IT’S CHRIIIISTMAAAAAASS!!… etc etc so all those festive songs have been on an endless loop in shops, bars and bite sized lip-sync moments on instagram stories for months now. There’s the one about wishing it could be Christmas everyday-ay-ay; the simply-having-a-snore-fest one from that ex-Beatle; and unfortunately the one that even Mariah can’t properly mime to anymore. The granddaddy of them all is the one wot gets me all crazee by Slade, (seemingly the UK’s most forgotten rock n roll band) entitled simply, Merry Xmas Everybody. Dun exactly wot i’says o’the tin.
But Slade ain’t just for Xmas, they’re for life. The original band – Noddy Holder (lead vocals, guitar), Dave Hill (lead guitar), Jim Lea (bass) and Don Powell (drums) – existed from 1966 – 1991 and garnered 17 top 20 UK hits and 6 number ones. To define them by that one crimbo track is to betray a band whose unique rabble rock sound has influenced the likes of KISS, Nirvana, Ramones, The Sex Pistols, Oasis and Def Leppard amongst many others.
So while you gorge on a crimbo-dinner pieced together from BOGOF deals at Iceland, enjoy this run down of Slade’s top 5 non Xmas hits that you should be utterly ashamed you’ve never drunkenly shouted along to down the boozer.
1. The Banging Man. Gritty guitar and cow bell open this bluesy tale of a hung over Casanova. Laced together by a throbbing bass that gives the simple solo a bed to shoot from before Noddy kicks the key up for a 3rd act rebel-rousing vocal that is part joy and part frustration. Slade’s catchiest tune ever.
2. Lock Up Your Daughters. This is about as metal as Slade got with Hill’s down and dirty guitar giving it some right ol’welly with those dark Judas Priest style wails that blends wonders with Nod’s controlled vocal. Jumpy-bang-bangs from Powell’s drums link back to the sound of their earlier records while the ABBA style BVs add a sweet bubble-gum sheen that makes this one their most energetic tracks.
3. My Oh My. A sweeter Slade now; the piano and vocal opening is pure subversion and tear jerkingly beautiful with The Nod on fine form. The contractually obliged big echo-y 80s drum cascade and sing-a-long group vocals means this is a euphoric Old Lang Syne alternative for New Years Eve.
4. 7 Year Bitch. Of all of Slade’s hits this is the most daytime-TV-Dad-rock with its gentle pace, whoa whoa BVs and almost synthy guitar sound, but the inoffensive counting is just too much of an ear worm to exclude from this list. Lacking the Slade power it may be, but it’s catchiness is so infectious that you’ll still be humming it long after the fade out.
5. Radio Wall Of Sound. A poppier sound for Slade’s final big hit in 1991 before Noddy nodded off and Dave ‘The Hair’ Hill and the others stomped away on their own and became mainstays on the revival circuit. Noticeable for the absence of a lead vocal from Holder, instead, bassist and track composer Jim Lea took the mic with Noddy joining in for the gang-chorus. As far as swan-songs go, it has the energy and euphoria of their best work but just without the bar-room-bluesy-ness. Those big thumping drums are still there making this a fists in the air Stadium anthem that 26 years on retains a power that is lacking from 99% of songs in the current top 40.