Slade: Slade Alive! - Album Of The Week Club Review

Slade may not have been cool, but they were a better live act than most, and Alive! captures the band at their fiery best

Slade Alive!
Slade: Slade Alive!

Hear Me Calling
In Like a Shot From My Gun
Darling Be Home Soon
Know Who You Are
Keep on Rocking
Get Down With It
Born To Be Wild

Nearly four decades on from its release, Slade Alive! remains a classic. The insurgent rocking power of Jim Lea, Don Powell and Dave Hill, and the matchless roar of Noddy Holder, deliver original mission statements (Know Who You Are, Like A Shot From My Gun) and scene-stealing recreations of vintage and contemporary classics.

From the cover of Alvin Lee’s Hear Me Calling to the finale of Bobby Marchan/Little Richard classic Get Down And Get With It and Steppenwolf’s Born To Be Wild, it’s the perfect live document, blending vehemence with glorious celebration.

Exploding into an introspective era of drab, post-Woodstock Beatles mourning, Slade Alive! (with its roar-along r’n’b and on-mike Black Country belching) kick-started the 1970s. A terrace chanting, scarves-on-wrists, lad’s rock exemplar that set the stage for The Faces, Mott The Hoople and, ultimately, Oasis, it served to depoliticise a rock scene that had forgotten how to have fun.

Slade may not have been cool, but they were an exciting live band who’d built their reputation on the power of their live shows. Manager Chas Chandler decided that the best way to end a career-long album chart drought was by capturing their intrinsic appeal on a warts ’n’ all live LP. And it worked. Recorded at a cost of £600, Slade Alive! not only broke the band in the UK, it went on to be the biggest selling album in Australia since Sgt. Pepper. Hence AC/DC… 

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Background

It’s October 1971 and, up from the Black Country and in for the kill, Slade convene for a three-night run at the Command Studios in Piccadilly, London.

Having nurtured a growing reputation as one of the UK’s most ferocious live acts, stints in the Bahamas and Germany helping bring their unique energy to the boil, the band are on the brink of record-breaking success.

With single Coz I Luv U edging toward the top of the charts, the 300 fans gathered each night are there to help Noddy Holder – who actively encourages their participation from the off – and his deadly crew seal the fervour that will fire their deathless run of chart-toppers.

Other albums released in March 1972

  • Glitter - Gary Glitter
  • Shades of a Blue Orphanage - Thin Lizzy
  • Thick as a Brick - Jethro Tull
  • Striking It Rich - Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks
  • Machine Head - Deep Purple
  • Seven Separate Fools - Three Dog Night
  • Bare Trees - Fleetwood Mac
  • D&B Together - Delaney and Bonnie
  • Feedback - Spirit
  • Recall the Beginning... A Journey from Eden - Steve Miller Band
  • Roadwork - Edgar Winter's White Trash
  • Smokin' - Humble Pie
  • Styx - Styx

What they said...

"Before the hits really starting coming, Slade showed why they were one of England's best live acts with this fevered concert recording from 1972. Set alight by plenty of stomping beats, lumbering bass, fat guitars, and Noddy Holder's hoarse vocal scream, Slade Alive! finds the lads from Wolverhampton goading on their rabid fans at every juncture" (AllMusic)

"More or less the nonstop raver you'd expect, only friendlier, offering a much clearer sense of a performer relating to an audience than most concert LPs. Since I've never laid eyes on loud-man Noddy Holder, maybe it's just that I'm untrammeled by preconceptions, or maybe Holder's such a simpleton he's a cinch to suss, or maybe Holder's a genius. But most likely it's a little of all three. Surprise: the (sweet) pop of "Darling Be Home Soon" works better than the (automatic) overdrive of "Born to Be Wild." Second surprise: just before the final verse, someone approaches the microphone and delivers a very articulate belch." (Robert Christgau)

"In 1972, when Slade Alive! was released, I didn't know my ass from a hole in the ground about music, but I did know that anytime In Like a Shot From My Gun and Darling Be Home Soon played on KAAY's ("the Mighty 1090") late Friday night Beeker Street, hosted by Clyde Clifford, it ground my psychic adolescent bones into radioactive dust. Noddy Holder's high Staffordshire metal lilt was at once virile and menacing (this was before the silliness of Mama Weer All Crazee Now and the premature ejaculation of Cum on Feel the Noize) and Dave Hill's guitar was sloppy and relentless. This music was like the blasting caps your mom always warned you to stay away from." (All That Jazz)

What you said...

Carl Gill: Best live album ever, even better than UFO's Strangers In The Night and Deep Purple's Made in Japan.

Steve Ballinger: The band which got me hooked on to rock music as a kid, and a special live album that still holds its place well.

Jörgen Andersson: Finally! What took you so long? Best. Live. Album. Ever.

Robert Dunn: A few covers, a few original songs, all delivered in Slade's inimitable style - Noddy Holder's unmistakable vocals, Jim Lea and his incredibly cultured bass holding it all together, Dave Hill on guitar playing unusual chords (like Wilko Johnson, he is left handed but plays guitar right handed) and the ever reliable Don Powell keeping it tight on the drums. It is hard to pick a highlight, but for me their version of Get Down and Get With It is one of the greatest live tracks ever recorded. The sheer energy they generate sweats itself into your ears and stays there forever. You get the impression that the band had fun playing live and that comes across. An awesome album from an awesome band, all too often written off as glam rock. Jim Lea used to moan about Dave Hill's glam outfits, but was always met with the reply "You write 'em, I'll sell 'em". This is simply magnificent.

Michael McAleer: Fantastic... the missing link between The Who and the Pistols..

Simon Clarke: My first LP and still one of my all-time faves. Slade were so influential.

Graham Elliott: Classic album. Slade were my first band growing up and their version of Born To Be Wild blew me away ( I played the track to my son who is a MetalHead, and he loved it).

Chris Tempest: Absolutely fantastic album. Definitely one of the best, if not the best live album, ever.

Neil Wilson: One of the greatest live albums ever by one of the UK"s best rock acts of the 70s! Slade Alive! not only showcases a great live act, it also set the bench mark on how to deliver a set of songs and great showmanship, and highlights one of the greatest singers to ever strut the stage, Noddy Holder! To say that Slade were a major influence on many, including myself is an understatement. All their hit singles that followed in the 70s proved beyond a doubt how good they were, and Slade Alive! still stands as one of greatest all-time classic rock albums! 10/10

Cascaro Farfanito: Excelente disco de rock, uno de mis favoritos

Jason Gravestock: Such a great band, powerful, dynamic and with some belting tunes. Don't really get the adoration from the music press that they deserve

Ben L. Connor: Only just bought a copy of this earlier this year. Slayed? is still the superior album, but only just. Their version of Darling Be Home Soon is only a notch below Joe Cocker’s version

Mike Knoop: Maybe the liveliest live album I have ever heard. For a band that built its reputation on bludgeoning riffs, I was most taken by Noddy Holder’s voice, especially on Darling Be Home Soon and Keep on Rocking. The band completely owns Born to Be Wild. I have never heard a live Steppenwolf version but it would have to be positively mammoth to top this one. 

That said, is this the best representation of Slade’s music? No, seriously, that's not a dig. I’m asking as someone who hasn’t heard much Slade before. That's a big part of what makes this group so great. More than half of the album is covers, which is a little ironic since I mostly know Slade by covers other bands have done. Again, great album, but where does a newly minted Slade fan go from here?

Gary Claydon: What's not to like? A boot-stomping, barnstormer of a live album. Like contemporaries The Sweet, if you scratch away the gimmicky glam props and delve beneath the hit singles (which in themselves weren't half bad) you'll find a proper rock'n'roll band. But then, like many others, Slade learned their trade on a tough pub and club circuit both at home and abroad, where the audience attitude would be along the lines of "entertain me or else". And that's exactly what this album does-entertain. It's a raucous, riotous live set. You can't beat a gig in a hot and sweaty, sardine-can of a venue where band and audience are in tune with each other and have just one intention-to get down and get with it (see what I did there?).

I don't think this album needs analysing. There isn't a duff track here. My favourite, by a nose, would be the aforementioned Get Down And Get With It.

I didn't get to see Slade when they were in their pomp but I did see them bring the house down several times during their mini-renaissance in the early '80s, including Reading and Donington, and they delivered every time.

Carl Black: It's not rocket science. Get some cool riffs, lay down a nice groove, get a bunch of screaming kids and let a screaming vocalist let rip over the top. This is not the band who wear glitterball top hats and have bad fringe haircuts. This is a working class band who play hard and would not be out of place in a back street boozer . This was the first Slade album I've heard from front to back, and I loved it. Noddy Holder's voice is incredible and he is a legend. I heard recently that he auditioned for AC/DC after Bon Scott died. From this, I can see why. Slade played Donington, monsters of rock in 82, (I think) and I always questioned there inclusion on the bill. From this, again, I can see why they were included. I will be listening to more early Slade. Not that Christmas song though. I'll not be listening to that.

Mark Cutler: My favorite album from my favorite band. Wish they could have made it bigger here in America. I was lucky to see them four times here.

Jim Linning: Now you're talking. Criminally under-rated by the cognoscenti during their heyday, their albums were often overlooked gems of melodic hard rock and they probably made the best 'rock' film ever in Slade in Flame. Live they were heavier than their 'glam' appearances on TOTP might have suggested. Saw them at the Glasgow Apollo in the mid 70s, probably promoting Slade in Flame as it happens, and they were fantastic. One thing to note, I don't believe the Slade catalogue is available on Spotify so that might limit opportunities to hear this brilliant album. (Happy to be put right if this isn't the case)

Chris Cooper: I’ve got this on Vinyl from the original release, Cassette and on CD, but check out the 2CD version, which has highlights from the 1980 Reading Festival. I saw them many times in the 70s and they remain one of my all time favourite Bands

Charles Gemmell: Excellent band, Slade Alive! is actually in a studio with fan audience. Band sounds great in retrospect! I couldn't stand them originally as they were my younger brother's skinhead image-type band. The band seriously progressed to dominate UK singles market for years. Their soundtrack album from their classic film Slade In Flame is excellent too.

John Davidson: Growing up in the 1970s it was easy to forget that a popular group like Slade were first & foremost a rock'n'roll band rather than slightly cheesy chart toppers. This early album sets the record straight with a selection of high energy rock played live and loud. Most of the songs are covers but the sound is definitely Slade, with Noddy Holders raw but warm voice captured in all its glory.

Martin Millar: I love Slade. Great rock band, great live band, wrote a bunch of excellent singles and even wrote the best Christmas song. Also had extreme collection of glam outfits and Noddy wore the best rock'n'roll hat. Their film, the unexpectedly gritty In Flame is really good too, much better than might have been expected. I slightly regret that this live album doesn't contain any of their big hits but nonetheless it's still a fine album because they'd honed their skills and were known for their live performances. This album is one of my favourite 70s artefacts. (Rated by me only slightly behind the best moments of T Rex, who, I hope, will be appearing here some time.)

Final Score: 8.00 ⁄10 (149 votes cast, with a total score of 1193)

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