Slade

Whatever Happened to Slade?

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By 1977, the world had passed Slade by. At that point, they had been concentrating exclusively on cracking the U.S.A. for several years, without much success, and punk rock happened in Great Britain and literally blew hitmakers like Slade off the map. Whatever Happened to Slade? had the misfortune of following what was easily the band's worst album at that point, Nobody's Fools, which did squat in England and not much more in the U.S.A. The record was released only on band manager Chas Chandler's Barn Records, since no one else would touch it in the U.S. or Europe. Whatever Happened to Slade? is the band's extremely loud reply to the news that they were has-beens. Whereas Slade had been a huge influence on Kiss, the favor was now returned, as Whatever has a bit of the Hotter Than Hell, early-Kiss sound, which the band has acknowledged. It's still pure Slade, though. The songs and playing here are pretty much out of sight, with monster riffs and a different production style. 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. "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. One of the singles from the album, "One Eyed Jacks with Moustaches," sounds like classic Slade, but once again, radio wouldn't touch it. Such is hipness in the music industry. The band was having Top Ten singles just a couple of years earlier, but no one wanted to know that. Slade was about humor and good cheer, two things British punk, for the most part, was not about. So they were marginalized. For the Slade fan, this is a great record, and one you probably never heard. Rectify that.

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