I know that this is a bit late but personal issues have gotten in the way of sitting down and writing this.
Cast your mind back to the year of our lord One Thousand Nine Hundred and Seventy Two- a time when colours did not just clash but fought pitched battles on the tank tops of our nation and lumbering flare-wearing dinosaurs roamed the land.
It was just after Christmas when a freckled nine year old was wondering how he would spend the untold riches he had received from a doting aunt and uncle – a whole five pounds! As it was the decision was not hard: Of the many fine bands performing on Top of the Pops one stood out – Slade. It was not a difficult decision to avoid the fine Airfix models on sale at the Hobby Shop in Elm Park and go instead to Carnival records to buy a copy of SLAYED?
Released in November 1972, SLAYED? was the band’s third studio studio alum and the first to chart (although a live album, Slade Alive, charted earlier in the year). While including two of the band’s biggest hits Gudbuy T’Jane and Mama Weer All Crazee Now
Slade had a much harder edge than many of the so called glam rock bands as can be evidenced on their cover of Janis Joplin’s Move Over:
It was an album that was much loved but much abused by my sister’s Dansette-style record player and within a few years it was unplayable, but such is life. My other half purchased the CD version a few years ago and it still sounds great (okay Let the good Times Roll was a mistake but we are a forgiving couple!)
While I have purchased a fair bit of of second hand vinyl since, the last time I bought a new LP was in June 1989. Before heading off to spend a month working at Prestwick Airport in sunny Strathclyde (as it was at the time), I felt a need to have some new music to listen to on my Walkman. I had already picked two albums: Workbook, Bob Mould’s solo debut (I was very fond of Husker Du and still am) and Cloudland by Pere Ubu. The final choice was a on shot in the dark. Swans were a band I had heard of but had never heard any of their music I had just seen an ad for their new album The Burning World and I thought I would give the band a try.
Produced by Bill Laswell and featuring a Robert Mapplethorpe photo on the cover The Burning World was Swans’ major label debut but sold very poorly. Michael Gira, the driving force behind the band has disowned the album saying ” I abhor that record”.
And yet it is an album I still play. Being relatively melodic it is a massive change in direction from their earlier work, most of which can best be described as a “bloody awful”.
Perhaps the best track on the album is the cover of Blind Faith’s Can’t Find My Way Home, featuring Jarboe on vocals.
Gira claims that Laswell intimidated him during the recording and as a result his singing was cramped and monotone. Perhaps so, but on the song Mona Lisa Mother Earth, the style fits well:
What more to say? Did the album change my life? Not in the least but, hyperbole aside, how many albums really do that?
Carnival Records is long gone but the Hobby Shop in Elm Park is still there with the same signs and layout and perhaps the same Airfix models….