Slade’s third chart-topper in well under a year – a mean feat that not many other artists can boast of. And it enters with all the swagger you’d expect from a band well on their way to being the biggest in the land. As Noddy sums it up in the intro: Awooooooooo!
Mama Weer All Crazee Now, by Slade (their 3rd of six #1s)
3 weeks, from 3rd – 24th September 1972
The riff could never be described as sophisticated, or revolutionary, but it’s perfect in its own way. A riff that does the DJ’s job for him, by announcing ‘Here’s the latest single from Slade…’ Meanwhile the drums are deep and beefy and the bass kicks. We’re all set up for a good time.
Similarly, the lyrics aren’t going to change the world; but they are a statement of intent. Holder is at his sneery, husky best as he announces: I don’t want to, Drink my whisky like you do… The kids are going to do things their own way. I don’t need to, Spend my money but still do… Did someone say ‘teenage rebellion?’ Think ‘Son of My Father’, but in the simplest, Sladest terms.
I said mama, But we’re all crazy now… the band hollers as mum bangs on the bedroom door, wondering what this noise is. A year so ago, the top of the charts was full of easy-on-the-ears, grown-up pop – ‘I’m Still Waiting’ and ‘Woodstock’. But 1972 has seen the #1 spot reclaimed by the kids: teeny boppers and glam rockers. It’s like the fifties all over again, but with more make-up.
Is ‘Mama Weer All Crazee Now’ a little basic? Probably, but that’s the point. It’s a song about having nothing but a good time. Another drop now, come on… I want the lot now, come on… About being young and reckless and not giving two shits. Jim Lea, the bassist, was inspired to write it after looking out on Wembley Arena after the band had played a gig, and surveying a hall full of broken seats and empty bottles. Plus he wanted a chorus – a chant, even – that the audience could sing back to them at full volume.
The record ends with that line repeated over and over, until it’s reduced to a stutter: Ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-woooooooo! Glorious nonsense. (Isn’t that the perfect description for glam rock?) Actually, I’ve just had an idea, a way of categorising the glam rock acts of the early seventies, using British supermarkets as gradients (Apologies to any non-British readers who will have no idea what I’m on about, please skip ahead if you like…) If Bowie was Harrod’s Glam, then T. Rex were Waitrose Glam. Slade? Slade were Tesco glam: no frills and popular across the land. And LIDL Glam? That was Mud.
Anyway, nothing wrong with being the Tesco of glam. Whenever I’m back in the UK, Tesco’s one of the first places I go. And it didn’t hold Slade back any. ‘Mama…’ was their 3rd of six #1s, and the last not to enter at the top of the charts. Very, very few records entered at #1 before the mid-nineties. Slade will go on to do it three times. Enjoy the video below, then, as the sound of a band just about to go stratospheric…