Why doesn’t anyone write anything about Slade? Reassessing glam
Keywords:Slade, David Bowie, glam rock, skinheads, cultural omnivorism, music journalism
This article addresses critical neglect of 1970s UK glam rock group Slade. It argues that from the 1970s on, especially in music media, class conflict was increasingly rearticulated in terms of musical taste through multicultural capital. This revision of Bourdieu privileges cultural omnivorism as key to social status, a tolerance that embraces potentially all music except that most strongly identified with low cultural capital, i.e. heavy metal and pop music, and their associated audiences (working-class males and teenyboppers). The fact that these were Slade’s core audiences guaranteed the group’s long-term marginalization. Class politics were re-articulated as identity politics. Multicultural capital and cultural omnivorism are significant to the construction of neoliberal individualism, and David Bowie, the dominant presence in critical accounts of glam, is discussed as an example of that tendency. My interest then, is less in how working-class (or teenybop) the Slade audience was, and more in how those identifications led to their critical marginalization. Slade went on, however, to become a primary influence on glam metal, and the UK, US and Australia are discussed as examples of scenes in which the group contributed to or interacted with in diverse ways, revealing a unique set of interactions both with mainstream popular music in the one hand, and subcultures on the other.
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