Slade – Nobody’s Fools (CD/Vinyl Reissue)


By 1975 Slade had pretty much achieved all they could domestically. With a run of chart-topping singles that rivalled The Beatles, they were the best-selling band of the ‘70s and the brand of boot boy glam rock they pioneered defined the decade. Looking for a new challenge the band set their sights on America and while that move was about as successful as New Coke, it did produce one of the band’s most engagingly diverse albums in Nobody’s Fools. Now lovingly reissued on splattered vinyl (and CD), there’s never been a better opportunity to unearth this forgotten gem.

Perhaps Slade’s biggest mistake on their quest to conquer the States was reformulating their sound for the American market. With a little more time their cheeky Black Country charm would have won over the Yanks, but while it is true you can take the band out of Wolverhampton, you can’t take Wolverhampton out the band and as much as they tried to Americanise their sound with soul, funk and even country, Slade would forever remain quintessentially British. Despite the softening of their sound, the group’s humour remained (thankfully) intact and it was this sense of joviality that was always going to be hard to transport across the Atlantic. Tracks such as ‘Do The Dirty’ and ‘Did Ya Mama Ever Tell Ya’ are bursting at the seams with double entendres (the latter would make Judge Dread, the King Of Rudeness, proud) and are very culture specific, they are the musical equivalent of saucy seaside postcards and while they’re fine to send your older brother, they are not recommended for a puritanical aunty.

Attesting to the band’s sense of experimentation, opening track ‘Nobody’s Fool’ was originally envisioned as a 20-minute suite, but some judicial pruning found it trimmed to more standard length. The result is a soulful Slade replete with female backing vocalists, acoustic guitar and a lazy beat, and while the band haven’t thrown out the baby with the bath water, those expecting the brute force of a ‘Take Me Bak ‘Ome’ will find something missing, but the more open minded who’re partial to the sound contained on debut album Beginnings will find a spiritual home here. However, there’s flashes of the old Slade such as on the aforementioned, riff-heavy ‘Do The Dirty’, an electrically-shocked track that’s the perfect vehicle for Noddy Holder’s wonderfully throaty rasp. His voice always worked best on the raucous songs, so it’s strange that Nobody’s Fools doesn’t play to the band’s strengths. This record works best when the band throw off the shackles, such as on ‘Scratch My Back’, and you can’t help thinking that if a few more rockers in this vein were included then Nobody’s Fools would have been a bigger hit on both sides of the pond.

The mixed reviews that Nobody’s Fools received are fairly indicative of the sound contained within. It’s an album that suffered from a personality crisis and was trying on different clothes as it foundered for a new identity. However, Nobody’s Fools has stood the test of time rather well and in our era where genre divisions have come crashing down it sounds far less eclectic than it did originally and this reissue will take pride of place in the collection of any self-respecting Slade fan.

Track List:

Side One:

  1. Nobody’s Fool
  2. Do The Dirty
  3. Let’s Call It Quits
  4. Pack Up Your Troubles
  5. In For A Penny

Side Two:

  1. Get On Up
  2. L.A. Jinx
  3. Did Ya Mama Ever Tell Ya
  4. Scratch My Back
  5. I’m A Talker
  6. All The World Is A Stage