Thursday, 12 February 2015

Underrated Live Albums #2: Slade - "Slade Alive"

Slade are probably best described as a "band of (and for) the people". Hated by critics, loved by the average Joe record buyer, they wore their working class, northern British roots loudly and proudly on their gawdy glittery sleeves.

Lumped in with the Glitter/Glam Rock movement with Bowie, Marc Bolan and T.Rex and (heaven forbid) Gary Glitter, Slade looked and sounded like none of them (big hats and awful sparkly outfits notwithstanding). Their sound was loud guitars and boot-stomping heavy beats with basic songs (deliberately mis-spelt) delivered in a voice that would strip the paint from an old Holden.

The description above is probably reads like a disaster - a mess of noise and charmless male bravado. And it would be, if it wasn't just so bloody endearing. And fun.

The remarkable thing about this album is that there is a remarkable lack of pretense. The audience love the experience and make the vibe of the show (and this recording) almost tangible.

Slade Alive! was a record that was recorded live to tape without any studio altering. It was done live a purpose built studio in front of 300 fan club members and was a fortune changer much like "Alive!" was for Kiss. Slade's previous few albums flopped and the live album gave them a big hit that they were desperately looking for. The band were already a big live draw, so it was a canny move to capture that on record.

Again, artistry and technique are not matters of contention here. Songwriting prowess is not a feature here. Most of the seven songs are covers, along with two originals never recorded in studio form, but they are done with the same big voiced, stomping feel that drove audiences wild back then. Noddy Holder's vocals are ear splitting but yet it sounds compelling. His charm in conversing with the audience between songs just highlights how much fun the whole experience is.

Slade's fortunes soured in the late 70s as the gimmick wore off. They picked up again in the 80s and tailed off again post 1985 until they split up in the 1990s. This album has been cited as an influence by countless bands, but in recent years this album seems to have gone out of favour with writers and collators of "best of" lists.

The album is not available on Spotify, but it is available as a playlist in YouTube. Take a listen to it again below.

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