Slade made little impact on America, perhaps because they were too British, or maybe because they were too much a part of the glam moment in the 1970s, working class American rock audiences typically being a little suspicious of glam. Fancy, fruity, future fashion was out of synch with hippies and California rockers, and zany rock ’n’ roll spelling—“Mama Weer All Crazee Now” and “Gudbuy T’ Jane,” for example—was enough to keep many from getting one of the best early 1970s hard rock bands. The hits were ridiculously catchy, and the film Slade in Flame (now on DVD) tells the story of a band’s rise in England with more grit and detail about working class life than you’d expect from a band so seemingly cartoonish.
In For a Penny is Shout! Factory’s second cull from Slade’s catalog, and oddly, it might be a better starting place than 2004’s Get Yer Boots On or Sladest, the band’s hits collection from 1973. Without the hits that defined the band, In For a Penny shows Slade to be a really good, hard blues band, not quite a garage band but one with a garage band’s edge. It opens with a version of “Shape of Things to Come” that easily cuts the Yardbirds’ version, and only slows down for the gentle pop “When the Lights Are Out.”