‘BABY BABY BAAAAAABY!’. From one glam classic to another, The Sweet’s Block Buster ! was toppled after five weeks in pole position by another 1973 anthem. Slade finally achieved their goal with their fourth number 1 – Cum On Feel the Noize was the first chart-topper since Get Back to enter the charts as a number 1. There was no stopping the Wolverhampton wonders now.
Slade had recently suffered a slight dip in fortunes however. For the first time since 1971, they released a single that didn’t climb to number 1. Gudbuy T’Jane was kept from the top by Chuck Berry’s My Ding-a-Ling, of all things – although Noddy Holder is in the crowd of that actual performance.
This single was originally called Cum On Hear the Noize, but, recalling a 1972 concert by his band, Holder described being able to feel the sound of the crowd pounding in his chest. A wise move, as it makes the song that much more visceral. As Stuart Braithwaite of Scottish post-rockers Mogwai once said, music should be felt, not heard.
It was another tailor-made anthem by Holder and bassist Jim Lea, building upon their last number 1, Mama Weer All Crazee Now, in which the band describe the atmosphere of performing for their ever-growing army of fans. The initial ‘Baby, baby, baby’ was intended as a mic test, but it worked as a great intro to such an exciting song.
This brilliant call-to-arms stomp is Slade firing on all cylinders. Were it not for Merry Xmaƨ Everybody, it would probably be even better recognised, but this is a Slade single that’s for life, not just for Christmas.
The lyrics, as always with Slade, are pretty simple, but there’s some wit displayed here, as Holder winds up his detractors, most notably with ‘So you think my singing’s out of time, well it makes me money’. As with their previous single, it’s a masterstroke to add audience-style backing vocals chanting the chorus, creating another easy chant for maximum audience interaction. Everyone involved is having the time of their lives here, knowing that this was their time. I particularly like Lea’s busy bass throughout. This song remains a total joy from start to finish, and must have been immense at live shows of the time. A welcome distraction from continuous IRA-related terrible news in the early spring of 1973.
In 1983, US heavy metal act Quiet Riot had a big US hit with their cover, with slightly different lyrics and a very hair-metal sound. Then in 1996 at the height of their fame, Oasis made it an extra track of their single Don’t Look Back In Anger, memorably performing both tracks on one edition of Top of the Pops. While it may have made sense for a band like Oasis to cover this (both acts had large followings, distinctive lead singers, were at the height of their powers), neither of these covers match the original.
Written by: Noddy Holder & Jim Lea
Producer: Chas Chandler
Weeks at number 1: 4 (3-30 March)
Conservative MP Penny Mordaunt – 4 March
Ornithologist David Lack – 12 March
Playwright Noël Coward – 26 March
Conservative MP Douglas Douglas-Hamilton, 14th Duke of Hamilton – 30 March
3 March: Two IRA bombs exploded in London, killing one person and injuring 250 others. 10 people were arrested later that day at Heathrow Airport.
8 March: In the Northern Ireland sovereignty referendum, 98.9% of voters in the province wanted Northern Ireland to remain part of the UK. This was the first referendum on regional government in the UK.
Also that day, more IRA bombs exploded in Whitehall and the Old Bailey in London.
10 March: Richard Sharples, the governor of Bermuda, and his aide-de-camp were assasinated.
17 March: The new London Bridge, replacing a 19th-century stone-arched bridge, was opened by Queen Elizabeth II.
21 March: Seven men are killed in flooding at the Lofthouse Colliery disaster in West Riding, Yorkshire.
26 March: Women were admitted into the London Stock Exchange for the first time.