slade Don Powell Earls Court 1973It was a fight for the decibel and Slade won. Opening act Aerosmith's mighty sound paled in comparison to the power and energy of Slade's four members. Their pounding, churning rock with overabundant bass response shook the very foundation of the audience.

Slade enjoys an ardent following in England, and judging by the reception they received at the Felt Forum, their US popularity has not diminished. As soon as they slithered across the stage, the orchestral section of the audience charged. They climbed on each other's shoulders and danced to what seemed an avalanche of unendurable sound. Slade is something of an established act, dating back to the mid Sixties. They can, on occasion, sing a moderately tempoed noiseless song, but that clearly is not what they enjoy most. Slade's members are consummate masters of shouting and screaming an audience to the verge of St. Vitus dance.

The more they screamed and cavorted in their circus/vaudeville costumes, the louder the audience roared. Lead singer Noddy Holder, looking like a cross between Rigoletto and a bloated caricature of Mick Jagger, roused the crowd expertly. Like a preacher delivering a scathing sermon, he made sure that everyone participated in the Slade experience. Slade has added a combination of tasteful glitter, showmanship and musical clowning to its act to be visually exciting.

But the audience seemed to appreciate more the fact that Slade is a hard working band. They have maintained their popularity over the years and I guess there's something to be said for that. How long they can last is another question entirely.

The sound equation seems to be right, but everything else is wrong. For the most part, and despite some pleasant harmonies between Holder and Dave Hill, Slade's music has not taken off in any new direction. Most of their songs are constructed on slim and unsubstantial threads of melody, and cemented together with lyrics bound by timeworn cliches. After hearing phrases repeated ten times in succession, building themselves into predictable crescendos each time, there is really no place to go.

I preferred Slade four years ago and 200 watts quieter, when playing loud was just a catchy gimmick. Unfortunately they are still riding that gimmick and they will, undoubtedly, keep it up until their audiences are left deaf and babbling.

Robert V. Weinstein / Rolling Stone




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