Got an obscure one for you this week. Back in the late 70s punk was on top (ugh) and Slade’s fortunes were so far down the tubes that they were already well into the sewers. The last of the band’s ill-fated releases before their career-reviving performance at Reading 1980, Six of the Best was a short EP release with three then-new songs written for the EP (and to subsequently reappear on 1981’s We’ll Bring The House Down) and three songs from the previous album, Return to Base.
First up is the new song “Night Starvation”. An upbeat little rocker, it bounces along all throughout, with some distinctive high pitch backing vocals for the chorus. It’s not my favorite pitch of singing, those backing vocals, but they do work within the context of the song, and I’m sure the upcoming live version will be better anyway. Then it’s another new tune in “When I’m Dancin’ I Ain’t Fighting”. A relentless rock and roller with some good sing-along bits (that’s already made one of my songs of the week), this is definitely my favorite song of the EP. And it’s got some pretty progressive lyrics for the era too.
Song three takes us to the first of the previously-released material: the cover of Chuck Berry’s “I’m a Rocker”. And it rocks alright. Noddy’s booming voice suits the song and the sound has been beefed up by the rest of the band. Someone’s even playing harmonica in there. This then gives way to “Don’t Waste Your Time”, a more melancholy tune for Return to Base. But don’t let that M word distract you. This song is real good. It cuts a perfect balance between light headbanging, melodic tunefulness and just enough of a hook to sing along to. I was already familiar with “When I’m Dancin’ I Ain’t Fighting”, but this is easily my favorite of the songs that this EP introduced to me.
The trio of Return to Base songs is rounded out by “Wheel’s Ain’t Coming Down”. A bombastic chorus is the highlight of the song, but the verses carry enough melody to still enjoy the song in its entirety. The same goes for closing track (a new one) “9 to 5”. Though the weakest of the new tracks, it closes the EP on a high-intensity note to great effect. Definitely the right song to close the record on.
As far as EPs go, this is one of the most underrated. Sure, the title isn’t the most accurate when the band’s hit-writing spree of the early 70s is considered, but fans of the band will find plenty to love here.
The verdict- 4/5 stars.