Times Of Our Lives: 1981- Slade Bring The House Down


An unexpected event occurred in 1981: Slade were on Top of the Pops not singing “Merry Christmas Everybody” and the playground was abuzz with the previous night’s viewing.

Or more accurately, the school fields were abuzz since we didn’t have a playground. Nor did we have these all-weather courts schools today possess. Our five a-side pitch with markings for the tennis court in the summer, had once been cement or concrete.

Thousands of feet later, the surface was crumbling and removed several layers of skin should you tumble upon it. No afternoon passed without some pupil wandering between lessons with a hole in the knee of his trousers and dried blood around the edge, which probably stopped the material fraying further.

Anyway, Slade. Dave Hill looked camper than a heavy metal Millets but it didn’t matter, all musical tribalism was shoved aside. Statements of “God, how could you like that?” were heard, “Quite easily,” began the reply; “It was Slade.” Definitive, no room for contradiction; it was Slade and that’s all you needed to know.

For three minutes, a generation was back in an innocent world, remembering the pop of their youth, or younger youth. With the allegations made against various denizens of the airwaves in recent years, perhaps innocent is the wrong word.

And to be fair, the reaction sums up how they rose above glam rock, despite being its lunatic cheerleaders. Slade have a place in the nation’s affection. The minute most of their back catalogue hits the airwaves, listeners will immediately see a picture of Noddy on Top of the Pops in their mind’s eye, screaming, “It’s Christmas-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s!” and followed on stage by Roy Wood, who no matter his age still had the make-up he wore in Wizzard back in the day.

If you’ve never seen anyone suffering from St Vitus Dance, Noddy and the lads certainly gave you an approximation of it but as I recall those days through a near teary eye, I remember they were once the biggest band in Britain. It is not the memory which brought the tear forth, my finger slipped as I rubbed my furrowed brow…

And so to 1981. I always think of the period 1978 – 82 as my ‘Golden Age’ of music. The time when most of the records which feature in my all-time list were released. 1981, I thought, was the poor cousin of the era, most probably because The Jam only released ‘Absolute Beginners’ and no LP. I couldn’t have been more wrong. What it does show is how diverse my musical tastes became.

If the playlist for some inexplicable reason doesn’t work, you can find it here in your browser.


Artist Song
The Clash The Magnificent Seven
Blondie Rapture
Spandau Ballet Chant No 1 (I Don’t Need This Pressure On)
The Higsons I Don’t Want To Live With Monkeys
Public Image Ltd. Flowers Of Romance
Department S Is Vic There?
Siouxsie and the Banshees Spellbound
Echo & the Bunnymen With A Hip
Joy Division Walked In Line
The Exploited Hitler’s In The Charts Again
Headgirl Please Don’t Touch
The Jam Absolute Beginners
Pigbag Papa’s Got a Brand New Pigbag
Dexys Midnight Runners Plan B
The Who You Better You Bet
The Beat I Am Your Flag
Secret Affair Lost In The Night (Mack The Knife)
The Vapors Jimmie Jones
The Undertones It’s Going To Happen
The Boomtown Rats Banana Republic
UB40 Sardonicus
U2 With A Shout (Jerusalem)
New Order Dreams Never End
The Psychedelic Furs Pretty in Pink
Heaven 17 Penthouse And Pavement
ABC Tears Are Not Enough
Japan Ghosts
Squeeze Tempted
Pretenders Talk Of The Town
U.K. Subs Party in Paris
New Order Ceremony
Crispy Ambulance Deaf
Honey Bane Turn Me On Turn Me Off
Duran Duran Planet Earth
Siouxsie and the Banshees Arabian Knights
Soft Cell Say Hello, Wave Goodbye
Madness Shut Up
Altered Images Dead Pop Stars
Section 25 Dirty Disco
Adam & The Ants Kings of the Wild Frontier
The Jam Tales From The Riverbank
Stiff Little Fingers Just Fade Away
Joy Division Ice Age
Elvis Costello & The Attractions Watch Your Step
Echo & the Bunnymen A Promise
The Clash Somebody Got Murdered
The Rolling Stones Start Me Up
Squeeze Another Nail In My Heart
Tenpole Tudor Swords Of A Thousand Men
Stray Cats Rumble in Brighton
Siouxsie and the Banshees Sin In My Heart
The Cure Primary
The Fall Fit and Working Again
Echo & the Bunnymen All My Colours
U2 Is That All?
The Vapors Isolated Case
The Go-Go’s Our Lips Are Sealed
Madness Grey Day
The Specials Ghost Town
Elvis Costello & The Attractions How Much I Lied
Stiff Little Fingers Piccadilly Circus
Secret Affair Do You Know?
The B-52’s Private Idaho
The Durutti Column Sketch For Dawn – I
A Certain Ratio My Spirit
Heaven 17 (We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang
The Clash This is Radio Clash
Elvis Costello & The Attractions White Knuckles
Bruce Springsteen The River
The Barracudas Summer Fun
The Piranhas Vi Gela Gela
New Order Everything’s Gone Green
Was (Not Was) Out Come The Freaks
Odyssey Going Back to My Roots
The Higsons The Lost And The Lonely
Scritti Politti The Sweetest Girl
Coati Mundi Me No Pop I
Tom Tom Club Wordy Rappinghood
Linx Intuition
Tenpole Tudor Conga Tribe

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