FEBRUARY / MARCH 1976
First I should say that for me this is the best album that Slade have made so far, and I say this not just because I am writing for Slade admirers but because musically this is the breakthrough I have been hoping they were going to make.
Here is my track by track commentary on what you'll soon be hearing.
Nobody's Fool. The title track and a piece of work I immediately thought would make a future single. Although it is four minutes twenty seconds long I do not feel th is is a disadvantage. Nobody's Fool starts with some strident Jimmy Lea keyboard work and when Noddy joins in on vocals it's a slightly more subtle Noddy than we've known in the past. But by the time he reaches the chorus: No one can say I'm super cruel/No one can say I'm super fool/No one can say I'm super cruel/I'm nobody's foo/ Noddy is back in full throttle. I liked the guitar work too reflecting the main theme of the song, plus the restrained drumming of Don Powell.
Do the Dirty. This is very different from the first track. It starts with a roar from Noddy, the guitar of Dave Hill the use of echo and shows the direction the band could take in the future along the lines of these highly successful heavy metal bands (as they're called in America) Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple. I'd say this is the first track influenced by Slade's stay in America, which has given their music much more depth and range, no doubt because of their exposure to all the different sorts of music around them out there. There's some really good and intricate guitar playing and good time keeping by Don Powell. The production too is particularly strong on this track.
Let's Call it Quits. Another American influenced piece of work by Noddy and Jimmy, who wrote all the material on the album. A fascinating track with a deeper voiced Noddy reproducing a 1976 cowboy, but instead of an acoustic guitar on his knee there is the strong sound of the electric guitar, making it totally modern. From Noddy, (IS he sings a rather plaintive love song to end an affair, there comes too almost a hint of a yodel near the end. They used to sing things like this in cowboy films, well not quite like this, but I think you'll know what I mean when you hear it.
Pack Up Your Troubles. A real country rock number. It's the most different thing I've heard the group do yet and it works really well, right down to acoustic guitar and that wonderful country sound of a pedal steel guitar. Another track I think would make a single, but I'm not sure that the disc jockeys would be as brave as the group in departing from what everyone expects from Slade.
In for a Penny. New version of one of the group's past hits, a little quieter and more subtle than on the original and the playing of Jimmy and Dave is perhaps more intricate showing that the group is not just experimenting but really broadening their musical experience. I think America has obviously done them a lot of good as musicians, because the competition is so hot there and also because you can hear so many good musicians. It's quite obvious the group has successfully absorbed this experience. This version of In For A Penny says all I mean.
Get on Up. The most traditional Slade number on the whole album right from the opening raunchy guitar sound to Noddy's rendering of the typical Slade chorus: So get on up, get on up/Make me feel real tight/So get on up, get on up/ Make me feel alright. All the group join in the singing on this one.
L.A. Jinx. This one says it all really about the group's experiences over the past few years. And I'm glad to say that they sing about their American worries ending. "Cos the L.A. jinx is all over/Now I've found me a four leafed clover.! In other words the band has conquered their fears about working and living in America. At first their experiences there were not good, but now judging from this album everything has worked out. Noddy is on good form here, and the new musical strength of the band is at its best.
Did Your Mama Ever Tell. A naughty little modern nursery rhyme from Noddy all in good humour, I should add. Noddy starts this one very quietly almost whispering: "Are you sitting comfortably?" What Jack and Jill really did when they went up that hill, is one of the musical disclosures. Several nursery rhymes are shown to have double meanings. Not too rude, as they used to say in the days of variety: Naughty but nice.
Scratch My Back. Another traditional Slade number just to prove that they're not leaving their faithful fans behind. Strong voice from Noddy, guitar work powerful too and pleasant use of girl backing group.
I'm a Talker. Definite West Indian feeling to this one, without the out and out monotony of the reggae beat, which has marred many a white record in the past. Slade employ certain reggae techniques such as the laid back bass. Catchy chorus:
I'm a talker, I'm a teller. Another song reflecting California with its love of star signs. A song that gets better and better as it progresses. Backing group again in evidence on this one, which also helps fill out Slade's sound.
All the World is a Stage. Probably the most imaginatively written song on the whole album and musically employing the electronics advancement heard on the first side in Do The Dirty. Noddy's voice is again subtle and echoes around the guitar work. And a nice surprise ending, so I won't give the game away.
by Michael Wale
WORD FROM DON
Hello, this time it's me to write to you all. Well I had a great Christmas, like most of you I ate too much, so now I have to struggle to get into my jeans but once I get back on the road I shall soon be back to my sylph like figure. I went to a house warming party in Wolverhampton, Charlie one of our roadies has bought a house there and he threw a party to celebrate. He has also acquired some very odd pets, Piranha fish, you know those nasty little fish that in the wild can strip a cow down to the bone if it falls into the river. He keeps them in a special shed in the garden, good job as some foolish person could dip their fingers in the aquarium and wollop no fingers, very nasty.
I have just bought the complete recordings of Harry Nillson, my present to my-self. I have also bought a mini for driving in London as I find the Rolls far too big for town and almost impossible to park, so it now stays in Wolverhampton. I have tarted up the mini a bit. I have put wide tread wheels on and had smoked glass windows put in. To complete the car, Quad sound, so I can drive around surrounded by my favourite music.
A big thank you to those of you who sent in stamps for my Christmas present, but to find the time to sort and mount them is another story. Well that's all for now and I hope you will like the new single 'Lets Call It Quits'.
Look after yourselves, love Don.