Friday, 21 December 2012
Top 102 Albums. No. 79 Slayed
Slayed - Slade
I've been thinking a lot about the connection between memory and music as I pick the albums that appear in this list. It's impossible to separate memory from 'critical evaluation'. I have also got a fairly clear idea of what I'm going to include. This, however, is a complete outlier. I hadn't really been thinking about including a Slade album but then I heard Mama Were all Crazee Now and my hypothalamus was immediately injected with a rush of adrenaline and my skin tingled with remembered excitement. And not just remembered excitement. Slade may come perilously close to descending into pub rock boogie but they also ascend the adrenaline crackling heights. The opening bars of Mama could almost be The Stooges for chrissake!
But whatever they do they own some of my life. In 1972 there was only one band to chant along to in the playground. Songs about going crazee, with a blatant disregard for spelling. How I wished I was so free. The swagger is irresistible.
The hatforms, suits, glitter and extraordinary success often gets in the way of recognising how great a band Slade were. But you know The Ramones were listening, and so were the Pistols and so, I guess, was Jimmy Pursey. I have always had a sneaking regard for the terrace chant with crashing guitars and its Slade and The Sweet who gave me that taste and Slade are far the greater.
I never saw Slade live but when I listen to Slade Alive I wish I had. I did see The Sweet in the '90's, long after their heyday and including an unknown number of original members probably > zero but not including singer Brian Connolly. They were godawful until the last few songs when they played Fox on the Run, Blockbuster and the immortal (in my mind) Ballroom Blitz. They then encored with Ballroom Blitz (again) and the concert ended with seats been torn up and some kind of mayhem. I went back to the dressing room afterwards to find the band released from the leather suits a few sizes too small for them and in a state of some shock, having not experienced a reaction like that in decades. Sweat dripping from and into places I don't want to describe, or even think about, they told us to take all the beer we wanted as they bemoaned the fact that their bottle of Jack Daniels was only 750 mls, "and that's not a litre, is it?" TAP! They also asked us where the girls were. Frightening thought.
The point of this digression, if there has to be one, is that most of the album tracks on Slayed would rouse the dead. They were a great singles band but they were in flames at this time and could have released every track as a single if the practices of the eighties had been in place. Noddy was a great vocalist with enough rasp to file through the bars of any jail. And you don't hav t spel - freeeedumb!
The Youtube video below is part of a playlist of the whole album complete with crackles, hisses and skips from the vinyl. The only way to listen.
C'mon, Mama Weer All Crazee Now. And BBC4 have a Slade night tonight! See those TOTP performances in full technicolour. I don't think it's ever been so much fun since.