Slade | Cum On Feel the Hitz | (BMG)
4 out of 5 stars
“Baby, baby, baaaa-bah!” howls lead singer Noddy Holder on “Cum on Feel the Noize,” the opening salvo from this 43 track compilation of Slade’s 43 singles throughout three decades.
American rockers might scratch their heads when it comes to hearing the name, but Slade was one of the UK’s biggest and most consistent hit-makers. The numbers tell at least part of the story;six number one songs, 16 in the Top 10, and 17 consecutive Top 20 singles…all in the band’s 1971-’76 heyday.
They influenced everyone from Alice Cooper to Oasis’ Noel Gallagher and while Slade’s clomping, glam rocking never quite broke in the States, they were one of the UK’s greatest, and for a while most popular, rocking acts. Perhaps Slade’s attack was just too British for American audiences. Or maybe their promotion didn’t click on this side of the Atlantic. Regardless, this exhaustive, some might say exhausting, 43 track compilation presents the quartet in all their “Radio Wall of Sound” glory, to quote one of their lesser known pop rocking gems.
Slade’s approach was heavy on stomping beats and impossibly catchy choruses made for stadium-sized, chanting. Queen might have had “We Are the Champions” and “Radio Ga Ga” but Slade got there first with the thumping “Get Down and Get With It,” the punchy “Gudbye T’Jane,” the Stones’ influenced “Mama Weer All Crazee Now” and the frantic “We’ll Bring the House Down.” In Holder they had an instantly recognizable frontman with a raw voice that could crack glass and occasionally drop down and go soft, or at least soft-ER, on a rare ballad like the Elton John styled piano-led “How Does It Feel.”
The music may seem simplistic and somewhat repetitious, but writing anthemic choruses meant to be shouted by well-oiled fans cranked up at ear-splitting volume is a talent few can pull off, let alone as effectively as this. Songs titled “Knuckle Sandwich Nancy,” “Lock Up Your Daughters” and “Skweeze Me Pleeze Me” show Slade’s tongues planted in their cheeks even as their melodies were constructed for maximum sing-along consumption.
While this double disc dose of Slade’s sides is the most comprehensive collection of their music (short of the now out of print four CD box), it’s not something best appreciated in a single sitting. Slade was so successful because they were first and foremost a singles machine. That’s works for short attention spans, but absorbing these tunes simultaneously in a single sitting is like eating an entire chocolate cake at once.
For those who haven’t been exposed to Slade’s rollicking charms, this may be more than you’ll need to understand their appeal. Still, there are plenty of somewhat obscure gems, especially for Americans, to chomp on and stomp to. Slip a few into your next party tape and watch the room explode.