'When Slade Rocked The World (4 LPs, 4 7" singles, flexidisc, 2 CDs, book)
Release Date: 13th November 2015
When it comes to proper British glam, of the early 70s catchy, chart topping, pure entertainment when even the cheese had class, Slade were pretty much it.
From hits including 'Coz I Love You', 'Cum On Feel The Noize' and the ever present 'Merry Christmas Everybody' (all still radio faves to this day), the band had a long, varied and successful career. Their early 70s peak is highlighted here, when Slade really did rock the world.
Four coloured vinyl remastered LPs ('Slade Alive', 'Slayed', 'Old New Borrowed And Blue', 'Slade In Flame'), in original replica sleeves, 4 7"s and a 2CD from 1972 to 1974, it's not only a lovely package (OK, it's totally Over The Top but then, Slade were) but the music shows that Slade deserved their place in history.
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Originating in the Wolverhampton/Walsall area of the West Midlands, the band's roots can be traced back to 1964 with drummer Don Powell and Devon born guitarist Dave Hill playing in The Vendors.
Later as the 'N Betweens, they met vocalist Noddy Holder (then in the Mavericks), who they later recruited, along with bassist Jim Lea.
Their debut album 'Beginnings' (as Ambrose Slade) was issued in 1969 on Fontana and didn't make many waves. With Chas Chandler from The Animals in place as manager, the band recorded a mixture of self penned tracks and covers (including tracks by Steppenwolf, Amboy Dukes and Beatles).
With an eye on bigger and better things (like Chandler's other care, Hendrix), the band moved to Polydor and took on a skinhead image for their second album (the debut as Slade), 1970's 'Play It Loud'.
The music was moving in the direction of the Slade we know and love - foot stomping and fuzzy, glitter and platforms, with guitarist Dave Hill's standout image (the haircut too) and Holder's loud and powerful vocals fronting the band's identity.
This set kicks off with the 1972 live album 'Slade Alive', recorded in London in October 1971, and opener 'Hear Me Calling' (an Alvin Lee number) mixes the trademark fuzz and stomping, the crowd clapping along from the outset.
'In Like A Shot From My Gun' is a self penned number that mixes the hard edged end of prog with proto punk. There's many an intro from Holder and plenty of polite noises from the crowd.
There's slower moments and harder numbers, 'Know Who You Are' typical of the heavier numbers. 'Keep On Rocking' is surprisingly self penned as it's much more in the Little Richard vein, the guitars ripping, Holder's vocals roaring.
The album closes with an 8 minute version of set regular 'Born To Be Wild', cracking stuff.
Released later in 1972, 'Slayed' opens with 'How D'You Ride' and this is the birth of Slade Proper. The glam rock trademarks are all here; even more so with 'The Whole World's Goin Crazee'. 'Look At Last Night' is a chunkier mid tempo song.
The album went Gold in many countries around the world, and rightly so as it's as consistent as is it solid. 'Gudbye T'Jane' is one of their best known singles.
The band toured hard in 73 and were waylaid with a car crash injury to Don Powell, but the band did manage success with the non album hit 'Merry Christmas Everybody', before the February 1974 release of 'Old New Borrowed and Blue'.
Opener 'Just Want A Little Bi't is a rough rocker, and 'When The Lights Are Out' is a more melodic track with a layered chorus; this album saw Slade vary the sound, moving from their well known formula on several numbers. The album sold incredibly well and is still considered a Slade classic.
The fourth album in this set, 'Slade In Flame', is effectively a soundtrack to the band's movie of the same name. The sound is more retro (the film was set in 1966). 'Them Kinda Monkeys Can't Swing' has some trademark uptempo fuzz and screams but, like much of the album, doesn't have the formulaic catchiness. The aforementioned 'Kinda Monkeys' has some screaming moments that does lift it, and 'So Far So Good' is another enjoyable track.
The accompanying singles kick off with the classic 'Coz I Luv You', one of THE most defining Slade tracks, it's classic, catchy, glam and epic. The use of the violin is inspired.
Originally released in 1972, it was not on any album at the time but appears on almost every compilation since. It's B-side 'Look Wot You Dun', taken from 'Sladest', made the top 10.
'Take Me Back 'Ome' (also 1972) was another hit, Holder's vocals punching a hole in a brick wall. On the flip, 'Cum On Feel The Noize' is, well, go listen. Wonderful.
On The third 7" there's 'Skweeze Me Pleaze Me' and 'Merry Xmas Everybody'; again, as classic as Glam (never mind just Slade) gets.
'The Bangin' Man' and 'Thanks For The Memory' make up the 4th single, the latter from 1975. Finally there's an interview exclusive to a flexi disc. Very 70s indeed.
Post 1975 the band's popularity waned, before a festival performance in 1980 made the band stars again. All four band members have gone on to major things, but it's Noddy Holder who remains a TV Character at large.
The music is fantastic, down the Glam formula (plus or minus a bit) that influenced many a glam band in the UK and US and plenty more rock bands besides.
The package is totally OTT; if you're a fan who loves vinyl - fantastic sound here - and has too much money, this is for you.
As well as the 4 LPs and 5 singles (the CDs cover the four LPs), there's the extensive 'Story Of Slade', and also 'When Slade Rocked The World', a Top Of The Pops annual-style book covering photos, interviews, press cuttings, reviews et al. Very retro, very period.
My only issue is the choice of the four 7" singles; it's more like highlights, as there are 8 A-sides, it's not replicas of the original releases. Given the number of non LP singles (both A and B sides) these should be replicated in full. That's another project perhaps.
Lovely, but far too OTT for the casual fan.