"Whatever Happened To Slade" was Slades 6th studio U.K. album, it was released and produced by Chas Chandler via Barn record label on 21st March 1977.
This album failed to appear on the U.K. chart, Slade's popularity was waning as were their record sales. They recognized this (thus the album's title). By 1977 the glam movement had died, along with its founder Marc Bolan, frontman of T.Rex, who was killed in a car crash that year, and in a figurative sense the careers of Mud, Gary Glitter and The Sweet also died. In Britain, where Slade had traditionally been most popular, the fashion of the day was punk rock. With this record, Slade firmly stood its ground as a straight Rock group (gone were the "glam" statements of the early decade).
The album was met with critical praise and support from the English punk uprising. Nevertheless, the record was a commercial failure and the band's financial woes continued. For many years, the album was a much sought after collector's item amongst fans. Today, however, the album is available via CD and download.
This album was a popular trade amongst American musicians developing what would be known as "grunge" as both Billy Corgan (Smashing Pumpkins) and Kurt Cobain (Nirvana) have cited the album as influential.
The album was voted number 1 of the top 3 Slade albums in the Slade Fan Club Poll of 1979. In the same poll, the album was voted number 2 of the top 3 Slade album covers.
By 1975 Slade had peaked in Britain and Europe. This led to the band agreeing to move to the States, the only major territory that had held out against Slade's onslaught. The band held out in the States for almost 2 years. They had limited success on 1 hand, their reputation as a reliable and exciting live rock act was enhanced, on the other hand, Slade were unable to translate that reputation to significant airplay and record sales.
Slade returned to the U.K. early 1977 to face the U.K. music business much changed from the way they left it. Punk had now exploded and had become the dominant influence on youth culture and the music press. Despite Slade's reputation as 1 of the great high energy bands of their day, in this environment Slade had become irrelevant. Regardless, Slade were determined that they were now a better live act than ever and refused to call it a day.
There had been no new product since the "Nobody's Fool" single had been lifted from the "Nobody's Fools" album in April 1976 and bombed. The 1st that was heard of Slade in 1977 was the single "Gypsy Roadhog" which appeared in February, a pounding tale of the exploits of an American cocaine dealer. Amazingly, the BBC kids show Blue Peter allowed Slade to promote the single with a mimed performance before the producer noticed the lyrics. A complaint followed, the BBC then banned it and the record stalled at number 48.
The album that followed didn't have much chance after that. Titled by Slade's manager Chas Chandler after a piece of graffiti spotted painted on a London bridge, "Whatever Happened To Slade", while undoubtedly intended as a defiant, ironic comment on their absence from U.K. shores, was more likely received as a virtual admission of how far the group's star had fallen. And no one beyond a mere fraction of their old fan base was in the mood to contradict them.
"Whatever Happened To Slade" was released March 1977 to no airplay and very little press. It failed to chart. It was the group's lowest selling LP to date. However, those faithful few who took the trouble were amazed by the record. The heaviest, dirtiest (in all senses), most decadent Slade music ever made, "Whatever Happened To Slade" made "Gypsy Roadhog" sound like "The Teddy Bear's Picnic" and remains many Slade connoisseurs' favourite of all their albums.
"Whatever Happened To Slade" was released via Barn record label on 21st March 1977.
According to the Slade Fan Club Newsletter for October, November and December 1976, the band hoped to record a total of 16 tracks and pick the best to release.
"Whatever Happened To Slade" was originally released on 12" vinyl and cassette and 8 track cartridge.
In the September - December 1986 Slade fan club magazine, the poll results were announced for the 1986 opinion poll based on Slade’s material. For the best album of the 70s, "Whatever Happened To Slade" placed at number 2. The poll result notes explain that it was interesting that so many fans voted "Whatever Happened To Slade" as the best 70s album, despite the fact that it failed to chart upon release. In the same 1986 poll, for the best album sleeve, "Whatever Happened To Slade" placed at number 1.
The main form of promotion was via Slade's live performances although the band were also able to perform the single "Gypsy Roadhog" on U.K. TV.
The album failed to chart on the U.K. chart.
Track listing - 12" LP U.K.
A1. Be (Noddy Holder, Jim Lea) - 3:55
A2. Lightning Never Strikes Twice (Noddy Holder, Jim Lea) - 3:14
A3. Gypsy Roadhog (Noddy Holder, Jim Lea) - 3:24
A4. Dogs Of Vengeance (Noddy Holder, Jim Lea) - 2:49
A5. When Fantasy Calls (Noddy Holder, Jim Lea) - 3:24
A6. One Eyed Jacks With Moustaches (Noddy Holder, Jim Lea) - 3:21
B1. Big Apple Blues (Noddy Holder, Jim Lea) - 4:37
B2. Dead Men Tell No Tales (Noddy Holder, Jim Lea) - 3:39
B3. She's Got The Lot (Noddy Holder, Jim Lea) - 4:34
B4. It Ain't Love But It Ain't Bad (Noddy Holder, Jim Lea) - 3:10
B5. The Soul, The Roll And The Motion (Noddy Holder, Jim Lea) - 4:36
"Be" written by Holder and Lea, is the opener from the album. Chris Ingham from Rock's Backpages stated "Be", the opener, sets the agenda. A funk metal riff, power chords, a marching rock groove and on top, machine gun lyrics in 2 part harmony spitting out entertaining, multi syllable axioms of dubious legitimacy. Forget the rootie tootie b - sides and camp fire sing alongs, it is when Slade operate within the confines and conventions of hard rock that the group is most potent." This track was covered by Kenneth And The Knutters. Allmusic stated "Starting off with "Be", a tune unlike any other the band had done, Slade sets the tone. It's going to be a loud, raucous affair. "Be" reads and rhymes like a rap song, although it is sung over a funky rock beat." The track was due to be released as a single but the idea was dropped due to the band's small amount of money at the time. The track also became a popular in Slade's live set, also featuring live on the album "Slade Alive Vol. 2".
Lightning Never Strikes Twice
"Lightning Never Strikes Twice" written by Holder and Lea, was said by Chris Ingham "Shows tension and release dynamics and the parallel voice guitar bass licks, this track recalls the bass voice treatment of Janis Joplin's "Move Over" from their 1972's "Slayed?" album. The main difference here is Holder seems to be describing a total eclipse of the mind, a trip in which he passes through 'infinite time' and sees the creation from the opposite way. Allmusic wrote "Lightning Never Strikes Twice" shows bass player Leas emergence as a musician's musician. He always was a great player and the core of the band, both live and in the studio, but here Lea really gets a chance to shine. The song ends with probably the closest approximation of what it feels like to be on nitrous oxide."
"Gypsy Roadhog" written by Holder and Lea, this was originally released as a single by Slade via Barn record label on 21st January, 1977 and reached number 48 on the U.K. chart.
This was the only single from this album . A tale of the exploits of an American cocaine dealer, the track was banned by the BBC. Regardless, the track remained popular with the fan base, featuring a more country rock influence, no doubt taken from Slade's touring in America.
Dogs Of Vengeance
"Dogs Of Vengeance" written by Holder and Lea, was said by Chris Ingham "If anything, is an even more anguished depiction of dark addictions. A dark riff underpins a song which warns of near mythological purveyors of depraved temptation. Holders tone suggests he is no stranger to the promised torment, the best in the land'. One can only wonder what he means."
When Fantasy Calls
"When Fantasy Calls" written by Holder and Lea, was said by Chris Ingham "Makes "Dogs Of Vengeance" all too clear. By far the most graphic of Holders pleasures of the flesh lyrics (see also "In For A Penny", "The Bangin' Man", "Lemme Love Into Ya" et al), "Fantasy" sets the singer's lust in an opulent variation of the 'Spirit In The Sky' styled groove to describe a spirit of quite the opposite sort. Holders cheeky Max Miller esque, end of the pier smut had long been a part of the Slade experience, especially live, but never had this earthly impulses been on such vivid display".
One Eyed Jacks With Moustaches
"One Eyed Jacks With Moustaches" written by Holder and Lea, was said by Chris Ingham "Is an up tempo track with a rollicking spirit of good time southern boogie which even spills into an Elvis style interlude, complete with mumbling nonsense." Allmusic stated "1 of the singles from the album, "One Eyed Jacks With Moustaches," sounds like classic Slade, but once again, radio wouldn't touch it." The track also became a popular in Slade's live set, featuring on the album "Slade Alive Vol. 2".
Big Apple Blues
"Big Apple Blues" written by Holder and Lea, was said by Chris Ingham "Kicks off side 2 as a straight ahead medium rocker at which Slade excelled, due not least to the groove laid down by hugely underrated rhythm section of Powell and Lea. It's an expansive celebration of the intense, double edged experience of their temporary home town, New York City "the apple ain't bad, it's just bruised and i'm glad that it's there at all", sings Holder, revelling in a mighty wall of Slade guitars evoking the classic Slade sound. The song even reprised the V-IV-I cadence in the chorus that had served them so well in "Mama Weer All Crazee Now" and "Gudbuy T' Jane", perhaps as a concession to producer - manager Chas Chandler who was complaining that Slade's current batch of songs weren't commercial enough".
Dead Men Tell No Tales
"Dead Men Tell No Tales" written by Holder and Lea, is a slower tempo track. Chris Ingham stated "The track is the odd man out and the nearest thing to a miscue on the album. A 'rocky raccoon' like yam about bank robbers called Mugsy Baker and Benjamin the Bear, it begins as a melodic, folksy story song and attempts to beef up for the later verses, ending as neither fish or fowl."
The song's lyric, written by Holder, was based on a 1949 gangster film titled "White Heat", starring James Cagney.
She's Got The Lot
"She's Got The Lot" written by Holder and Lea, was said by Chris Ingham "Follows a similar style to what The Beatles would occasionally write the girl who thinks she's it songs. "She's Got The Lot" pursues a similar theme, albeit with the kind of sledgehammer metal style that would ensure their song was rather less likely than The Beatle's 'Ticket To Ride' to be covered by The Carpenters."
It Ain't Love But It Ain't Bad
"It Ain't Love But It Ain't Bad" written by Holder and Lea, was said by Chris Ingham "Is a bold appreciation of rock groupies. A rare instance of a Slade track built upon a robust Powell tom tom pattern, Holders regard for the suppliers of "nitty gritty recreation" is shot through with archetypal vulgar humour; "they don't keep you sane but they keep you thin", Holder leers."
The Soul, The Roll And The Motion
"The Soul, The Roll And The Motion" written by Holder and Lea, was said by Chris Ingham " The Soul, the Roll and The Motion', is the track that Holder tops himself for lasciviousness with the original album's stupendous closer. The track is a hilarious piece of sexual braggadocio that would make a gangster blush, containing as it does the immortal line, "I'm the love king with plenty of poke". The track itself mirrors the groove of Big Apple Blues, but makes no concessions to pop friendly chords. It's hard faced rock all the way with Leas stubborn bass pedal point in the chorus underlining the band's stern musical intent."
Dave Hill - lead guitar, backing vocals
Noddy Holder - lead vocals, rhythm guitar
Jim Lea - bass guitar, backing vocals
Don Powell - drums
Chas Chandler - producer
Gered Mankowitz - photography
Paul (Finchley Mod) Hardiman - engineer
Jo Mirowski - art direction
Wade Woode Associates - artwork