Slade was one of those bands huge in the U.K. – somewhat like Sweet, Suzi Quatro, and even David Bowie to a certain extent – that we kept hearing were going to break huge in the U.S. at any moment in the heart of the glam era of the early-to-mid ’70s. It turned out Slade were ahead of their time by about ten years, as was evidenced when Quiet Riot’s metallurgic cover of their “Cum On Feel the Noize” stuck gold in ’83.
By then America was ready for hard, melodic anthems with sing along choruses and monstrous handclaps from glammy party boys in outrageous outfits and names like Motley Crue, Poison, and Ratt. Slade, who were still plugging away, finally achieved some chart success in the U.S. in that environment, scoring with pop-metal Scottish reel “Run Runaway” and piano ballad (!) “My Oh My” in ’84. But the Slade of the ’80s came complete with the airless, inorganic sheen and dripping wet production style of the era, a very different animal from the raw, ragged, rollicking beast of a decade before.
Slade – four working-class “yobboes” from Wolverhampton, England – originally formed in 1966 as the N’ Betweens, but wailing Steve Marriott-sound alike singer/rhythm guitarist Noddy Holder, stack-heeled lead guitarist Dave Hill (whose hard-rocking alien persona prefigured Ziggy Stardust by a few years), bassist Jim Lea (who co-wrote the hits with Holder), and drummer Don Powell had their first hit in ’71 after hooking up with manager/producer Chas Chandler (bassist for the Animals and Jimi Hendrix’s first producer), a straight ahead rock ‘n’ roll cover of Little Richard’s “Get Down and Get with It.”
The band kicked off the FO-NET-IK spelling craze with “Coz I Luv You,” their first U.K. Number One, an odd sort of faux-tango pop number with Lea providing a gypsy-esque violin break – versatile blokes! Then came the band’s string of classic ravers: “Take Me Bak ‘Ome,” “Mama Weer All Crazee Now” (also covered by Quiet Riot), “Cum On Feel the Noize,” and my personal fave, the great organic grooving rocker “Gudbuy T’ Jane,” which (apart from the singer) would have sounded right at home on Exile On Main Street. I love that song – it makes me scrunch up my face and play air guitar to this very day.
Get Yer Boots On: The Best of Slade, just released on Shout Factory, is the first time all of the great Slade hits have been gathered on one collection in the U.S. – see what the noise was all about.