"Universe" was written by bassist Jim Lea and produced by Jim Lea for Perseverance Ltd. The single was released via Polydor Record Label on 2nd December 1991.
This single failed to appear on the U.K. chart, this became the last single under the original Slade line up (Dave Hill, Noddy Holder, Jim Lea and Don Powell) as Noddy Holder effectively retired shortly after whilst Jim Lea followed the same path. Both guitarist Dave Hill and drummer Don Powell decided to carry their career on under the name of Slade II.
"Universe" appeared on their 1991 compilation album "Wall Of Hits".
Before the release of "Universe", Polydor Record Label planned for Slade to release 2 singles to promote a new compilation album. "Radio Wall Of Sound" was the 1st single which reached number 21 on the U.K. chart. The label was also in talk of a new studio album if both singles to promote "Wall Of Hits" were successful in the U.K. This however was not to be as the 2nd single "Universe" flopped. Noddy Holder has stated himself in his book 'Who's Crazee Now' that although he was fond of the track, it was "too far from what people expected of us".
In an April 2000 interview with Jim Lea by Mojo magazine, Jim Lea stated "Our last hit was "Radio Wall Of Sound", which I wrote and sang. The others thought it was a load of shit. The last thing that came out was "Universe" very big and lush. Towards the end the records were completely my songs. I'd taken control and it didn't feel like a band any more. Then this offer came to play Castle Donington with Bon Jovi. Noddy Holder said if we weren't headlining, then we weren't doing it. He more or less said that he wasn't going on the road with Slade again. He wanted to be in the band, but I said that without getting out live it wouldn't cohere any more, that we'd lost it. All the fun had gone out of it, so I started getting into the property business, and took a psychology course at college."
"Universe" was released via Polydor Record Label on 2nd December 1991.
Like "Radio Wall Of Sound", Jim Lea had already recorded most of this track and had wanted to put strings on at EMI's Abbey Road studio in London, but as the studio was already booked, the strings were created with a synthesizer.
Reports of a Jim Lea demo have been made in recent years although this is unconfirmed.
Both "Universe" and "Red Hot" were recorded at Rich Bitch Studios.
"Universe" was originally released on 7" vinyl, 12" vinyl, cassette and CD.
Noddy Holder stated in a 1992 interview his favourite track from the 2 1991 singles "Radio Wall Of Sound" and "Universe". ""Universe" without a doubt. I knew "Radio Wall Of Sound" was more commercial, a good instant rock track, but I liked "Universe" even though I knew it was not such an instant song and it would take people time to latch on to it. I saw "Universe" as the stronger song and maybe if we had held it back for a while it may have been more successful but unfortunately it got lost in the Christmas market and there is just nothing you can do about it now."
Noddy Holder added his feelings of the 2 singles after they had been released "I think that everybody did a good job, we did a lot of TV, radio and press work around that period but it didn’t translate into high sales of the 2 records. We had loads of radio play for 'Radio Wall Of Sound' so we can’t really complain about the exposure with that one, "Universe" was not so good but you can only put it down to not enough people buying it."
Noddy Holder was also asked who decided to release "Universe". "It was the record company’s decision, the plan was always to do "Radio Wall Of Sound" then the "Wall Of Hits" album followed "Universe" to help carry the album along in the Christmas market, but we didn’t realise how late "Universe" was coming out, it was actually 2 weeks later than planned. I don’t know why, but by then we were into the Christmas mania season and not being such an instant track it lost out to the more popular records."
The band promoted the single by appearing on various shows such as This Morning, Motormouth, Pebble Mill, O Zone and STV. A music video for the single was also created. Due to the single's commercial failure, the promotional music video for the track has never been officially released.
"Universe" failed to enter the U.K. top 100 singles chart.
Track listing - 7" U.K. Single
A1. Universe (Jim Lea) - 4:18
B1. Red Hot (Dave Hill, Bill Hunt) - 3:35
B2. Merry Xmas Everybody (Noddy Holder, Jim Lea) - 3:43
"Universe" written by Lea, this was originally released as the a - side to their single "Universe" by Slade via Polydor Record Label on 2nd December 1991 and failed to appear on the U.K. chart.
Despite numerous TV performances and a promo video, the single failed to appear on the U.K. chart. This became the last single under the original band as lead singer Holder effectively retired shortly after with Lea conforming with Holder.
Holder has stated himself in his book 'Who's Crazee Now' that although he was fond of the track, it was 'too far from what people expected of us'.
"Red Hot" wrtitten by Hill and Hunt, this was originally released as the b - side to their single "Universe" by Slade via Polydor Record Label on 2nd December 1991 and failed to appear on the U.K. chart.
Providing backing vocals was Norma Lewis, who had worked with Hill earlier in 1991 on the 'Blessings In Disguise' single 'Chance To Be', where she provided lead vocals on both the a - side and the b - side 'You're The Reason That I'm Strong'.
Merry Xmas Everybody
"Merry Xmas Everybody" written byHolder and Lea, this was the b - side to Slades original single "Universe".
This was originaly the bands 6th and final U.K. number 1.
By 1973 Slade were 1 of the most popular bands in Britain, already having achieved 5 number 1 singles, "Merry Xmas Everybody" being their 6th.
Based on melodies from discarded songs written 6 years before, "Merry Xmas Everybody" became Slade's best selling single, released at the peak of their popularity, and sold over a million copies upon its 1st release. It is Slade's last number 1 single, but by far their most successful, staying at number 1 for 5 weeks in a row. "Merry Xmas Everybody" has re - entered the U.K. chart every December since 1973.
Dave Hill - lead guitar, backing vocals
Noddy Holder - lead vocals, guitar
Jim Lea - bass guitar, piano, synthesizer, violin, backing vocals
Don Powell - drums
Edward Shermaur - orchestral Arrangement on "Universe"
Norma Lewis - backing vocals on "Red Hot"
Jim Lea for Perseverance Ltd. - producer on "Universe" and "Red Hot"
Chas Chandler - producer on "Merry Xmas Everybody"
Ray Palmer - photography
Allan D. Martin - design