This week I celebrated my 55th birthday which means it’s exactly forty years since a rather significant album first arrived in my record collection. For my fifteenth birthday I had asked for a couple of albums: Status Quo’s latest release ‘Never Too Late’ from my mum and stepdad and Slade’s We’ll Bring The House Down from my dad and stepmum. I was actually away on a school geography trip to Wales for the day of my actual birthday and didn’t arrive back home until the following day but by the time I got home both gifts were waiting for me.
I vaguely remember Slade from my early childhood the previous decade but they had certainly not been on my radar for a long time. Not until I saw Noddy, Holder, Dave Hill, Jim Lea and Don Powell appearing on Top Of The Pops a couple of months earlier. After years of flops the ‘We’ll Bring The House Down’ single had taken Slade back into the Top Ten.
The song immediately grabbed my attention and I was now a firm fan. Asking for this album for my birthday was the obvious choice. Quo’s Never Too Late was very much the poor relation as far as birthday gifts went that day. The Slade album, though, I positively devoured, lapping up the likes of ‘Wheels Ain’t Coming Down’ and ‘When I’m Dancing I Ain’t Fighting’ and the rest.
Before long I was making numerous trips to our local second-hand record store in Preston to seek out Slade’s 70s back catalogue. This was 1981. Everyone else was into heavy metal, punk and new wave or the about-to-be-massive new romantic scene. But I was developing this obsession with 1970s glam rock. And it wasn’t just Slade. During the course of year I’d bought up much of Sweet’s back catalogue, too, not to mention albums by T. Rex and Mott The Hoople.
But the best was yet to happen. In August of that year, I tagged along with my dad and stepmum to see AC/DC headline at Donington. AC/DC were superb, of course, but even more of a revelation were Slade. This was my first attendance at a live rock gig ever but is undoubtedly the finest live concert I’ve ever attended. The Slade component in particular remains the most entertaining sixty minutes of my life.
And so, 1981 was the year that kicked off my Slade obsession and my love for all things glam. Glam was never really my era but musically it will always be my first love.
Slade at No. 8 in the UK albums chart – their highest position since 1974!
Veteran drummer Don Powell out of Slade
Slade legend Jim Lea releases video footage in bid to locate recently stolen guitar
EP review – Jim Lea ‘Lost In Space’
Interview with former Slade legend Jim Lea
Jim Lea at the Robin 2, Bilston 2017
Before glam: the debut 60s singles of Bowie, Bolan, Slade, Mud and Sweet
Slade, strikes and the three-day week: the story of the greatest Christmas record ever made
Slade at Donnington 1981
Slade at White Rock Theatre, Hastings 2015
Giants of Rock, Minehead 26-29 January 2018
2 thoughts on “Forty years ago this week: how a birthday gift of Slade’s eighties comeback album kick-started a life-long obsession”
It’s funny. If you ask me, ‘Do you like early ‘70s Bowie, T. Rex and I suppose Slade?’ my immediate answer would be, ‘yeah, love it!’ If you asked me, ‘Are you into glam rock?’, I’d probably reply, ‘It’s okay.’ So I suppose I actually like glam rock more than I generally think!
BTW, I really envy you for AC/DC. That’s a band I wish I would have seen. If they end up doing another tour and play anywhere that’s reasonably close to my neck of the woods, I’d seriously consider seeing them!
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It was a year after Bon Scott passed away so only ever seen them with Brian Johnson but saw them twice back in the 80s and twice more recently
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