Universe (Slade song)

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"Universe"
UK/European cover of "Universe".
Single by Slade
from the album Wall of Hits
B-side "Red Hot"
Released 2 December 1991
Format 7" single, CD single
Genre Symphonic rock, pop rock
Length 4:15
Label Polydor Records
Writer(s) Jim Lea
Producer(s) Jim Lea
Slade singles chronology
"Radio Wall of Sound"
(1991)
"Universe"
(1991)
Audio sample
file info · help

"Universe" is a single from rock band Slade which appeared on the compilation album Wall of Hits. Like the previous single "Radio Wall of Sound", it was written solely by bassist Jim Lea. The B-side for the single, "Red Hot", was written by guitarist Dave Hill with Wizzard's ex-keyboardist Bill Hunt.[1] The single was released in late 1991 for the Christmas market. Despite numerous TV performances and a promo video, the single failed to enter the top 100.[2] This became the last single under the original band as Noddy Holder effectively retired shortly after whilst bassist Jim Lea followed the same path.[3] Both guitarist Dave Hill and drummer Don Powell decided to carry their career on under the name of Slade 2.[4] In 2007, Jim Lea remade this track for his solo album Therapy.[5]

The single peaked at #755 for 1991 on Rate Your Music.[6]

Background[edit]

Bassist Jim Lea thought of the idea for the song just before heading out to an Indian restaurant for an evening meal.

Before the release of "Universe", Polydor was in talk of a new studio album if both singles to promote Wall of Hits charted well in the UK. This however was not to be. Holder has stated himself in his book Who's Crazee Now that although he was fond of the track, it was "too far from what people expected of us".[7]

Holder stated in a 1992 interview his favourite track from the two 1991 singles "Radio Wall of Sound" and "Universe". "Universe without a doubt. I knew Radio Wall of Sound was more commercial, a good instant rock track, but I liked Universe even though I knew it was not such an instant song and it would take people time to latch on to it. I saw Universe as the stronger song and maybe if we had held it back for a while it may have been more successful but unfortunately it got lost in the Christmas market and there is just nothing you can do about it now."

Holder added his feelings of the two singles after they had been released "I think that everybody did a good job, we did a lot of TV, radio and press work around that period but it didn’t translate into high sales of the two records. We had loads of radio play for Radio Wall of Sound so we can’t really complain about the exposure with that one, Universe was not so good but you can only put it down to not enough people buying it."

Holder was also asked who decided to release Universe. "It was the record company’s decision, the plan was always to do Radio Wall of Sound then the Wall of Hits album followed Universe to help carry the album along in the Christmas market, but we didn’t realise how late Universe was coming out, it was actually two weeks later than planned. I don’t know why, but by then we were into the Christmas mania season and not being such an instant track it lost out to the more popular records."[8]

Both "Universe" and "Red Hot" was recorded at Rich Bitch Studios. "Universe" was mixed at Round House Studios whilst "Red Hot" was mixed at Rich Bitch Studios.

The b-side "Red Hot" was originally exclusive to the single, eventually being released on CD via the 2007 compilation "B-Sides". It was the first song to have a credit to Dave Hill since the 1981 album track "M'Hat, M'Coat" from the album "Till Deaf Do Us Part". As the single was released for the Christmas market, the band's most popular and best-selling hit "Merry Xmas Everybody" was included. For the CD of the single, the 1977 single "Gypsy Roadhog" was added.

In an April 2000 interview with Lea by Mojo magazine, Lea stated "Our last hit was Radio Wall of Sound, which I wrote and sang. The others thought it was a load of shit. The last thing that came out was Universe - very big and lush. Towards the end the records were completely my songs. I'd taken control and it didn't feel like a band any more. Then this offer came to play Castle Donington with Bon Jovi. Noddy said if we weren't headlining, then we weren't doing it. He more or less said that he wasn't going on the road with Slade again. He wanted to be in the band - but I said that without getting out live it wouldn't cohere any more, that we'd lost it. All the fun had gone out of it, so I started getting into the property business, and took a psychology course at college."

Recording[edit]

Like "Radio Wall of Sound", Lea had already recorded most of this track and had wanted to put strings on at EMI's Abbey Road studio in London, but as the studio was already booked, the strings were created with a synthesiser.[9]

Reports of a Jim Lea demo have been made in recent years although this is unconfirmed.

Promotion[edit]

The band promoted the single by appearing on various shows such as This Morning, Motormouth, Pebble Mill, O Zone and STV.[10] A music video for the single was also created. Due to the single's commercial failure, the promotional music video for the track has never been officially released to purchase, only appearing online via YouTube.[11]

Formats[edit]

7" Single
  1. "Universe" - 4:18
  2. "Red Hot" - 3:35
  3. "Merry Xmas Everybody" - 3:43
12" Single
  1. "Universe" - 4:18
  2. "Red Hot" - 3:35
  3. "Gypsy Roadhog" - 3:27
  4. "Merry Xmas Everybody" - 3:43
Cassette Single
  1. "Universe" - 4:18
  2. "Red Hot" - 3:35
  3. "Merry Xmas Everybody" - 3:43
CD Single
  1. "Universe" - 4:18
  2. "Red Hot" - 3:35
  3. "Gypsy Roadhog" - 3:27
  4. "Merry Xmas Everybody" - 3:43

Personnel[edit]

  • Noddy Holder: Lead vocals and guitar
  • Jim Lea: Bass guitar, piano, synthesizer and violin
  • Dave Hill: Lead guitar
  • Don Powell: Drums

Additional Personnel[edit]

  • Producer on "Universe" - Jim Lea for Perseverance Ltd.
  • Arranger on "Universe" - Jim Lea for Perseverance Ltd.
  • Writer of "Universe" - Jim Lea
  • Orchestral Arrangement on "Universe" - Edward Shermaur
  • Engineer on "Universe" - Trevor Hallesy
  • Mixers on "Universe" - Jim Lea; Trevor Hallesy
  • Producer on "Red Hot" - Jim Lea for Perseverance Ltd.
  • Writers of "Red Hot" - Dave Hill; Bill Hunt
  • Engineer on "Red Hot" - Paul (The Bullet Boy) Talbot
  • Backing vocals on "Red Hot" - Norma Lewis
  • Producer on "Merry Xmas Everybody" - Chas Chandler
  • Writers of "Merry Xmas Everybody" - Noddy Holder; Jim Lea
  • Producer on "Gypsy Roadhog" - Chas Chandler
  • Writers of "Gypsy Roadhog" - Noddy Holder; Jim Lea
  • Photography - Ray Palmer
  • Design - Allan D. Martin

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Database and Marketplace for Music on Vinyl, CD, Cassette, MP3 and More". Discogs. Retrieved 10 August 2011. 
  2. ^ "UK Singles & Albums Chart Archive". Chart Stats. Retrieved 10 August 2011. 
  3. ^ Noddy Holder's biography Who's Crazee Now?
  4. ^ "Slade !!!! Slade !!!! Amazing Slade !!!!". Users.swing.be. Retrieved 10 August 2011. 
  5. ^ "Jim Lea - James Whild Lea - official webshop". Jimleamusic.com. Retrieved 10 August 2011. 
  6. ^ "Universe / Merry Xmas Everbody by Slade: Reviews and Ratings". Rate Your Music. Retrieved 10 August 2011. 
  7. ^ Noddy Holder's biography Who's Crazee Now?
  8. ^ "SLADE @ www.slayed.co.uk". Crazeeworld.plus.com. Retrieved 10 August 2011. 
  9. ^ Slade Fan Club 1991 Newsletter
  10. ^ "SLADE @ www.slayed.co.uk". Crazeeworld.plus.com. Retrieved 10 August 2011. 
  11. ^ "Slade - Universe (1991 Rare Full Music Video)‏". YouTube. 8 January 2010. Retrieved 10 August 2011.