Return to Base

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Return to Base marks Slade's low ebb in terms of popularity and morale. The band's future prospects looked grim, at best, and this album did nothing to change that. Having said that, Return To Base is not half bad. It contains about five classic Slade numbers, and several throwaways. Still on Barn Records, where the band had floundered over the preceding couple of years, Return to Base attracted so little attention the band could've played naked in the middle of Piccadilly Circus and not been noticed. Nevertheless, songs like the opener, "Wheels Ain't Coming Down," and "Nuts Bolts and Screws," stand up with the band's best work, and that is saying a lot. Both songs are infectious to the degree that humming them could become a chronic problem. Similarly, the version of Chuck Berry's "I'm a Rocker" is catchy as all get out. The sound of this record harkens back to the hit single sound, a bit less overdriven and heavy, and a bit more hook-filled and light. Acoustic guitars even appear at times. Sure there are some subpar tunes on here, but the bonus tracks help make up for that. In particular, "Two Track Stereo, One Track Mind" (originally a B-side of the "My Oh My" 12" single) is unquestionably one of those Slade songs that just rocks like there's no tomorrow. Certainly not a high point for the band, but they kept on keepin' on, no matter how bad things got. Secure in the knowledge that practically no one had ever heard the thing, Slade eventually redid the record as We'll Bring the House Down, a fully realized project.

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