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1987 saw the final studio album from one of Britain's greatest rock bands although at the time it seemed that nobody cared. By this point Slade had lost their interest in America whilst various European countries were keen to buy anything Slade released. Very much like their previous album Rogues Gallery, You Boyz Make Big Noize was heavy on synthesizers. For this album, the objective was to create a fun album in the style of the 70s but with 80s technology. Undoubtedly this album is one of Slade's most commercial albums.
The album begins with a cover version of Donnie Iris' Love Is Like a Rock which Slade's bassist/songwriter Jim Lea believed sounded very Slade-like. Slade clearly improved the sound of the original with thunderous drums, solid guitar riff, strong backing vocals and for the first time in years some female backing. No doubt helped by producer Roy Thomas Baker, the track proved to be a stronger opener for the album. "You can't rely on mother nature, you can't rely on your pay cheque..."
The next track begin to show the synthesized sound used on the album with That's What Friends Are For. A light-hearted pop song with a great anthemic and sing-a-long chorus - exactly what Slade were about. A very synthesizer driven track with a decent guitar solo added. Noddy's vocals are smooth on this track and work nicely with the melody. "Have you ever been lost in love when you were seventeen? Have you ever had a dirty thought and tried to keep them clean?"
Then comes the lead single on the album, the ballad titled Still The Same. What really shines on this track is Noddy's lyrics which refer to a couple's inability to evolve. Noddy also pulls off a fine vocal which is carried by some strong guitar. Rather like the arrangement of previous hits My Oh My and All Join Hands, the song builds up to a big anthemic chorus which the whole band joins in. "Oh we're all one day older. Your hands are gradually colder. What made me weak in the knees is still the same, it's still the same..."
Following on, Slade bring the tempo back up with one of Slade's best latter day sound. Fools Go Crazy is very much a synthesizer driven track. This song is complete with Noddy's sharp vocals which have a hint of disappoint in reference to the lyrics. Some of the best vocals on the album. A very Slade-like track. What is really impressive here is the guitar. The guitar mixes perfectly with the synthesizer, creating a truly brilliant sound. A glorious guitar solo is also added and a fine one at that. "You go running when it's your round, you ain't funny, a clown's a clown..."
She's Heavy drops the synthesizers and instead replaces it with a great guitar-based riff. The lyrics are extremely cheesy about the advantages of having a "big partner". The entire band sing the vocals together, making a memorable and unusual Slade piece. "She might need to lose just a pound or two, the lady knows how to bill and coo, got so much more I can hold on to and she's heavy..." and "Oh I don't complain when she turns up late, asks me out I don't hesitate. Got a lot more loving with a lot more weight and she's heavy..." are two examples of the fun lyrics included.
Next is We Won't Give In, a guitar-driven ballad with some very sorrow-sounding guitar. The verses flow nicely and the chorus builds up with another anthemic sing-a-long hook. The chorus itself is one of the band's best latter choruses and has the typical Slade sound. The lyrics show determination not to give in as other people try to drag you down. The chorus shows this message nicely. "I'm never gonna give, no I don't give in. I'm never gonna give cause I gotta win..."
Won't You Rock With Me is a moody and dark stadium-like rocker. Guitar is the highlight whilst the synthesizer weaves a thumping bass line underneath. Noddy's vocals are sharp, hard-hitting and rather dark sounding whilst naturally the chorus is another hard hitting anthemic sing-a-long. The chorus smashes in with more strong guitar and an anthemic sound. "Don't hold your breath, cause it's coming on strong. You're what you eat, gonna drag me along..."
One of the greatest and most commercially potential of the tracks is Ooh La La In L.A. A sharp guitar riff with some great lyrics from Noddy, describing different scenes of Los Angeles that the band remember. Even drummer Don Powell is mentioned with the lines "there's George on his knees again, on the town with Miss Zimmerman", which refers to Don's brief relationship with Bob Dylan's daughter. There's another sing-a-long chorus and a great solo. "You see the food and you feel the force, B.L.T. and there ain't no sauce, you get enough to feed a horse that's true..."
Me And The Boys is another showcase for Dave Hill's fine guitar work, starting off with a huge drum/clapping beat and adding another catchy chorus straight away. Noddy's lyrics are full of humour. The entire track is built around the guitar which makes this track a highlight. "Down at the Raj and we can all perspire, the Vindaloo kid has got his jeans on fire. Curry and lager are the spice of life, next day they're gonna give me strife..."
Sing Shout (Knock Yourself Out) proves itself as one of the most catchiest and infectious tracks on the album. A bouncy synthesizer riff with some great guitar work. Here is a great sing-a-long chorus which is fantastically infectious and after that follows a very catchy chant. Energy is frantic here whilst this track shows Slade's gift of creating such quality party songs. Extreme fun. "When she's good, she's so good and when she's bad she's much better..."
Another unexpected masterpiece comes in the form of The Roaring Silence which features the band singing along together and very professionally. Another track built using synthesizers, the lyrics remain interesting throughout and thoughtful. The track originally was intended as a b-side but ended up on the album as it sounded so good. "There's a never-ending stream of never-ending dreams. You bring out the savage in me, fancy-free and no guarantee..."
It's Hard Having Fun Nowadays closes the album with a glorious riff and thunderous drums. Some very fun lyrics from Noddy and of course a sing-a-long chorus. The riff itself ranks among the best of many Slade hooks. Originally, Roy Thomas Baker began working on this track until he proved too expensive and lengthy for the band. Bassist Jim Lea finished the production of this song. "There were hard case men about the house, dreaming of Samantha in a well filled blouse..."
For the remaster of this album there are nine bonus tracks which are a mixture of b-sides and remixes. The first bonus track is the 12" Extended Version of Still The Same. The main difference between the album version and this extended version is the inclusion of a great guitar solo and an instrumental section. This guitar solo makes the song so much stronger and should have featured on the album version.
Gotta Go Home was the original b-side to Still The Same. The track has another fantastically catchy guitar riff with high speed sound and some great vocals from Noddy. The chorus here has the usual Slade mould - anthemic and catchy. Slade proved they could still pull off the original rocking Slade sound without the use of synthesizers. "All dolled up in your birthday suit, you've just gotta wear a smile, oh, when your headlights flash, talking about you - really going out in style..."
The next track titled Don't Talk To Me About Love was originally an extra b-side to the commemorative double pack of Still The Same. This track gives Jim Lea a chance at lead vocals with Noddy joining in at the chorus. A fun track with another great and very groovy sounding riff. Jim Lea's vocals here work well with the fun lyrics. From the verse, a huge anthemic chorus follows which features Noddy belting out the song's title over some hard sounding guitar. "Oh boy how you dance, there's ants in your pants. With my kind of luck, a chance of a duck is just half a chance."
Wild Wild Party was the original b-side to That's What Friends Are For. A memorable guitar riff is present here whilst there's a huge sing-a-long chorus with the usual Slade sound. The verses are strongly sung by Noddy and are just as memorable as the chorus. Another showcase for the band's great talent of writing and performing good time party anthems. "More and more, them people at the door, someone tell me what to do. The way they're dressed is getting less and less. What's good for me is good for you..."
Also included is the single You Boyz Make Big Noize which came two months after the album. This track returned to a more guitar based sound without any synthesizers present. A fun track where the band share lines throughout, influenced by the musical style of the Beastie Boys. The chorus is pure Slade though with a great sing-a-long sound. There is some thunderous drumming throughout and a great guitar riff. The lyrics are full of humour and work in that perspective. This track also features a couple of lines sung by a female vocalist said to be Vicki Brown. A unique track to Slade's work. "A wee drop of rocket fuel gets you in the guts. It's better that the nutter who nuts you in the nuts..." and "Dirty shirts can smell really mean. Gleamo washes not only white, not only bright, but clean..." are two examples of the humour within the lyrics.
The next track is the Noize Remix of You Boyz Make Big Noize which appeared on the 12" version of the single. This remix manages to add even more guitar, making the song sound musically tougher than the original version. Noddy opens the remix with last line of the song and a great instrumental section begins. This part features some fantastic lead guitar which is not present in the original version. Two verses and two choruses run through like in the original which is followed by another exclusive guitar solo. After this solo, the remix follows like the original version with the final verse and the ending. The final part of the track features a new version of the chorus to Slade's 1972 UK number one hit Mama Weer All Crazee Now which is complete with party atmosphere sound effects.
The following track is the Instrumental Version of You Boyz Make Big Noize which was b-side to the single. This track is exactly the same as the original version minus all the vocals. A good track for those who want to admire the music and production within this track or for those who want to do karaoke. This is one of the very few officially released instrumental versions that exist for Slade's material. A nice extra for the bonus tracks on the album.
The USA Mix of You Boyz Make Big Noize is next which of course was aimed at the American market. It appeared on the 12" version of the single. This version is exactly the same as the original with the exception of a few small differences. There is a altered line in the first verse and three lyrical changes in the final verse. Finally, there are a few lines which are sung differently from the original version. Some lines which the band sung together are now sung by Noddy alone and visa versa. It does remain a mystery as to why the lines were changed but this still makes an interesting track to compare the original with.
The final track included is a cover of Chris Montez's Let's Dance which originally appeared on Slade's 1985 Christmas album titled Crackers. The band released the track as a single in 1988. Despite being called the '88 Remix, there is no difference to the track except the introduction features somebody counting for the percussion to start. This cover really brings the song to life with a bouncy synthesizer riff, fun lead guitar, strong drumming and some great vocals from Noddy. The band sound like they are enjoying themselves here and as a result the energy is fantastic. "Hey baby how you thrill me so. Hold me tight and don't you let me go. And let's dance, oh let's dance..."
Sadly, at the time of release You Boyz Make Big Noize wasn't the success it should have been, only peaking at #98 in the UK although it fared at #12 in Norway. The singles also failed to set the UK charts alight, Still The Same peaked at #73, That's What Friends Are For at #95, the single You Boyz Make Big Noize at #94, We Won't Give In peaked at #121 whilst Let's Dance failed to chart a year later. Ooh La La In L.A was released as a single in America, getting radio play at Los Angeles but failed to make a national impact.
Further heartache is that this was the last studio album for the original line-up of Slade and therefore this wasn't the swansong album the band hoped for. Slade briefly reappeared in 1991 with two new singles. The first single Radio Wall of Sound became the band's last UK hit with the exception of Merry Christmas Everybody. The final single titled Universe sadly flopped during the Christmas season. After 1991, vocalist Noddy Holder and bassist Jim Lea left the band whilst guitarist Dave Hill and drummer Don Powell started Slade II.
I highly recommend this album, one that's been with me for years now and still I find myself playing it often. In fact, this album is one of my all time personal favourites. Jim Lea's production has stood the test of time and still sounds very modern today. The remaster also brings the best out of the sound, making it all very lively and fresh. What amazes me about this album is the many different styles on the album, from ballads, stompers and rockers, all being highly fun, infectious and catchy. Slade achieved the sound they wanted but sadly no one was listening...
The album can be found for a great price on Amazon, whilst the site also includes previews of each track.