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Release Info: Ambrose Slade - Beginnings (1st Album UK 1970)
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Slade are an English glam rock and hard rock band. Slade were one of the most recognisable acts of the glam rock movement and were, at their peak, the most commercially popular band in the UK. They are well known for the deliberate misspelling of their song titles and for the song "Merry Xmas Everybody" (released December 1973), now one of the most iconic Christmas pop songs in the United Kingdom.
The band started out as the N'Betweens in 1966, formed from members of two Midlands bands, The Vendors and Steve Brett & The Mavericks. They initially had little success, apart from on the local club circuit, where they were extremely busy and in the late 1960s the band changed its name to Ambrose Slade and hooked up with manager Chas Chandler. Their name was eventually shortened to Slade, and the band adopted a skinhead look, as an attempt to gain publicity from what was a newsworthy youth fashion trend. They later abandoned this look, due to the unwelcome association with football hooliganism. They grew their hair long again, in time to become a leading part of the glam rock movement, releasing songs with deliberately Black Country-style mis-spelled titles which made them stand out.
From 1971 to 1975, the band scored many huge-selling consecutive hit albums and singles. Their most noted Christmas anthem has resurfaced seasonally and formed one of a successions of singles that entered the charts at number one - a feat unheard of since the days of The Beatles. After dominating the chart in 1973, 1974 saw a slight change in musical direction for the band. The self titled 'Slade In Flame' album contained a more mature sound and perhaps remains to this day their most influential album, with clever use of brass and piano, somewhat forerunning bands such as the Jam and Oasis. Their concerts were all automatic sellouts, and the band was the first to take the risk of booking the massive Earls Court Exhibition Centre in London for a couple of nights (although David Bowie promptly booked the venue for a couple of dates before Slade were due to perform). Following the ground-breaking shows, Don Powell was critically injured in a car crash and with his life in danger, the band's future was left in the balance. Powell eventually recovered, although he still suffers with acute short-term memory and sensory problems.
Partly due to changes in music trends and the advent of punk rock and New Wave music, Slade's success faded somewhat by the late 1970s, although the group continued to release records and punk bands were not afraid to cite them as an influence. They enjoyed a return to the UK charts, after their 1980 Reading festival appearance and finally managed to enter the higher reaches of the United States charts.
In August 1980, Ozzy Osbourne's Blizzard Of Ozz cancelled their set at the Reading Festival with very short notice. Slade, who had all but disbanded, were recommended to replace them. A demoralised Dave Hill had effectively left the band and initially refused to do the show when asked by the other band members, but manager Chas Chandler convinced Hill to play what could very well have been their last ever live show in front of a huge crowd rather than in a small club. To Hill's utter astonishment, the band were well-received at the festival (highlights of their performance were also broadcast on BBC Radio 1's Friday Rock Show Reading special), and quickly became darlings of the music press again вЂ” despite doing nothing different at Reading than they had done onstage in recent years.
A new run of chart success followed, though not on the large scale of their 1970s heights. Holder and Lea became in-demand for production and songwriting duties for other acts for a while. Slade had another two UK top 10 hits in 1984, with the singles "Run Runaway" and "My Oh My" (#2 UK, #36 U.S.) "Run Runaway" reached #7, which would be their second top 40 hit in the U.S. вЂ” and their first since "Gudbuy T'Jane", which barely made the top 40 in 1972. Interestingly enough, these hits happened despite Slade not touring to support the releases.
They later returned to the UK Singles Chart in 1991 with the song "Radio Wall of Sound".
Holder became weary of constant touring, effectively managing the band and of the music business and left the band in late 1991 after 25 years. The remainder of the band were given a period of notice in which to consider their options. Rather than take on another singer, Lea effectively retired from live work, preferring to work quietly, at his own pace, alone in the studio.
Hill and Powell (the band's founder members) formed Slade II with three other local musicians at that point. The name was once again shortened to Slade after a period and over the years new members have come and gone with Hill and Powell remaining constant throughout.
Save for the release in 1991 of an album of demo recordings and gathered songs that had previously been released under the pseudonym The Dummies, Lea remained resolutely silent. In 2007, however, he finally released an album of mainly unheard new original material, entitled Therapy.
One of the most acclaimed British Rock bands of the 1970s, Slade are especially remembered for their brash songwriting and praised live performances. Today, the band is often regarded as an obvious pre-cursor to late 1970s British Punk (Sex Pistols, The Clash).
The group dominated the British charts during the 1970s. During the height of their success, Slade out-performed their chart rivals Wizzard, Sweet, T. Rex, Suzi Quatro, Mud, Smokie, Gary Glitter, Roxy Music and David Bowie. In the UK, they achieved 12 top five hits from 1971 to 1974, six of which topped the charts. In total, Slade had 17 top 20 hits between 1971 and 1976 including six #1s, three #2s and two #3s. No other UK act of the period enjoyed such consistency in the UK top 40 and Slade actually came the closest to emulating The Beatles' 22 top ten records in a single decade (1960s). Three of their singles entered the charts at #1 and they sold more singles in the UK than any other group of the 1970s.
NME journalist and music critic Eddie Shum and Oasis guitarist Noel Gallagher have both been quoted as saying the band were "Fundamentally more important to the development of music than Radiohead". While Slade's attempts at cracking the United States market were largely unsuccessful, they left their mark on a several US bands who cite Slade as an influence. Kiss bassist Gene Simmons readily admits that his band's early songwriting ethos and stage performance style was influenced by Slade. In his book "Kiss and Make-Up," Simmons writes on page 85, "the one we kept returning to was Slade," and "we liked the way they connected with the crowd, and the way they wrote anthems... we wanted that same energy, that same irresistible simplicity. but we wanted it American-style." Tom Petersson of Cheap Trick has said that his band went to see Slade perform, and that they used "every cheap trick in the book", thus inadvertently coining his group's name. Quiet Riot had a U.S. hit with their cover of Cum on Feel the Noize.
The original band's memory was kept alive by comedians Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer, who respectfully sent up the band in a number of what the band called 'hysterically accurate' 'Slade in residence' and 'Slade on holiday' sketches in their The Smell of Reeves and Mortimer TV show in the early 1990s - these are available on DVD.
Slade are most associated with the Black Country in Britain's West Midlands, although the band's members came from Devon, Staffordshire, and the Black Country towns Walsall and Wolverhampton.
It has been said that Christopher Guest and Harry Shearer based their fictional band Spinal Tap, in the film This is Spinal Tap, on Slade. However, the comedians have since confirmed that the band in the film was based on the "tour diaries" of numerous UK "heavy metal" and "glam" bands. The events occurring to Spinal Tap in the film are based on the real exploits of not only Slade but also Deep Purple, Saxon, Led Zeppelin and Ozzy Osbourne.
While doing research for the film, Shearer and his fellow writers and cast-mates interviewed a number of 70s Rock stalwarts requesting their greatest "road stories". Slade happily contributed several. One of the film's primary plot-points revolves around Spinal Tap attempting to "break America". Slade spent a great deal of time trying to translate their very British style of entertainment to American audiences with minimal success. The story of Slade's bewildered (and sometimes misguided) tries at U.S. audiences resulted in the film's primary concept; thus, their frequent association with the movie.
In fact, at one point in the film, Spinal Tap is listed on a marquee as playing second billing to a Puppet Show. Noddy Holder tells a similar story regarding Slade's "low phase" in his autobiography, "Who's Crazee Now?!".
It is worth noting that Slade always have had a wonderful sense of humour about their success (or the lack thereof, depending upon the decade) and have always been honest and apt to parody themselves. All of the band's members have expressed a great affection for This is Spinal Tap.
01. "Genesis" (Holder/Lea/Hill/Powell) Did Not Chart
02. "Everybody's Next One" (Kay/Mekler)
03. "Knocking Nails Into My House" (Lynne)
04. "Roach Daddy" (Holder/Lea/Hill/Powell)
05. "Ain't Got No Heart" (Zappa)
06. "Pity The Mother" (Holder/Lea)
07. "Mad Dog Cole" (Holder/Lea/Hill/Powell)
08. "Fly Me High" (Hayward)
09. "If This World Were Mine" (Gaye)
10. "Martha My Dear" (Lennon/McCartney)
11. "Born To Be Wild" (Steppenwolf)
12. "Journey To The Center Of Your Mind" (Nugent/Farmer)
13. "Wild Winds Are Blowing" [Bonus Single 1969]
14. "C'Mon C'Mon" [Bonus Single 1970]
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