The 1970s owes a debt to this band from England who were happily part of the decade’s shiny, rock ‘n’ roll glam stage: Slade.
Don Powell, Dave Hill and Noddy Holder met while doing the club circuit in the late 1960s and although members of different bands, came together to form ‘N Betweens.
Adding bass player Jim Lea, the band focused on writing new songs as well as playing covers and attracted the attention of record companies.
The new band, called Ambrose Slade, was signed to Fontana Records and released a debut album Beginnings, which didn’t attract much attention. But at a live gig, Chas Chandler formerly of The Animals asked to become their manager.
Their new manager changed their look to skinheads, changed the band name to Slade and got them a new deal with Polydor Records. But for two years the band still wasn’t getting any notice.
In 1971, Slade released a cover of Chuck Berry’s Get Down and Get With It, a popular song in their live show and the song became a radio hit and entered the Brit top 20 charts.
The band changed their look again, growing their hair long and going for the glam look, working with Dorothy Anakin, who created elaborate top hats worn by the band. Slade released the single Coz I Luv You, which became another hit. The boys quickly released another single in early 1972, Look Wut You Done, which went to number four on the charts.
Capitalizing on their live show, the band released Slade Alive! in March 1972, which became their bestselling album to date and for the first time gave them airplay and hit the charts in the US. Recorded in a club in Piccadilly, the album was recorded in front of an audience of 300.
Take Me Bak ‘Ome was the band’s third hit single followed closely by one of the band’s most popular singles ever Mama Weer All Crazee Now. The band smartly released its third album, Slayed? in November 1972, which upset Slade Alive! on the charts.
1973 started as a banner year for the band with the single, Cum on Feel the Noize going to number on in the UK and Europe, but not in the US. The band’s drummer Don Powell was in a car crash and suffered many broken bones and slowly recovered over 10 weeks.
The band’s last number one single, recorded in August 1973, was Merry Xmas Everybody, followed in early 1974 with their fourth album Old, New Borrowed and Blue, which went to number one on the UK album charts. Retitled Clap Your Hands, Stomp Your Feet for the US market, the album failed to attract any attention and its single Everyday hit #3 on the UK charts, but nowhere else.
Although the band’s live shows continued to draw fans, the band wanted to change and worked on a soundtrack for a film Slade in Flame, loosely based on the band and other bands of the time period. The gritty bleak film confused fans and its single Far Far Away, wasn’t the happy party sound fans had loved.
Moving to the US in late 1975 and touring with Aerosmith, ZZ Top and Black Sabbath enabled the boys to keep going, but didn’t bring them the notice they wanted as glam rock style was no longer trendy. Their album Nobody’s Fools failed to chart in the UK.
Returning to the UK in 1977, the band realized punk was king and their version of rock was no longer chart worthy. But for the glam rock era, Slade is seen as one of the true patriots to the style.