If you thought Slade were a seasonal novelty act, prepare for a surprise. Sure, Merry Xmas Everybody is an evergreen classic, but Noddy Holder and co are for far more than just Christmas. After starting as a skinhead band, they switched allegiance to glam rock after realizing top hats and tartan suits were more up their street than shaved heads and surliness. It proved the wisest decision they ever made. They ended up becoming one of the biggest acts of the 1970s, selling more singles than any other band, helping shape an entire genre, and becoming a major influence on countless others. If you’ve never been able to get past Noddy’s fondness for tartan and Dave Hill’s taste in hairstyles, cum on feel the hits as we count down the 10 best Slade songs of all time.
10. In For A Penny
As loudersound.com writes, Slade were already in commercial decline when their sixth album, Nobody’s Fools, landed in 1976. They’d spent so long trying to break America, they’d fallen out of favor in the UK. Glam rock was on the verge of collapse. No one wanted flares and excess anymore. They wanted three chords and a Mohican. Still, In For a Penny isn’t without its merits, with Dave Hill delivering some of the juiciest licks of his career.
9. Merry Xmas Everybody
If you’re from the UK, Merry Xmas Everybody is as essential to Christmas as turkey and crackers. It’s impossible to get through the festive period without being blasted with it at least 5 times a day. But that’s ok. It might be ubiquitous, but it’s also as jolly as Santa and as comforting as a plate of mince pies. Released in 1973 against a backdrop of economic hardship and general bleakness, it offered a few minutes of glorious, lighthearted fun. Nearly 50 years later, it’s still doing the same.
8. Far Far Away
The mid-1970s marked the start of Slade’s commercial decline, but they still had a few more tricks up their sleeve before they went out. 1974’s Far Far Away represented their last major hit of the decade, taking them to No. 2 in the UK charts. Although it’s still very much a Slade record, it sees the band tackle a new, more mature sound, with Noddy singing rather than shouting his way through some surprisingly insightful lyrics. This was Slade at their classiest.
7. Get Down And Get With It
Slade were a band that fed off a live audience. When their debut album sunk without trace, they started to look for ways to commit their onstage magic to tape. They did it with Get Down And Get With It, a song they’d been driving the crowds wild with for years. To recreate the feel of a live gig, the band recorded it in a single take, adding authenticity with some boisterous foot stomping and hand clapping. It worked. Released in May 1971, it soared to No 16 in the UK charts, giving the band their first of what would be 17 consecutive Top 20 hits.
6. Do We Still Do It?
Taken from the 1974 album, Old New Borrowed And Blue, Do We Still Do It? is Slade doing what Slade did best. There’s no subtlety, no delicacy, and if you play it too loud you’re likely to pop an eardrum. This is a big, life-affirming slice of rock and roll that’s all the better for its brashness.
5. Mama Weer All Crazee Now
Ultimateclassicrock.com describes Mama Weer All Crazee Now as one of Slade’s most emphatic rock and roll statements. It’s hard to disagree. Their third UK No.1 is as ballsy and boisterous as Slade ever got, with a foot-stomping beat and a terrific performance from Noddy. Released over half a century ago, it’s still as rousing now as it was then.
4. Coz I Luv You
After two albums, Slade had a reputation as a great live band but hadn’t yet broken into the mainstream. Coz I Luv You changed that. Released in 1971, it took the band straight to No 1 in the UK charts and kept them there until they get unceremoniously toppled by Benny Hill’s Ernie (The Fastest Milkman In The West) a month later. It’s a sweeter, subtler affair than the big anthems they’d later become known for, but it still rocks.
3. Gudbuy T’ Jane
If there’s one thing Noddy Holder has always loved even more than mutton-chop whiskers and a tartan flat cap, it’s a misspelling. Gudbuy T’ Jane follows in the tradition of Cum On Feel The Noize and Mama Weer All Crazee Now, delivering a monster tune off the back of some bad grammar, a stomping beat, and a rollicking vocal from Noddy.
2. Cum On Feel The Noize
The band’s fourth chart-topper was Cum On Feel The Noize. From Noddy’s opening shriek of ‘Baby Baby Baby’ to the last hand clap, it’s a treat. Don Powell’s drums are next-level madness, with Noddy belting over the top in his usual imitable style. It’s got less subtly than a bulldozer, but that’s the point. Simple, boisterous, and very, very loud, it’s classic Slade.
1. How Does It Feel?
According to Wikipedia, Noel Gallagher of Oasis once described How Does It Feel? as “one of the best songs written, in the history of pop, ever”. Def Leppard covered it on their 2006 album Yeah! James Blunt performed a version of it during the opening ceremony of the 2016 Invictus Games in Orlando, Florida. What do Noel Gallagher, Def Leppard, and James Blunt all have in common? Nothing. And that, in its essence, is what makes Slade one of the greatest bands of the 1970s. Their influence is as wide as it’s long, with everyone from Nirvana to Cheap Trick and Kiss to the Sex Pistols citing them as an inspiration. They shaped glam rock, pioneered hair metal, and delivered anthems like this. Whatever else they were, they weren’t crazee.