Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Getting To Everyone: Slade: "My Friend Stan"

And now, back to the Glam Slam; and yet, this is where the toll of such a sustained effort begins to show.  They had had a tough summer - Don Powell, their drummer, had been in a very bad car accident and spent most of the summer recuperating; in order to record this song he had to be helped to his drum kit.  This led to (or perhaps encouraged) Slade's next hit to be a piano-based arched eyebrow of a song, as opposed to a roaring stomping recorded-in-an-air-hangar beast that they usually provided the UK public with (the US public, despite Slade's best intentions, never did respond to them in the same loyal way).  It is a sly song, full of innuendo, sung by Noddy Holder with his usual gruff cheer; in trying to figure out who is who here.  Stan's father making him "work all night" means he can't do "it" right (no points for knowing what that means). 

"And from the way you blacked my eye/I know that you're the reason why" is the constant phrase (used after the next verses, wherein his friend Pete is weak and his friend Jack's got an ache in his back) - but who is being addressed?  If it's a girl then why is she hitting the narrator?  And why is she fixing everyone's ties (whatever that means) and otherwise "gettin' to him"?  I know I am asking a lot from what is essentially a novelty song about sex, but the song - I can't help but feel this - also has a subtext of The Man vs. the ordinary guy, who is being worked hard, is being exhausted, even becomes sick due to what The Man demands; and hence it is a political song, or at least whenever I hear it, it becomes one.  Slade stand squarely in favor of the working class; and here Slade, I feel, are talking straight to them, signifying if you will, about what is happening and how The Man is "gettin'" to everybody, fixing them up but good...screwing them over?

Again, I don't want to make too much hay of this song - but at this point in '73 I sense a rebelliousness underneath a lot of UK life, a willingness to try something new, along with resignation and The Fog.  Slade were to bounce back from this (a #2 hit for them was a miss, at this point) with a huge hit, their last one - and while the Glam Slam era continues here, it is ever-so-slowly disappearing...to be replaced by something that is, at this point, yet to exist.  Stan, Jack and Pete are all linked by someone, sure, but is it a woman, or is it something more...sinister?

Next up:  them's the limits.   

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