Thursday, 2 May 2019

Slade - Play It Loud (1970)

  

Released November 1970

This was Slade's second album and they had now dropped the "Ambrose" prefix from their name and,  in the hope of creating an identity had turned themselves, against the wishes of Dave Hill and Jim Lea, into skinheads. Only drummer Don Powell really carried off the look. The album is a strange hybrid of styles, mainly heavy-ish rock, with proggy overtones. As with the previous album, it was impossible to categorise. Despite the skinhead image, the music had not become stomping as yet. Musically, the band were quite accomplished, and this certainly did not fit with the oikish image.

It is notable that on this album, Noddy Holder develops his voice more in the direction of the throaty rasp that we would come to know and love. It hadn't really been noticeable on the previous one.

TRACK LISTING

1. Raven
2. See Us Here
3. Dapple Rose
4. Could I
5. One Way Hotel
6. The Shape Of Things To Come
7. Know Who You Are
8. I Remember
9. Pouk Hill
10. Angelina
11. Dirty Joker
12. Sweet Box

"Raven" is an enjoyable, rhythmic and chugging piece of rock. Great drumming from Don Powell on it too. "See Us Here" has some heavy rock riffing and drumming once more. It is one of Slade's heaviest numbers. "Dapple Rose" is a Don Powell song about an old racehorse and it really is rather sad. So sad in fact it is rather difficult to listen to. "Could I" has those proggy airs to it, sounding like The Strawbs or the early Electric Light Orchestra.

"One Way Hotel" is one of the album's best tracks - a bluesy, upbeat number with a catchy guitar riff. "The Shape Of Things To Come" is a rousing rock number that uses a backing sound like the one used on Diana Ross And The Supremes' "You Keep Me Hanging On". "Know Who You Are" is very typical of Slade's early seventies output. It was played on the 1972 live album, "Slade Alive". "I Remember" sounds a bit like early seventies Status Quo.

"Pouk Hill" is a folk rock-ish song about a hill in Walsall, West Midlands. It has a line that goes "please help we", using the Black Country grammar of "we" instead of "us". Holder's vocal sounds a little like Jethro Tull. "Angelina" is a solid, mid-pace rocker with hints of early Mott The Hoople in places. "Dirty Joker" is a riffy, Stonesy rocker, with a bit of funky wah-wah guitar in there. "Sweet Box" has Holder doing a Deep Purple-style high voice vocal at the beginning. It is another heavy, riff-driven number. This is as heavy and dense as Slade ever got.

Listening to this, no-one would ever have predicted that Slade would become what they did, either musically or image-wise. This was a million miles away from "Come On Feel The Noize".

C+

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