Odds and sods about the British rock band Slade

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Review: Play it loud

Some weeks ago I wrote a review of Slade's album "Play it loud" which found its way to the Slade Archive - in my opinion the best and most thorough website/forum about the original Slade on the net these days. "Play it loud" is my all time favourite Slade album, so I thought that I'd put the review on this blog as well:

Play it loud
The 1970 released album "Play it loud" was Slade's second - or actually their first under the name of Slade as its predecessor "Beginnings" (1969) had been made while the group was still called Ambrose Slade.
"Play it loud" was recorded during Slade's skinhead days, but there is not much skinhead about the sound. Instead the album has a more melodic, almost melancholy feel to it than other Slade albums. The distinct, energetic, stomping sound that made Slade famous world wide does not surface on this album either, mainly because that sound was the product of the highly efficient song writing team Noddy Holder/Jim Lea and none of the songs on "Play it loud" are penned solely by them. Four of the songs on the album are instead written by Jim Lea/Don Powell, namely "Dapple Rose", "I Remember", "Dirty Joker" and "Sweet Box", where the two first mentioned especially stand out. "Dapple Rose" because of its beautiful violin part and "I Remember" because of its lyrics. "I Remember" was recorded 3 years prior to Powell's horrific car crash where he lost his short time memory, so with lyrics as: "like a fire in the grass it just wiped out my past and my memory's gone", the song seems quite eerie.
"Play it loud" contains 3 cover songs; "Could I", "The Shape of Things to Come" and "Angelina", all presented with professionalism, power and an almost nihilistic feeling that prevails all over the album. This also goes for the 4 songs penned by Holder/Lea/Powell; "Raven", "See Us Here", "One Way Hotel" and "Pouk Hill", where "Pouk Hill" sticks out with its almost teasing harmonious melody and narrative lyrics about the making of the cover for the preceding album "Beginnings".
The real gem of the album is, however, "Know Who You Are" - a remake of Slade's instrumental "Genesis" with added lyrics. Here the group is at the album's best, building up the orchestration strongly with underpinning bass, rounded drums, characteristic guitar riffs and Holder/Lea's beautifully blended vocals altering between restraint and full power. Not to mention the lyrics, which according to Powell are mainly about Dave Hill.
All in all "Play it loud" is a little gem in itself, pointing towards the successful career of Slade.


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