Whatever Happened to Slade

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Whatever Happened to Slade
Whathapt.jpg
Studio album by Slade
Released 21 March 1977
Genre Hard rock, glam 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 seventh album by the British rock group Slade. It was released on 21 March 1977 by Barn Records, but did not enter any national album chart. By the time of the album's release, Slade's popularity was waning as were their record sales, which they acknowledged in the album's title. The glam rock movement, of which Slade were associated, had died, and the careers of other glam rock artists such as Mud, Gary Glitter and Sweet had also died. In Britain, where Slade had traditionally been most popular, the fashion of the day was punk rock. With this album, Slade firmly stood its ground as a straight rock group, and gone were their "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. However, the album is available today via CD remaster from 2007 and download. In later years, the album became 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]

By 1975, Slade's commercial success had peaked in Great Britain and Europe. This led to the band agreeing to move to the United States, the only major territory that had held out against Slade's onslaught. The band held out in the US for almost two years, recording the soul-influenced Nobody's Fools (1976). They had limited success in the US; 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, and would not be able to achieve success in the United States for several years.

Slade returned to the UK in early 1977 to face the UK music business much changed from the way they left it. Punk rock 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. 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 on their next album.[3][4]

Music[edit]

After the varied sound of their previous album, Nobody's Fools (1976), which prominently featured a "Californian" sound and influences from soul music,[5] Whatever Happened to Slade presents a "straight" rock sound, a sound which would have helped it to settle into the punk rock-focused British music industry of the time had it had more success. Allmusic also noted the album as sounding similar to early-Kiss, but noted "its still pure Slade, though".[6] They also noted "the songs and playing [on the album] are pretty much out of sight, with monster riffs and a different production style."[6]

The first track on the album, "Be", 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 popular in Slade's live sets, featuring on the band's subsequent live album Slade Alive, Vol. 2 (1978). For the fan club newsletter in 1979, Jim Lea spoke of the track, compared to the upcoming single "Ginny Ginny", saying "songs like "Be" are hardly concise, they're clever, but hardly the sing-along down at the pub type song."[7] Allmusic described the song as being "unlike any other the band had done".[6]

"Gypsy Roadhog" was the lead single from the album, peaking at number 48 on the UK Singles Chart. A tale of the exploits of an American cocaine dealer, the track was banned by the BBC, which led to the single's commercial failure. Regardless, the track remained popular with the fan base. The song featured a country rock influence, taken from Slade's touring in America. "One Eyed Jacks with Moustaches" became popular in Slade's live set, featuring on the subsequent live album Slade Alive, Vol. 2 (1978). Released as a single, Allmusic said the song "sounds like classic Slade, but once again, radio wouldn't touch it."[6] "Dead Men Tell No Tales" features a slower tempo. The song's lyrics, written by Holder, are based on the 1949 gangster film White Heat, starring James Cagney.[8][9]

Release and promotion[edit]

Slade performing in Sweden in April 1977, a month after the album's release.

There had been no new release from Slade since the "Nobody's Fool" single had been lifted from the Nobody's Fools album in April 1976 to commercial failure. 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. Unusually, the BBC children's show Blue Peter allowed Slade to promote the single with a mimed performance on the show before the producer had noticed the song's lyrics. A complaint followed which led to the BBC banning the song, and subsequently, the single stalled at #48 on the UK Singles Chart.

The album that followed didn't have much commercial 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, whilst 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 few people, except perhaps a mere fraction of their old fan base, was in the mood to contradict them. "One Eyed Jacks with Moustache" was also released as a single, to no commercial success.[6]

Whatever Happened to Slade was released March 1977 to no airplay and very little press. It failed to chart on any national chart, including the UK Albums Chart, and became the group's lowest-selling LP to date. However, those faithful few who took the trouble were amazed by the record. Described as "the heaviest, dirtiest (in all senses), most decadent Slade music ever made", Whatever Happened to Slade was described as making "Gypsy Roadhog" "sound like "The Teddy Bear's Picnic"" and remains many Slade connoisseurs' favourite of all their albums.[10] It was also influential on the grunge and alternative rock genres, with both Billy Corgan of The Smashing Pumpkins and Kurt Cobain of Nirvana citing the album as influential.

The album was remastered by Tim Turan at Turan Audio for CD release in 2007 by Salvo Records, a subsidiary of Union Square Productions, as part of a series of Slade CD remasters known as the "Feel the Noize" remasters. The liner notes of the new edition describe the album as "underrated".[11]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3/5 stars[12]
Record Mirror 3/5 stars[13]
Sounds 4/5 stars[14]
Classic Rock favourable[14]

Despite the commercial failure of the album, it was met with positive reviews from music critics at the time of release. Record Mirror magazine gave the album three stars of five, symbolising the album as "worth giving a spin". Sounds magazine gave the album a rating of four out of five stars.

In later years, its critical legacy continued. Allmusic's positive review concluded that "for the Slade fan, this is a great record, and one you probably never heard. Rectify that."[6] Joe Geesin of Get Ready to Rock wrote of the 2007 CD remaster that "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!"[15] In early 2010, Classic Rock magazine featured Slade as part of their "The Hard Stuff Buyers Guide", where the magazine reviewed numerous Slade albums.

A 1986 opinion poll based on Slade's material was conducted in Slade's fan club magazine, with its results published in the September–December 1986 issue. The poll results for the band's best album of the 1970s placed Whatever Happened to Slade at #2. The accompanying notes in the results explain that it was interesting that so many fans voted Whatever Happened to Slade as the best 70s album, as 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 Alright" 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

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. ^ http://sladefanclub.weebly.com/uploads/7/6/6/0/7660950/9266869_orig.jpg
  4. ^ Slade Fan Club Newsletter October–November - December 1976
  5. ^ "Nobody's Fools - Slade | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards | AllMusic". allmusic.com. Retrieved 5 September 2015. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f "Whatever Happened to Slade? - Slade | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards | AllMusic". allmusic.com. Retrieved 5 September 2015. 
  7. ^ "SLADE @ www.slayed.co.uk". Crazeeworld.plus.com. Retrieved 10 August 2011. 
  8. ^ http://sladefanclub.weebly.com/uploads/7/6/6/0/7660950/6400832_orig.jpg
  9. ^ Slade International Fan Club newsletter July–August - September 1988
  10. ^ "Slade 1977 Whatever Happened To Slade". My-rock-music.ru. Retrieved 10 August 2011. 
  11. ^ 2007 CD remaster liner notes.
  12. ^ Ginsberg, Geoff. "Whatever Happened to Slade? - Slade". AllMusic. Retrieved 10 August 2011. 
  13. ^ [1] Archived 16 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
  14. ^ a b [2] Archived 16 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
  15. ^ "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 10 August 2011.