Get Down And Get With It
Considering there are only seven songs on the record it's some achievement that Slade Alive! has often been cited as one of the best live albums of all time. This 45th anniversary issue is a very nice package, with a hard cover and 28 page booklet. The only criticism is that the sleeve notes, whilst extremely comprehensive and interesting are in really small print on the CD version that made it very hard to read.
Hear Me Calling, a cover of the Ten Years After song, sets their stall out straight away, it's loud and raw with some excellent musicianship. This album really captures the essence of the band at that time and shows that they were far more than a polished singles band and the authors of a certain festive tune. At their core Slade are an out and out rock and roll band who really knew how to push it in the live arena and the production on the album really brings that to the fore.
Surprisingly, four of the seven songs here are covers but Slade take complete ownership of them and stamp their mark all over them. The lush middle eight of the Loving Spoonful's Darling Be Home Soon for example, is replaced by a storming and raucous guitar break that can't help but raise a smile and when Noddy Holder burps down the mic you have to laugh.
Know Who You Are is one of the original tracks and is probably the best track on the album with its hypnotic verse giving way to a great riff that just builds into a superb ending that if anything feels too short. Keep On Rocking is another original but is a total doff of the cap to any rock and roll standard 12 bar blues song of the preceding 20 years. What Slade do though, is make it louder and rawer and after the obligatory call and response with the crowd it's clear that everyone is getting carried along for the ride.
The final track is a cover of Steppenwolf's Born to be Wild, which extends into a fairly epic eight minute work out full of squealing guitars. Five minutes in a siren goes off and the last three minutes are just a glorious cacophony of noise.
Slade Alive! is a short but excellent document of an often misunderstood band, that goes a long way to setting the record straight and showcasing what a damn fine band they were.