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The Amazing Kamikaze Syndrome - Slade

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Released: 15 Dec 2008 / Label: Salvo

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      02.05.2013 20:44
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      A fantastic album full of infectious hooks, strong vocals, and a range of memorable numbers

      1983 and Slade released their biggest album of the decade titled The Amazing Kamikaze Syndrome. The band had just found huge worldwide success with My Oh My and Run Runaway which finally included America, the only country who had largely ignored Slade beforehand. The band had began working with their first outside producer John Punter which proved to be very successful. This album was Slade's attempt at jumping off the heavy metal root which they had followed for the past two years and into a more commercial sound. The outcome was a well produced album with top quality song writing in the world of pop-rock.

      The album opens with probably the most unusual intro on a Slade album of a shouted announcement to the listener from what seems to be in a helicopter. Without pausing, the true introduction of Slam The Hammer Down blasts out with a fantastically heavy riff and some glorious guitar work including a brilliant solo towards the end of the track. The lyrics are great fun and work perfectly with the song's melody. Noddy's vocals are on top form in this track which surely makes this one of Slade's best rockers of the 80s. "She's a cool kinda mama, sure gonna slam the hammer down. When your pistons are pumping, sure gonna slam the hammer down. Oh, when your body starts to shake, it's time to loosen off the brake and ram it down..."

      The next track eases up and enters a more pop-rock orientated sound. In The Doghouse describes the days of youth. Immediately noticeable is the inclusion of saxophone which is indeed a rare appearance on any Slade track. A catchy chant is featured and some interesting 'keep-you-hooked' lyrics make this song another stand out from the album. Noddy's vocals are lively and fun whilst the percussion throughout is solid. "Beautiful, well you know I'm a liar, don't look at the mantelpiece when you're poking in the fire. What your mama don't know, won't hurt her, a-no, no. All them days of my youth with no sense, we'd be writing words of wisdom on the wall in the gents. Dirty little rhymes, from some dirty little minds..."

      Following is Run Runaway which really needs no introduction as the track remains the only top 20 hit in America for Slade to this day. This track was certainly an American hit for good reason. Immediately the album version features an extended drum gallop before blasting out the fantastic guitar riff. Most impressive is how the track truly kicks in with Noddy shouting "Hold on!" and the most irresistible fiddle melody begins. Noddy's lyrics are totally nonsensical and yet they work astonishingly well. The fantastic backing vocals fit like clockwork whilst the entire song is a showcase for the band's musical creativity. The entire song never fails to deliver everything Slade stand for. Many people refer this song to an influence of Big Country where I must stress that at the time of release, Big Country had not created anything remotely similar to the Run Runaway sound. The melody is in fact inspired by the hymn "There Is a Happy Land". Holder himself perfectly summed the song up as "a rocky Scottish jig". "I like black and white (Dreaming in black and white), you like black and white, run runaway. See chameleon (Lying there in the sun), all things to everyone, run runaway..."

      High and Dry follows which again features some great guitar work, bringing the best out of Dave Hill. Noddy's lyrics are very tongue in cheek but once again it works very well. There is in fact so much going on in the track that it would impossible to pick it all up in one listen. From the lead guitar that weaves throughout the track, the brilliant bass, the backing vocals and Noddy's powerful vocals in top form. Originally, both Noddy and Jim had given this song to the female rock band Girlschool which they also produced. "You're such a shy girl, see you every day, oh me, oh my girl, don't know what to say? Have you lost your voice?Are you spoilt for choice? My reputation's strictly for the birds, don't believe in everything you've heard. How I operate, you ain't got long to wait..."

      Slade's biggest hit since the 70s is, My Oh My which is an absolutely grand power ballad, crafted perfectly in every way. The intro features a simple but effective piano melody which carries Noddy's vocals along through the first part. Noddy's lyrics work perfectly with this track which not only allows anybody listening to sing-a-long with ease but also has an attached meaning throughout. Something Slade had previously proved they were capable of with 70s hits such as "Everyday". The guitar and drums soon smash in wonderfully which is no doubt all the work of John Punter. For the rest of the track, the entire band sing-a-long together, making the track one large sing-a-long whilst the ending features a glorious Dave Hill solo. "I believe in woman, my oh my, I believe in loving, my oh my. Don't a woman need a man? Try and catch one if you can, I believe in woman, my oh my..."

      Cocky Rock Boys (Rule O.K.) returns the band back to having a rocking good time with some incredibly fierce and most lively drumming from Don Powell. As always, the guitar comes in perfectly with a nice melody. Noddy's vocals are perfectly shown here whilst the chorus naturally smashes in with the sing-a-long formula. There's an interesting set of effects half way through which leads to a great but short solo. The ending which features more effects is no doubt very unusual for Slade. "You and me are the greatest thing, you and me are the honky kings. Rocking on is the next best thing to good love, good love. A little bit of what you like, slaps your face, says on your bike. She told you once and told you twice, there's no way, no way..."

      Ready To Explode is a whole eight and a half minutes long. Inspired by Jim Steinman's work with Meatloaf, the entire track is a showcase for the band's musical muscle with the theme of motor-racing throughout. As the listener may have already picked up, motor-racing is referenced throughout the entire album. Immediately the introduction of this track features some sound effects, a great guitar solo and then a commentator who sets the idea of motor-racing up. Another unexpected part of this track is both Dave and Jim perform their own vocals at some point in the song which they pull of tremendously well. Noddy comes in after Dave and Jim with some top vocals. This track truly shows Dave's fantastic guitar work which he undoubtedly had fun doing. The ending features a slow section of Jim singing which bursts into a fitting finale of Noddy shouting out "I was living for speed" a few times whilst the guitar and drums make their mark in the background. "Sitting here in my mean machine, I'm ready to explode, looking out of my helmet at the faces. I been wondering all night long, if I will live or die, yeah, it's always the same before the races..."

      The gentle ballad (And Now the Waltz) C'est La Vie is the odd track out on the album simply because it was released for Christmas 1982. Nevertheless the track fits well enough here to at least feature on the album at all. The track immediately begins with a great sing-a-long start which concludes with Noddy performing a tender vocal with lyrics reflecting the end of a romance. Naturally, the chorus crashes in with a fantastic vocal from Noddy. For those who believe Noddy could never sound anything other than loud and boisterous should listen to this track. "We lay there, your long hair was warm. The last night together we made love until dawn. My nights on the town made you cry, let's make love one more time before I say goodbye. C'est la vie, ooh cherie, c'est la vie. Another time, another place, we'll be together again (you never leave me baby)..."

      Cheap N Nasty Luv is a well crafted track with some interesting lyrics, no doubt about a girl who is involved in prostitution. The entire track features some great synthesizer in the background whilst there is a great lead guitar part all the way through, even topped off with a great solo. The vocals are strong throughout and the chorus is memorable. The track ends with a grand finale of a synthesizer solo. "She couldn't make any other profession, and as she says, well a girl's gotta eat. Trying anything once with a trick of the trade, rents by the hour, making sure she gets paid, no satisfaction, it drives her insane. It's cheap and nasty love, she'd leave it if she could, cheap and nasty love, you know it ain't magic, no..."

      The final track on the album is Razzle Dazzle Man which is interestingly two tracks nicely put into one. Beginning with a wild guitar melody and some fast, frantic and fun vocals from Noddy. There's some nice synthesizer effects added in with some big elements of the new wave sound. After the second chorus, Dave's guitar solo is exciting whilst the synthesizer weaves throughout. Don's drumming is also exceptional here. Immediately and rather incredibly, the song changes by dramatically winding down in tempo. The real stand out here is Noddy's vocals which send shivers throughout the listener with lines such as "It's good to see you don't you know..." The slow ending wouldn't be Slade without a glorious build up towards the end. The drumming picks back up with the guitar whilst a huge choir of backing vocalists join in with Noddy. A truly memorizing closer. "Wanna be a big operator, do ya dig? You play hard to get and make me laugh, yay. Wanna face the rat race, find myself a place, a womaniser on my epitaph. I'm your man, I'm your Razzle Dazzle Man..."

      For the remaster of this album there are six bonus tracks which are a mixture of b-sides and extended remixes. The original b-side to My Oh My was titled Keep Your Hands Off My Power Supply. This track features some grand sound effects, a brilliant bass line from Jim Lea and some rather sly sounding guitar. Noddy throws lines through the verse whilst the chorus picks up with a truly excellent sound of heavy guitar and frantic drumming. Noddy's vocals in the pre-chorus and chorus are extremely excitingly paced. The lyrics refer a drunk driver asking his passenger not to grope him while he's being followed by the police. "Hero of the airtime at home and in no fit state, cause we have when it's two 'o' thirty eight. I need to relieve myself, can't wait. Blue light flashing coming up a-right behind. Get up Mary, hitting the cats eyes, trying hard to follow the white line. Well I ain't ready to face the law, I ain't hunting and that's for sure, maybe they'll just want an autograph. So keep your hands off my power supply, there's no chance that we'll get away..."

      The 12" Extended Version of My Oh My is next which has the exact formation of the original but includes an extended guitar solo from Dave Hill in the latter part of the track. A great add on which proves the band knew how to write and perform a good guitar solo with plenty of feeling for the track and it's lyrical message.

      Original b-side to the 12" vinyl of My Oh My, Don't Tame a Hurricane is another fantastic rocker with great guitar throughout and some interesting lyrics of a larger than life character to keep any listener hooked. Noddy's blasts out the vocals without taking a breath throughout this track - a truly underrated vocalist and this track is a perfect example of Noddy's gifted voice. Also a good example of mid-80s rock. "He's ever ready to catch the cheetah, you know the leopard don't change it's spots. He's the international cocktail who'll end up on the rocks, woah-ho-ho. So don't try to change him, got a hurricane, a hurricane will backfire. A-don't try to tame him, got a hurricane, you can't hold on to live wire..."

      The 12" Extended Version of Run Runaway follows which is surprisingly only twenty-six seconds longer than the album version. One must bare in mind that the 7" version cuts out the extended drum showcase at the beginning and cuts straight into the introductory guitar riff. This version is overall the same as the album version but does have one difference with the added effect of studio tweaking. At the beginning, the guitar is extended for the twenty-six seconds. This extension has the guitar riff playing rather quietly, allowing the percussion to be the highlight for a little longer than the album version.

      Two Track Stereo One Track Mind was the original b-side to Run Runaway and is a more back to basics sound whilst still maintaining the album's style. There's some fantastic guitar work present whilst Noddy's lyrics are jokingly referring to a girl who listens to music through headphones during intercourse, no doubt referencing the fast moving technology of the modern age. A great example of the hidden gems Slade had as b-sides. "Well she always had lousy timing but she'd like making love to music a-wearing headphones woah-ho-oh, wearing headphones, yeah-yay-yay. They get in the way of talking, and it don't sound the same when you have to shout sweet nothing's, woah-ho-oh. through her headphones, oh-woah-ho-oh. With her one track mind, her brain in her behind. She was hooked on two track stereo, with her one track mind, woah-ho-oh..."

      Finally there is a remix of Slam The Hammer Down which is titled the Hotter Mix. This remix featured on a 1984 promotional single in America only. This version adds plenty of saxophone to the track and removes the sound effect intro the album version has. The saxophone certainly adds a nice touch to this track. Strangely, this remaster doesn't include the other remix of the song titled Hot Mix. This remix also appeared on the American promotional singe.

      That is The Amazing Kamikaze Syndrome in all its glory. Slade's 1983 album was a huge European hit but for some unknown reason, only peaked at #49 in the UK. Nevertheless, the album was repackaged and retitled as Keep Your Hands Off My Power Supply for America which went on to be Slade's biggest album there.

      A highly recommended album. The remaster also brings the best out of the sound, making it all very lively and fresh. This was Slade's attempt of updating their sound to fit with the commercial 80s. With the help of John Punter, the band succeeded with ease.

      Originally posted on Ciao.

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