"Nobody's Fools" was Slades 5th studio U.K. album, it was released and produced by Chas Chandler via Polydor record label on 5th March 1976.
This album reached number 14 on the U.K. chart, it was also their 1st album (since their rise to fame) not to reach the U.K. Top 10, and to drop out of the chart after a chart run of only 4 weeks. It would be their last album that would make an appearance on the chart until 1980s compilation "Slade Smashes!". The album also showed the band dropping their 'loud' and 'rocky' type songs, and move towards a more 'American' soul pop sound. British fans accused Noddy Holder and Jim Lea as 'selling out' and forgetting about their fan base in the U.K., as the band had been in the States for most of 1975, trying to crack the market.
Slade had always had very limited success in the U.S.A.. In the period of 1972 - 73, the band not only took their 1st step in America but also as the biggest group of the U.K. complete with attendant record company hype touting them the next Beatles. It did them no favours, Slade had built up a huge live reputation but for all their strengths, Slade were no Beatles and they knew it. "So much hype," Noddy Holder told Geoff Barton in 1975. "And the American public don't like that at all. They like to go out and see things for themselves on stage, and make their own minds up...we knew that it was impossible to live up to."
Some U.S. cities such as St Louis, Philadelphia and New York took positively to Slade. But more often than not, Slade's stage act that was such a hit in the rest of the world, was received with bemusement and indifference by the stateside crowds. The average 1970s American rock audience expected to be wooed by vibes and virtuosity, not anthemic pop rock songs and brash exhortations.
Back in the U.K. in 1975, Slade were feeling stale. After a mixed reception of their 1975 movie "Flame" and the less than frantic rush for tickets for the group's last U.K. tour (in decided contrast to the mayhem of their 1973 tour), manager Chas Chandler came to the only conclusion he could. To crack America the only major territory to thus far resist Slade's sound, at least as far as chart action went the group would have to move there permanently and build a solid reputation from their live performances, just as they had in the U.K. Slade, sensing they were becoming worn out, agreed. "During the past 5 years when the band peaked," Noddy Holder said in 1975, "we did 5 major tours of Britain, 6 tours of Europe, 2 tours of Australia, 2 of Japan, visited the U.S.A. a few times, made a film...you can understand why we felt more than a little jaded. We reckoned that we needed to undertake a fresh challenge to regain that old spark."
So it was that Spring of 1975 that Slade relocated to New York City; Noddy Holder lived in a suite at the Mayflower Hotel on the south west corner of Central Park, Jim Lea and Dave Hill took apartments on the Upper East Side and Don Powell went downtown, near Greenwich Village. They toured constantly, often on packages with the likes of Aerosmith, ZZ Top and Black Sabbath. Usually 2nd on the bill, Slade honed their live show, taking the idea of playing skilfully seriously which went down consistently well with the American audience. The success wasn't translated into U.S.A. airplay, but the band felt improved and rejuvenated.
In between tours Holder and bassist Jim Lea got down to what Holder called some "serious writing", booked themselves into New York's Record Plant in mid 1975 and recorded the album which would be called "Nobody's Fools".
The album stands up today as a varied and highly entertaining listen and the band themselves are justifiably proud of their American album, drummer Don Powell rates it as his favourite Slade long player and Noddy Holder cites the single "Nobody's Fool" as the most overlooked of Slade's songs. Needless to say, it fared only moderately in the U.K. album chart, peaking at number 14 but disappearing from the top 75 after only 4 weeks. This from a band who could previously expect an album to hang around for 4 months or more. And from that, things would get much worse for Slade before it got better.
"Nobody's Fools" was released via Polydor record label on 5th March 1976.
Noddy Holder was interviewed for the Slade Fan Club Newsletter of April, May and June 1976. Noddy Holder stated "We recorded the album in New York (The Record Plant), where we spent something like 6 weeks on it. We did it all in one go, more or less, well we also did a couple of days in a L.A. studio a couple of months before, just to get into the swing of things."
Noddy Holder also stated that the band's intention was to concentrate on producing a really 1st class album which meant taking time off of touring. "We decided not to rush the album, like we have done on past recording sessions. We wanted to get everything just so. It wasn't just a 'wam bam' job. The sound and production is the best yet."
According to the Noddy Holder, the reason why the band went to America was purely to record an album over there. "The album is why we went to the States, not for tax reasons, folks! We wanted to get fresh ideas, we felt we were getting a bit stale living in England."
According to the fan club, guitarist Dave Hill remarked a few months before the interview that New York was literally throbbing with ideas. He said inspiration came just by strolling along the sidewalks, drinking in the bars and chatting to the old men or old women in the local drugstores.
Noddy Holder replied "Yeah, he's right, New York is such a lively, vibrant city, just living there gave me and Jim a lot of ideas to work on."
Noddy Holder spoke of the musical influences on the album. "Ya know we've been influenced by a lotta things, particularly soul. We used some coloured chicks for back up vocals and I really enjoyed working with them, it was something different for us, and at the same time it gave our a lot of body! Those girls have great voices. We enjoyed doing all sorts of sounds, like country, funk, rock. I mean every track has its own particular style."
Noddy Holder spoke of the album's title, "No it doesn't really carry any interesting meanings. We didn't quite know what to call it, and then one day we were listening to one of the tracks called "Nobody's Fool", and we decided we'd just add an 's' to 'Fool', and call it "Nobody's Fools". Good though ain't it?"
Noddy Holder was asked whether he personally thought the musicianship was better on the album. "We had a long time to get things how we wanted them. I mean we had 6 weeks in the studio to get better and better, so the playing got better, and the sound got better, so yeah in terms of improvement it's a big step ahead."
Jim Lea spoke in a mid 1976 fan club interview about the recording of the album. "We just got a terrific buzz when we were working on the album. We were more relaxed than we've ever been, more willing and able to be more experimental in the studios, and we took it easy and relaxed. Certainly we felt we had a good product in the making, so it seemed right to put everything we had into it."
In an early 1986 fan club magazine interview, Dave Hill spoke of the album. "We were maybe musically cleverer in those early years, which could have introduced us to new things but it never happened, apart from "How Does It Feel". "Nobody's Fools" was a bit different, wasn't it? That was recorded in America, but it didn't happen over there."
The album's front cover was created to coincide with the band's 10th anniversary, adopting the same positions of the cover for the 1970 album "Play It Loud".
"Nobody's Fools" was originally released on 12" vinyl and cassette and 8 track cartridge.
Upon release, Noddy Holder was interviewed for the Slade Fan Club Newsletter of April, May and June 1976. Holder stated "Really proud of the album. We think it's our best, but we always say that every time we bring another one out. However, there is something special about this 1."
Noddy Holder also stated the album was one of Slade's best because it is a work of blood, sweat and tears as opposed to a quick, rushed job in between gigs and it is their most experimental work of the time.
Years later, when singer Noddy Holder was asked for his favourite Slade album he stated "my favourite Slade album would be "Nobody's Fools". That is the only 1 I can really sit down at home and listen to from start to finish".
For the Slade Fan Club Newsletter of April, May, June, 1976, Jim Lea stated "I am really proud of the album and believe it is the best album we have ever done. I have no especial favourite track on the album I love them all. I'm sure you will see quite an American influence on a lot of the tracks and we believe the hard work we put in, in America had paid dividends."
During a fan club interview with Noddy Holder in mid 1976, Jim Lea stated "This is the only album of all the Slade albums that I can sit down and play. Before I've been fed up with them by the time they came out. But I honestly like playing this 1 at home."
Jim Lea was asked his opinion on the fans statement that every track could be a potential single. "Well, it's all down to taste, but we've had friends and people we know coming up and saying "oh, I think that should be the next single" or "this should be the next single", everyone seems to like different tracks. I think the ones we had out ("In For A Penny" and "Let's Call It Quits") proved to be pretty good singles."
According to the Slade fan club magazine, at the time of release, L.A. and other parts of America were positive towards Slade and so it seemed there was a good chance that "Nobody's Fools" was going to make the Billboard Hot 100.
In the Slade Fan Club Newsletter for July, August and September 1976, it was stated that the St. Louis sales market for Slade was bigger than any other artist on the Warner Bros. record label in the area at the time.
In an early 1986 Slade fan club magazine interview, guitarist Dave Hill was asked if using female backing vocals on the album caused the limited success of the album. Dave Hill replied "Yeah, I think that had a bit of a negative vibe with some of the fans. I think that they didn't like women singing on our records. As much as we enjoyed the idea, it had a bit of a negative response. We quite liked the sound of some of the black singers over there, you see. When you're successful, people pick on things."
For the album's promotion, the band continued to tour in America whilst returning to the U.K. for TV performances of the album's singles.
The album reached number 14 on the U.K. chart.
Track listing - 12" LP U.K.
A1. Nobody's Fool (Noddy Holder, Jim Lea) - 4:20
A2. Do The Dirty (Noddy Holder, Jim Lea) - 4:44
A3. Let's Call It Quits (Noddy Holder, Jim Lea) - 3:30
A4. Pack Up Your Troubles (Noddy Holder, Jim Lea) - 3:18
A5. In For A Penny (Noddy Holder, Jim Lea) - 3:33
B1. Get On Up (Noddy Holder, Jim Lea) - 3:28
B2. L.A. Jinx (Noddy Holder, Jim Lea) - 3:57
B3. Did Ya Mama Ever Tell Ya (Noddy Holder, Jim Lea) - 3:00
B4. Scratch My Back (Noddy Holder, Jim Lea) - 3:04
B5. I'm A Talker (Noddy Holder, Jim Lea) - 3:16
B6. All The World Is A Stage (Noddy Holder, Jim Lea) - 3:57
"Nobody's Fool" written by Holder and Lea, this was originally released as a single by Slade via Polydor record label on 9th April 1976 the single failed to appear on the U.K. chart.
The track was released as the last single from this album. The track failed to chart in the U.K., the 1st time since Slade's rise to fame. The track features Tasha Thomas on backing vocals. The 1st time a female singer had appeared on Slade material. Chris Ingham of Rock Backpages stated ""Nobody's Fool" has a rousing chorus, a stinging guitar lick, thunders agreeably along with the added bonus of Tash Thomas and co's soulful backing vocals." The single version has an edited piano introduction. Allmusic wrote "The title track is excellent, but marred by a bad arrangement."
In the Slade Fan Club Newsletter of February and March 1976, the track was described by the editor Diane Kelly. "The title track and a piece of work I immediately thought would make a future single. Although it is 4 minutes and 20 seconds long I do not feel this a disadvantage. "Nobody's Fool" starts with some strident Lea piano work and when Holder joins in on vocals it's a slightly more subtle Holder than we've known in the past. But by the time he reaches the chorus, Holder is back in full throttle. I liked the guitar work too reflecting the main theme of the song, plus the restrained drumming of Powell."
Do The Dirty
"Do The Dirty" written by Holder and Lea, is a mid tempo track influenced by the American rock sound. Chris Ingham wrote ""Do The Dirty" is a splendid example of Slade's new interest in conspicuous ensemble excellence. A blend of a start stop boogie groove, classic Slade sounding power chords, a nice 'n' heavy funk lick on the guitar and some characteristically fluid bass playing from Jim Lea." Allmusic wrote "Do The Dirty is a foot stomping rocker with a little funkiness thrown in for good measure."
In the Slade Fan Club Newsletter of February and March 1976, the track was described by the editor. "This is very different from the 1st track. It starts with a roar from Holder, the guitar of 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 Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple. I'd say this is the 1st 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 timekeeping by Powell. The production too is particularly strong on this track."
The song opens with the shout of the word "boogie". Holder explained the meaning behind this in a mid 1976 fan club interview. "It seems to me that American youngsters prefer Slade to boogie on down. Whenever Slade go on stage requests and shouts of 'boogie' from the crowd can be heard machine gunning around the theatre. It's a great feeling. We might be doing something a bit slow and ya get all these kids screaming 'boogie!'. That's why we decided to put a great big 'boogie' at the beginning of "Do The Dirty"".
Lea added "What we did was to audition our American roadies to see who could come up with the best 'boogie'. It was a bit of a lark really, although the guy we used didn't get a credit, we forget to put it on the sleeve."
Let's Call It Quits
"Let's Call It Quits" written by Holder and Lea, this was originally released as a single by Slade via Polydor record label on 30th January 1976 and reached number 11 on the U.K. chart.
This is the 2nd single released from this album. Allmusic described the track as "a real screamer where Holder coughs up a great vocal." Chris Ingham wrote ""Let's Call It Quits" pursued the usual ribald lyrical theme but otherwise was entirely dissimilar to anything Slade had yet recorded. Preceded by a fanfare of overdriven jazzy chords on the guitar and bowing out on a superbly bluesy pay off, a slinky rock groove with offbeat rhythm guitar and inspired call and response between Holders vocals and Hills lead guitar."
In the Slade Fan Club Newsletter of February and March 1976, the track was described by the editor. "Another American influenced piece of work by Holder and Lea, who wrote all the material on the album. A fascinating track with a deeper voiced Holder reproducing a 1976 cowboy, but instead of an acoustic guitar on his knee there is a strong sound of electric guitar, making it sound totally modern. From Holder, as he sings a rather plaintive song 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
"Pack Up Your Troubles" written by Holder and Lea, is a country acoustic based ballad, something new for Slade to try. Chris Ingham stated "the camp fire feel of "Pack Up Your Troubles" included dobro guitar which elevates the song into a classy piece of country pastiche. Holders lyrics are based on a optimistic, seize the day philosophy with the image of catching 'a fish on the line' representing all that is real, simple and true."
In the Slade Fan Club Newsletter of February and March 1976, the track was described by the editor. "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 the 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
"In For A Penny" written by Holder and Lea, this was originally released as a single by Slade via Polydor on 14th November 1975 and reached number 11 on the U.K. chart and is the leading single released from this album. It is a ballad and features the accordion which is the only Slade track to do so. The track peaked at number 11 on the U.K. chart, Chris Ingham wrote ""In For A Penny" is an atmospheric, reflective piece fully of Beatlesesque harmonic traits and featuring the longest Hill guitar solo used on a Slade single. It may come as a surprise to listeners seduced by the melancholy air of the record to discover that the lyrics content is full of risque."
In the Slade Fan Club Newsletter of February and March 1976, the track was described by the editor. "New version of 1 of the group's past hits, a little quieter and more subtle than on the original and the playing of Lea and Hill 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
"Get On Up" written by Holder and Lea, is 1 of the more rock based tracks on the album and the 2nd track to feature Tasha Thomas on backing vocals. The track became part of Slade's live song set and appeared on the 1978 live album Slade "Alive Vol. 2". It was the only track to be used live. Allmusic wrote "The album's best track is "Get on Up", which has an absolutely brutal riff." Chris Ingham stated ""Get On Up" betrays the influence of U.S.A. boogie music, with no more than 4 chords and a no messing approach to the groove. Tasha Thomas's harmony and response parts work wonderfully, adding a whole new dimension of excitement to the sound."
In the Slade Fan Club Newsletter of February and March 1976, the track was described by the editor. "The most traditional Slade number on the whole album right from the opening raunchy guitar sound to Holders rendering of the typical Slade chorus. All the group join in the singing on this 1."
"L.A. Jinx" written by Holder and Lea, this was the b - side to Slades original single "Nobody's Fool". The lyrics refer to the bad luck the band had in Los Angeles. Chris Ingham wrote "The track is notable for some elaborately double tracked guitar parts, some virtuoso bass work for Lea in the verses and an archetypal Slade crunch in the chorus."
In the Slade Fan Club Newsletter of February and March 1976, the track was described by the editor. "This 1 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. 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. Holder is on good form here, and the new musical strength of the band is at its best."
In a mid 1976 fan club interview, Lea spoke of the message in the song, "I suppose it's self explanatory that one. But the thing is every time we play in L.A. it's been disastrous!" Holder added, "Something always goes wrong, the gear blows up, we all get electric shocks, and, oh there's always some sort of equipment fault we're always jinxed!"
Did Ya Mama Ever Tell Ya
"Did Ya Mama Ever Tell Ya" written by Holder and Lea, again features backing vocals from Tasha Thomas. Chris Ingham described the track as "a mischievous little song underlining the suggestive meanings in a series of nursery rhymes. It's set to a subtle funky reggae groove that's unusual for Slade."
In response to being asked for his favourite track on the album in a 1976 fan club interview, Holder replied "I really like them all. But I think one of my favourites is "Did Ya Mama Ever Tell Ya" which is a reggae number, with chick singers in the background. It's great. Not exactly roots reggae, more Wolverhampton stuff!"
In the Slade Fan Club Newsletter of February and March 1976, the track was described by the editor. "A naughty little modern nursery rhyme from Holder all in good humour, I should add. 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
"Scratch My Back" written by Holder and Lea, is another rock track in similar form to previous track "Get On Up" and again features Tasha Thomas on backing vocals. Allmusic wrote ""Scratch My Back" is pure Slade, even with the out of place arrangement."
In the Slade Fan Club Newsletter of February and March 1976, the track was described by the editor. "Another traditional Slade number just to prove that they're not leaving their faithful fans behind. Strong voice from Holder, guitar work powerful too and pleasant use of girl backing group."
I'm A Talker
"I'm A Talker" written by Holder and Lea, is a folk based track featuring backing vocals from Tasha Thomas for the last time on the album. Chris Ingham wrote ""I'm A Talker" is an infectious folksy drinking song, celebrating the verbosity and affection for amiable company that comes with inebriation. Holder amusingly cites the duality of his own Gemini star sign as a sort of highfalutin' justification for going on a bender and bending someone's ear."
In the Slade Fan Club Newsletter of February and March 1976, the track was described by the editor. "Definite West Indian feeling to this 1, 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, another song reflecting California with its love of star signs. A song that gets better and better as it progresses. Backing group again is evidence on this one, which also helps fill out Slade's sound."
All The World Is A Stage
"All The World Is A Stage" written by Holder and Lea, is the album's closing track and features synthesizer. Chris Ingham wrote "The grandiose closer "All The World Is A Stage", while building up a head of portentous musical steam, has the dubious honour of being one of the very few genuinely pretentious Slade tracks in their history. Invoking the Bard in the title and going on to attempt to envoke the universal connection between performer and audience, it makes heavy weather of 1 of Slade's acknowledged strengths." The track closes with sound effects of high pitched laughing.
In the Slade Fan Club Newsletter of February and March 1976, the track was described by the editor. "Probably the most imaginatively written song on the whole album and musically employing the electronics advancement heard on the 1st 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."
Dave Hill - lead guitar, backing vocals
Noddy Holder - lead vocals, rhythm guitar
Jim Lea - bass guitar, piano, backing vocals
Don Powell - drums
Paul Prestotino - dobra guitar
Chas Chandler - producer
Tasha Thomas - backing vocals
Corky Stasiak - engineer
Denis Ferranti - engineer
Gabby Gabriel - engineer
Gess Young - engineer
Gered Mankowitz - photography
Ian A. Walker - art direction