Album review: Phantom, Rocker & Slick (1984)


By Steve Newton

When I first heard this album, two weeks ago, I thought it was good.s I mean really good. But after repeated listenings the LP’s initial impact deteriorated a little.

The main reason is singer/bassist Lee Rocker‘s vocals. He did backup vocals in his former band, the Stray Cats, but he hasn’t progressed to the lead position with a lot of finesse. It’s more like, “Well Slim Jim can’t sing lead, and Earl can’t sing lead…so I guess it’s up to me!” And that’s a shame, because with a more masterful vocal presence, this lineup could do some wonderful things.

That’s not to say there aren’t some spirited moments on this disc. Between the three of them–Rocker, drummer Slim Jim Phantom (also a stray Stray Cat), and session guitarist Earl Slick–they rock like crazy on tunes like “Sing For your Supper”, “Well Kept Secret”, and especially “My Mistake”. On the latter tune Keith Richards steps in to add guitar, and the Richards/Slick connection really kicks out the jams.

Slick is used to playing with rock’s bigwigs–he has worked with John Lennon (Double Fantasy) and David Bowie (he plays that wild intro to “Station to Station”) among others. He was even flown in specially to add a guitar solo to the Bowie/Jagger Live Aid single, “Dancing in the Streets”.

On “Men Without Shame”, the first video/single from Phantom, Rocker & Slick, Earl shows just how slick his licks can be.

Rolling Stones sideman Nicky Hopkins adds keyboards on a couple of tunes, and percussion ace Jim Maelen does his thing throughout. Still, the obvious bit of filler on this record, and Rocker’s slack vocal performance, makes me think that these guys could do better.


To hear the full audio of my interview with Lee Rocker from 2007 subscribe to my Patreon page, where you can eavesdrop on over 350 of my uncut, one-on-one conversations with the legends of rock.

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