Review by Paul Monkhouse for MPM
The perfect Christmas present, these three new releases from the ongoing Slade reissues are a thing of splatter vinyl beauty that every fan of not just the rebel rousing Brum minstrels, but of great rock music, should own.
All with their own stories to tell, they cover a fairly comprehensive view of the mighty Glam Rockers during their early to mid-seventies peak and beyond and when teamed with the other vinyl reissues thus far and the recent earth-shaking live box set ‘All the World’s a Stage’ you get a vital slice of British music history.
As shown on the aforementioned in concert collection, there are very few bands who could come close to touching Slade on stage but, as good as they were live, it would have fallen down had not the songs been there.
With a writing team that some argued matched The Beatles in terms of popularity, Messrs Holder, Lea, Hill and Powell certainly saw themselves in the charts seemingly constantly and this was when you had to sell hundreds of thousands of physical product to get anywhere close to Top of the Pops.
Put out while the band were recording ‘Old New Borrowed and Blue’, compilation album *‘Sladest’* was essentially a greatest hits package that was intended to continue to stoke the fires of their career and act as a calling card for other international territories.
In a somewhat headstrong move, the album also included tracks that weren’t huge hits, three covers and this new release has everything nicely in chronological order. No matter the flow, and some would say doing it this way shows the growth of the band, its monster set of songs that must have been the soundtrack for many a party of the era.
The joyful and upbeat ‘Wild Winds are Blowing’ with it’s nods to the pop music of the late 60’s imbues a bit of R&B, Soul and a touch of rock kicks off the album, short haired, less lairy Slade demonstrating a fire that came from their already hard-won reputation as a live act.
Cover ‘Shape of Things to Come’ (not to be confused with the similarly titled Yardbirds song) follows and it shows the band being given their heads a little more, a more rasping tone from Noddy Holder coming through to great effect.
Similarly, ‘Know Who You Are’ has a forceful mix of delicate harmonies and driving rock vocals and instrumentation, Jim Lea’s throbbing bass and Dave Hill’s delicate guitar flourishes drawing you in. Other early delights include the atmospheric and nostalgic ‘Pouk Hill’ and the twisting groove of ‘One Way Hotel’, both sublime slices of early Slade that bring a different light through these oh so familiar and loved windows. Barring scintillating ‘Slayed’ album track ‘Look at Last Night’, the rest of ‘Sladest’ ticks all the big chart hit boxes that you could wish for.
From the feral ‘Get Down and Get With It’ onwards it’s a rush of adrenaline, fueled by Watney’s Red Barrel and Capstan Full Strength, the clever hooks and massive, singalong choruses utterly irresistible. ‘Mama
Weer All Crazee Now’ and ‘Cum on Feel the Noize’ have passed into legend as hard rock nuggets of pure gold and with other diamond encrusted monsters like ‘Coz I Luv You’, ‘Take Me Bak ‘Ome’ and ‘Gudbuy T’ Jane’ all here and loudly present, its an absolute banger.
Whilst all these are part of our collective DNA, there’s no sense of fatigue listening to them again here, in fact, real joy can be found in the act of properly taking it all in, their vibrancy and craft still breath
taking but its in the details that it all gets that rush of hearing something old but new. Marvel at Noddy’s voice, appreciate Dave’s fine fretwork, absorb Jimmy’s bass lines and thrill to Don’s powerful drumming.
A treat well worth returning to.
*‘Crackers’* similarly grabs some well-known tracks, adds some seasonal classics and split opinions at the time of release. Hearing it again, you can understand why some of the ‘serious’ rock press were a little sniffy about it but taken as a whole its huge fun.
The album does exactly what it set out to do, provide the world with a truly rocking Christmas album that had a lot of Slade originals and mixed them with raucous versions of tracks like ‘Let’s Dance’, ‘Hi Ho silver Lining’ and ‘Okey Cokey’. Played with gusto, you can’t help but be drawn in and whilst it doesn’t hit the heights of ‘Sladest’, it certainly has its moments and even their souped-up version of ‘Do they Know It’s Christmas (Feed the World)’ motors along really
Along with the older tracks, newer Slade classics like ‘All Join Hands’, ‘We’ll Bring the House Down’ and ‘Run Runaway’ are bound to get you jumping around your lounge, chanting and waving your arms, lost in the moment.
Of course, THAT track is present, kicking off the album and is the perfect starter that no Christmas is complete without and if the memories that invokes don’t bring a smile it may be an idea to give this one a miss, heading straight into the party that follows.
It may not be their finest hour, of which ‘In Flame’ or ‘Slayed’ could possibly be said to win that title, but it’s certainly exponentially better than your elderly relatives’ Daniel O’Donnell or Aled Jones Christmas album or getting caught, once again, by ‘Whamageddon’. Raucous and fun, ‘Crackers’ does exactly what is says on the tin.
The final release in this new vinyl trio is a glorious, spattered version of *‘Merry Xmas Everybody’*, the track backed with another three from ‘Crackers’, poured into a perfect 12” single. An exercise in both nostalgia and song smithery, it has become a ubiquitous sound, coming out of every supermarket speaker system from December the first onwards.
The vinyl itself is a thing of beauty, its snowflake marble wonderous to behold and if it’s purchased to be just played on the day itself or whenever you feel like, once again be drawn into its world, sing along with gusto and raise a glass to friends and family, old and new, all who would have heard its celebratory refrain.
The biggest and the best, Slade still have the power to make you sing, move your feet and shake your body like no other band since The Beatles and will always remain legends. These four boys from the Midlands truly rocked the world, bringing light and fun to the darkest days of the 1970’s and 80’s
and for that, we shall be ever grateful. C’mon, buy these and truly feel the noize.
To pre-order Merry Xmas Everybody go to: https://slade.lnk.to/MerryXmas12snowflakePR
Watch the official Merry Xmas Everybody animated video: https://slade.lnk.to/MXEVideoPR
To order Crackers – The Christmas Party Album (Deluxe Crackers) online go to: https://slade.lnk.to/crackersdeluxePR
Also, available to pre -order / pre-save Sladest , released on4th November, go to: https://slade.lnk.to/sladestPR