I love Slade so much. While a lot of the ‘70s glam movement’s extra-musical lexicon emphasized the trashed elegance of the beautiful, untouchable, rock-star-on-a-pedestal figure (basically the Ziggy Stardust template), Slade were unabashedly lumpen, ugly cusses embracing a joyous buttrock stomp and bare-knuckle production values. This wasn’t a rejection of glamor, but a livelier embrace of it, and a roadmap for how the proles could join in the fun, bringing it all down to Earth even as their guitarist dressed up like a spaceman.
Apart from their music and their abundant love of plaid, Slade were known for goofy misspellings in their song titles—“Mama Weer all Crazee Now,” “Skweeze Me, Pleeze Me,” “Look Wot You Dun,” and my favorite of their songs, “Gudbuy T’Jane.” After the band slipped into decline in the late ‘70s, they experienced a sudden, unexpected early ‘80s US breakout when the L.A. pop-metal band Quiet Riot had a huge out-of-nowhere hit with a totally half-assed cover of “Cum On Feel the Noize,” which sold well enough to make them the first heavy metal band to score a US #1 album. This in turn drove a renewed interest in Slade themselves, who by then had jettisoned their tartan-and-lamé glam trappings in favor of a broader hard-rock approach, which actually did goose their UK success. Their 1983 album Amazing Kamikaze Syndrome was re-released in the US under the title Keep Your Hands Off My Power Supply, which, on the backs of the incredibly fun single “Run Runaway” and the obligatory power ballad “My Oh My,” became Slade’s first and only US top-40 LP.
So it’s astonishing that Slade’s single biggest song has never been especially well known in the US. In 1973, the band threw its mirrored top hat into the Christmas music ring—and why the hell not? If your holiday song connects, you’re looking at mailbox money every winter in perpetuity, it’s a career triumph and retirement fund stuffer second only to penning a sports arena anthem. The affable “Merry X’Mas Everybody” is a perennial holiday favorite in England, and has been in the UK top 40 more than ten times, but, bafflingly, was never released as a single in the US, even at the band’s height. It can be found on Slade’s 1985 holiday cash-in Crackers and the 2011 4-disc Slade Box, an anthology covering the band’s beginnings as a ‘60s skinhead outfit to the end of its original lineup in the early ‘90s.
This video is cobbled together from several of the surely zillions of times the band mimed the song on British TV. Merry Christmas to all who celebrate, and to everyone else, enjoy the long weekend!
Previously on Dangerous Minds
Slade: proto punk heroes of glam rock