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BMG OFFICIAL SLADE PAGES
The BMG reissue programme
It's always been a red hot topic among Slade fans for some years that the first CD issues of the Slade albums were a golden opportunity wasted. The CD album track listings exactly replicated those of the vinyl albums and many great Slade songs that were b-sides from the periods in which the original vinyl albums were released remained unavailable on CD. There was never a legitimate b-sides collection to round these up, though one was often called for by fans. Slade fans (who must be the last people on the Earth to own, retain and regularly use actual record players) grumbled on forums and at conventions and continued to wear out their precious vinyl copies.
As is usual with groups of Slade's stature, fans put together and circulated their own compilations of tracks that were still unavailable on CD. Crackles and pops from 30 year old vinyl singles distracted just about everyone who ever listened to these CD's. If only a record company had ever had the foresight to do it properly....
In mid 2006, the sudden announcement that Slade's entire back catalogue was to be remastered and reissued was greeted cautiously by Slade fans. Much heated debate about what may come to pass ensued. Noddy Holder and Jim Lea had never ever deviated from preserving their back catalogue just as it was originally intended. The news that Tim Turan, who did an astonishingly good piece of work on the recent Status Quo remasters, was in charge of the remastering process was a shot in the arm to fans and some indication that good things may
Beginnings / Play it loud - Live anthology - Slayed? - Sladest - Old new borrowed & blue - Flame - Flame DVD
The album (two albums plus bonus tracks on one CD) is attractively packaged in a glossy slipcase featuring both original album covers on the front. Inside is the CD with a 12 page booklet (like the others reviewed on this site) featuring many unseen Gered Mankowitz portaits of the group from the period, along with a good number of contemporary singles sleeves. The informative sleeve notes covering the Slade story at this point are written by Dave Ling, who is no stranger to Slade.
Listening to this, the first in the series of the reissues, the difference in sound quality from the Polydor remaster (performed by Jim Lea) is quite noticeable. The sound on the opening song 'Genesis' is certainly very 'live' by comparison. An 'A/B comparison' between this disc and the Polydor version show a marked improvement to the overall sound.... something I wouldn't have believed possible, given the age of the master tapes and the possibility of not being able to actually remix the sound. It's louder and cleaner. The difference is immediately noticeable.
The best way to hear a recording is always at a decent volume through the huge studio speakers when the track has just been mixed. Tim Turan has done a miraculous job in upgrading the end result, so that you get closer to that unique experience.
'Knocking Nails Into My House' just sounds ferocious - a young band with brilliant players let loose in a studio, having a great time and letting rip. The treble is sharpened, giving Noddy Holder's impossibly powerful voice that extra edge and Jim's plummy-sounding Gibson EB3 bass throbs away wonderfully, clear as a bell. Dave's guitar and Don's drums have far more attack than we've heard before. Their version is very faithful to the quite rare and scarcely-heard original by Jeff Lynne's band, The Idle Race.
A cleaner, clearer recording always makes for a more lively sound and the remaining tracks sound quite sprightly and less 'dated' than they normally would on an album recorded in 1969. A special mention has to be made of how Don's snare drum on 'Martha My Dear' cracks away like never before.
"Stand by" they said, "for a new group that'll really blow your mind. No kidding;' they said, "These boys are different. Wait till you hear them" they said, "then you'll know what it really means to flip” Thus spake Peter Jones in the first paragraph of his sleeve-note to a 1969 LP called "Beginnings" by Ambrose Slade. As informed folk all over the galaxy are aware, Ambrose Slade eventually became Slade, and "Beginnings" (released on Fontana STL 5492) must now be some sort of a collector's item. Certainly I had never seen or heard the album before and I had to go to the BBC's record library for the copy I did hear. "Beginnings" is a remarkable LP - not so much for the music that is on it but rather for the pointers which indicate not only what Slade have done since, but directions they may take in the future.
The opening track is "Genesis" which, together with "Roach Daddy" was released as a single (Fontana TF 1015). "Genesis" starts with an electronic whine and wind noises and evolves into a fairly moody instrumental, featuring a bevy of electronic effects but displaying at once that Slade were, even at this early date, better than average on their chosen instruments. "Genesis" is followed by "Everybody's Next One”, one of two Steppenwolf songs on the LP. The other is the classic "Born To Be Wild;' which was later re-recorded for the "Slade Alive" album. On both of these there are strong indications of the Slade to come. Noddy's voice was already taking on the strong identity it has now - and this was recorded at a time when lead singers tended toward blandness and anonymity. The third track on Side 1 is "Knocking Nails Into My House" and this, a song written by Jeff Lynne who was then with Idle Race but now leads The Electric Light Orchestra, shows the band's Midland origins. The song and Ambrose Slade's treatment of it show the strong influence The Move had on popular music all through the region. There's some particularly fine guitar from Dave Hill here and the sound of nails being knocked in, Noddy yells "Look out" and the music is submerged beneath the uproar of the collapsing house. "Roach Daddy;' which follows, has a walking beat and a vaguely country-ish feel to it.
The vocals are a bit hesitant and this has to be one of the least satisfying tracks on "Beginnings” Ambrose Slade next turn their attention to "Ain't Got No Heart”, a nifty wee piece written by the curious Frank Zappa, leader of the Mothers of Invention. Zappa numbers are never easy things to play, involving numerous musical changes and vocal stylings which are often odd, to say the least. The embryo Slade acquit themselves well here and by this stage of the LP the impression is growing that the band and producer Roger Wake are anxious to prove that this is a group with the ability to work successfully on a wide range of material. "Pity The Mother;' which ends Side 1, heightens this suspicion. A Holder/Lea composition, it features more excellent guitar work and a basinful of tricky drumming from Don Powell.
"Beginnings" is an extraordinary LP - I wish I didn't have to return this copy to the BBC -because it shows so clearly all those features that were to lead, several years later, to the string of huge successes that Slade have to their credit. I'm slightly embarrassed that so-called experts like myself failed to notice the signs."
'Play it loud':
'Play it loud' was the first album that was recorded as Slade and the first recorded with Chas Chadler at the helm. The production values were much improved on those at the stage of the 'Beginnings album' and the remastering enhances the good work that had gone before. All the tracks sound louder, crisper and cleaner. Drums and percussion come through far more positively than before. You can pick out Don keeping time by clicking sticks together. I hadn't ever noticed that since I picked the original vinyl album up. Handclaps 'crack' rather than 'slap'. cool.
The intricacy of the band's playing is again far more audible. The loud bits are loud, the quiet bits are quieter. Everything seems to have 'more room to breathe'. It's just better than I've heard it before.
The two bonus tracks, 'Wild winds are blowing' and 'Get down and get with it' round off the first in the set of reissues and 'Get down and get with it' in particular leaps out of the speakers and grabs you by the ears and thumps them hard. Hype? No.
I was amazed by what Tim Turan has done to the first album, but nothing on the CD benefits more than this particular track. I have never been that keen on the studio (single) version as it was lacking in comparison to the live version. There is so much energy and presence to the remastered version that I am just astonished.
Disc 1 - Slade Alive:
and Slade Alive Vol. II:
Disc 2 - Slade On Stage:
Alive At Reading ‘80 / Xmas Earbender EP's:
The immediate thing that struck me when opening the packaging on this doublepack was that some care had gone into making it a very attractive package to tempt those buyers who may not have all (or any) of Slade's live material. The main artwork emphasis is naturally on the biggest-selling of Slade's live efforts, Slade Alive!
The booklet itself contains a series of anecdotes from the band about their live career - the most telling being those grumpily aloof (and totally correct) comments made by Jim Lea about their last minute appearance at 1980's Reading festival, where, after being obliged to traipse through the mud from the public car park, carrying their guitars and stage clothes, refusing to move aside for the Rolls Royces of more recent and lesser stars who had written less hits then Noddy Holder and Jim Lea, even when you added them all together.
Enough of the mud, what about the music?
'Hear me calling' remained Slade's live show opener for a great many years and that is being despite it being written by Alvin Lee for Ten Years After. Here it is in all its glory, revealing Slade's uniquely powerful live sound and Jim Lea's playful illogical basslines under the solos. It is followed the the best song Slade ever played live, but never committed to a studio version; 'In like a shot from my gun'. That would have made a superb single, but Slade Alive only gave up one single - and that was a few hundred copies only of a promotional 7" release of 'Hear me calling' that most Slade fans have never even held a copy of.
'Darling be home soon' is another interesting choice for a live album - another cover - this time from the Lovin' Spoonful. The subtlety and melodicism of the band (except for when Nod burps) is astonishing as they power through this quiet little song. Restraint. You can feel the energy being kept in as the band do all but explode towards the end of the song.
'Know who you are' disappeared from Slade's live show soon after the Slade Alive! period, to be replaced by newer material that the group had just written. A pity, because here the song chugs along like a runaway train, the bass going subtlely and deliberately out of rhythm with the guitars under parts of the verses, giving that extra bit of drive and thickening up the sound in a way that made Slade unique. Dave Hill's lead guitar parts remain a joy to hear.
'Keep on rockin' remained a staple in various rearranged formats throughout their live career and it always worked brilliantly. Lashings of Chuck Berry and Little Richard with no pretension whatsoever. Fantastic.
The live version of 'Get down and get with it' (until the latest remaster came along) always rendered the studio version redundant. It is a truly brilliant performance by a band at one of its many live peaks. The closer, 'Born to be wild' is that most rare of things, a live version of a rock classic, where the group covering the song make it their own.
'Slade Alive Volume Two' (1978) captured the band live at a couple of shows from the 1977 and 1978 'Whatever happened to Slade' period tours and first and foremost, the remastered version noticeably corrects a number of mastering errors from the previous CD issue. The guitars sound savage by comparison too. Nod's voice is loud and clear. His rhythm guitar is thick and muscular. Jim's bass throbs and grinds and Dave's guitar sounds just wicked. Don Powell's drums pummel away, and with your eyes shut and with your head firmly wedged between two speakers set to 'stun', it's a bit like being there on the night.
It's great to hear good clear live versions of songs like the sadly under-rated 'Be' and 'One eyed Jacks with moustaches' as well as what sounds like the most heartfelt rendition of 'Everyday' they ever released.
Jim Lea gets an extraordinary bass solo and violin solo spot during the Rainbow-esque 'A night to remember'. How this man is not regarded as one of the bass playing greats, I will never figure out. I've never heard anyone but John Entwistle do anything that compared.
A number of old favourites that Slade played on the tour captured here lose none of their vitality, as the band were truly giving every song their all. 'Gudbuy T'Jane' always sounded like a new song when Slade played it.
The Reading EP's:
1. How D'you Ride
2. The Whole World's Goin' Crazee
3. Look At Last Nite
4. I Won't Let It ‘Appen Agen
5. Move Over
6. Gudbuy T'Jane (UK No. 2)
7. Gudbuy Gudbuy
8. Mama Weer All Crazee Now (UK No. 1)
9. I Don' Mind
10. Let The Good Times Roll / Feel So Fine
11. My Life Is Natural
13. Wonderin' Y
14. Man Who Speeks Evil
15. Slade talk to ‘Melanie' readers
Let's be straight about this, 'Slayed?' is most people's personal favourite Slade album. This CD had to be RIGHT.
For me, Chas Chandler was at his production peak on this album and on the two following two studio sets (Old New Borrowed and Blue and the Flame soundtrack). The sound had a depth and warmth that Slade would never recapture again - an 'in the room' BIG sound that the 'Slade Alive!' album helped shape. Their albums had to sound something like that one.
On listening to the remastered CD and comparing to the previous issue, the disc is again quite a lot louder and clearer. There's a good warmth to the sound, as hoped. The treble bites, whereas before it didn't.The bass depth isn't noticeably increased, as the album was quite bassy enough anyway, but combined with the increased treble, the overall sound is far more punchy and again, the separation is tremendous.
Tracks like 'The whole world's goin' crazee' benefit greatly from this enhacement, as slightly subdued intros are now more immediate. The guitar intro on 'Look at last nite' has an ocatve-up guitar part on the last progression and at last it's quite clear. It's not that much of an exaggeration to say that some sounds on the classic tracks are being heard properly for the first time.
My favourite Slade cover was always 'Move over' and Jim's bass features prominently throughout. The bass sound benefits from a more 'fruity' (that's what they used to call it back then) and rounded sound. Don's snare cracks away nicely and his cymbals wash quite effectively, without everything else being obscured. Again, it's like being in the room with the band.
Sandwiched between the two big hits from the album is the slow, grinding 'Gudbuy gudbuy'. on this edition, the bass throbs away quite purposefully and the good work of whoever is wielding the shaker fits in nicely. Nod's voice cuts through the instruments like a knife through butter, crystal clear.
'I don' mind' sounds like the band are in the room with the listener. Listen for Don's timekeeping with clicked drumsticks. Nod's voice really does the business on this song and hearing the way he sang here (subtly double-tracked in parts), it's a wonder his voice lasted for all the years that it did.
Let the good times roll's bass and drum passages sound sweet and clear. Nod's voice again just sits in the middle of all that's going on, clear as a bell.
As for the five bonus tracks added on the remaster...
'Man who speeks evil'
1 Cum On Feel The Noize
One of the later releases by Salvo, Sladest is a superb snapshot of the first half of the band's golden period. Not everything on the album is a single, nor were all their early singles huge hits. The album filled a gap for most collectors of Slade records at the time, by including some of their Fontana period single tracks (also on Play it Loud) and some choice album tracks. At the time, fans of the band warmly welcomed this release for the rarer material and played it just as much as their regular albums, even though it was the first compilation Slade ever released.
Old New Borrowed and Blue
1. Just A Little Bit
2. When The Lights Are Out
3. My Town
4. Find Yourself A Rainbow
5. Miles Out To Sea
6. We're Really Gonna Raise The Roof
7. Do We Still Do It
8. How Can It Be
9. Don't Blame Me
10. My Friend Stan (UK No. 2)
11. Everyday (UK No. 3)
12. Good Time Gals
13. I'm Mee I'm Now And That's Orl
14. Kill ‘Em At The Hot Club Tonite
15. The Bangin' Man (UK No. 3)
16. She Did It To Me
17. Slade Talk To “19” Readers
Slade's sound was seemingly very clearly defined by the time their Old New Borrowed and Blue album hit the record shops. So it would come as no surprise to those watching the group most closely at the time that they would start to diversify and avoid being labelled as predictable on this album which, with hindsight, gives a very clear indication of the coming maturity of their later meisterwerk, 'Flame'.
Another tremendous cover version, Just a little bit (originally by The Undertakers) starts the album in good style and once again, everything is louder and clearer. Don's hihat, which propels much of the song, hisses brilliantly and Nod delivers one of his best vocals over marvelous unison guitar and bass.
The album's real oddity is 'Find yourself a rainbow'. A bit of a novelty track, but thanks to Tommy Burton, we have a real Slade vaudeville pub singalong. The piano sounds beautiful on this edition and it's a shame Tommy Burton isn't around to hear this.
Miles out to sea' sounds crisp, clear and simply bounces along irresistibly - whatever it's about! Previously obscured piano makes its way into the mix under some of the verses.
The real power rockers on this album have always been 'We're really gonna raise the roof' and 'Do we still do it?' It's hard to say much about these two songs except that they now sound just that bit better. Giving Nod's voice a bit more edge on one of his most shredded vocals is perhaps a dangerous thing to do. Jim will hopefully be pleased with the bass sound on 'Do we still do it'.
'How can it be' sounds (on the quieter parts) like the band are sat around the listener - one of Chas Chandlers great skills. The backing vocals are enhanced on the verses and the guitars are much clearer.
I skipped 'Don't blame me' as I wasn't prepared for the utter onslaught of Nod's voice at this time!!!
The crisp hi-hat driving 'My friend Stan' counterpoints fabulously with Jim's offbeat bass, which sounds spot on. This is possibly one of Jim's best ever bass parts, even if the song is plain daft and another of their novelty songs. Even when Slade got a little bit 'throwaway' lyrically, they always sounded musically like a top class band.
'Everyday' remains the lovely song it always has been and remains one of Slade's best ever sounding songs. the guitar (and bass especially) sound a little more aggressive. Not a bad thing. The fuzzed-out guitars of 'Good time gals' sit over newly clear drums.
The bonus tracks:
'I'm Mee I'm Now And That's Orl' - even when cleaned up, still sounds menacing and angry. The drums on this edition really do benefit from the Turan treatment.
'Kill 'em at the hot club tonite' remains delightful and it's a joy to hear a pristine version of this whimsical little song again at last.
'The bangin' man' has been added here and it fits in just right. The track seems to have an added presence.
'She did it to me' makes a welcome appearance. This should have been on the original album. Pristine. If I had to single out anything improved on here, again it's the drums and the general clarity of the track. One of Nod's better vocals, too.
1How Does It Feel
2 Them Kinda Monkeys Can't Swing
Considered by the majority of Slade fans to be their most accomplished release, Flame was the soundtrack to their film of the same name. The film was later considered by Dave Hill to be a bit of a mistake, as it went a long way to confusing their fans as to the actual relationships within the band - some of the fans thought that Slade were the same band as the utterly fractured and constantly arguing Flame. Perhaps it was because the band were actually far more convincing actors than they have ever really been given due credit for that this unfortunate state of play came about. Whatever....
The re-release of this album by the Salvo label sees the album presented with its original tracklisting intact.
The much hoped for alternative version of 'This girl' - which would have been a competely valid addition to the disc - appears not to exist any longer,as it was only ever used for the short 'Undertakers' live segment in the film and was not retained after the film sound edits were completed and there are no alternative versions of other songs and no b-sides that didn't come from the soundtrack anyway to add to the track listing. It is doubtful that the performances by the sadly departed Alan Lake would need to be added to the soundtrack, as whatever else he was, he was not that fabulous a singer!
A collectors edition DVD also including the film soundtrack release is also available. This edition came in a card slipcase and a foldout cover (with Dave Hill to end right in the main photo). The extras in this edition included interviews with all of the band individually as well as key people from the film. Available here.
To the music...
The much loved 'How does it feel?' starts the album in grand style. Jim Lea wrote this melody years before Slade ever took off. It's a good job he didn't forget it, as once coupled with Nod's thoughtful and emotive lyrics it as become many fans favourite Slade song. Much is made of the single's 'failure' to go higher than number 15 in the charts. 'How does it feel' remains an evergreen Slade anthem and lest we forget, the singles sales were undoubtedly hampered by the release of the soundtrack album - containing the very same recording - at the same time.
'Them kinda monkeys can't swing', which comes up next, has Slade being typically Slade - momentarily forgetting their remit of being a group by the name of Flame. As a Slade song, it's quite enjoyable an a good solid rocker - and the group are seen cheerfully ripping it up in the film, with Nod frantically miming H's slide guitar part.
'Summer song (wishing you were here)' sees Slade at their most 'Beatle-y' - with 'Help' type backing vocals and an instantly memorable melody. One of Slade's best ever performances on record. The lyrics capture exactly what Nod is trying to get across. The song would have fit perfectly on an earlier Beatles album, something to be quite proud of. The booklet's contention that the song is similarly thematic to 'Merry Christmas Everybody' is 'stark bilge' (to quote Jim Lea). This reviewer is sure that Slade were 'not writing songs by numbers' at this point. An interesting idea, though.
'OK yesterday was yesterday' was seen as an opening song at the main Flame concert in the film. A powerful and quite typical Slade rocker, with lyrics seemingly pointing to Flame's earlier struggles as a pub and club band being behind them.
Noddy Holder's own favourite Slade song 'Far far away' follows. It's difficult to think of anything new to say about this song - everything has already been said, except to say that it probably sums up Slade's entire working life on the road for Nod. He's seen the world, been there and done it all - seen Elvis' gaff, the sights, the lot - got the t-shirt, taken it home and lost another on the road somewhere else! All the time being homesick for Wolvehampton. I doubt there is anyone to be found with more than half a brain and working ears who could possibly dislike this song. It's got one of Slade's most enduring melodies and a restrained vocal and a largely acoustic performance on rhythm guitar alongside a brilliant arrangement of the other guitars and bass sets a lovely mellow mood.
'This girl' is the most adventurous peformance on the album. Jim's clavinet and Dave's astonishing guitar parts work excellently against a rare appearance of brass instruments on a Slade track. Nod's vocal is drenched in echo to great effect, just as it is on the following 'Lay it down' where Jim basically plays a very subtle excellent bass solo throughout most of the song. Nod's vocal refers to Dave's astonishing vibrato technique (which comes from his playing guitar right handed, despite being left handed, giving him extra strength and dexterity in his left hand). The brass is carefully arranged so as to be inobtrusive as possible in this song.
'Heaven knows' is another plain 'Beatles type' song. Dave Hill's guitar parts rescue this from total obscurity, to be honest - not one of Slade's finest moments, apart from a good chorus.
'Standin' on the corner' is the perfect amalgam of the alter-ego group Flame and Slade themselves. The most obviously American sounding track on the album - a clear indication (with the gift of hindsight) of what Nobody's fools would be like. The highpoints of this song are Nod's vocal on the choruses and Dave's excellent guitar solo. Brass stabs dominate and punctuate between the verses and underline the choruses - were they really necessary? A sax solo? Why not ? Slade would try anything once at this time. They were being Flame, not Slade - an excuse to stretch out and develop. A remaster with the brass removed would be this reviewer's dream! But this really IS sublime, I have to admit!
The music still stands up beautifully after all this time - the album was recorded in 1974, lest we forget. Whether it is Slade's crowning achievement is up to all of the individual listeners that hear it.There is no right amswer. Some will prefer the heavier and far more complex 'Whatever happened to Slade' - some will prefer Slayed? Whatever... Comparing the album to much of its contemporary releases, it stands head and shoulders above the competition.
The album is arguably part 'Not Slade' and part 'Very Slade' - all at the same time. This no doubt contributes to it's lasting appeal, but also to what happened to Slade folowing ts release...... A paradox and a dilemma for the band and the fans. Slade had laid back somewhat from being the power-rock band that had pummelled the world's earholes into total submission with 'Slayed?' and 'Slade Alive!' Melody and careful, intellgent, even mature arrangements came to the fore - as this WAS a film soundtrack album, after all.
From here on, they would never be the same band again, for better or for worse...
1 Nobody's Fool
This album is mainly known as Slade's "American album". It was recorded during Slade's self-imposed exile from the UK during 1975 and 1976. To say that the album is an attempt to create a sound that US radio programmers would warm to is an understatement. It is difficult to review the album separately from a basic narrative of where they were at in their career at the time.
Previously, Slade had had limited success in the USA and their small following was gained via word of mouth following live shows (often supporting clearly inferior acts that they wouldn't have dreamed of having on three acts below them on a bill in the UK).
The group have spoken many times since of the fact that they were 'going stale'. Whatever the actual truth of the matter, the whole 'Nobody's fools' album displays a huge desire to radically change the band's image, direction and its sound to suit the American ear. The band certainly achieved that objective and the results covered a wide spectrum of styles and gave Slade a new lease of life, if not the chart placings that the album deserved.
The title track, 'Nobody's fool' features a strident piano intro from Jim Lea (edited on the 45 release) and double tracked guitars from Dave throughout. The beat is a little more disco-fied than usual for Slade and the presence of a girl backing singer lets you know this is a quite different Slade to that we previously knew and loved. Tasha Thomas, the session singer, even appears in the promo clip for the song. The single was released to coincide with their 10th anniversary celebrations and, without a supporting tour, failed to set the charts alight. This single release suffered sales-wise from having both sides being on the album.
'Do the dirty' is slightly 'spaced out' funk rock. Nicely and tightly arranged, but with largely meaningless lyrics, the band were pandering to the stoned audiences thay had seen on their tours.
'In for a penny' was another single, written in predominantly minor keys and without a chorus. The guitar break that Dave Hill plays on this song has to be one of his finest ever. Harmonium and jazzy sounding bass, plus melodic trademark Slade backing vocals make this an almost irrisistable, if slightly gloomy, record. It charted respectably in the UK, mainly because people were still in the habit of buying Slade records and also because they appeared on UK TV to support it.
'Did ya mama ever tell ya?' is neat slice of what Nod referred to later as 'Wolverhampton reggae'. The band go all bluebeat on us and Tasha Thomas adds neat backing vocals throughout. A pleasant enough effort. It possibly didn't make sense to UK fans at the time, but it wasn't specifically meant to.
'Scratch my back' is soaked in innuendo and is a restrained rocker, with Nod in fine voice. Dave's guitar style is economical, while Nod's remains simple and solid. Jim's bass playing on the whole record is also simplified from his usual style in an attempt to reach out to US radio.
'I'm a talker' is as far from Slade as it is possible to get - drug and alcohol references abound - this is a party song after all. Only Dave's agile double-tracked guitars remind you that this is Slade. It sounds much more like Noddy Holder guesting on someone else's record.
The final song on the original release; 'All the world is a stage' is many fans favourite on the album. This song was initially barely recognisable as being by Slade, as it was mainly keyboard driven. Nod's voice reminds you of exactly who you are listening to. The lyrics are loosely based on odd quotes from Shakespeare and the comments in the booklet accompanying this CD try to make out that the song is 'pretentious'..... well, make your own mind up! Nod bows out , thanking the audience for being wonderful before some familiar sound effects kick in.
The b-side to that single was 'Raining in my Champagne'. It features Nod in excellent voice. The band basically reprise 'Twist and shout' to great effect. They sound like they are enjoying themselves and drop in a hint of The Banana Boat song for good measure.
'Can you just imagine' (the b-side of 'In for a penny') is all about the making of the Slade film 'Flame' and spiritually belongs on that album, even though it was written some time after the film was finished!! A nice tight track, with good lyrics and again a few good Dave Hill guitar parts. Nice to hear a pristine copy again.
'When the chips are down' is another reasonably obscure b-side (to 'Let's call it quits'). The band must have been fond of this song, as they used different lyrics when the song became the theme song for a BBC radio Insight special ('Six days on the road'). They have obviously jammed their way through this song to get a nice loose feel before the song breaks down into a quiet section towards the end, ended by one of Don Powell's most forceful drum rolls before Nod's voice incites further anarchy. The re-mastering certainly helps this song come across as powerfully as it does.
The 'Whatever happened to Slade' album dates from the beginning of Slade's so-called 'wilderness years' on the Barn label, recorded at Portland Studios in London, which was owned by Chas Chandler, with investment from the group. Slade had returned from a long self-imposed exile concentrating on the American market and had a serious amount of rebuilding to do, career-wise.
1. We'll Bring The House Down
Never was a truer sentence spoken!
With the release of 'Return to base', Slade were diversifying again. Their music became less complicated than on the previous release (Whatever happened to Slade). Acoustic guitars appeared again and some of the music was far more poppy than fans were used to. Songs like 'Chakeeta', 'Lemme love into ya' and 'My baby's got it' showed a quite new approach from the group. The song 'I'm mad' was a real highlight of the album, with its Beatlesque hooks.
Slade had never gone right down the 'country' road before and so, 'Don't waste your time (back seat star)' was a complete surprise to most. 'Sign of the times' was designed to be particularly radio friendly, with more mentions of radio dropped into three minutes than most commercial songwriters manage to fit on an album. 'When I'm dancin' I ain't fightin' was a particularly chirpy little rocker that, along with 'Wheels ain't coming down' further brightened up stage shows at the time and showed that Slade still had some good songs left in them. A cover of Chuck Berry's obscure 'I'm a rocker' (a particular favourite of Noddy Holder) also brightens things up, as Slade's version totally outstrips all the best points of the original. 'Nuts bolts and screws' is a nonsense word game set to energetic hard rock and it works nicely.
Slade's problem at the time was that they were effectively dead in the water and were struggling to find their identity after punk rock had come along and handed many of their contemporaries their P45's. True, they could respectably pack out shows in colleges and clubs, but these people weren't all being sensible and going out and buying their records - which were often hard to find in shops, even if they tried. 'Return to base' went into the bargain bins and so the vinyl album commands a quite respectable price today from dealers. A 12" 6 track EP ('Six of the best') selling at £1.49 sold feebly, despite having some really good songs on it, like '9-5'. Their single version of 'The Okey Cokey' died a death. It could have been the end of Slade.
The story of Chas Chandler being obliged to knock on Dave Hill's front door, to struggle to convince him to appear one last time with the all-but-disbanded Slade is often told. The group's last minute booking for an appearance at the 1980 Reading Festival - after Ozzy Osbourne pulled out - saved the band from dying out quietly after a last gig in some provincial club without even telling anyone. Fans had to wait until 1991 for that.
Reading made Slade popular again and they went out on the road, revitalised by their resurgence. An EP from the Reading show did quite well in the charts, but they needed to strike again quickly with an album, while they were still hot. Writing, rehearsing and recording a new set of material would have taken months, and so the band were forced to compromise somewhat and compiled the best rockers from their most recent Barn and Six Of The Best label recordings onto a new album, along with their current hit - which gave the album its title - 'We'll bring the house down'. The b-side of that single ('Hold onto you hats') is also included here.
The new album (originally on their own Cheapskate label, distributed by RCA, who they were actually in negotiations with at the time for a new record deal) also did very well for Slade and helped to re-establish them as a chart act again for a couple of years. The greatest irony of their renewed success is that they weren't doing anything at all any differently in the bigger halls than they were in the clubs and universities. They remained resolutely SLADE.
The CD reissue boasts improved sound quality, excellent packaging and adds in a couple of tracks not to be found on Slade albums elsewhere from the time. One is the excellent 'Not tonight Josephine', which they probably thought of as a quickly tossed-off B-side, but which was as good, if not better than anything they had released in recent years. It also includes Slade's inexplicable reimagination of the Okey Cokey. Jim Lea begged Noddy Holder to not record the song and was told if he didn't show at the studio, Nod would record the bass part. The CD booklet tells the story of this period - where they were at their deepest despair with their career and then suddenly and deservedly raised to a new height of popularity again more fully.
1. Rock And Roll Preacher (Hallelujah I'm On Fire)
Following their triumph at Reading and a creditable appearance at the Monsters Of Rock festival at Castle Donington in 1981, Slade were now riding on the crest / tail of a wave at this point in their career. They sort of trailed along with the bands who were classified in the press as The New Wave Of British Heavy Metal. They weren't actually that kind of band, but it was what was selling, so for the sake of survival, they adapted their music and their look to fit in with the scene.
In going back to making more straightforward rock music, the band actually reverted somewhat towards the feel of their earlier Slayed? album, except this album does not have the same warm 'in-the-room' sound of their earlier classic. Jim Lea was aiming for more of a radio-friendly, thinner sound, which to a point worked for them.
Stage favourite 'Rock And Roll Preacher (Hallelujah I'm On Fire)' starts proceedings. Certainly catchy enough to be issued as a single in Europe, this deservedly became their stage opener on their remaining tours.
The band retained their pop sensibility with good, melodic, rocky songs like 'Til deaf do us part', which had lyrics and a tune and style that were obviously tailored 'made-to-measure' to their new audience and the much better 'Ruby Red' which went for delievering a great song with a well known and familiar solid, driving rock sound. This was the third song to be taken off as a single from the album. It later came to light that Ruby Red had been recorded before, but the earlier version did not make the cut for the previous album that it was meant for.
'It's your body, not your mind' echoes Rainbow at their most cheerfully chauvinistic and bombastic. Not to mention impressive. Despite the not so vague sexism of the lyrics, it's all done so tongue in cheek that no-one could really object!
'That was no lady, that was my wife' - was a phrase borrowed from Groucho Marx - a rather nifty little tune, played with some attitude and and an overdriven bass, prompting Jim to slip in a quick solo. This song never made it to the stage, which is a bit of a shame.
'Knuckle Sandwich Nancy' - The true story of Nod's beating at a Porthcawl nightclub at the hands of the later-jailed bouncer Desmond Brothers is a mash up of about six great tunes into one rather unfortunate high-speed lumpen rant. It has hooks galore, but sounds like it was rushed during recording and if it had been simpler, would have made for a great tune. It was released as a single on the band's own Cheapskate label, a while before the album came out, at Holder's insistence. Their new label (RCA) passed on the option to release it and Chas Chandler, while always supportive of the band told them it was awful. It remains one of the few tracks that most Slade fans would not miss if it had never been released.
A short reprise of the song 'Til deaf do us part', called 'Till Deaf Ressurrected' closes the album.
The bonus track is the nicely tight and energetic 'Funk Punk And Junk', which was admittedly an example of them writing a 'Slade-by-numbers' merely tossed off b-side type song. Based around a simple, repetitive riff, played really on-the-beat-to-the-millisecond, with a typical Dave Hill guitar solo, it's not bad at all, though and it is good to see it included here. The band sound like they are having fun.
A great rock album which brings a smile to the listener's face. It still sounds great.
1 Slam the Hammer Down
This was Slade's last album made as a regularly touring group. As presented here, gathering nearly all of the permutations from the UK and USA releases, it gathers toigether the material from this period perfectly.
The album sets off to a tremendous start with 'Slam the hammer down', with Slade at their rocking best. This song doesn't let up - it storms along the whole way through and would have been just marvelous live, but that just wasn't to be.
'Run runaway' actually broke onto the American charts, giving Slade their first bit of chart action for years, mainly thanks to the slightly silly video filmed at Eastnor Castle. The distinctive sound of the excellent band Big Country obviously inspired Jim Lea at the time. A great song that still stands up now. The drums on this song are a work of art and the arrangement is tight and very well thought out. Violins and harmony guitars give a great feel, even when the song breaks down into a jig.
'High and dry' was later covered by Girlschool (with Nod and Jim producing). A very good, melodic, mid-paced song, featuring Nod as the love 'em and leave 'em style male chauvinist pig.
'My oh my' was the instant and most obvious choice for a single release. It reached number two in the UK, with Slade being frustrated by a three week spell where the chart positions didn't change, leaving The Flying Pickets sitting pretty (or not) at number one throughout the festive season. It's a beautiful song, marvelously performed and produced and it's a sobering thought to think that Slade actually openly told people at the time that they knocked up demos stating 'We all love our Guinness, my oh my....' to the same tune. Fortunately, none of them are on here!
'Cocky rock boys' is a straight forward little rocker, devoted to chasing women and rocking out. Aimed primarily at the younger metal fan who was now into Slade, I imagine.
The 'epic' and rather obvious derivative Meat Loaf parody that is 'Ready to explode' has lots of great little tunes sewn together into its eight minutes and thirty seven seconds. Not a personal favourite, as it strays from Slade's ethos of brevity and good-time music. An example, perhaps of Slade ambitiously over-thinking their music to a point where it doesn't work. Looking for different subject matter for this album, Holder composed lyrics related to sports personalities and this track is about motor racing drivers.
'(And now the waltz) C'est La Vie' was chosen to be a single around the Christmas of 1982 - a whole year before this album was released and was a lost cause really, as radio stations didn't get it and it was lost in the rush of Christmas releases. It didn't sound that much like a normal Slade record, though it was a truly excellent song, again beautifully performed. It deserved a higher chart placing than the # 50 that it got.
'Cheap and nasty love' is a great little song, fast and brilliantly arranged and shows how commercial Slade could be when they wanted to actually do it. This could easily have been a single, if Slade hadn't been so busy trying to get taken more seriously as a rock act. Great keyboards and bass from Jim Lea feature throughout. This would have made a great live number, as would 'Razzle dazzle man', which was the original closer to the album.
'My oh my' (extended version) : Over five minutes long and Dave plays lots and lots of lead guitar at the end.
'Don't tame a Hurricane' - another b-side (to My oh my) that should have made the original album,is about the brilliant, tempestuous snooker player Alex 'Hurricane' Higgins, who certainly lived his life on the edge and in great style. The verse melody is a straight, but lovely, lift from 'Physical' - the Olivia Newton John hit. This songs bops along wonderfully and details Higgins' highs, lows, strops and drinking binges, stating that while he was brilliant, he was just uncontrollable and that no woman could control him, change him or tie him down. True.
'Run runaway' (extended version) : More and more violins and harmony guitars - an even longer chance to have a damn good jig round and knock a few things over in your living room. Go on. You know you want to.
'Two track stereo, one track mind' was yet another b-side (to Run runaway) that should have been an instant prime choice for the original album. A song about a girl who liked to make love to music wearing headphones. Brilliantly arranged and with a superb guitar solo. Vastly superior to the likes of 'Ready to explode' and 'In the doghouse', but never mind.
Unreleased commercially, everywhere in the world, the 'Slam the hammer down' (hotter mix) - the master of which (taken from the USA 12" promo only single) was provided to Union Square by this site. Sax sounds feature in the background on the album version, but remix genius Shep Pettibone (Madonna, Level 42) brings them to the fore, giving Slade a great, funky rock sound. The song is heavily edited and works fantastically well for it. Jim plays lightning-fast bass til his fingers are a blur. Superb.
The album title was coined by a certain slightly jaded lead singer who was beginning to come to believe that whatever Slade did was doomed to fail. The album was actually released during Slade's final UK tour in December 1983 and, quite bizarrely, the only song to be featured from it in a live setting was the #2 hit single 'My oh my'. The rest of it was largely unperformable on stage with Slade as a four-man group, though on their USA tour in 1984, they did play 'Slam the hammer down'. Jim Lea mentioned to this reviewer, during the 1983 tour, that a plan was to get in a session keyboard player for the next tour playing behind a curtain and to have back projections to make the next tour look and sound radically different. That idea was, sadly, not to be realised.
In the USA, this album was released as 'Keep your hands off my power supply' with a different - but actually worse - cartoon picture sleeve than the UK album. The album had a far more cohesive and respectable sound, due to the inclusion of some of the b-sides. On this issue, you get the very best of all worlds, as all of the tracks are here for you.
1 Hey Ho Wish You Well
Slade become a studio band and Jim Lea takes over.
The best guitar intro ever of Slade's whole career starts the album off in utterly fine style. 'Hey ho wish you well' is perhaps the most perfect example of what latter-day Slade could and should have been all about. Excellent riff-rock with a big nagging chorus and verses twice as good as everyone else's choruses... and reminiscent in parts of Run runaway. It was performed on Saturday morning kids TV and people actually tried to buy it (even despite Mike Read miming along with the group on an acoustic guitar in the background). It wasn't available as a single and the album wasn't out yet. Duh.
'Little Sheila' (a single in Europe) is a brilliant driving pop song pretty much dominated by Jim's keyboards and Nod turns in an excellent vocal and the lyrics aren't that bad either. The video for this is one of Slade's best and was largely unseen by most Slade fans until YouTube saved the day. Fabulous.
'Harmony' borrows the intro chord sequence from The Who's Baba O'Riley and is a very middle of the road singalong. Annoying tricks with the panning of the sequenced drums and mass group chorus vocals are a little dated, but the song is pleasant enough.
When this song has finished, turn the CD player RIGHT UP.
'Myszterious Miszter Jones' is utterly fantastic. There is really no other way to describe it. Coupling Nod's dynamite vocals, a great lead guitar break and Don's driving drums with a keyboard riff similar to Laura Brannigan's excellent 'Gloria' and one of Jim's best ever tunes with lyrics about the roadies was a masterstroke. Not a single beat in this song is wasted. The video for this is fantastic, if you ever get to see it. Slade in a brewery with guitars and machine guns?... Mmmmmmmmm....
'Walking on water, running on alcohol' was a personal favourite of Noddy Holder and he was bitterly disappointed when it was not considered worthy for release as a single. It is a slightly revealing song, as was the later 'Still the same' and he wanted to put it out and say something to the world with it. It is one of Slade's finest melodic moments - pure Radio Two of the day, but it was simply glorious. Jim's sensitive keyboard arrangement underpins the whole song wonderfully. Beautiful. One of Slade's finest and most under-valued moments.
'I'll be there' is a jolly, bouncy little song that would have done well as a single, if their record company (RCA at that time) had had a clue what to do with Slade.
'I win you lose' is full of nostalgia for Nod's home town and love - and is a VERY confessional Holder lyric. A slightly over-wrought and leaden arrangement removes almost all of the sensitivity from the piece. BUT.. at 1:29, Nod turns in an absolutely astonishing shimmeringly wonderful vocal to sing the words "Shame on me....." and then the spine tingles.
'Time to rock' recalls 'Wild Thing' and is one of Slade's 'rabble rouser by numbers' songs - and there's nothing wrong with that at all! The whistling interlude is a bit confusing - but was something to try once. They do it twice in the song...
The really big hit from the album was 'All join hands', which followed the 'My oh my' formula beautifully. A superbly lush production, epic keyboards, a wonderful plummy, floor-shaking bass part, huge guitar solo and the best mix they had had for years ensured that this song did well for the group, slightly cushioning the blow that the relative disappointment of the next few singles' chart placings would bring for Slade and RCA. The excellent promo video for this song remains largely unseen to this day.
'Seven Year Bitch' (extended version).
'Leave them girls alone'
'Myszterious Miszter Jones' (extended version) :
'Mama Nature is a rocker'
The piano and vocal demo of 'My oh my' features the original lyrics (before the song had the 'My oh my' theme running throughout). Some of the lyrics were dropped from the finished version and it's certainly interesting to hear them. It's also quite interesting to hear how the song was so simple and yet so complete at this early stage.
'Do you believe in miracles'
The 'My oh my' swing version features a pleasant, fun Nod vocal over a great jazz backing by Monty Babson and his Band. It is a complete curiosity and Nod once said they sent it off to Frank Sinatra for his management's consideration. Nod sounds like he was enjoying himself, which was always a good thing.
The 12" version of 'Do you believe in miracles' closes the album and is a cracker.
As with all of the Union Square Slade reissues, the very attractive CD booklet contains an interesting and informative summary of this period in Slade's career written by Chris Ingham, as well as unseen photographs from the period. A remarkable job has been done throughout the reissue series.
Slade were originally offered a very good deal to record this album by the Telstar label. The album was probably the best-selling of Slade's latterday career. The issue reviewed here contains 11 tracks and features a few Christmas songs given the immense Slade treatment and in the context of a Christmas party album, even the Slade version of the Okey Cokey actually makes perfect sense in this context.
The party songs are REAL party songs. Slade sound like they are actually having a good time in the studio. The importance of this reissue is that it makes a few songs available on CD for the very first time, including new versions of 'Cum on feel the noize' and 'Get down and get with it' .
The re-mastering gives the sound a bit of extra clout, too.
1 Love Is Like A Rock
The Salvo reissue series of Slade's original albums logically concludes with You Boyz make Big Noize, their last album, released in 1987 to a largely indifferent record-buying public who were more into effete electronic bands that dominated the charts.
It's sad that the series concludes with this album for a few reasons; firstly, Slade should have carried on to make more albums, secondly, it shows that they were clawing their way back to their best studio sound for some years, and finally, I guess we want a lot more reissued music and video from Slade. More exists, but is unlikely to ever be made available legitimately.
This has been an exemplary reissue program in many respects - the fans have been involved and listened to by the record company all along and we have got just about what we want in all cases.
The booklet with this CD is illustrated by a series of fun photos of Slade with Betty, the cleaner at Wessex studios. She is the lady who originally coined the album's name (by way of a chance remark about what a big noise Slade made) and eventually the single of the same name. An informative narrative of the period in the group's career is once again written by Chris Ingham. Don Powell candidly shares his feelings about the record and the state of affairs in the group.
Slade returned to a more gritty-sounding hard rock approach in their music, whilst still retaining a commerciality and melodic appeal. A number of the songs could have been chosen as singles. The lead track, Love Is Like A Rock had even been a minor hit in the USA for Donnie Iris and was chosen to inspire some confidence at CBS, their record company in America, who were tasked with releasing the album.
That's what friends are for was a single and on this remaster, sounds the best it ever has. The bass end is definitely restored to how it should sound. Catchy and melodic, this song should have been a contender.
Still the same is one of Noddy Holder's most wistful lyrics ever. If it is about his own life in any way, it is a brave and revealing piece of work. A beautifully arranged backing track and a tremendous vocal make this possibly the stand-out track on the whole album.
Fools go crazy is a lightweight piece of bouncy rock fluff, with a great Nod vocal and chugging guitars to the fore. Jim's keyboards drive this song - a reflection of the fact that Slade were now completely studio-bound, with Nod refusing to play any more live shows.
She's heavy features keyboard bass parts and probably some sequenced drums. Very 80's technology! Massed vocals on the verses make Nod's solo vocals stand out as a refief when they are used and the track sounds like the kitchen sink has been thrown at it. Good lyrics about a big fearsome woman!
The guitars on the excellently catchy We won't give in are heavily reminiscent of Nik Kershaw's carefully sculpted single, Wouldn't it be good and and the song is a joy to hear. Again, Slade resort to massed vocals on the choruses, to get an 'anthemic' feel.
Won't you rock with me is again dominated by computer drums and a synth bass. Nod's vocal is all that rescues this silly little song from the mire. Filler.
Ooh la la in LA was the obvious choice for a hit USA single release - but it was not to be. Catchy and brilliantly performed, with all the references to the LA scene that they could squeeze in. Fabulous, commercial melodic rock.
Me and the boys immediately reminds the listener of Queen's We will rock you. The lyrics refer to one of Nod's pet hates - bouncers, as well as the lads night out. Acoustic guitars, HUGE drums and a slightly Big Country-esque feel work well.
Sing shout (knock yourself out) is a few minutes of irresistible pop madness. This song bounces and careers off the walls while not saying much, and borrowing from Summertime blues amongst others, to be honest, but what a great tune. Great arrangement. Great fun.
The roaring silence is apparently based on a Simple Minds keyboard riff and Nod writes a suitably manly lyric about being insatiable, etc. Massed vocals tend to remove any impact that Nod's vocals would have had. Filler.
It's hard having fun nowadays is a mid-paced Slade attempt at an anthem that yet again features massed vocals.
The bonus tracks:
Over the course of two discs, 'b-sides' collects nearly every Slade b-side - in pristine condition and also in the correct chronological order. Some of these recordings come from way back in the period when the band were trading honourably under the name of Ambrose Slade and also as The Slade .
The songs that made it to the flipsides of their 45's are very important, because they very often showed a more melodic and thoughtful side of Slade that the people who may not have bought their massive selling records - and even the ones that didn't chart - would almost certainly never have heard. These songs rarely made it onto the radio, even at the height of Slade's success.
This two CD set, as you can see, gathers almost all of the b-sides from Slade's huge list of 45rpm releases.
The 'champagne years' - as fans call 1972 to 1975 - produced a run of fantastic songs relegated to the b-side of Slade's mammoth run of monster hit singles, such as Cum on feel the noize and Merry Christmas Everybody, not because they were in any way inferior - but simply because they hadn't been recorded during album sessions. Check out Kill 'em at the hot club tonite, Wonderin Y and She did it to me for a Slade you never knew existed!
A couple of songs had the honour of being album tracks as well as b-sides, but Slade didn't really tend to do that very often. It was often the case that Don Powell and Dave Hill contributed to the writing of songs placed on b-sides. The main two hit songwriters were thought to be Holder and Lea and so their efforts generally filled the band's albums. The distribution of royalties only became an issue within the band when the record sales eventually dried up.
The Barn singles produced such fine songs as Forest Full Of Needles, which featured one of Dave Hill's better guitar parts; OHMS - a heartfelt rail against the British Tax system which had previously been caning Slade to the tune of 97% of their income; It's alright buy me - a chart-cert mighty rock track,which was, at one time, destined to be a storming a-side, until the extraordinarily bad choice was made to relegate it to a b-side of the tinkly piano tune, 'Rock and roll bolero' (which Dave Hill could have predicted the failure of, as soon as the piano was wheeled into the studio. 'Piano equals failure' was Dave's grumbled motto). Not tonight Josephine was a sprightly rocker that should have been an a-side too. What happened???
This two CD set will make a lot of people very happy indeed. 40 great Slade songs - many hard to get and many unheard for years all in one place - and not stupidly priced, either.
For many years now, it has been blatantly obvious that SLADE were one of those bands who were more deserving than most to have a complete career overview package released in the form of a box set. SLADE had more hit singles and albums than just about anyone else from their era.
This situation has now been resolved with the release of THE SLADE BOX by Salvo and Union Square Music.
One of the great problems with a band like SLADE is that, for many who weren't fortunate enough to have been around at the time, they are known only as 'that band who did that Christmas record'... or worse still, as a set of glam rock brickies, along with The Sweet and T.Rex.
That's a pair of great understatements and falsehoods (that does none of those excellent bands any favours) concerning a long and very distinguished career, which took in around twenty albums and a fantastic run of singles which turned all of the band members into household names in the seventies. Most everyone who had ears knew a SLADE record when it came on the radio and many could name all four of the band.... something previously reserved for the likes of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. Can anyone who's reading this name all the four or five members of Oasis? I thought not. Sorry, Noel.
This 4CD box set aims to set the record straight and let people who care to listen hear that Slade were one helluva rock band. The most important thing here is the music - even though the 72 page booklet will thrill most fans, with its exclusive and unseen photos, Keith Altham essay and band comments. I won't spoil the surprise, but you have to see it!
Slade started off as just another Midlands band, with four great musicians and a distinctly bizarre setlist, slogging it out on the national club circuit, but it took the input of Chas Chandler (whose unique importance to SLADE's career could never be over-stressed) to get them to focus on writing songs and to produce the massive hit sound that stayed with them from day one right up until the day they parted company with him.
Immediately upon taking over their management, Chandler got the band into the studio and had them record a new song he had found for them called 'Wild winds are blowing'. Straight away, it was noticeable that they had found a tough, aggressive sound on record that wasn't there before.
Their impressive musicianship shines through on the early recordings at the start of disc one. Their breakthrough single was 'Get down and get with it' . That early hit record set the tone for their majority of their career. Nod's vocals that could vary from a subtle whisper through to a bellowing rawwwk scream, appear on every song, over unison guitar riffs, cracking drums and pulsating throbbing bass - delivering great, catchy, loud good time music.
The band had their subtle and melodic moments too - often these are ridiculously forgotten when compared to the likes of 'Cum on feel the noize', 'Gudbuy T'Jane' and 'We'll bring the house down' - all big hits for the band.
Songs like 'Everyday', 'How does it feel', 'Far far away', 'All join hands' and 'My oh my' are joined here by classic b-sides like 'Kill 'em at the Hot Club tonite' (the least likely song SLADE ever released - a versatile jazzy cross between Stephan Grapelli and Django Reinhardt), 'Wonderin' Y' and 'She did it to me' - huge fan favourites and sounding as good as they ever did!
Slade's formidable chart statistics are available on this site and they show what a BIG group SLADE were.
Disc one captures their earliest chart successes - and some of their biggest ones, too. A stray track from Slade Alive! (see the live anthology to hear more of this utterly breathtaking show) shows the sheer power of the band when they played live.
Disc three starts with Slade's one and only noble attempt to dent the UK charts with a football anthem ('Give us a goal'). If the song had been about anything else, it would have charted convincingly. It's a quite credible rock tune!
Fickle music fashion at the time dictated that their follow-up singles didn't get radio play and some of Slade's best ever songs sunk without trace. However, they are resurrected here: 'It's Alright Buy Me', 'Ginny Ginny' and 'Not Tonight Josephine' are some of their strongest ever performances and it's great to hear them again, newly remastered and sounding all the better for it.
SLADE had their well-documented chart resurgence after the Reading Rock Festival in 1980 (where Jim Lea had his famous little strop about having written more hits than the rest of the bill put together - which he had) and followed it up with another smash appearance at Donington in 1981. There are tracks here from their then-current albums and they show how SLADE adapted to the times, yet kept their own individuality and sense of fun.
Still, no-one else sounded like SLADE.
Around this time, after an abortive 1984 US tour where Jim Lea was dogged by severe ill-health, Noddy Holder called an abrupt and total halt to the band's live shows and SLADE's profile inevitably lowered. It was a bizarre thing to happen, because their music was still such really strong stuff. They were still making great records, as you will hear from the evidence here.
The final disc of this set - disc four - shows the band at the point where they began to finally get an amount of chart success in America after years of trying. It features songs from their 1983 'Amazing kamikaze syndrome' album (re-titled 'Keep your hands off my power supply' in the USA, where it was released with an amended track listing on the CBS label). The best known of these will probably be 'My oh my' and 'Run runaway' - both quite sizeable hits in the UK.
The follow up albums 'Rogues Gallery' and 'You boyz make big noize' are also represented here by some songs that SLADE never ever played live. The decision to stop doing live shows allowed them to expand their sound in the studio, without the problem arising of how to actually reproduce that sound on a stage. The sound became much more lush as Jim Lea took more of a hand than ever in production duties and playing instruments for the band.
The band's final two single releases are here : 'Radio Wall Of Sound' and 'Universe' are both excellent songs and great performances. While 'Radio Wall Of Sound' earned SLADE a few Top Of The Pops appearances, Universe failed to chart - mainly because the radio stubbornly avoided SLADE that year at Christmas and also because most of the population appeared to want to buy the album it was featured on (a fate that sadly also befell their most highly regarded single 'How does it feel' when the world went out and bought the 'Flame' film soundtrack album rather than the single, thus lowering its eventual chart placing).
This box set is the release that SLADE have deserved for a good long time now. It pulls together their best known songs and adds some of their strongest material. It's all remastered to get the very best from the recordings. There is NO padding on here at all. Just about every song (apart from Okey Cokey) is top quality stuff!
There are mixed thoughts from various camps about this film. Did Flame really kill Slade's career? Dave Hill seemed to think so. However, Noddy Holder and Jim Lea both love it. Don Powell is rightfully proud of it. There is no bad acting at all, so it couldn't have been that... So what could it have been that had people worrying about this film?
The theory that Dave Hill frequently posits is that Flame confused Slade fans and that they believed that the four members of Slade all hated each other, which very notion was indeed, stark bilge. Dave Hill is not so sure about the wisdom of doing a dark, realistic film instead of a jolly happy film. Slade fans were not quite dim enough to confuse the film as being a Slade documentary. Despite that, the band did their best to dispel that notion on the UK tour to promote the Flame album. Nod gave Jim a quick kiss on the cheek and said that they loved each other really, before leading the band on to the next level of pandemonium with their next song..
The reissue DVD of Flame comes with much improved (pristine) picture and sound quality from previous versions - all of the picture is on screen at last - and an hour long featurette section that contains interviews with all the principal players in the film (including Tom Conti and Director Richard Loncraine). You probably know about the quality of the songs featured in the film, including How does it feel and Far far away.
The interviews are quite revealing. Jim Lea again relates how he basically played himself in the film and the group still easily spot themselves written large in the characters that they played.
The surrounding characters in the film are written from the band and Chas Chandler's observations and tales of clubland and the music business. Ron Harding and his henchmen are a stereotypical agent and his stooges from the time, far more interested in the performance of their dog at the track and the payout from the fruit machines than any of the bands they happen to handle. Slade were luckily far more fortunate with their own real life agency.
Tom Conti plays a manager who gets someone to go find him a pop group to sell. He can sell anything that he is given to sell and pop groups can be sold as product too. He takes the group on as a challenge and a marketing exercise, much to the disapproval of his company's executive board. He plays himself too, a vague and slightly charming wimp who cuts out when he has proved his point and the going gets exceedingly bad, dropping the band like an old newspaper.
Alan Lake gave an outstanding performance as a stereotypical club singer, who wished he was Elvis, with a degree in singing dated, corny songs in hundreds of smoky bars and at weddings. Russell the roadie has a few choice lines as do the ladies attached to the band.
So why does this film actually matter all these years on?
Cast aside the fashion crimes that occur at intervals and this is an eminently watchable film. The soundtrack (a CD of the remastered Flame soundtrack accompanies the special edition) is truly superb and is one of Slade's career highpoints. Well worth buying - even if you have the film already. The featurette is well edited and all of the band and Loncraine and Conti answer honestly and engagingly. The booklet includes a set of photos from the period with interesting and engaging comments from Jim Lea.
The original RCA sleeves are replaced by a cover image from the same session as that used for Slade Smashes, which nicely recalled the Slayed? album cover. The CD booklet gives some interesting info regarding the individual songs, as well as being illustrated with some great photographs.
1. Run Runaway
1. Sing Shout (Knock Yourself Out)
This 2CD 'Rockers' collection does exactly what it says on the tin. It rocks. A good number of lesser-known Slade rockers get a well deserved airing here. Obscurities like 'Could I' from Play it loud (originally by Bread) and the Ambrose Slade version of 'Born to be wild' and some other choice cover versions (such as Joplin's 'Move over',and Chuck Berry's 'I'm a rocker) feature on this set. With tracks selected by Noddy Holder and Jim Lea, the listener gets the impression that the cream of Slade's rockin' tracks are here - regardless of whether they made it as singles or not. All periods of the group's career are covered and the collection is cohesive and powerful. The tracks DO fit well together. No ballads here. Take this to a party and it won't get taken off (unless the village idiot is present).
'Slade live at the BBC'
The Shape of things to come
See us here
My life is natural
Man who speeks evil
Nights in white satin
It's alright Ma, It's only witchcraft
Let the good times roll
Get down and get with it
Wild winds are blowing
Four promo inserts for the group recorded for Radio 1 end the fist disc, two being recorded over backing tracks for Everyday and one of My friend Stan.
Disc two comprises a concert recording from the Paris Theatre, London from August 17th 1972. This will be familiar to a number of Slade fans and it's without a doubt a cracking show, featuring a few more live gems that were never officially released until now.
HEAR ME CALLING
Not everything that Slade recorded for the BBC survives intact or in perfect condition, sadly. A number of BBC recordings they made have been lost over the years. This new collection does Slade's long-standing reputation as a thunderously powerful and highly skilled set of musicians no harm ar all. It is also a fitting testament to the skill of the ever so highly under-rated writing collaboration between Jim Lea and Don Powell, which gave the group an 'underground' credibility with a lot of hard rock fans at the time, before the glitter and stack heels got in the way.
Slade Alive! (limited edition vinyl reissue)
Mickey Parker sums up the difference between the original Polydor vinyl edition and the Salvo reissue:
The artwork is well presented, a good quality card, a high sheen finish replaces the matt, same bright red colour but this time the black is BLACK. On the front, in the bottom right corner, a neat little Salvo logo replaces larger Polydor original. On the rear, the top right corner cat no is no longer required and once again the original bottom left Polydor logo is replaced, but this time its accompanied by the ugly regulation bar-code.
Inside, all the original artwork remains, again it's all sharp as a pin. On the left hand side along the bottom we have extra credits. A small unobtrusive and neatly designed USM credit and a larger, bolder, Newman & Co address
If you look at the spine you'll notice that SLADE ALIVE! is all that is stated. On the original, SLADE was to the left, SLADE ALIVE! in the middle and POLYDOR SUPER 2383 101 to the right. The main visible difference on the cover is the spine info. It's strange seeing the Salvo Info instead of the familiar Polydor Super 2383 101.
After the SALVO logo, the first thing you notice is the addition of 2009 Whild John Music above 1972 Whild John Music. The 1972 is no longer beneath the A for A side. The surrounding writing has some additional Re-Mastered info but otherwise, all looks very much the same.
Removing the disc, the weight difference is considerable. The label has been designed to look familiar whilst being clearly different.
I guess the most important thing is, when placed on the turntable, to these 50 year old damaged ears, it sounds fresh and vibrant just the way it should. The high end heard on Tim Turan's CD re-mastering is not apparent here. On my average budget spec turntable with a reasonable quality stylus, both copies of vinyl are the same except for a less muffled sound on the re-master. The tambourine is more apparent in the intro to Hear Me Calling and there is no sound sway when the track kicks in. It's a nice, healthy, balanced sound and a very nice package.
Look for it as from 28th September, makes me want to buy a new turntable?
** Additionally: Dave and Don are removed from the songwriting credits for 'In like a shot from my gun'.
When Slade Rocked The World 1971 - 1975.
I must confess that, after eagerly anticipating the arrival of this package, I really felt like a kid at Christmas when finally I got round to carefully opening it. A plastic courier pouch gave way to a sturdy and impregnable cardboard box. Followed by a lot of red Slade Box. Reassuringly heavy.
I do have to question why the album and single sleeves all appear to be scans of the originals and the print is not as clear.
If someone who wasn’t there at the time picks up this box and gets a mere one percent of the buzz that I got from this fabulous music all those years ago, that will be a lovely thing.
THE PLEDGEMUSIC LTD EDITION (1000 COPIES) INCLUDED A SET OF 8 REPRODUCTIONS
Old New Borrowed And Blue
Slade In Flame
4 Double A side picture sleeve singles
‘Coz I Luv You’ / ‘Look Wot You Dun’
CD Collection Tracklisting
Slade In Flame
From the Pledge Music website:
The Deluxe CD edition:
1. Hear me Calling
2. In Like A Shot From My Gun
3. Darling Be Home Soon
4. Know Who You Are
5. Keep On Rocking
6. Get Down And Get With It
7. Born To Be Wild
This box set was originally set for release in 2018, but the UK release was held back until May 31st 2019.
Let's look at the contents:
The video above gives an unboxing view of an advance copy of the set. It is a very nicely packaged product. For the product content, see the second image below. The singles come on red BMG labels and the sleeves are pretty good reproductions of various early European singles, with the exception of the final disc, which is a pairing unique to the promo single sent out to plug the Six Of The Best EP. The 7" single here comes in a cut down replica version of the original 12" single artwork. The label on the BMG single here doesn't mention the intended promo status of the original 7" single.
It's obviously aimed at collectors, who will have a great time listening to these brilliant singles for the first time and will absolutely adore this set. Fans will enjoy having new clean picture sleeve copies of these singles. As a major fan myself, this reviewer has to admit that even I don't have all of these picture sleeves.
Win win. Excellent value for money.
The USA got single-LP and single-CD releases of the Hitz album.
USA SINGLE LP VERSION BMGCAT464LP
2021 SPLATTER VINYL EDITIONS
The four biggest Slade albums, all reissued on eye catching splatter vinyl, as limited edition pressings.
2022 Record Store Day limited edition translucent blue vinyl Ballzy LP.
Following the reissue of Slade's biggest albums on splatter vinyl, the same four albums were re-released with improved mediapack packaging. Good for those new to the catalogue or wishing to upgrade. The Slade Alive! package looks very similar to the 45th anniversary CD. The Slade In Flame CD finally contains a bonus track that was not previously been included on the original vinyl release - a single edit of How Does It Feel.
The CD's are due for release in the USA on June 17th.
Slade are proud to present 'All The World Is A Stage'.
This one-of-a-kind box set contains three previously unreleased concerts and the mega albums Slade Alive! and Slade On Stage.
CD 1: Live At The New Victoria (new audio)
CD 2: Live At The Hucknall Miner’s Welfare Club (New Audio)
CD 3: Slade Alive!
CD 4: Slade On Stage
CD 5: Alive! at Reading (new audio)
Our observations on this box set:
The music is absolutely faultless.
2 I would have put the concert dates on the box cover.
Also available as an expanded Deluxe CD:
Merry Xmas Everybody 12" snowflake vinyl EP (November 2022)
Slade were unstoppable throughout the seventies becoming one of Europe's biggest bands, releasing 6 smash hit albums, including three UK No-1’s, a run of 17 consecutive Top 20 singles and their hits are synonymous with the glam era