Thursday, September 06, 2007

Slade – In For a Penny: Raves and Faves

I became a Slade fan the first time I saw them on “In Concert” in the 70’s with Noddy Holder’s loud voice and mirrored top hat, Dave Hill’s “super-yob” silver jumpsuit, shaking his ass with glitter literally poured all over him and his cool SG, Jim Lea’s SG bass and Don Powell’s bashing drum beats, their image was utterly wacky but the songs were terrific! Hearing “Cum On Feel The Noize” made me go to the record store the very next day and order their latest (our small town store didn’t stock their stuff). Funnily enough, it turned out that the latest was Slayed, which didn’t have that song, but I loved the album anyway!

Welp, this collection was put together by super-cool rockaphile and writer (see La Vie En Robe) Dan Epstein (who also writes the liner notes), though the record company did limit some of his selections. (Actually, Dan corrects me and says that it was the band management, not the record company.) Fantastic stuff on here, including some that I had never heard before.

Starting out with a cover of Max Frost and the Troopers’ “Shape of Things to Come” while they were still Ambrose Slade, this gives us a glimpse of things to come for Slade! I really love this version and keep thinking how great it would have been if they had done a 70’s remake of Wild In the Streets with Noddy Holder taking over the country!

“C’mon C’mon” and “Sweet Box” actually seem comparably complex for Slade – more concentration on harmonies and arrangements than their later hits, but still quite fun and catchy (and, as Dan says, “Sweet Box” barely evens qualifies as a double entendre!).

One of my faves from the live Slade record is included – “In Like a Shot From My Gun”. This live album is one of the most exciting ones ever recorded and the crowd is with them from the first minute. You can hear everyone chanting along with the band on this cut.

“How D’You Ride” is the opening cut for Slayed and it is still a super rocker that pretty much epitomizes their sound – and is such a cool progression that I stole from it myself!

One of their crowning achievements is the over-the-top version of Janis Joplin’s “Move Over” that they turn into a high-energy raver! Utterly manic! Then Noddy shrieks into “Don’t Blame Me” and you can’t help but wonder if he blew out mics in the studio! Anyone who saw them live in their heyday says that the only things you heard in concert were Dave Hill’s high-end guitar and Noddy’s voice! “Do We Still Do It” is probably the last song on this comp from their most popular period and it’s another excellent one – a rebellious sing-a-long that every teen can relate to.

To show that they could write pop songs too, there’s “When the Lights Are Out”, which is down-right Beatle-esque! And then “Thanks for the Memory” is Slade’s version of “funky” with a rhythmic clavinet (?) and a chorus stolen from a Christmas song that is eluding me right now.

The closer of this set is “Burning in the Heat of Love”, which is almost R’n’B-ish rock and, almost surprisingly, really works – it’s a hot song!

This is not meant to be the definitive Slade collection – in fact, Dan recommends Get Your Boots On – the Best of Slade – but this has some odds’n’sods and some super classics! I’d say it’s a must for fans!
(And funnily enough, I am just now reading the Led Zeppelin book, Hammer of the Gods, and it claims that at one point Slade considered Robert Plant for a lead singer, but a couple of the guys thought that he was too prissy! I think it's a good thing all around that that never happened!)


Blogger Dan E said...

Hey man, thanks a million for the props! I'm glad you're diggin' the disk. Obviously, it was difficult to put together a single-disc set that would include everyone's favorite odds n' sods, but it's generally been well received.

But just to set the record straight, it wasn't the groovy folks at Shout Factory who constrained me from putting all my faves on here, but rather the band's management - who, like many of the band managers I've dealt with over the years, seem to have a rather myopic view about what makes their band great.

They were really pushing for the inclusion of some of Slade's crappy 80s UK hits - and they thought I was absolutely bonkers for wanting to include the the first four tracks - so I had to
make a few concessions to keep the peace (and keep the collection free of 80s dreck)!

5:18 PM  

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