Prime cuts and obscure chestnuts from definitive entertaining unit – bright, clean and packing a punch down the years.
For all the brilliance of their albums, this Black Country bunch have always been an ultimate singles band whose multicolored attire and boisterous stance were rarely reflected in the UK ’45s cover artwork, but the rest of Europe didn’t have such a problem, which is why “Feel The Noize” must be a collector’s reverie come true. Comprising ten of the group’s hit records, released abroad, on vinyl (and also available digitally, although it hardly makes a lot of sense because the rationale behind the songs selection is difficult to justify) the box set may not propose any new perspective, as the pieces’ pairings on offer aren’t different from the British ones, yet even the fairly familiar numbers highlight the quartet’s unwavering inventiveness. Factor in restored sound quality, and there’s nary a misstep here.
Of course, the awesome foursome’s output varies from stupendously stupid – the pompous bluster of “Skweeze Me, Pleeze Me” and “Mama Weer All Crazee Now” would be impossible to surpass – to sublimely nuanced, with Jim Lea’s piano spicing up the stomp of “Everyday” and his fiddle giving “Coz I Luv You” a folk sort of stereo-busting sensitivity, Noddy Holder’s full-on pipes getting reined in for the retro-styled “Kill ‘Em At The Hot Club Tonite” and “Far Far Away” being driven by acoustic strum. Not for nothing an ostensibly stronger “My Town” was assigned to the reverse of “My Friend Stan”: this allowed the ensemble to avoid the “more of the same” curse and stressed the arresting quality of their B-sides… as well as the repurposing of some guitar figures for A-sides, too.
Be it unplugged undercurrent that leads “My Life Is Natural” to delirious rave or the bass-loaded “O.K. Yesterday Was Yesterday” where Dave Hill’s slider and Don Powell’s cymbals shine, these musicians were never afraid to quit the glam rock bracket and pursue the most adventurous tunes and grooves. Hymnal on “Wonderin’ Y” in THE BEATLES way and paying homage to THE BYRDS on “Man Who Speaks Evil” while leaving their own stamp on everything, SLADE created a unique category no other artist could inhabit. Hearing them take tracks like early ’80s pop nugget “Night Starvation” – issued only as a promo – and the dramatic “I Won’t Let It ‘Appen Agen” from the previous decade out of LP context can entail revisiting the albums they belong to, which won’t undermine the glory of any given ’45.
SLADE’s singles remain ever-relevant, that’s why the heavy rifferama and infectious refrain of “I’m Mee I’m Now And That’s Orl” feel so modern fourty-odd years down the line. Indeed, they don’t make them like that anymore.