Pros: Glossy production, fun rock, memorable overall, big American hit
Cons: Forgotten and underrated
1984 and Slade found their first real American chart success with My Oh My and Run Runaway which were both top 40 hits during that year. This all began when American hard rock group Quiet Riot covered Slade’s 1973 UK chart topper Cum On Feel The Noize. The cover peaked at #5 in America and helped Quiet Riot’s American debut album Metal Health top the American Billboard and sell over six million copies. Following the success, the band signed to an interested CBS Records and decided to release 1983’s The Amazing Kamikaze Syndrome on American soil. Instead of simply releasing the album though, the group changed the artwork, the title and altered the track listing. With this album the band had began working with their first outside producer John Punter which proved to be very successful. The album was Slade’s attempt at capturing the American audience with a commercial pop-rock sound. The outcome was a well produced album with top quality song writing.
Naturally, the album opens with 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”. “See chameleon lying there in the sun. All things to everyone, run runaway…”
Slade‘s biggest UK 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…”
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 want equality? You won't get none of that from me!”
Slam The Hammer Down has 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 the track 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.”
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 at the fire.”
The original b-side to My Oh My was titled Keep Your Hands Off My Power Supply which is included here as well as being the name of the release. 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. “I ain’t ready to face the law, I ain’t running and that's for sure, maybe they'll just want an autograph…”
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…”
Original b-side to the 12” vinyl of My Oh My, Can’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…”
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 and doesn’t simply fall into the rest of the album’s production scale. 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. “Another time, another place, we'll be together again.”
The album closer is one of most oddest Slade tracks titled Ready To Explode which 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. “You're gonna drive them round the bend, have a go on the chicane…”
Keep Your Hands Off My Power Supply was a huge hit, peaking at #33 in America and #26 in Canada. This album remained the band’s most successful album in the American region and therefore the most recognisable amongst the public there. Ironically, from 1975 to 1976, the band had moved from the UK to America and toured constantly there in order to try and crack the market. The group weren’t successful after a lot of hard work. Just under a decade later, Slade virtually cracked the market by luck. The group had not released anything in the region since the mid-70s. After this album’s release, Slade went to tour America with Ozzy Osbourne however after a few warm up shows, bassist Jim Lea fell ill with Hepatitis C and Slade had no choice but to cancel the tour and return home to the UK. This was the last time the band would tour. More unfortunate for the band was their chart success in America was short lived. The follow up album Rogues Gallery only peaked at #132 whilst the lead single Little Sheilapeaked at #86. This was the last appearance on the American charts for the band.
Overall, a highly recommended album. The remaster of The Amazing Kamikaze Syndrome features all of this album’s tracks and 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 and cracked the American market with little effort.