Review by Paul Monkhouse for MPM
During the 1970’s you could hardly switch on the radio or television without hearing the rabble rousing, and often misspelt, terrace anthems that were Slade’s stock and trade.
Brilliantly constructed and joyously played, they brought some much-needed sunshine into an era that was riven with strikes and power cuts, despite the rose-tinted spectacles with which that time was viewed. Glam Rock lit up the nation with colour and noise and the Midlands quartet were at the forefront of the charge.
This view of them as a prime purveyors of bubble gum rock was only a small fraction of the story though. The truth was that Slade were one of the hardest working and viscerally exciting live acts on the circuit, their constant touring shaping them into a concert draw that few could dream to touch.
This box set illustrates exactly why and foreshadowing KISS, a band they influenced massively, whilst they’d had some success with singles, it was the release of their first live album that really pushed them into the stratosphere and things just built up from then.
Unleashed in 1972, ‘Slade Alive!’ captures the band at their hungry best. Already a tight unit, the album saw them in full force and was recorded over three nights at Command Theatre Studio in London for £600, the bulk of the tracks coming from a night where they’d just played on Top of the Pops so were on an even bigger high than usual.
With its blend of three original tracks and four covers it may be a little brief but the electricity created here was phenomenal and grabbed the public imagination like nothing else around.
Certainly, they’d been live albums before but very few showed the fire and spirit of a band in the same way.
From the opening notes of ‘Hear Me Calling’ through to the closing ‘Born to Be Wild’, this showed Noddy Holder, Dave Hill, Jim Lea and Don Powell at their rabid best, the incendiary nature of the performance and the frantic crowd reaction putting the listener right in the middle of the action.
The mix of self-penned songs and well-placed covers worked perfectly, a seamless run that could soundtrack any party up and down the UK and beyond. A career boosting triumph, it’s still as thrilling today as it ever was.
Fast forwarding a decade, ‘Slade on Stage’ sees the band revitalised after some time in what could have been described as their wilderness years and making the most of their rediscovery. With the springboard of their appearances at both Reading Festival and Monsters of Rock, they’d turned up the guitars and become a much heavier proposition.
New tracks like ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Preacher’, ‘Lock Up Your Daughters’ and ‘We’ll Bring the House Down’ were the gasoline added to the flame that turned their career into a roaring bonfire yet again, sculpted to bring their terrace anthems to the headbanging crowd.
Once again, Slade showed themselves to be undisputed masters of their craft and the foot stompers like ‘Take Me Back ‘Ome’ and ‘Gudbuy T’Jane’ sit nicely alongside heartfelt ballad ‘Everyday’.
With the earth-shaking vocals of Holder, the slicing fretwork of Hill and tasty groove and drive of Lea and Powell all present and correct, their power was very much there, the power undiminished.
Elsewhere, that life changing second bite of the cherry performance at Reading Festival in 1980 makes up the third part of the set, a tribute to hard work and a mutual love between band and audience.
Last minute replacements for an ill Ozzy Osbourne, it was a prime opportunity to reinstate their dominance, any nerves quickly dissipated by the warmth of their reception and a swagger from knowing that they had both the material and the chops to take the situation by the scruff of the neck and come up triumphant.
It could be argued that this is the finest disc of the set, being such a key moment in their history and it certainly blazes with a light that could be seen from space as they tear into ‘When I’m Dancin’, I
Ain’t Fightin’’, ‘Get Down And Get With It’ and ‘Cum On Feel The Noize’.
The two final live sets coming from Hucknall Miners Welfare Club in 1980 and The New Victoria from 1975 are incendiary displays that show, despite bookending what was considered a rough patch for the band in the UK, they still had the ability to wipe the floor with anyone around.
Be it the club or theatre show, Slade had the songs and the passion to win over even the staunchest cynic and both shows are packed with highs that make them vital additions to not just hardcore fans but anyone in love with rough-edged but beautifully created prime rock ‘n’ roll.
All The World Is A Stage’ may be missing ‘Slade Alive! Vol 2’ and the tantalising shots that act as its front cover and wrap around for the booklet make you long to hear the 1981 Monsters of Rock set they were snapped at, but it’s as good a live box set as you’ll hear all year.
Genuine legends who brought together a melting pot of influences into their own heady brew, Slade were never better when they were in front of an audience and laying waste to venues all around the world.
The original and the best, it’s time you got Slayed once again and this collection is up there with the finest. It’s what electricity was invented for.
All The World Is A Stage’ go to: https://slade.lnk.to/alltheworldPR