Cover Versions of #1s – Joan Jett & Oasis

For my last two covers of the week, I’m going back to the age of glam. I do miss the days when every second chart-topper was a glam-rock stomper…

‘I Love You Love Me Love’, by Joan Jett – originally a #1 in 1973 for you-know-who.

The only problem with ‘the age of glam’ is that one of its biggest stars turned out to be a prolific sex-offender. Despite trying not to, I did enjoy the first two of Gary Glitter’s three #1s. How to listen to them these days, though, without feeling a bit icky? Luckily, Americans have no idea who Glitter is/was, and are happy to use his music at sporting events and in the soundtracks to major Hollywood movies. Joan Jett made a habit of covering old 60s and 70s tunes and giving them a power-rock feel in the eighties. (Yes, I know, he probably still gets royalties. I didn’t say it was a perfect plan…)

‘Cum on Feel the Noize’, by Oasis – originally a #1 in 1973, for Slade

I have complicated feelings towards Oasis. They were once my favourite band (if you were a teenage boy, growing up in suburban Scotland, in the late 90s, you had to love Oasis, it was as good as law). But I don’t listen to them much these days. Liam and Noel are as moronic as they are funny, and they attract a certain type of ‘fan’… And yet, watching this performance at Maine Road, at the height of their popularity, you can see why they were so huge, and it proves anyone who thinks Liam couldn’t sing very wrong. Obnoxious lines like: So you think my singing’s out of time, Well it makes me money… might well have been custom-written for him. Oasis are famously mocked for copying the Beatles, but I’ve also heard them described as ‘Status Slade’. I think whoever said that meant to be bitchy, but I can’t think of a more fun sounding hybrid band. Anyway, I’ll have plenty of time to reassess Oasis when I cover their eight #1s – ‘Cum on Feel the Noize’ was a ‘B’-side to their second (and best…?) chart-topper, ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’.

Next week it’s back to the usual countdown, starting with chart-topper number 501.

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326. ‘Cum on Feel the Noize’, by Slade

Baby baby BABY! From one glam rock classic, to another. From the second Noddy Holder hollers that intro, we’re witnessing Slade at the peak of their powers, at the height of their popularity.

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Cum on Feel the Noize, by Slade (their 4th of six #1s)

4 weeks, from 25th February – 25th March 1973

With it, they’re bringing the same attitude as in their previous #1, ‘Mama Weer All Crazee Now’. Noddy lists all the things about which he simply does not give two hoots: So you think I’ve got an evil mind, Well I’ll tell you honey… So you think my singing’s out of time, Well it makes me money… He’s got a funny face, he’s got a dirty mind… Say I’m a scumbag but it’s no disgrace, I ain’t in no hurry…

The message is, in a nutshell, who cares what people think or say about you when you’ve got a chorus like this one coming up: So come on feel the noise, Girls grab the boys, We get wild, wild, wild… At your door! It’s another hit designed for the audience to scream back to them, for football crowds to chant, for kids up and down the land who just want to have a good time. Is it a bit simplistic, a bit repetitive? Maybe. Does it need to be a full four and a half minutes long? Maybe not. But to criticise ‘Cum on Feel the Noize’ for these things is to miss the point, and then some.

If you insisted on analysing the lyrics, you might see this as a riposte, a middle finger in the air to the critics that dismiss Slade, or perhaps even as a celebration of their fame. The I just don’t know why…! refrain could be an answer to the question: ‘How are these four bruisers from Wolverhampton suddenly the biggest band in the land?’

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As with any Slade record, Noddy Holder’s vocals sell it. Nobody yells, grunts or hollers like him. Apparently the now famous ‘baby, baby, baby’ intro was stitched on from an earlier soundcheck. As with other Slade records, whip-cracking handclaps come in to take us home. And as with the previous #1, Sweet’s ‘Block Buster!’, I can’t help but feel that an even heavier production, more bass, more oomph, would improve it even further.

When I said that ‘Cum on Feel the Noize’ announced Slade as the biggest band in the country, I meant it. The single entered the charts straight in at #1, something that had only happened four times previously: once each for The Beatles and Cliff/The Shadows, and twice for a certain Elvis Presley. That’s the company that Slade were now keeping, and they’ll enter at the top of the charts twice more before the year is out.

You’d have to say that this Slade’s most famous (non-Christmas) hit. A chorus that most people could have a go at, even forty-seven years later. It was covered in the eighties, by Quiet Riot (and taken to the Billboard Top 5), and in the nineties as a ‘B’-side by Oasis, who often included it in their live shows. It lives on. It is a classic. Come on, press play below, and feel the noize…