Why Slade Are For Life, Not Just For Christmas

Yes, Bowie's back, but Slade never went away...
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Yes, Bowie's back, but Slade never went away...

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You’re forgiven, by the way, if when you saw the word Slade your brain automatically screeched “It’s Chriiiiiiiiiiissttm-“ before you smothered it with a hypothetical pillow. After all, to paraphrase the gospel of Mark, Slade have pretty much won Christmas. Those first few chords of Merry Xmas Everybody are the tolling bell that heralds the festive season, like a siren call to your mirth muscles.

We naturally assume Noddy Holder lives a cosy, tinselly life, playing charades with Roy Wood from Wizzard and kicking back with a cold glass of Advocat. He’s probably friends with whoever runs that bizarro all-year Christmas shop in London Bridge. If he wanted, he could see out the rest of his days picking every green triangle out of the Quality Street tin and nobody would even get pissed off.

But I’m here today to ask that you all reconsider. For starters, it’s March. We couldn’t be further from Christmas (unless it were January, or indeed February) and yet I thoroughly believe Slade deserve a place on your playlist. Put on Coz I Luv You right now, stomp along the pavement and things will feel at least 30 per cent better. They are pure, joyful noise.

They had 17 consecutive top 20 hits, 12 of which were top five hits between 1971 and 1974. Six were number ones. Yet Slade don’t get their fair dues these days. Probably because they looked like the grizzly offcuts of glam rock, with their mutton chops and mum-cut fringes and general air of sticky back plastic and pub peanuts; the salt of the earth to Bowie’s curious, queenly Space Oddity.

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Except they had a violinist, for cripes’ sake. Even their kooky spelling feels like a descendant of Molesworth rather than the guilty ancestor of everyone who ever had a Bebo.

If I get married I will have Everyday at my wedding.

Of course, I fell in love with Slade during the 70s revival around the turn of the millennium. Abba were rife,  I was doused in Charlie Silver, and happiness was a BBC2 nostalgia countdown with talking heads from Stuart Maconie.

From my parents I gleaned little Slade anecdote-ettes, such as “my best friend at school used to claim she fancied Dave Hill, just to be different,” and these I mentally stitched into a glorious glam rock tapestry, embellished with my own youthful observations, such as “Cum On Feel The Noize is the song on the Fiat Seicento advert.” It was small and custard yellow and obviously the coolest car around in 1999, which mean that Slade, by association, were also the car my 11 year old self wanted to drive around in.

Later I watched Noddy Holder in The Grimleys, a show that only Wikipedia and I remember existing and which as such has been enshrined in my memory as The Best Thing On Television, 1998-2002. It also had Amanda Holden as a foxy teacher, back when her face was still mobile. It was a golden time.

By the second half of my teens I was nursing a Marc Bolan obsession – partly because it wasn’t too great a leap between him and the snug-crotched boys who haunted the sixth form smoking area, and because the first few lines of Get It On were exactly, probably, what sex was like.

But who says Slade weren’t sexy? They other two were decently handsome, and after all, the only reason I didn’t fancy Noddy Holder was that I had seen Noddy Holder. If I close my eyes and concentrate really hard on his vocals, which is difficult because inevitably a giant hairy mutton chop dances into my vision, I’m pretty sure I could definitely have the horn for Holder.

All hail Slade. The Fiat Seicento of music – and I mean that in the best possible way.