"Rogues Gallery" was Slades 11th studio U.K. album, It was released and was produced by Jim Lea and John Punter via RCA record label on 29th March 1985.
This album reached number 60 on the U.K. chart, The band tried hard to make this album contain radio friendly hit singles and quality material, but because the album was released more than a year after their 2 Top 10 singles had been riding high, many critics claimed the momentum and public interest in Slade were waning. In fact, this album contained more singles than any of their others, including their 70s efforts.
After the success of Slade's U.S.A. hit singles "Run Runaway" and "My Oh My", the band were to go on tour in 1984 with Ozzy Osbourne for 6 weeks. Sadly, after a handful of successful warm up shows, bassist Jim Lea collapsed after the first gig and was diagnosed with hepatitis. Most bands would have simply waited for Jim Lea to recover and then get back out to tour. However, this disappointment coincided with Noddy Holder losing his enthusiasm for the back breaking work of Slade on the road. Noddy Holder's tireless devotion to Slade had taken its toll and he'd reached the end of his rope. "I've got to put my priorities in the right order now, I've given the band 20 years of priority and now I can't. I've got to give my kids priority", he told the Slade fanzine Percy in the mid 80s.
Regardless of no touring, the band were still contracted to RCA record label and the band set out to record their 11th studio album. The release of the single "All Join Hands" at Christmas 1984 wasn't the smash hit that the band hoped for but it did make a respectable number 15 on the U.K. chart.
However, the following single in January 1985 was a disaster. "7 Year Bitch" was virtually banned by the U.K. broadcast due to its title and lyrics. This caused a backslash that could be argued Slade never quite recovered. "Myzsterious Mizster Jones" was released shortly after but stalled at number 50 on the U.K. chart Slade would not trouble the top 40 U.K. singles chart again for 6 years.
"Rogues Gallery" was released via RCA record label on 29th March 1985.
Produced by John Punter, the album was arranged by Jim Lea, whilst Jim Lea produced the tracks "Harmony", "I Win, You Lose" and "Time To Rock".
Noddy Holder explained in a New Zealand television interview at the time of release that the band had set out to write an album where every track could be a single. The band believed they achieved this and Noddy Holder stated the band hoped to release all tracks as singles somewhere in the world.
In a 1986 interview with guitarist Dave Hill for the Slade fan club, Dave Hill recalled his feelings about the album. "There were very mixed opinions of the last album, from 'I like it' to 'I don't like it' - very, very bizarre. I personally think it lacked something. I mean it was a good sounding LP, but maybe it had a bit too much quality. I think it lacked a certain amount of soul, or maybe guts. It wasn't a particularly enjoyable event for me personally. That wasn't anybody's particular fault in the band, it was just the process of things. Maybe it took too long. Perhaps it should have been much easier. I enjoyed making the tracks for "Crackers" a lot more than those for "Rogues Gallery". I think that maybe too many of the songs on "Rogues Gallery" sounded like pop hits, so the album began to lean too much to being regarded as a sort of 'poppy' album, and there is nothing worse than that for me."
In a 1990 interview for the Slade fan club newsletter, Noddy Holder spoke of the album's production. "It became a bit of a saga, it took a lot of time and eventually turned out to be a great album although I feel there was something missing something that is the Slade trademark was missing."
Before the album's release, the album was due to be titled 'Partners In Crime'. The artwork was also originally designed with the title in mind, and, although it featured the same photo as used on the "Rogues Gallery" album, it had a thick black border around all 4 edges, with Slade printed at the top, and 'Partners In Crime' at the bottom. This writing was printed in white.
"Rogues Gallery" was originally released on 12" vinyl and cassette and CD.
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 80s, "Rogues Gallery" placed at number 2. The poll result notes explain that there was almost a tie between "The Amazing Kamikaze Syndrome" and "Rogues Gallery", also stating that not many fans chose Slade’s latest album at the time "Crackers - The Christmas Party Album".
During Autumn 1984 and the following Spring of 1985, it was announced that a full European tour was going to take place to promote the album. Tickets began selling however the band had never confirmed the tour would actually take place.
Holder spoke about the tour in a fan club interview "The U.K. tour, although it was virtually me that cancelled it for the personal reasons that tour was never confirmed. The agent and promoter started promoting it and selling the tickets, and we hadn't even confirmed that we were going to do the tour. The tickets had already been on sale for 2 months and nobody bothered to tell us!"
If a U.K. tour had taken place for the album in March 1985, Lea had seriously considered bringing a keyboard player into the Slade line up. The keyboardist would not have been visible to the audience though, but would have played at the side of the stage on some of the more recent tracks of the time, such as "All Join Hands" and "My Oh My".
The album reached number 60 on the U.K. chart.
Track Listing - 12" LP U.K.
A1. Hey Ho Wish You Well (Holder, Lea) - 5:18
A2. Little Sheila (Holder, Lea) - 3:56
A3. Harmony (Holder, Lea) - 3:43
A4. Myzsterious Mizster Jones (Holder, Lea) - 3:35
A5. Walking On Water, Running On Alcohol (Holder, Lea) - 4:57
B1. 7 Year Bitch (Holder, Lea) - 4:15
B2. I'll Be There (Holder, Lea) - 4:31
B3. I Win, You Lose (Holder, Lea) - 3:31
B4. Time To Rock (Holder, Lea) - 4:08
B5. All Join Hands (Holder, Lea) - 5:31
Hey Ho Wish You Well
"Hey Ho Wish You Well" written by Holder and Lea, starts the album with a guitar intro and an up tempo start, the track revisits the jig rock style of Slade's 1984 hit "Run Runaway". The track was mimed by the band on U.K. TV show Saturday Superstore shortly before the album's release where Radio DJ Mike Read mimed with guitar too. Apparently, people tried to buy the track after it was played although it was never issued as a single.
"Little Sheila" written by Holder and Lea, is a synth based track shares the distinction of not sounding very Slade like along with the single "Myzsterious Mizster Jones". Although the track had a similar theme to the Van Halen sound of the time (notably the 1984 hit song 'Jump'), the song itself dated from 1979, with a version recorded around 1980 by The Dummies, a band involving Lea and his brother Frank. This version appeared on the 1991 album 'A Day In The Life Of The Dummies' which summed up the band's entire work.
The song was released as a single in the United States, Canada and Germany only, entering the U.S.A. billboard at number 86. This became Slade's last charting single in America.
"Harmony" written by Holder and Lea, is a mid tempo track using big vocal harmonies and unusual for Slade, astringent lyrics containing the kinds of things a disappointed lover might say to an errant partner.
For the September December 1986 Slade fan club magazine, Lea was interviewed and was asked to share where he was when he wrote various Slade tracks. For Harmony, Lea stated it was written while he was urinating.
Myzsterious Mizster Jones
"Myzsterious Mizster Jones" written by Holder and Lea, this was originally released as a single by Slade via RCA record label on 11th March 1985 and reached number 50 on the U.K. chart.
This is similar to "Little Sheila" with its synth based sound and became a single after the commercial failure of "7 Year Bitch". The lyrics refer to a fictional character. In an interview with Ken Sharpe during the mid 1990s, bassist Lea admitted that although he liked the track, he knew it was never going to be a hit.
Walking On Water, Running On Alcohol
"Walking On Water, Running On Alcohol" written by Holder and Lea, features a personal set of lyrics by lyricist and vocalist Holder. Holder had originally wanted the track to be released as a single but the record company and other band members disagreed.
Holder commented in an interview from 1986, "If I had the choice, "Walking On Water, Running On Alcohol" would have been released as a single between "Myzsterious Mizster Jones" and "Do You Believe In Miracles", but I was the only 1 who thought so. RCA record label and the other band members weren't keen, so obviously it didn't get released. Everybody I spoke to on the streets loved that bloody song, and felt that it should have been the single."
7 Year Bitch
"7 Year Bitch" written by Holder and Lea, this was originally released as a single by Slade via RCA record label on 14th January 1985 and reached number 60 on the U.K. chart.
This is a intricately constructed and acutely observed song about older men taking on younger mistresses. The song however was banned from broadcast due to the title and lyrics.
I'll Be There
"I'll Be There" written by Holder and Lea, is an upbeat, anthemic song. Chris Ingham who wrote the album notes for the Salvo remasters stated "The track is a anthemic song of unconditional support to the style of a Celtic rock sound, the track shows a closer inspection of a tale of hopeless devotion to a partner, an equivocal sentiment which probably counted against the otherwise worthy song being considered as a single."
I Win, You Lose
"I Win, You Lose" written by Holder and Lea, is an intricately arranged medium tempo rocker, following the sound of "Walking On Water, Running On Alcohol", and features a personal and bitter lyric.
Whilst the track was produced by Lea, it was mixed by producer John Punter.
Time To Rock
"Time To Rock" written by Holder and Lea, is a monolithic marching home anthem with Powells kick drum bolstered by the sound of stamping feet, his snare drum by hand claps. It is also the only Slade track in their history to feature whistling.
All Join Hands
"All Join Hands" written by Holder and Lea, this was originally released as a single by Slade via RCA record label on 5th November 1984 and reached number 15 on the U.K. chart.
Another anthem with a nostalgic feel, it heralded Slade's effective retirement from stage work. This was Slade's last single in 1984 and their last top 20 U.K. hit.
Dave Hill - lead guitar, backing vocals
Noddy Holder - lead vocals, rhythm guitar
Jim Lea - bass guitar, keyboards, piano, guitar, backing vocals, producer
Don Powell - drums
John Punter - mixing, producer
Frank Barretta - assistant engineer (uncredited)
Brian Aris Design - photography
Estuary English - artwork design