Times Up

Record Mirror - March 1981
Demolition Men - We'll Bring The House Down Album review - Mike Nicholls

The Slade revival has been somthing of an ongoing affair, stretching back at least as far as 79's commendable 'Return To Base' and a sprinkling of dynamic Music Machine dates around that time.
These conveyed a refreshing circa '72 all-'avin-fun-together atmosphere a million miles away from the current gang war attitute that dictates one must be a futuristic / rockabilly / skinhead / headbanger etc. So why are they continuing to gain ground now?
Well, whatever the escapist merits of New Romanticism, there's still a fair bit to be said about the properties of getting down and getting with it, the kind of grass roots entertainment that Slade personify. Plus however loud and raucous they are they can still write songs - y'know, those old-fashioned, well-rounded things with structures, story-lines and neat, irresistable hooks.
Here the latter are represented by 'Wheels Ain't Coming Down' and 'Lemme Love Into Ya'. The first is about the relief of finding out that the aircraft you're on isn't so dodgy after all and thus is an honest evocation of the good to be alive feeling so beloved by us all.
The second is a surprisingly progressive ballad, slow, splintery and swash with more synthesised effects. Yep, Slade can be experimental but since their ace card has always been to seduce with the most banal of football terrace chants, it's there that they really excel.
Not even the remorseless 'Nuts Bolts And Screws / I Heard It On The News' grates too badly though 'When I'm Dancin' I Ain't Fighting' does truly become a bit of a pain. The concept of 'It's so bad that it's good' also rears it's head on 'Hold On To Your Hats' which with a bit of luck won't be released as their next 45.
Elsewhere Noddy, Dave and the boys show a good capacity for variety, their manager's 'My Baby's Got It' a reasonably rockabilly rip-off and Chuck Berry's @I'm A Rocker' a vindication of their pub rock roots.
At the same this is something of a double-edged sword. Too untamed for parties and too undanceable for discos. It's difficult to justify a record like this on it's own terms. Slade are essentially a live act and on vinyl the vital ingredient of spilt beer is sorely missed. But all things considered the pros outweigh the cons, a point which is unlikely to escape the attention of the fans who've put them back in the singles chrt. (Three and a half stars out of five)

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