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Thursday, 24 March 2016

Let The Day Begin...Let The Day Start!: Day 84 - Slade Alive!

I know of at least two people who will be raising the volume in order to celebrate the release of one of the finest live albums ever recorded, that would be me and a certain Welsh Gentleman who I regard as a dear friend. 

Slade had begun to make some headway in 1971 with two of their singles having finally made into the charts with Get Down and Get With It which reached an honourable #16 and then their first ever #1 Single with Coz I Luv You. In early 1972 Look Wot You Dun had peaked at #4.

Whilst the singles seemed to be making some progress and gaining the band some success, on the album front they were not doing so well. Their first two albums (Beginnings, 1969 and Play It Loud, 1970) had not charted at all in the UK (Play it Loud did chart in Canada!). As the only real money was coming in via their solid live performances a decision was made to make the new album a Live Album! Actually this was a rather crafty move on the part of manager Chas Chandler and the band. The band didn't go out on tour and get recordings of a particular show, rather what they did was hire for three nights a new studio in Piccadily called The Command Theatre Studio. It seemed a bit like cheating recording it in a studio but there was an audience of 300 Fan Club Members and so it could easily get away with being regarded as a Live Album. Most of the album is apparently taken from the second night. In total it cost the band £600 to record it and it was released, warts and all (I'll mention a bit more about that later), without any overdubs!

The album would reach #2 in the UK and spent 58 weeks on the chart! In Australia it would become their first international #1 and an even more remarkable statistic is that Slade Alive! was the biggest selling album in Australia since 1967's Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band by The Beatles! The album that supplanted Slade Alive! from the #1 spot in Australia just happened to be the follow-up album Slayed? 

Slade Alive! was voted #2 in the NME Top Ten Albums for 1972.

As to the songs featured on the album, surprisingly there are only seven!

Side One
Hear Me Calling is an Alvin Lee song originally released by Ten Years After. Lee apparently told Noddy Holder when Slade were on tour in the States that he had earned more money from their version of the song than he had done from his own version! The song had been a show opener for Slade for quite some time.

In Like A Shot From My Gun was a Jimmy Lea, Don Powell and Noddy Holder composition. Apparently they never did a studio recording of the song because, according to Don, "we didn't think that we could do it any more justice by doing it in the studio".

Darling Be Home Soon was written by John Sebastian and originally performed by his band The Lovin' Spoonful. It's the only ballad on the album (Slade proved many times over that they were not just a powerhouse rock 'n' roll band but they could do sensitive ballads as well). I mentioned that the album was released "warts and all" and that is clearly heard on this track as Noddy accidently burps into the microphone whilst singing! He later admitted on an interview with Frank Skinner that the band had indulged in some alcoholic libations before the show and that folks would from then on be disappointed when they played it live and he didn't burp at the precise spot! Fans are funny that way!

Know Who You Are was a band song that originally began life as the instrumental Genesis that had been released as a single in 1969 when they were called Ambrose Slade. It was reworked for the Play It Loud album in 1970.

Side Two
Keep On Rocking was another band song and yet another that was never recorded in the studio! It's a classic Rock and Roller in the line of the great Little Richard who was the inspiration for them to recording the next song.

Get Down and Get With It was a Bobby Marchan song (actually called Get Down With It) that was covered by a number of people including Little Richard. It was his version that inspired Slade to record it for themselves.

Last but not least is the stomping version of Born To Be Wild, a song originally done by Steppenwolf that had been a part of Slade's live sets going back to 1969 when they recorded it as Ambrose Slade for their album Beginnings. That version sounds quite tame compared to the live version on Slade Alive!

Critical reception for the album was interesting. Record Mirror said, "It's a rocking album and the excitement of the group and crowd has been captured well, but it's not easy listening, somewhat frenzied!" NME said, ""Slade Alive!" is just what it implies, having been recorded before a rowdy crowd of fans at Command Studios. If you've ever been to one of their noisy gigs, you'll know exactly what I mean." Melody Maker wrote, "Because it was recorded in a studio proper, before an audience, they've achieved the kind of balance and sound not often heard on a live recording."

Classic Rock magazine did a feature on Slade in 2010 and looking afresh at Slade Alive! they said, "Released nervously after two studio albums that had flopped, ‘Slade Alive!’ was (much as ‘Alive!’ was for Kiss) the live record that saved Slade’s bacon." 

Slade Alive! - Slade
Produced by Chas Chandler
Released 24th March 1972
UK Chart #2
Australian Chart #1
NZ Chart #3
US Chart #158


    Noddy Holder - lead vocals, rhythm guitar
    Dave Hill - lead guitar, backing vocals
    Jim Lea - bass guitar, backing vocals
    Don Powell - drums

Additional credits
  Tambourine on "Know Who You Are" - unknown member of audience

Let The Day Begin...Let The Day Start!
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