Whatever Happened to Slade

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Whatever Happened to Slade
Studio album by Slade
Released 21 March 1977
Genre Hard rock
Length 40:40
Label Barn
Producer Chas Chandler
Slade chronology
Nobody's Fools
(1976)
Whatever Happened to Slade
(1977)
Slade Alive, Vol. 2
(1978)
Singles from Whatever Happened to Slade
  1. "Gypsy Roadhog"
    Released: January 1977

Whatever Happened to Slade is the sixth album by the British rock group Slade. It was released 21 March 1977, but did not enter the charts.

Slade's popularity was waning as were their record sales. They recognized this (thus the album's title). By 1977 the glam movement had died, along with its founder Marc Bolan, frontman of T.Rex, who was killed in a car crash that year, and - in a figurative sense - the careers of Mud, Gary Glitter and The Sweet also died. In Britain, where Slade had traditionally been most popular, the fashion of the day was punk rock. With this record, Slade firmly stood its ground as a straight Rock group (gone were the "glam" statements of the early decade).[citation needed]

The album was met with critical praise and support from the English punk uprising. Nevertheless, the record was a commercial failure and the band's financial woes continued. For many years, the album was a much sought-after collector's item amongst fans. Today, however, the album is available via CD and download.

This album was a popular trade amongst American musicians developing what would be known as "grunge" as both Billy Corgan (Smashing Pumpkins) and Kurt Cobain (Nirvana) have cited the album as influential.

The album was voted #1 of the top three Slade albums in the Slade Fan Club Poll of 1979. In the same poll, the album was voted #2 of the top three Slade album covers.[1][2]

Background[edit]

Slade's first single after returning from America, after punk rock became popular

Problems playing this file? See media help.

By 1975 Slade had peaked in Britain and Europe. This led to the band agreeing to move to the States, the only major territory that had held out against Slade's onslaught. The band held out in the States for almost two years. They had limited success; on one hand, their reputation as a reliable and exciting live rock act was enhanced, on the other hand, Slade were unable to translate that reputation to significant airplay and record sales.

Slade returned to the UK early 1977 to face the UK music business much changed from the way they left it. Punk had now exploded and had become the dominant influence on youth culture and the music press. Despite Slade's reputation as one of the great high energy bands of their day, in this environment Slade had become irrelevant. Regardless, Slade were determined that they were now a better live act than ever and refused to call it a day.

There had been no new product since the Nobody's Fool single had been lifted from the Nobody's Fools album in April 1976 and bombed. The first that was heard of Slade in 1977 was the single Gypsy Roadhog which appeared in February, a pounding tale of the exploits of an American cocaine dealer. Amazingly, the BBC kids show Blue Peter allowed Slade to promote the single with a mimed performance before the producer noticed the lyrics. A complaint followed, the BBC then banned it and the record stalled at #48.

The album that followed didn't have much chance after that. Titled by Slade's manager Chas Chandler after a piece of graffiti spotted painted on a London bridge, Whatever Happened to Slade, while undoubtedly intended as a defiant, ironic comment on their absence from UK shores, was more likely received as a virtual admission of how far the group's star had fallen. And no one beyond a mere fraction of their old fan base was in the mood to contradict them.

Whatever Happened to Slade was released March 1977 to no airplay and very little press. It failed to chart. It was the group's lowest-selling LP to date. However, those faithful few who took the trouble were amazed by the record. The heaviest, dirtiest (in all senses), most decadent Slade music ever made, Whatever Happened to Slade made Gypsy Roadhog sound like "The Teddy Bear's Picnic" and remains many Slade connoisseurs' favourite of all their albums.[3]

Recording[edit]

According to the Slade Fan Club Newsletter for October, November and December 1976, the band hoped to record a total of 16 tracks and pick the best to release.[4][5]

Release[edit]

In the September-December 1986 Slade fan club magazine, the poll results were announced for the 1986 opinion poll based on Slade’s material. For the best album of the 70s, Whatever Happened to Slade placed at #2. The poll result notes explain that it was interesting that so many fans voted Whatever Happened to Slade as the best 70s album, despite the fact that it failed to chart upon release. In the same 1986 poll, for the best album sleeve, Whatever Happened to Slade placed at #1.

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Be"   Noddy Holder, Jim Lea 3:59
2. "Lightning Never Strikes Twice"   Holder, Lea 3:08
3. "Gypsy Roadhog"   Holder, Lea 3:23
4. "Dogs of Vengeance"   Holder, Lea 2:48
5. "When Fantasy Calls"   Holder, Lea 3:23
6. "One Eyed Jacks With Moustaches"   Holder, Lea 3:20
7. "Big Apple Blues"   Holder, Lea 4:38
8. "Dead Men Tell No Tales"   Holder, Lea 3:38
9. "She's Got The Lot"   Holder, Lea 4:34
10. "It Ain't Love But It Ain't Bad"   Holder, Lea 3:09
11. "The Soul, The Roll and The Motion"   Holder, Lea 4:36
2007 Remastered edition bonus tracks
No. Title Writer(s) Length
12. "Forest Full of Needles" (b-side of "Gypsy Roadhog") Holder, Lea 3:30
13. "Burning in the Heat of Love"   Holder, Lea 3:36
14. "Ready Steady Kids" (b-side of "Burning in the Heat of Love") Holder, Lea 3:22
15. "My Baby Left Me (That's All Right)"   Arthur Crudup 2:24
16. "O.H.M.S." (b-side of "My Baby Left Me") Holder, Lea 2:41
17. "Give Us a Goal"   Holder, Lea 2:50
18. "Daddio" (b-side of "Give Us a Goal") Holder, Lea 2:34
19. "Rock 'n' Roll Bolero"   Holder, Lea 4:06
20. "It's Alright Buy Me" (b-side of "Rock 'n' Roll Bolero") Holder, Lea 3:23

Song information[edit]

Be[edit]

Chris Ingham from Rock's Backpages stated "Be", the opener, sets the agenda. A funk-metal riff, power chords, a marching rock groove and on top, machine-gun lyrics in two-part harmony spitting out entertaining, multi-syllable axioms of dubious legitimacy. Forget the rootie-tootie b-sides and camp-fire singalongs, it is when Slade operate within the confines and conventions of hard rock that the group is most potent." This track was covered by Kenneth And The Knutters. Allmusic stated "Starting off with "Be," a tune unlike any other the band had done, Slade sets the tone. It's going to be a loud, raucous affair. "Be" reads and rhymes like a rap song, although it is sung over a funky rock beat." The track was due to be released as a single but the idea was dropped due to the band's small amount of money at the time. The track also became a popular in Slade's live set, featuring on the album Slade Alive, Vol. 2.

For the fan club newsletter in 1979, Jim Lea spoke of the track, compared to the upcoming single "Ginny Ginny", "Songs like "Be" are hardly concise, they're clever, but hardly the sing-along down at the pub type song."[6]

Lightning Never Strikes Twice[edit]

Chris Ingham stated "Lightning Never Strikes Twice" shows tension-and-release dynamics and the parallel voice-guitar-bass licks, this track recalls the bass-voice treatment of Janis Joplin's Move Over from 1972's Slayed? The main difference here is Noddy Holder seems to be describing a total eclipse of the mind, a trip in which he passes through 'infinite time' and sees the creation from the opposite way. Allmusic wrote "Lightning Never Strikes Twice" shows bass player Jim Lea's emergence as a musician's musician. He always was a great player and the core of the band, both live and in the studio, but here Lea really gets a chance to shine. The song ends with probably the closest approximation of what it feels like to be on nitrous oxide."

Gypsy Roadhog[edit]

Main article: Gypsy Roadhog

"Gypsy Roadhog" was the lead single from the album which peaked at #48. A tale of the exploits of an American cocaine dealer, the track was banned by the BBC. Regardless, the track remained popular with the fanbase, featuring a more country-rock influence, no doubt taken from Slade's touring in America.

Dogs of Vengeance[edit]

Chris Ingham wrote "Dogs of Vengeance", if anything, is an even more anguished depiction of dark addictions. A dark riff underpins a song which warns of near-mythological purveyors of depraved temptation. Holder's tone suggests he is no stranger to the promised 'torment, the best in the land'. One can only wonder what he means."

When Fantasy Calls[edit]

Chris Ingham wrote "When Fantasy Calls" makes Dogs Of Vengeance all too clear. By far the most graphic of Holder's pleasures-of-the-flesh lyrics (see also 'In For A Penny', 'The Bangin' Man', 'Lemme Love Into Ya' et al), 'Fantasy' sets the singer's lust in an opulent variation of the 'Spirit In The Sky' styled groove to describe a spirit of quite the opposite sort. Holder's cheeky Max Miller-esque, end-of-the-pier smut had long been a part of the Slade experience, especially live, but never had this earthly impulses been on such vivid display.

One Eyed Jacks With Moustaches[edit]

Chris Ingham stated "One Eyed Jacks With Moustaches", is an uptempo track with a rollicking spirit of good-time southern boogie which even spills into an Elvis-style interlude, complete with mumbling nonsense." Allmusic stated "One of the singles from the album, "One Eyed Jacks with Moustaches," sounds like classic Slade, but once again, radio wouldn't touch it." The track also became a popular in Slade's live set, featuring on the album Slade Alive, Vol. 2.

Big Apple Blues[edit]

Chris Ingham stated "Big Apple Blues" kicks off side 2 as a straight-ahead medium rocker at which Slade excelled, due not least to the groove laid down by hugely underrated rhythm section of Don Powell and Jim Lea. It's an expansive celebration of the intense, double-edged experience of their temporary home town, New York City; "the apple ain't bad, it's just bruised and i'm glad that it's there at all", sings Holder, revelling in a mighty wall of Slade guitars evoking the classic Slade sound. The song even reprised the V-IV-I cadence in the chorus that had served them so well in Mama Weer All Crazee Now and Gudbuy T' Jane, perhaps as a concession to producer/manager Chas Chandler who was complaining that Slade's current batch of songs weren't commercial enough.

Dead Men Tell No Tales[edit]

"Dead Men Tell No Tales" is a slower tempo track. Chris Ingham stated "The track is the odd man out and the nearest thing to a miscue on the album. A 'rocky-raccoon'-like yam about bank robbers called Mugsy Baker and Benjamin the Bear, it begins as a melodic, folksy story song and attempts to beef up for the later verses, ending as neither fish or fowl."

The song's lyric, written by Holder, was based on a 1949 gangster film titled "White Heat", starring James Cagney.[7][8]

She's Got The Lot[edit]

Chris Ingham stated "She's Got The Lot" follows a similar style to what The Beatles would occasionally write the girl-who-thinks-she's-it songs. She's Got The Lot pursues a similar theme, albeit with the kind of sledgehammer metal style that would ensure their song was rather less likely than The Beatle's Ticket to Ride to be covered by The Carpenters."

It Ain't Love But It Ain't Bad[edit]

Chris Ingham wrote "It Ain't Love But It Ain't Bad" is a bold appreciation of rock groupies. A rare instance of a Slade track built upon a robust Powell tom-tom pattern, Holder's regard for the suppliers of "nitty gritty recreation" is shot through with archetypal vulgar humour; "they don't keep you sane but they keep you thin", Holder leers."

The Soul, The Roll and The Motion[edit]

Chris Ingham stated "The Soul, The Roll and The Motion", is the track that Holder tops himself for lasciviousness with the original album's stupendous closer. The track is a hilarious piece of sexual braggadocio that would make a gangsta blush, containing as it does the immortal line, "I'm the love king with plenty of poke". The track itself mirrors the groove of Big Apple Blues, but makes no concessions to pop-friendly chords. It's hard-faced rock all the way with Lea's stubborn bass pedal point in the chorus underlining the band's stern musical intent."

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3/5 stars[9]
Record Mirror 3/5 stars[10]
Sounds 4/5 stars[11]
Classic Rock favourable[12]

Record Mirror magazine gave the album three stars of five, symbolising the album as "worth giving a spin". The magazine reviewed the album upon release, "If you ever spent an evening, way back in 1972, swaying along with the raunchiest, sweatiest, rudest band in the world, you'll have the same fond memories of Slade as I do. The boys don't seem to have changed that much in five years - Noddy still looks like like a leery, dirty old man, and Dave Hill still has that ridiculous hairdo. This is their comeback album - the one that'll make them or break them. It features their last single "Gypsy Roadhog" which didn't get too far in the charts and most of the other tracks are in the same vein - solid, rocking numbers, just not quite distinctive as "Cum On Feel the Noize" or "Coz I Luv You" did. Part of the problem is that they seem to be trying too hard - laying everything on, instead of sticking with simplicity.

The result is that it sounds, heavy, cluttered, even a bit old fashioned. Noddy's voice still sounds great whilst Dave turns in some pretty nifty guitar, but there's just too much of everything. In the old days, the lyrics weren't too important to Slade, but not they're writing songs with meaning, like "Big Apple Blues", a song about New York where Noddy sings "city walls standing tall, if you fall no one hears you call" but finishes up with "the apple ain't bad, it's just bruised and I'm glad that it's there at all". Or, on "Dogs of Vengeance" - "come to my castle and I will unfold some exquisite passion so grand, some torment, the best in the land." (Slade get into sado-masochism?) All very well, but I still prefer the real good old nudge and wink ditties like "It Ain't Love But It Ain't Bad" - "some of them one night stands, ooh ooh, that I've had, keeping me happy all the time I'm on my own, keeping me satisfied when I'm away from home." At the moment Slade seem to be stuck between two fences, no longer making singles guaranteed to make the charts but not quite making it album-wise either. Still, their forte is really playing live, and I won't ever write them off until I've seen if they can still do it up there on stage."[13]

Sounds magazine wrote "‘Remember those days when punk rockers were affable urchins who would no more have thought of vomiting obscenities into the nation’s living room than they would of leaving for a show with a spare pack of strings? Well those days are back. Back in the highly acceptable form of Slade.’ This is what the biog says and what a load of crap! If Slade are, or ever were a punk rock then John Denver is the next Messiah and Karen Carpenter was stand in for Linda Lovelace in ‘Deep Throat’. And as for the obscenity bit, I vaguely remember a story about Slade in the early days, when they were banned from a series of dates because they used ‘blue humour’ in their act. OK, so they once had bog brush hair do and attempted to project a skinhead image, but it didn’t some off, so what’s the point of a re-take on a campaign that’s failed? Anyway, this is a bloody good album. Whatever Happened to Slade? Well as far as I can make out, the band were always on form when they worked within the most basic of formats. Rock and Roll! Rock should be approached with a Neanderthal feel about it and these guys were one of the prime producers of commercially viable cranium crushing music. The singles were dumb but clever, almost manic in approach yet highly entertaining. The band have obviously been brushing up on their homework, since their self-imposed exile to the US of A. This album is high energy on a primeval scale. It’s got all the ball bustin’ riffs you’ll find nestling comfortably alongside yer ZZ Tops and Nugents. The tracks, run into each other, and it’s got the same suicide pace of the Aerosmith ‘Rocks’ album. Even though some of the chord changes are so old they’re almost heading for retirement, none of it sounds blatantly derivative.

Basically, it’s all down to the fact that Noddy Holder is a fine rock and roll singer. When it comes to boogie, this guys vocal chords are lethal. So powerful it’s as if he’s got a compressor implanted in his tonsils. The rest of the band aren’t dodo’s either. The drum and bass union of Don Powell and Jim Lea respectively, has an effect similar to a jack rabbit using your head as a practice pad. And I like Dave Hill’s geetar, ‘cause he knows his limitations and doesn’t overstep the mark. Eleven tracks in all, I haven’t listened to the album enough to evaluate how long the initial impact will last. But it’s packed with strong tunes, lotsa potential singles and the lyrical content is more interesting. I never knew that their single ‘Gypsy Roadhog’ was about Rich Man’s marching powder. The production is slightly flat, lacks the necessary sparkle. Basic and effective, producer and manager Chas Chandler has managed to capture and convey the live spirit of the band, but the overall sound lacks that trebly bite that people like Jack Douglas (Aerosmith/Patti Smith) manages to obtain. Slade always remind me of the Beatles at simplistic, gut level. Cold Turkey Trekkin’. I mean, if the fab four have ever decided to go gonzoid heavy metal, then this is what they might have sounded like. Play it when your neighbours are getting on your case, it’ll knock their Sunday dinner clean off the table. Play it when your party starts getting laid back and people are asking for ‘Don’t Cry for Me Argentina’. If you liked ‘Get Down and Get With It’ and the first album, pin back your lugholes, no! staple them to the side of your head, now turn it up! Turn it up! Turn it up!"

Joe Geesin of Get Ready to Rock wrote of the remaster "Legendarily titled after a genuine piece of graffiti, the album is a return to the band's skinhead roots. It was also their first album since leaving Polydor. Some rough Slade style rock'n'roll, but gone was the glam (largely) and the kitsch. Still very much Slade, but if you're only familiar with the early 70s hits this is a very different beast. There's some great rough guitar. 'Gypsy Roadhog' was a single, and 'Burning in the Heat of Love' an undiscovered classic that was spiffingly covered by Girlschool some years later. Heavy on the guitar too. Not as anthemic as 'Merry Christmas Everybody' but there's some decent guitar work and melodies that really do need checking out. A whopping 9 bonus cuts too!"[14]

In early 2010, Classic Rock magazine featured Slade as part of their ‘The Hard Stuff Buyers Guide’ where the magazine reviewed numerous Slade albums. As part of the ‘Superior: Reputation Cementing’ section, a review of Whatever Happened to Slade wrote “Viewed with hindsight as the band’s ‘lost’ album, ‘Whatever Happened to Slade’ was buried by punk, yet praised by many punk musicians. But however marginalised, a world-beating band doesn’t become shit overnight, and ‘Whatever Happened to Slade’ tempers their established qualities with righteous indignation. ‘Be’ is an ode to individualism, whilst ‘Gypsy Roadhog’ and ‘Big Apple Blues’ are wide-wheeled, turbo-powered throwbacks to the prized US market with which the band had just lost their life-or-death battle.”

Personnel[edit]

Slade[edit]

Additional credits[edit]

  • Chas Chandler - producer
  • Gered Mankowitz - photography
  • Paul Hardiman - engineer
  • Jo Mirowski - art direction
  • Wade Woode Associates - artwork

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://sladefanclub.weebly.com/uploads/7/6/6/0/7660950/7869225_orig.jpg
  2. ^ Slade Fan Club Magazine January–February 1980
  3. ^ "Slade 1977 Whatever Happened To Slade". My-rock-music.ru. Retrieved 2011-08-10. 
  4. ^ http://sladefanclub.weebly.com/uploads/7/6/6/0/7660950/9266869_orig.jpg
  5. ^ Slade Fan Club Newsletter October - November - December 1976
  6. ^ "SLADE @ www.slayed.co.uk". Crazeeworld.plus.com. Retrieved 2011-08-10. 
  7. ^ http://sladefanclub.weebly.com/uploads/7/6/6/0/7660950/6400832_orig.jpg
  8. ^ Slade International Fan Club newsletter July - August - September 1988
  9. ^ Ginsberg, Geoff. "Whatever Happened to Slade? - Slade". AllMusic. Retrieved 2011-08-10. 
  10. ^ [1][dead link]
  11. ^ [2][dead link]
  12. ^ [3][dead link]
  13. ^ Record Mirror magazine 26 March 1977
  14. ^ "Get Ready to ROCK! Review of CD album resissues by rock band Slade called Whatever Happened To Slade?,We'll Bring The House Down,Till Deaf Do Us Part". Getreadytorock.com. Retrieved 2011-08-10.