Slade - Slade Alive! album review

All killer, no filler: careerdefining early live masterpiece

Cover art for Slade - Slade Alive! album

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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.

Forty-five years on, this anniversary issue has nothing added, nothing taken away from numerous previous reissues (save for the inclusion of a fulsome booklet with an excellent context-framing essay by Chris Ingham).

Mainly drawn from the second show of the three-night run, Slade Alive! remains a classic. The insurgent rocking power of Lea, Powell and Hill, and the matchless roar of 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.

Let loose your larynx and fill your stomping boots again.

Gavin Martin

Late NME, Daily Mirror and Classic Rock writer Gavin Martin started writing about music in 1977 when he published his hand-written fanzine Alternative Ulster in Belfast. He moved to London in 1980 to become the NME’s Media Editor and features writer, where he interviewed the Sex Pistols, Joe Strummer, Pete Townshend, U2, Bruce Springsteen, Ian Dury, Killing Joke, Neil Young, REM, Sting, Marvin Gaye, Leonard Cohen, Nina Simone, James Brown, Willie Nelson, Willie Dixon, Madonna and a host of others. He was also published in The Times, Guardian, Independent, Loaded, GQ and Uncut, he had pieces on Michael Jackson, Van Morrison and Frank Sinatra featured in The Faber Book Of Pop and Rock ’N’ Roll Is Here To Stay, and was the Daily Mirror’s regular music critic from 2001. He died in 2022.