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2023/4 Albums Thing 306 - Slade “Slade Alive ! ”

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In 1971 Slade had their first 2 hit singles, “Get Down And Get With It”, which reached number 16 in August, and “Coz I Luv You”, which became Slade’s first number 1 in November. The latter of those two was the first of their string of 70’s hit singles written by the partnership of Noddy Holder and Jimmy Lea. Their live set still leaned heavily upon covers but Nod and Jim were starting to get it together on the writing front. They didn’t yet have enough of their own songs to put together a whole album but a new one was needed. Slade had made their bones slogging the length and breadth of the country playing live, they had a reputation as a formidable live band, not just players but entertainers. Manager Chas Chandler formulated a plan to record Slade where they were at their best, in front of an audience.

So on the 19th, 20th and 21st October 1971 Slade set up at the Command Theatre Studio in London’s Piccadilly. The BBC used to own the former theatre that had been converted into 3 studios all set up to hold a full orchestra and an audience. The band performed 3 shows in front of a specially invited audience of Slade fans so that the band’s increasingly talked about live show could be captured perfectly.

“Slade Alive!” was released in March 1972. Slade were so confident in their live show that “Coz I Luv You”, their number 1 hit single, isn’t even on this album! Their first hit, a cover of Little Richards “Get Down With It” (actually Bobby Marchan’s “Get Down With It” but Slade didn’t know that at the time) is on the album, cunningly retitled “Get Down And Get With It”, and if you are ever sat near me when I receive a text message be prepared for your ears to be assaulted by Noddy’s full throated roar of “WELL ALLLLLRRRIIIIIGGGGGHHHHHTTTT EVERYBODY” which has been my text notification for many years.

For a single buying pop kid, as I was up until then, the album is a big progression. I knew what albums were about, a collection of songs that mostly were not singles, which were split between the 2 sides of the record with nice uniform silent gaps between the tracks. I owned “Slayed?” so I knew what to expect and my Dad had albums by The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder and others that demonstrated the same behaviour. But “Slade Alive!” was different. There were no uniform silent gaps between the songs, the band were talking, in fact everyone was talking, and shouting, and belching, and stomping, and clapping, and woooo-ing, in fact there was even a hint of someone bawling out swear words from the audience. 

This album captures exactly what Slade were in the months just before they became the biggest band in Britain, a fearsome, finely honed live band fronted by one of the greatest voices in rock and roll who also happened to be something of an old time music hall character constantly involving the audience in the show. You can hear the excitement in the room from the very start when “Hear Me Calling” just slides into being, the audience pick it up immediately, clapping and stomping and hollering along and you can feel the band feed off the vibes in that room.

It’s another record I own multiple copies of (1972 original, 2017 45th Anniversary Edition, 2022 Red/Black splatter vinyl). Despite various statements to the opposite, they played and recorded 3 nights so surely there must be more material as there are only 7 songs on the album. Whatever, I bloody love it, “Slade Alive!” is the greatest live album ever made, no argument will be entered into…

Hear Me Calling - https://youtu.be/K9o_1uMlBSc?si=Y0Hhe1_JuyOcyXYj

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