Secret Poetry (Deluxe Edition)
On Jeff Slate's third solo album the NYC-based singer-songwriter continues to find inspiration in artists like John Lennon, George Harrison, the Small Faces, The Who and The Kinks but David Bowie's legacy now looms just as large.
Jeff Slate, the founder and frontman of beloved indie outfit The Badge, will release his third solo album, Secret Poetry, on CD and via all digital download and streaming services, worldwide, on Friday, April 22, 2016.
The album, which was also produced by Slate, includes ten new original songs (and two bonus tracks), and features his regular live band, which includes Jimmy McElligott on guitar, Rick Mullen on bass, Charly Roth on keyboards and drummer Steve Holley. The album also features a long list of special guests, including Holley’s former bandmate in Wings, Laurence Juber, and many of the musicians who performed with David Bowie during the legend’s career, most notably guitarists Earl Slick (who regularly performs with Slate and appears on seven tracks) and Carlos Alomar, as well as Mark Plati, Alex Alexander and Gail Ann Dorsey.
“As amazing as it sounds, this album began in Studio Three of Abbey Road Studios,” Slate says of Secret Poetry. “I had a friend who worked there many years ago and he snuck me in to record a quick piano demo. It was so beautiful sounding, we made sure we were able to use that recording when it came time to make this album. But the rest of the songs were built up in the studio by Slick, Jimmy, Rick, Charly and Steve, my core live band, or with musicians – Carlos Alomar, Gail Ann Dorsey, Mark Plati and Alex Alexander – that I poached from the late, great David Bowie, who has always been a huge hero of mine. Sadly, as we were finishing up the album, he died, so the album, and especially the songs “Dreamtime” and “Survive”, became a poignant tribute to him for me.”
Secret Poetry also includes a song that’s already become a live favorite, “Daddy’s Little Defect”, reunites Slate with his Birds of Paradox line-up on two tracks, and features the Who-inspired “That’s The Way” and “Letters From Paris (Showed Me The Way)”, and the Lennon-esque “Candlelight” and “Exile”.
It also features the Slate/Juber/Holley recording “The Same”. “If it sounds like Wings, that’s because it was supposed to,” Slate admits. “But really, how could it not?”
Slate’s first solo-project LP Birds of Paradox was released in October 2012, with a sold-out album release party at Joe’s Pub in New York City. The album saw strong sales and glowing reviews and was called “the best Tom Petty album since Wildflowers” in the press. It also boasted performances from many legends of the NYC music scene, spanning decades of legacy. Gary Van Scyoc (bass) and Adam Ippolito (keyboards) had played with John Lennon’s Plastic Ono Elephant’s Memory Band, on Yoko Ono’s recordings, and played with Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Paul Simon, Keith Moon, Mick Jagger and many more. Steve Holley (drums) was a member of Wings for 3 years and had played with Elton John, Joe Cocker, Chuck Berry, Ian Hunter and many more over the course of his illustrious career. Jimmy “Mack” McElligott (guitar, vocals) was a member of 1980s New York New Wavers The Propellers and had performed with countless rock legends as well, including Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Gene Cornish, and former Moody Blues and Wings member Denny Lane.
The title of Slate’s solo debut LP, Birds of Paradox, was taken from the song written by John Lennon about May Pang, “Surprise, Surprise (Sweet Birds of Paradox)”, as Pang introduced the musicians on Birds of Paradox, leading to their first performance together at her 60th birthday party in 2009. The album also included appearances by Laurence Juber (Wings), Gene Parsons (The Byrds), Simon Townshend (The Who) and many others.
In November 2013 Slate released Imposters & Attractions: Music Inspired By Elvis Costello, featuring ten original compositions and two Costello classics, free at www.jeffslatehq.com and via iTunes, Amazon and other digital retail and streaming services. A physical version of the album was released in April 2015.
Slate has also released a series of successful Record Store Day singles and took part in Legends: Shoulder To Shoulder, a compilation album in honor of the late-Kinks bassist Pete Quaife, which also included artists such as Paul Weller, Noel Gallagher, Terry Reid, Roger McGuinn, Peter Noone and many others. A remix of the track he supplied, Ray Davies’ “Big Sky” is included on Secret Poetry as a bonus track.
Jon Friedman, the author of the recent Bob Dylan biography Forget About Today: Bob Dylan’s Genius for (Re)invention, Shunning the Naysayers, and Creating a Personal Revolution, recently wrote of Slate:
“If you want to understand what makes Jeff Slate tick, just watch him perform in concert. It's all you really need to know about him as a bandleader, guitarist and singer. His love of the life and the work comes across in his music. When I caught Jeff at a late-night gig here in New York City last summer, I was reminded, once again, by the sheer therapeutic power of music to make people feel happy -- that is, when the sound is in the hands of someone who loves what he is doing and wants to make a crowd happy. He wasn't mailing it in. He was playing for keeps. Listen to his music. It comes across on his recordings, too. It's called authenticity, which is a rare quality -- in any field -- in this digital culture of ours. When you spot it, you know what it is. So many people are content just to get by on flash. So, when you watch Jeff play, you know he means it. You know something? That is reason enough to give him a listen. But it's not the only one, of course. The man's music takes care of the rest.”
Jeff Slate & Friends will be touring throughout the rest of 2016.