Christie Brinkley. It's the notion that the little guy can get ahead, conquer the proverbial giant, and maybe even make a statement in the middle of the impossible. Way back in 1978, Slash Records started out as a pioneering punk magazine that morphed into an independent punk label. They started small, and ended up being a model of success for breaking new artists that were short of the "mainstream". They had a stable of unlikely platinum artists, and showed the world that there is a place for bands that color outside of the lines. In 2000, several corporate buyouts took place, and the Slash record label was dissolved. It has recently resurfaced, and its first major release is a compilation documenting the 21-year history of this musically important entity.
Salute This, Vol. 1 is a 12-track compilation that spans the life of Slash, as well as serving up two new offerings from this underground-friendly label. It starts off with a brand-new track from Shiner Massive entitled "The Sky is Falling." The hard-hitting track pulls a big influence from Rage Against the Machine. It is a strong opening track to set the tone for this new/old record label.
This release features a surprisingly eclectic blend of artists, from punk icons The Misfits and Fear to underground favs X all the way across the spectrum to reggae legends Burning Spear offering up a tasty live track entitled "Spear Burning." The flow of the CD is sporadic, but also refreshing in the fact that it showcases the range of music in the Slash library. It is an amazing testament to the label's history. Though, I would love to have heard tracks from some of the other Slash artists, such as Grant Lee Buffalo, Soul Coughing, and Del Fuegos. Maybe on Salute This, Vol 2?
Some of the stronger tracks on Salute This are The Violent Femmes' "Gone Daddy Gone" (Who didn't have this tape in their car?), Shiner Massive Sound System's "Here We Come", and Faith No More's "Epic". The feel if this compilation is a bit dated, but that's the beauty of it. It is, after all, a retrospective of the past 21 years of all that is "alternative" (in the truest sense of the word).
As you bounce from track to track, you will find yourself immersed in almost a 'remember that song?' trivia game, and hopefully realizing the important contribution this big little label had on a number of bands that may have not had a snowball's chance anywhere else. It is a glimmer of hope for the industry as a whole. In this turbulent time for the big labels, it really is good to see the little guy resurface to shake things up a bit.
Steven Cook is a Contributing Writer. Contact him at email@example.com.