Vinyl Corner is a feature where we take a look at vinyl pressings of various albums and weigh them up to see just how good they sound, how well they’re pressed and what sort of packaging to expect, as well as giving a brief overview of the music itself. Today we’re taking a look at the new ‘Art Of The Album’ deluxe reissue of Slade’s visceral 1972 live LP ‘Slade Alive!’
At its best, a live album can be everything that makes a band good in studio and then-some on top but by the same flip of the coin, it’s easy to miss the mark with such albums and lose something of what makes the band in question so good to begin with. ‘Slade Alive!’ is perhaps the perfect representation of the ethos of the group that crafted it and arguably their best album; bristling and cocky, it’s a record of unreserved rock ‘n’ roll glee – at times even bordering on proto-punk for its sheer vitriol, the band run through a rough and ready set of bluesy, guttural expulsions with all the refinement and bile of a gusty garage rock band. Finessed? Perhaps not, but Slade are certainly well rehearsed here and the sheer attack of the album is a large part of what gives it its innate impact. ‘Slade Alive!’ is a record of punchy drums, howling vocals and moody, cutting guitars – perhaps a surprise to anyone only familiar with the group via a certain seasonal hit single. When, some way into the show, frontman Noddy Holder good-naturedly goads the audience into making as much noise as possible, it’s a ragged sonic assault in keeping with the band’s attitude on the album and an insight into the genuinely rock ‘n’ roll credentials of the band at the time.
This BMG reissue is an excellent pressing with high quality control and gorgeous playback. Pressed on thick heavyweight vinyl, the record itself looks great with no signs of factory handling and a good sheen which makes the release as visually appealing as it is from an auditory perspective. Playback is equally clean with no surface noise or errant pops, and a soundscape not lacking in presence. Although sonically raw, ‘Slade Alive!’s bristling, earthy sound quality lends it a certain charm and the mix found on this reissue gives real impact and clarity to the album; it sounds unmistakably live, both the band and audience clearly audible at all times. There’s a sense of vitality and energy to the album that allows it to still feel relevant today – and the enthusiastic performance from Slade is a big part of what makes the album sound so powerful. The pressing does justice to this and stands as perhaps the best way to hear the record today, certainly given that most original copies are unlikely to have survived the preceding four and a half decades without substantial abuse.
The presentation on this reissue really lives up to the ‘deluxe’ tag that it is marketed with. Housed in a sturdy, well made gatefold sleeve, the album’s vivid two-tone art is presented in great form with sharp colours and good print quality. A fold-out doubled sided insert is a very welcome inclusion, not only giving a timeline of the band’s history up until the album’s release but also including an in-depth essay on the band, and the album itself. A double sided 12″ x 12″ art card featuring the punchy album cover is also included; an insert that is definitely suitable (and likely intended) for framing if wanted. One small downside is the generic inner sleeve, which is non polylined – for obvious reasons it’s a good idea to swap this out for a higher quality one. Label design nicely rounds off the album’s presentation, offering an eye-catching nod towards the original Polydor Records label design that the original pressing of ‘Slade Alive!’ was released on; a subtle touch that certainly acts as a gesture to fans long-serving enough that they likely bought the album upon original release.
This is a really great reissue that offers an excellent pressing of the original album in addition to a quality presentation that offers plenty of insight into the album’s creation as well as reinforcing the record’s striking visual impact.