Slade – Sladest (Reissue)


Music critics will often pour scorn on “greatest hits” albums as being impure or somehow lacking, but for a house party or a long road trip I’d pick Saxon’s The Best Of over Crusader anytime. The same applies to the first proper compilation from Wolverhampton’s finest, Slade. Originally released in 1973, Sladest was a Pandora’s Box chock full of hits (and a few misses) that captured the band at the peak of their powers and sitting pretty as Britain’s biggest band.

With a string of chart busting singles and albums under their collective belts alongside sold-out shows the length and breadth of Britain, it seemed Slade could do no wrong, and they held the world under the heel of their platform boots. But then disaster struck in a near-fatal car-crash which put drummer Don Powell out of action for an extended period. In the fast paced world of pop culture new product was required, and Sladest was provided. While the band had had several hits, they hadn’t that many, meaning that this was to be a greatest hits “of sorts” and as it transpired, it worked out rather well. In a wonderfully haphazard manner the band’s boot boy glam rockers were mixed in with older cuts and the result was an album that stomped its way to the top of the charts.

Opening with Noddy Holder’s unmistakable, gravely war cry: “Baby! Baby! Baby!” Sladest got off to the best possible start with ‘Cum On Feel The Noize’ (long the bugbear of many an English teacher) and it rarely looked back. It’s a song that perfectly encapsulated Slade’s appeal; those huge football terrace chants were married to more melody than you could shake a stick at, and the result was the very epitome of the three-minute pop song. By 1973 the songwriting team of Holder and bassist Jim Lea had become well ensconced, and it was a union that could have rivalled Lennon and McCartney, and you can definitely detect a Beatles influence on older tracks such as ‘Pouk Hill’ and ‘One Way Hotel’ (a true tale of a hard working band lodging in less than salubrious establishments) but by the time ‘73 rolled round the band had eschewed all influences and stompers such as ‘Skweeze Me, Pleeze Me’ couldn’t be anybody but Slade.

This collection doesn’t run in any kind of chronological order and, like a monkey throwing darts at a map, it veers wildly through the band’s discography. However, what stitches and holds this compendium together is producer Chas Chandler (also doubling as the band’s manager) who gave the band a uniform sound whether they appeared in an early incarnation as skinhead bovver boys or as later glam rock chart toppers. Slade’s genius was in their ability to appeal equally to teeny boppers, and older “serious” music fans, and the reason why is best exemplified by the closing couplet of ‘Look At Last Nite’ and ‘Mama Weer All Crazee Now’. Two sides of the same coin, the rocker and the raver, they show why in 1973 Slade were untouchable.

This reissue is bolstered by six bonus cuts, the cream of which is a rare studio version of Ten Year’s After’s ‘Hear Me Calling’. A blistering opener to a Slade gig (check out Slade Alive) it worked equally well in the studio, and this recently unearthed rendition will be manna from heaven for Slade fanatics. Like their parent album, these contemporary bonus cuts throw up a few surprises (such as ‘Kill ‘Em At The Hot Club Tonite’) but if you want the perfect taste of Slade-mania, this album is the Sladest.

Track List:

  1. Cum On Feel The Noize
  2. Look Wot You Dun
  3. Gudbuy T’ Jane
  4. One Way Hotel
  5. Skweeze Me, Pleeze Me
  6. Pouk Hill
  7. The Shape Of Things To Come
  8. Take Me Bak ‘Ome
  9. Coz I Luv You’
  10. Wild Winds Are Blowin’
  11. Know What You Are
  12. Get Down And Get With It
  13. Look At Last Nite
  14. Mama Weer All Crazee Now

Bonus Tracks:

  1. Hear Me Calling (Studio Version)
  2. My Friend Stan
  3. My Town
  4. Kill ‘Em At The Hot Club Tonite
  5. Skweeze Me, Pleeze Me (USA 7” Edit)
  6. Merry Xmas Everybody