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2023/4 Albums Thing 309 - Slade “Old, New, Borrowed And Blue”

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The album that Slade had begun to record when drummer Don Powell was involved in a serious car accident was finally released in February 1974. As the follow up to “Slayed?” it was maybe not what fans were expecting. It contains 12 songs, 11 written by Lea/Holder but if what you were expecting was another record of the “street rock” of “Slayed?” well, “Old, New, Borrowed And Blue” is somewhat more varied than that.

It starts in fine style with a Glam-tastic roar through 50’s R&B groover “Just A Little Bit”, orignally written and recorded by Rosco Gordon in 1959 and issued at the same time by Tiny Topsy (a version that caught on on the rare soul scene in the 21st century). After that it’s Lea & Holder all the way. “When The Lights Are Out” is a rare Slade song NOT sung by Noddy Holder but by Jimmy Lea. It’s a bouncy, poppy thing, very much the twin of “Miles Out To Sea” later on side 1. If you were to ask me for an example of Noddy Holder in good form I would point you toward “My Town”. The song is a harmonious Beatle-esque romp but the vocal, hells teeth it’s a miracle Nod’s larynx survived. Should you ever wonder why it was that AC/DC wanted Noddy to replace Bon Scott all your answers are here in “My Town”.

Side 1 concludes with “We're Really Gonna Raise The Roof” which sounds exactly like you would imagine a Slade song titled “We're Really Gonna Raise The Roof” would sound. But wait, the sharp eyed Slade fans among you are shouting…you’ve missed one out, and indeed I have. If you’ve ever heard a Slade live recording or been lucky enough to see them live you may have noted Noddy Holder’s onstage persona. It’s part rock ’n’ roller, part cheeky chappy music hall comic, part fairground barker, it’s quite old fashioned with the feel of another time. Reportedly his first live performances were as a young boy, stood on a table at his Dad’s working mens club singing old songs for the drinkers. And boy does he channel all those influences on Side 1’s remaining song “Find Yourself A Rainbow”. It’s a proper wartime style, back street pub singalong led by honky-tonk barrelhouse piano, played by Tommy Burton, a black country pianist who Slade likely met at their regular watering hole The Trumpet in Bilston (The Trumpet is not actually the pubs name, trivia fans, but a nickname. The pubs name is really the Royal Exchange and to find out why it picked up that nickname, you have to visit the pub). Street rock this ain’t!

The weird and wonderful sounds continue on t’other side. The fantastic “Do We Still Do It”, “Don't Blame Me” (which had originally appeared as the B-Side to "Merry Xmas Everybody" the previous year) and “Good Time Gals” are what you might rightly expect from Slade. But “How Can It Be” comes on as a bizarre Country/Calypso hybrid. Which leaves us with the two singles “My Friend Stan” and “Everyday”. The piano is back for “Everyday” although this time played by Jim Lea. It’s a big soppy love ballad which does have a sister song which I much prefer (“She Did It To Me” the B-side of follow up single “The Bangin' Man” and containing the lyric “Cos I knew that soon we'd fall, ‘Everyday' has said it all”). “My Friend Stan” is another piano led song that is something of a cross twixt “Everyday” and “Find Yourself A Rainbow”, a good pop song that has the music hall feel about it.

“Old, New, Borrowed And Blue” reached #1 in the UK and was certified Gold by the BPI before it was released, on pre-orders alone (in 1974 that meant sales of £150,000 when an LP cost around £2.50, so around 60,000 pre-orders !). Maybe the stylistic adventures were already planned, maybe they came about because of the extra songwriting time Jim and Nod had due to Don’s recovery. Who knows but it was a brave, and successful move.

Find Yourself A Rainbow - https://youtu.be/_uVXg__7uQE?si=D6mVWvKiQmyd3d86

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