In for a Penny: Raves & Faves Label: Shout! Factory
Commercially speaking, glam rock wasn’t worth a toss here in the States; a few artists made a little headway, but they did jack compared to how crazed the fans got about the stuff over in the UK. Certainly, one of the greatest bands of the genre was Slade, who probably made more money in the US from songwriting royalties than they did from the sales of their own albums; Quiet Riot took their songs “Mama Weer All Crazee Now” and “Cum on Feel The Noize” and made ‘em into hits when Slade themselves could barely crawl into the top 100 with their original versions. In the UK, however, they hold the record for selling more singles than any other group during the 1970s.
Despite Slade's comparatively low profile on these shores, Shout! Factory was kind enough to release a fantastic single-disc anthology of the band's best work a few years ago; 2004’s Get Yer Boots: The Best of Slade is arguably the best, most concise collection of the band’s work that’s ever seen the light of day in any country, tackling their entire career in only sixteen tracks but doing it remarkable justice. Yes, it even includes “My Oh My” and “Run Runaway.” The response to the set was so tremendous that the label has opted to follow it up with a disc’s worth of tracks from various points during their career which, while they were in no way as popular (not even in their homeland) as the songs on Get Yer Boots, provide almost as much enjoyment.
There was always more to Slade than just the novelty of glam. They were a fun-loving bunch of blokes who loved to rock but also knew the importance of writing a chorus that’d stick in your head. The best example of that here is “When the Lights Are Out,” which is as catchy as any single the band ever took to the top of the British charts; originally appearing on 1974’s Old New Borrowed And Blue, it’s clear that Noddy Holder and Jim Lea had been giving their Beatles records another spin when they wrote this track, with its fan guitar riffs. (Actually, Slade were clearly Beatles fans from way back; their influence on “Wonderin’ Y” is palpable as well.) “Them Kind of Monkeys Can’t Swing” is a balls-up rocker from the band’s underrated In Flame album, and “Don’t Blame Me” – the B-side to the Yuletide classic, “Merry Xmas Everybody” – finds Noddy screaming up a storm.
The glam spectacular of “Thanks for the Memory (Wham Bam Thank You Mam)” makes for another song to add to the ever-growing list of perfect mix disc closers, and “Let’s Call It Quits” might’ve served that purpose as well if it wasn’t for the fact that it sounds so disconcertingly similar to Shaun Cassidy’s “That’s Rock ‘N’ Roll.” The title track is in a minor key, but it’s still has a damned catchy bit of bounce to it, sounding not so terribly far removed from “Coz I Love You.” There are a couple of covers thrown into the mix as well, with the band offering their takes on the Mann / Weil classic, “Shape of Things to Come,” as well as Janis Joplin’s “Move Over.”
In for a Penny definitely isn’t where you should start your Slade listening experience – once again, you absolutely can’t go wrong with Get Yer Boots – but if you like what you find on that disc, this is an extremely fine follow-up to help you delve farther into the band’s catalog. And, hey, speaking of that, Shout! Factory, when are we going to get that catalog reissued for this new crop of Stateside Slade fans you’ve created?