During May Term of my sophomore year of college, Warren began talking up a song whose video was garnering a lot of play on MTV: “Run Runaway,” by the UK band Slade. He was familiar with Slade’s early 70s glam period, when they’d had mega-success in their home land (six #1 hits in just over two years), often with songs whose titles contained various misspelled words (“Coz I Luv You,” “Look Wot You Dun,” “Gudbuy T’ Jane”). Big hits in the U.S. eluded them, though—they charted four times in 72 and 73, never reaching higher than #68. But Warren was onto something; those early hits are good stuff.
After some down years, Slade experienced somewhat of a comeback in the UK in the early 80s. It wasn’t until late 83 that fortune started smiling on them on this side of the pond, when Quiet Riot covered one of their British chart-toppers, “Cum on Feel the Noize.” (Aside: Ben played an arrangement of “Noize” for marching band a couple of years ago. Not surprisingly, his sheet music had the standard spelling of the title’s first word.) Around the same time, Slade put a new record out in Britain with a couple of big hits; a little repackaging, and presto!—another attempt at breaking onto the American charts. This time, the public responded: “Run Runaway” made #20 (it’s #25 on this show), and “My Oh My” would reach #37 in August. (That was pretty much it, though I’m a big fan of “Little Sheila,” a song from their next record. It stalled out at #86 in spring 85.)
This version of Slade hung together for 26 years, until 1992. Looking through videos for their hits over the years, they appear to have a split personality: the serious ones (drummer Don Powell and bassist/violinist Jim Lea) and the cards (lead vocalist Noddy Holder and—especially—guitarist Dave Hill). Holder and Lea, the primary songwriters, left in the 92 split, but Hill and Powell soldier on with two others to this day.
Lastly, a suggestion for station programmers: why don’t you try out Slade’s “Merry Xmas Everybody” this October? Looks like it’s a fixture on the UK charts at the end of every year these days…