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Jim Lea | Don Powell


LET IT ROCK, October 1973
Slade: Cum On Feel The Boyz
Lester Bangs

I'VE NEVER SEEN anything like it, though you may have. The kids come jostling in and pack the halls every time. Two or three thousand people stomping and clapping and shouting "WE WANT SLADE! WE WANT SLADE!" When they come on it's like a combination of Beatlemania in full bloom and the early MC5 or, if you will, a Nuremburg Rally – same thing. An incredible roar wells up from the crowd, Noddy shouts at them and they shout back, and the band crashes into the opening chords of Ten Years After's 'Hear Me Calling'.

But TYA was never like this. From the instant Slade hit the stage there is a surge of electricity from the crowd that doesn't let up until the final encore. Every arm in the place is up and shaking, saluting with a confused sea of fists, peace signs, upraised thumbs (one of Slade's tradesmarks), and yearning, waving hands.

Dave, pretty enough that I assumed he was Noddy, the star, when I first met them, decked out in silver suit, spangles and Arthurian haircut, points at girls who scream and swoon. Don thrashes at the drums and gets bras and panties thrown at him.

Noddy picks up a bra between numbers, examines it and smiles: "Hmm, 32-C. Not bad."
He works the crowd masterfully, three thousand people wired to his fingertips.
"How many girls here tonight with red knickers on?" he queries.
Waaahh, goes the crowd, and a few dozen slender arms shoot up.
"Well then,"
he smiles, "how many girls with black knickers here tonight?"
Whooo, they gasp. More arms.
"Well," shouts Noddy Holder, "how many girls here with NO knickers on?!"

The sheer bawdiness works beautifully; Noddy tells them to cop a feel, to do the dance of romance, and just like the old days, there's a communion going on in this room that all the dope in the world can't buy.

Next he tells them to raise both arms in the air and sing 'You'll Never Walk Alone'. It's chilling: six thousand arms waving slowly in the dark haze like strange ferns undulating, singing an old hymn with their eyes shut. Sure it's cosmic and a religious experience, but Slade never call it that, which is one of the reasons why the rest of their show is too.

Another is that Slade and its audience have more energy, more raunch and vitality, than the sagging corpus of rock has seen in many a moon. I walked into my first Slade concert totally unprepared, and got shook straight up. It was so powerful, and so beautiful, that you almost couldn't take it; you almost had to leave the room. The band is big, loud, loose and strong. They know what matters most, and in the fact that their original hits are interspersed with cover versions of songs like Janis’ 'Move Over' and raveups of the most timeworn riffs of Chuck Berry and Little Richard – well, you don't stop to think about "originality" or artistic statements if you were ever foolish enough to do so in the first place. Just like the man said long ago: you can't resist and don't want to. You're too busy returning Noddy's wolf howl, snapping your own head and shaking your own fist, roaring with the rest. The whole thing brought first chills and then literal tears to my showbiz-jaded frame, and still did even after three straight nights. One of those rare moments that's testament to the power of rock 'n' roll.

"STOMP YOUR FEETI" yells Noddy. He doesn't have to tell them to stand up because nobody can stay still or down in the first place. If anybody sweats back into their seat, Jimmy Lea eagle-eyes them and, never missing a note on his bass, leaps atop an amp and points, grins, pops his eyes, rears back and kicks them back up.

Every breathing body in the place is stomping like mad, and Noddy hits them with the second standard ploy, and the response is equally electric: "EVERYBODY CLAP YOUR HANDS! STAMP YOUR FEET! CLAP YOUR HANDS! STAMP YOUR FEET! YEAH!"

Nobody in the audience misses a beat: are you kidding? Every cell in the room is fused and heaving. You reel in joy as the whole building shakes. Clay floors, planks in the walls, the giant pipe organ behind the stage all tremble and slap. They rock the rafters, and meanwhile people are spilling out of the balcony. Eight year old children writhing like dervishes, teen birds crying and fainting and tugging their curls in total hard day's night hysteria, boys jumping up and tromping on the chairs like they were trampolines. There in the balcony was a kid who said it all: maybe 17, with short hair and horn rims he looked just like Buddy Holly. He was halfway off the rail in free flight, sweating and shuddering in ecstacy, wriggling his entire body and flinging his arms out in wild erratic arcs, eyes shut, gaping, blessed by total beautiful mindless transport. I'd hate to say it couldn't happen in America anymore, but a less self-conscious (and less hip, thank god) bunch of concert goers I have never seen. Everybody got their rocks off all the way for once and forever, and it actually happened in 1973, and nobody had to work at it or even think about it.

It's a new generation, and the words of one of Slade's earlier hits sum it all up:
"I don't want to drink my whisky like you do
I don't need to spend my money but still do
Don't stop now c'mon. Another drop now c'mon
I wanna lot now so c'mon. That's right! That's right!

When it was all over and I had gone back up to the dressing room, somebody steered me to the curtain which shut the backstage area off from the sound booth and auditorium. We'd had strict instructions earlier not to part this curtain to watch the preceding acts, because the slightest glint of light would have had three quarters of the audience craning sideways, screaming for Slade. I'd sneaked a peak anyway, and it was true. But now the hall was empty; all the kids had ceased their chants for more as soon as the house lights went up and filed out so peaceably and obediently that I'd begun to wonder about Liverpool's reputation as a tough town. ("Don't take your tape recorder down there with you," Slade roadie Swin Swinnerton had warned as I'd prepared to join the audience. "You'll get it smashed for sure.")

But all my doubts were allayed now. I peered down through the curtain and there, in front of the empty stage, was a curious mound almost six feet high. It was composed of the remains of all the chairs in the first two rows. The audience had stomped and broken them into tiny pieces, then piled them up in a monument to Slade. It happens all the time.

All The Young Dudes
Noddy Holder is not pretty. Neither is anybody else in the band with the exception of Dave; but Noddy, idol and pin up to a whole generation in an era when the effete and the androgynous reign, looks like nothing so much as a character out of Dickens. Or, Silas Marner, maybe. So image seemed like a good place to start.

This interview took place in the dressing room at Liverpool with people wandering in and out, both before the set, when Slade do not drink out of professional morality, and after, when they do.

So Noddy, how does it feel to be the sex symbol of a generation?
NODDY: " Definitely a Mick Jagger."

Do they ever get up on stage and jerk you off?
NODDY: "Of course they do. Our roadies keep pulling them away, though, it's awful."

Can you get a hard on with three thousand eyes on you?
JIMMY: "You don't need three thousand eyes, just one pair of eyes."
NODDY: " I've come on stage. We all have."

How many times?
DAVE: " He comes in two seconds flat, he does!"
NODDY: "I do not!"

Doesn't that create problems in your love life?
NODDY: "The first time you ever get mobbed, and the young birds're all groping for your dick 'n' everything, you fight it off. But it gets to where you go "Keep doin it! Keep doin' it!"
DAVE: "We got all ages, see from 40 to 4. All the bad girls come to see Slade. They'd rather follow us than a clean lookin group."

You really control your audience well.
DAVE: " Sometimes we have to stop everything and say, "Take it easy," or they'll smash the place apart. The group should always be able to control the audience. It's an art, really. Like this writer from a daily told us, it's a good job we didn't tell the audience to go out and kill, because who knows what would happen then?"

When are you gonna do your first rock opera?
JIMMY: "We don't do no rock operas. We're doin' a cock opera."
With Meher Baba and Peter Townshend?
JIMMY: "And some groupies."

Is it gonna be like Mad Dogs & Englishmen?
JIMMY: " Definitely. Everybody eatin' "

When are you gonna get yourselves a guru? To tell you what to do.
JIMMY: "Nah. I'm me own guru. Noddy and Don don't need no bloody gurus. Here's my guru."
(Grabs a passing girl. She puts her arms round him.)

Do you wanna be bigger than the Beatles?
ALL: "Yeah!"
DAVE: "You've always gotta have something to strive for."

Something to strive for. Oh, I thought you said something to destroy for...Why do all the letters come to you?
NODDY: "Because I'm the star! And I'm the best lookin'!"
JIMMY: "He's a rock 'n' roll hero. 'Aven't you seen 'is checked trousers and 'is striped socks?"

Are you gonna end up a rock 'n' roll suicide?
NODDY: "Uh, I hope not."
DON: "Rock 'n' roll alcoholic, though."
NODDY: " I'll be all right!"

My Generation
"We are after the kids. We don't want the underground leftovers."
(quote from Noddy Holder)

They got 'em. Slade's fans are mostly young and their principle methods of getting loose are concerts, football and fighting. In a very real way, both the music and the asskicking derive from football. Dave Hill explains it: "Skinhead was just a fashion, it led on from the Mods. Short hair, braces, checked shirts and big boots. They're just kids. And the kids are football diggers from the age of nine. It's just a lot of excitement to get out of themselves. Either they fight, or they go to the football matches and shout their bloody 'eads off at the end of the week. I mean a kid's in school and he's been told what to do all week, so their night time is their laugh time. They're gonna go out and ball and make themselves known, their personal bit to the public, you know: 'Aaahh!' it's a bloody energy thing, and there's always a certain amount of rough type kids in it. I used to be in a gang myself, I used to go lookin' for kicks."

So did everybody else in the band. Noddy Holder, Dave Hill, Jimmy Lea and Don Powell all grew up a few blocks from each other in Wolverhampton. "It's not a tough place to grow up," says Dave, "Like Chicago or Detroit. As far as we're concerned we've all had a very normal upbringing, no trouble at all."

Consider, though, that most of the band still live with their parents; that they still drink on off nights in the pubs where they first met; that it was only a logical step from hanging out in the bars around home to running with the local pack, to forming a band to play those clubs and others just like them to kids just like themselves, all over England. "We're still playing the local clubs," says Don. "That's how we met Chas. We were together for about three years, then we met Chas and started playing the smaller ballrooms and dance halls, just working and trying to work on ideas to write."

Chas is Chas Chandler, ex-Animal and producer for Jimi Hendrix. He still manages Slade, but in 1969 they were just getting ready to make the national move. They'd got a recording contract with the Fontana label, which did them the service of sending them in to do some test tapes, then marketing the tapes in an atrocious album called Ballzy. Clearly the boys needed a London manager, and Chas was the man. "He encouraged us to write songs," says Dave, "which we hadn't been doing before. There's been good material coming out of the group since."

The first product of the association was the Chandler-produced Play It Loud an album which might be compared in slash and grit with the MC5's studio efforts. The cover pic presented as surly a lot of skins as you'd find on any street corner; even if it was a handy hype it was an honest one, and the music backed it up. Meanwhile the band was busting ass in bars and by the end of 1971 it all began to pay off. The crowds were too big and too rowdy for the bars to hold them; so they spilled over into the concert halls. These were the kids who put seven Slade singles in a row – 'Coz I Luv You', 'Look Wot You Dun,' 'Take Me Back 'Ome,' 'Mama Weer All Crazee Now, 'Gudbuy t' Jane,' 'Cum On Feel The Noize' and 'Skweeze Me, Pleeze Me' – right at the top. The kids who, even as those records were racing up the charts, came out in force for Slade's first big British tour, and made the second a sell out. Who were probably as responsible as the band themselves for making that second tour the first big pop explosion in 70s England.

Promised Land
Slade own England. They're rich and famous and they get laid plenty. You can see from this text and hear from their records that they're great. But who needs another high energy band? You do, because there still aren't enough of 'em around and Slade is the best in years.

Part of their magic is that they have no pretensions. They've gone through the early Beatle fan mob phase – they're still living it – but it's obvious they'll never get trapped by an inflated concept of themselves like the Beatles did. They're not out to change the world – just to add a little more excitement to it, get the kids as loose as they are and take us all outside ourselves into the eternal promise of rock 'n' roll. But that's an awful lot of what you and I and the world need. Don't miss 'em: They're all Ringo!

Los Angeles Free Press, 23 November 1973 (Anne Moore)

AS STREET TALK goes, Slade doesn't have the greatest reputations. It is admitted they are one of the better non-Bowieish-type rock groups to come out of England. Their following is growing and is rather vehement when singing the praises of Slade. Yet the rumors told of this punk ex-skinhead rock group are as many and as wild and any Keith Moon or Led Zeppelin stories. Punks, dumb working class, little bastards, groupie grabbers, not exactly people you want to take home for dinner, unless you're planning an eviction party. But Slade is not all what they seem.

Behind these crazy street stories is a group of capable musicians who have a very good idea of what they want and just how they must work to get it, or at least that is the way guitarist Dave Hill tells it:

The press and stories from England would have us believe that Slade is a bunch of tough, lower class punks. But the only wildness I've seen or heard seems to be confined to on stage. Do I have to start breaking things up to prove it? We've always had to hassle with things. We've had barriers to break. Our sort of fighting attitude, which we sort of had, is because we've always had to fight audiences.

When we left England we started on the Continent. Big in England, so now we have to go to Germany. Loads of people to see us off, but nobody at the other end. So we had to work on France and Germany. We worked hard, because we had to fight. It was literally the case of "Come on! We're selling this product to you." This aggression on stage was not through hard work on the road.

So coming to the States on the first tour with Humble Pie, the first place we came to was L.A. and the first place we played was Long Beach Arena. That was like being thrown to 20,000 people. We were sort of meek and mild during that tour. Support act. Thirty minutes to play. Very restricted in what we do. Just as we were getting into our act we had to come off.

Our act is not the type of act where you just walk on stage. It's got to build. If you know us, you're off raving right from the first number. If you don't know us, how are we going to sell you something in 30 minutes? It's like playing the LP and telling you to like it. It was the 30 minutes' struggle.

But this is the third tour you're on now?

Yes, this is the third one we've done. The second tour we did was 36 days. We were almost flaking out at the end 'cause we had our European tour to follow. We had a bit of relief really 'cause our drummer had an accident. It was very unfortunate but it laid us off a bit. Our frame of mind is great. The tour now had been more relaxed. After all the efforts of the last two tours and the promotion and everything this tour has been very relaxing. We're not fighting so much. We're not frightened of any gig. We just know what we're going to do.

Your stage show is at times very aggressive. It seems to be more suited to an English audience than America?

Our period now is an aggressive period. We are hoping that people will come and use their energies, instead of sitting back and letting things happen. People have just been sitting back, "Hey, man," and all that sort of talk. Nothing sort of physical has been happening. Artists, to me, years ago, worked damned hard to make it. And when they made it they made it big. The audience was very influenced by it. Physically they got involved with it. I don't think the music in the last two years has been physical at all. I think it's been a drag. The only groups that are English that still exist in this country are living off old reputation, like the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin. Great groups but they are living off old reputation and they aren't doing anything new. There is nobody working for the 14-year-olds now. There is no one giving them any excitement or anything fresh to them. That's what we want to do. We don't want the leftovers from the drags. Unfortunately, in America, playing to 14-year-olds is going to put you in the category of being a teeny-bop group. Most musicians put this down.

What are they talking about? Who buys the records? Who comes to the concerts?

Who did the Beatles and Stones play to when they had big success here? I saw old films of the Beatles in America and I was amazed at how young the audience was. Take Shea Stadium and the kids screaming their heads off. What kind of kids scream? You've got to be pretty young and pretty wild. Everybody is trying to be kind of hip about it. They say, "Nah, don't bother with the 14-year-olds. We don't want that." I say, don't put those groups down, at least they are putting life into the business. When you go to a concert in England you see kids eight to 30. Our audience is England started off old with 18 to 25-year-olds. It's almost that they are still there and what we've done is accumulated a new generation. And, after all, we want them to grow with us. If you want to exist, the older ones are going to get too old but the younger ones are going to keep going and keep following just to keep the whole music thing moving. We've got to move the business, right? We've got to generate life from the young kids to save the business. 'Cause the business to me is dying. It's going downhill.

There does seem to be more excitement with new groups and clubs in England than there does in the United States, at the moment?

Yes, but America is just what England was a year or two ago, just before we got success. Nobody knew what was going to be the next happening. Everybody was trying to be groovy with the psychedelic light scene. I always thought what a drag it was. You could see a group go on stage without some kinds of props, for some type of freak effect to perform. Cats who go on stage in jeans and a T-shirt and perform in that way, with hair in front of their face and you don't know him from anyone on the street.

Yes, and turning their backs to the audience and playing 45-minute bass solos.

Yeah, right. We always wanted visual contact with the audience. We wanted to get on stage and make the public part of the act. It seems to me we're happening not so much in the cities, but in the outer areas. Suburbs. That's the way it was in England. We never did it in London. We worked outside and then into London. In musical terms we're very similar to what the Beatles have got. Music which was not overly commercial but good. But still wasn't too heavy to be understood. So the regular people were the ones who first like it. You can just be yourself with us, just to come and rave it up. 'Cause anybody can rave it up. That's what we want. It's easy for the young kids to enjoy themselves. To enjoy Slade you don't need to be high. You don't need to be pissed to see us. You don't need anything. If you're going to be influencing the public then the direction to look for now is up. At least it gives the business a fresh taste again.

In England now, so many groups have come up since our success. And have made it due to our success. They are making great records and they are giving us competition in a way 'cause they make us make better records. 'Cause now we have the responsibility of being better, it makes us work harder. But when you're the first you will always be the first. You never have to worry but you can never let yourself down.

We're not another Stones. We're the first Slade and we're now. We know we're going to work and work here until we get our success. That's all we're concerned with.


Good Times, 26 August 1975

Slade: Not As Crazee As Wee Thought
Kris DiLorenzo

WHATEVER HAPPENED to Slade, you Lawn Guyland boogie freaks may have asked yourselves lately. The answer is: Nothing – more gold records, more #1 songs on the British charts. Basically, the Wolverhampton quartet is still the old rip-roaring tear-the-house-down get crazee primo boogie band in England.

Repeat: in England. The Black Country rockers feel they haven't created the same furor this side of the Atlantic, so they're back for another crack at it. Their new assault includes an album, Slade In Flame, and a film, Flame (already boffo in the U.K. but unreleased Stateside as yet). Slade zipped into the Big Apple for a few days at the start of their tour, met with this writer, and talked about their movie and current tour plans.

Dave Hill, lead guitarist and pioneer of the strangest hairdo since Rod's original artichoke, is excited about Flame. "It's a film about the hype in the business, and about a group called Flame," he explains. "It shows how they're enjoying themselves until they meet this person who wants to make 'em big stars. They're hyped up by a big management company who wants them packaged and sold. And when he makes 'em big stars, they fall apart. They become unhappy, and they're thrown into things, they don't want to do; which happens to a lot of groups – we've seen it happen."

Flame hasn't been released in America yet because, Dave feels, "English fans... could accept it more; they do know what we're like as real people. But we could probably release the film in another country where they didn't know us too well, and they'd think, "Oh, that's what they're really like"...We might have to hold off the film in the States for a while, until people get to know us a little better."

Don Powell, drummer, supposedly Slade's strong, silent member, was very vocal about the film's realism.
"We didn't want to make a chocolate-box cover; we didn't want to do the sort of everybody-jump-around-in-the-fields thing..." (shades of A Hard Day's Night!) ..."We wanted to portray the scene – the music industry, what it really is like for a group starting out and getting manipulated by management companies." All of which is guaranteed to make Slade very popular with management companies.

Flame was cast in an unusual way. "When the scriptwriter was doing interviews and getting to know each of us," Don explains, "what he did was, he got the characters and then just blew them up. It's a strange thing when you're making a film – everything had to be blown up just a little, to get a point across."

I couldn't resist. "So what did he do with you, Don?"
"Well – I was the idiot."

There is loud laughter from all present as Don blushes and attempts to modify his statement. Dave rescues him.
"What we're trying to say is, we weren't miscast. We were cast according to what we could handle. So I could be over the top" (Translation: Flash) "because I could be over the top if I wanted to in real life... I'm not over the top in real life; I do buy things sensibly..."

I am gazing, bedazzled, at Dave's monstrous black patent leather rhinestone-studded platforms. "Yeah," I agree, "those are very sensible."

The talk turns to touring; the first leg is an 8-week affair including a Midnight Special and a Schaeffer Festival concert. Lead singer and guitarist Noddy Holder (sans mirrored top hat) and the shy member of the group, bass player Jimmy Lea arrive, confused about where they've just been for dinner, but a bit better informed about the tour. According to Noddy, somewhere in the middle of it they return to England for a break, then back to America, where they'll work solidly till the year's end.

When asked for a description of his film character, an eeevilll grin spreads slowly across Noddy's imp face, immediately validating Chris Charlesworth's observation that Noddy has a tendency "to leer at girls from the stage like a Dickensian character might leer at a little boy chimney sweep." Noddy's blue twinklers are hidden behind violet shades, and there's just a trace of that gritty voice audible through his thick accent. He says, in several syllables, "Stowwkahh."

"What kind of person is Stoker?" I ask.
Noddy emits a series of sinister chuckles. "Ahhh... heh-heh... What kind of person?"
"A yob," Dave answers for him. (Translation: Rowdy.)
Noddy, unperturbed, continues, "Drunken, mainly." (Pronounced "droonkin.")
"A drunken yob!" Dave yells.
"A part which needs no actin' ability!" Don adds.
Noddy acquiesces amiably. "I spent most of the film drunk."

Naturally this leads to questions about Slade's image as rough pub boys and the wild audiences they draw. In America they attract teenagers; in England, people anywhere from 12 to 30 are Slade fans, many of them working class. Dave is enthusiastic about rowdy audiences, but, he maintains, Slade never tried to be working-class heroes.

"It's just the tag people have put on us," Noddy says. "We don't work to have any image or anything. It just happens." Dave agrees. "We just do what we wanna do, and it comes off that way. If we just be natural and be ourselves, then the image forms itself. But our background is working class."

It is precisely that background which has caused comparisons between Slade and the early Beatles. Slade, however, have no intention of trying to be the second Beatles.
"We want to be the first Slade,"
Dave and Noddy affirm.

Slade aren't worried about burning out, either. Dave feels they'll last as long as they want to. As Noddy cavalierly put it, "You just carry on until you drop." Jimmy, on a less drastic note, adds quietly that they won't be doing the same thing, anyway; they've already broadened their outlook with the film and new album.

Slade in Flame has ruffled critical feathers among staunch Sladeites. It's more melodic, less raw power, and people are having a tough time believing it's Slade. There's even one rumor circulating that Slade didn't really play on the album, that it was done by studio musicians (you heard the same re The Fab Four, circa 1963, right?).

"We got a lot of criticism in England," Noddy remarks. "They said this wasn't 'good-time' enough for us. It's just like actors being typecast to an image... and we never wanted that."

"They all said it was good," Dave is quick to add, "but they all said it wasn't us. The trouble is, as always, when you're doing what they expect you to do, they're saying you shouldn't change. But we only changed when we wanted to, anyway; we didn't take any notice of that."

I ask if they think people will remember them in 30 years.

"Me mum would!" Don laughs. Noddy is optimistic. "I think so. The people who've been to see your act at a concert and you got 'em off on a certain night – they'll always remember that. I can remember every band I've ever been to see that got me off."

"Did you ever have an audience that didn't get off?" I ask.

"Yeah," Noddy grins. "It was in the early days. Since we've been successful? Not really. We always worked our balls off to let everybody get off... some nights it can be difficult."

You don't often see a whole crowd on its feet any more, except maybe for Rod's boys and the Stones, but audience involvement is Slade's forte. Dave thinks it's just as vital for the crowd to be revved up as it is for the band. He recalls one English gig where the crowd merely sat and looked at them.

"We got a bit bored with it after about five numbers," he grins, "and Nod said, 'OK, let's cut all this crap out – let's have a good time!' And it just went berserk! They smashed the place, just like" that!" (Snap!)

Despite displays of Slade-fever, Noddy feels the band hasn't had real success in America. "Our goal now is to crack it in America," he readily acknowledges. "We want the #1 record, that's what we want." Slade aren't counting on Flame to break them here, though. "The movie is an added extra to us at the moment," Dave says.

Noddy notes that Slade "only" did two tours in the last year.
"All the rest of the year's been spent doing the film and recording, so we've been looking forward to getting back on the road and touring constantly again, 'cause that's what we like doing." He hopes this tour will finally shake America awake; Slade haven't been here in two years, nor have they had any big hits on America's airwaves.

"Most big groups who spend that much on shows have reached the extremes as far as props are concerned," Dave observes. "With us, if the music doesn't get us there, it's really not worth the trouble... We like to get on that stage, and we like to look good, to play good, and get everybody involved. The main thing is the audience can see us onstage, not visual fantasies going up... That's all very nice, but it's so overdone now. We thought of that, but it's just not the way to go. It's just not the things you need."

"You don't work so hard if you know you've got effects to carry the show," Noddy affirms. "You don't play so hard; you tend to lie back a little and let the effects take over and do the show for you, and you become electronic robots... You might just as well put four robots up there with all the effects on."

It's obvious Slade hasn't forgotten why they formed the band in the first place.
"If you take the band back to its early days when we played workingmens' clubs," Dave says, "we were there with just our equipment. We were dancing on top of our amps and just playing away to a lot of people drinking beer and having a great time. What we are now," he adds truthfully, "is just that, blown up."

Noddy agrees. "We're one of the groups that managed to take our club act across to the concert halls and get the same sort of rapport between us and the audience as we used to in small clubs... We tried to put the same thing over in the 5,000-seaters as in the clubs that had 200 people." He attributes Slade's charisma to this lack of pretension. "Between the four of us and them out there, there's no wall. We don't like to appear stars onstage; we like to appear the same as they are out there, on the same sort of level, not above them." As Dave puts it, "The audiences are part of the act. If they weren't, the music wouldn't come out the same way. That's why it's so energetic and loud."

Slade's volume has been discussed and decried for years. They do blast out an incredible decibel level, Dave admits: "We have trouble with the critics all the time."

Noddy reiterates Slade's philosophy :
"We don't take any notice of the critics, 'cause it's the people that matter. I don't really think the people take any notice of the critics, either. I don't think Grand Funk have ever had a good review in their life," he cites the current rock truism, "but the people like 'em, and that's what it's all about."

There's no question Slade are the epitome of a real, honest-to-goodness rough-at-the-edges rock 'n' roll band in the tradition of the very early Beatles, Pretty Things, Stones, and innumerable other pub-spawned, leather-jacketed musical Wild Ones. Unlike their predecessors, though, Slade haven't succumbed to psychedelia, reggae or disco dancing. They may be the youngest of the heavy rockers, but Slade has racked up a lot of mileage already, and they have no intention of screeching to a halt. They "went down a storm," as Noddy would say, in New York this time, but it remains to be seen if the rest of Barry-White-washed America will get off its arse and "Feel the noize."


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It was a cold Saturday afternoon when we arrived at Don's plush London flat. After we had defrosted, by sitting front of the fire and watching American football on the television, we moved to Don's dining room, and the interview commenced.

Slade News: Don, what do you think about playing the night-club dates, rather than the concert halls, when you go on the road again?
Don. : Well it's the best thing really. Because we were away for so long in the states, we couldn't really expect to go back to the big concert halls, because we wouldn't fill them. So we went back to doing small places - we knew we could fill those, and thus start to build ourselves up again.

Slade News: Have you made a lot of fans through the night-club dates?
Don: Well what has happened really is that certain nights there have been much older crowds, and people have come up and said they used to follow us five years ago. They even mention certain places we played, and I don't remember half of them: Then they have to rush off, to get back home to look after their kids:

Slade News: Which audiences would you say were the best, the Southern ones, or the Northern ones?
Don : It's hard to say really, as far as I'm concerned it's all the same. Obviously in certain areas there are different songs the audiences like, but as far as saying which one is the best, say South or North, I don’t see how you can really answer that.

Slade News: Are you aware though of what the audience reaction is like when you are playing?
Don: Personally myself, not really. I can't see much, and I can't hear a lot, because the guitars are so loud - but I can maybe see a few things when the lights go up, and I can see out to the audience, otherwise I can't see anything.

Slade News: At Reading University on the last tour there was a crash barrier, and it started to collapse, and nobody seemed to notice.
Don ; You'll find that those crash barriers cause more problems than what they are made to stop. Even when you get bouncers down the front, if they weren't there, I'm sure that there would be no problems. It's when they are there that the problems are caused. There is no particular need for them, because Nod can handle the crowd anyway:

Slade News: What happened at Porthcawl though was when Noddy told the bouncers to get lost, the fans weren't sensible enough to stand back, and they all got on stage.
Don; That wasn't really the kids fault. Even the particular bouncer that bopped Nod one wasn't employed by the club that night, he just took it on his own back to go down there and stand in line with the rest of them. So when Nod cleared the bouncers out of the way, he took offence, which is stupid, and he waited for Nod afterwards, and bopped him.

Slade News: How did you feel about that yourself when it happened?
Don: That was weird. We were walking round backstage and this guy came up shouting. We took no notice of him and the next minute Nod was laying on the floor!

Slade News: Has Nod taken any legal action at all?
Don : The bloke has been prosecuted, Nod and Chas travelled down to Porthcawl last week to press charges. He was on line anyway for another case to be put against him.

Slade News: Have you got any plans for the next tour, any new songs?
Don : We will be doing some new ones, we started rehearsing this week, but it's mainly for new recording material. We go into the studio next day, I think, obviously though we will be adding new material to the live show. As far as the show goes as yet we don't know, we haven't really planned it.

Slade News: What sort of songs will be on the new album and when will it be released?
Don. : Then again I can't really say. We've got a lot of stuff recorded but I can't really say. l don't even know myself yet!

Slade News: Have you seen Jim and Louise's baby yet?
Don : No, I haven’t seen it - I bought it some liquorice-allsorts, but I just gave them to Jim, I haven't seen the nipper yet. Oh, but on Boxing Night I went to a party at Charlie, our sound-mixer's, house, and they brought the baby along there. It was in a carry-cot, all covered up, all I could see was two eyes, a nose and a mouth!

Slade News: Do you have any plans to have any kids then?
Don : No, not as far as I know!

Slade News: Do you plan to go abroad again soon?
Don: Believe it or not, there are some plans to go back to Poland in February. Can you imagine February in Poland, it'll be about six foot deep in snow! I think there are some European dates planned - We've had dates in Germany and Scandinavia offered to us, but they are just offers, we haven't gone into them yet and had a look to see what's what.

Slade News: What was it like in Poland when you went there last year?
Don : Great. The concerts were amazing, we did 18 shows in 21 day’s. It was really funny because a lot of them were open-air, like in big parks. I used to stand backstage watching the kids coming in - you'd see lots of mums and dads coming and sitting with their kids. They'd have shopping bags with them, and they'd bring out their sandwiches!

Slade News: Are you going back to America?
Don : There's no plans at the moment because we'd rather work in England and Europe.

With that relieving news in mind for all English and European fans, we decided to call the interview to a close. We made arrangements to return to Don later in the week to take photos for the next issue.


We made our way backstage before the Friday Watford concert with the promise of an interview with Dave Hill. Dave arrived to the gig late, and had to tune his guitar. As we waited Jim Lea offered to do the interview instead, we gladly accepted and entered the dressing room. After we found some seats in the corner we asked our first question ...

Slade News: Jim, you've played three tours in the last year, how do you rate this one, as compared to the others?
Jim : We were offered to come back to do these Baileys clubs. We didn't want to do them in the first place, but we've returned and drawn twice as many people than the first time we appeared here. Playing here for a week, in Watford alone, means we are going to play to 14,000 people. Whereas if we did a one-nighter at the college we would only play to 1,000, even if it was sold out!

Slade News: What has the reaction been like on the tour?
Jim : You can't really count the reaction in this type of place, because the idea is to get over to people who wouldn't see us normally. So if they are sitting in the audience, they don't know anything about Rock n Roll concerts - and we're just using this gig as a gig, we're not trying to be The Three Degrees. So we bring all our PA and amplifiers in, and do our show. People can walk out and say that it was too loud and they hated it, or they can sit there and enjoy us, and hopefully get off on it at the end, and go and tell their mates : "I had a great time last night, I went to see Slade.” This is obviously what has been happening, as the attendance is so much up on last time - the managers are really freaking out!

Slade News: Is it going to be a regular thing, playing the Baileys clubs on every tour?
Jim : I don't think so. But what ever way you look at it you're playing to people. If you wanted to be a martyr to yourself } you can go and play at the regular concert gig up the road, and play to only a thousand people, or how ever many turn up.

Slade News: What's the best club that you've played on this tour?
Jim : It depends. At Blackburn they reckoned that there were a hundred tables smashed or damaged. I mean that was a good night!

Slade News: On to the new album. What kind of songs will be on it?
Jim : It's a mixture. It's nothing like “Whatever Happened To Slade”. I can't really say yet though, as we went into the studios for 11 days and did 12 tracks. {The group plan to record about 20 songs in all, then choose the best 10 or 11 to put on the album)

Slade News: You seem to have returned to the old style type Slade music, rather than stay “heavy” as you were with “Whatever Happened To Slade”. Do you think that this has worked well?
Jim : Yeah. The releases after “W.H.T.S." are the songs that got played on the radio. Like “My Baby Left Me”, which was a near miss. But it got played on the radio - which is better than it being completely obscure isn't it?

Slade News: "Rock n Roll Bolero", which was a really catchy song, didn't do so well. Why not?
Jim : The comment on "Rock n Roll Bolero" is that it was different for Slade, but it was ordinary compared to everything else that was going around at the time. But I really dig the record myself!

Slade News: With singles do you intend to make better B sides, as have been on the last couple of records, rather than use the “Don't Blame Me" type time-filler kind of song?
Jim : When we come to the B sides, we don't particularly think that we have got to make a strong B side. It's just the case of using whatever tracks are going. But we’re lucky in the way that every song we write has got something going for it. You could say that “Don’t Blame Me” was a time-filler, I think that it was created as that. When it was used as a B side we didn't even know it was being used, it was chosen by the offices. We were in America recording the Christmas single, there was a rush to choose what to put on the back of it, and that track happened to be used.

Slade News: What's the reaction of the press like towards Slade now?
Jim : Well a guy came in here, after last night's show, who was from one of the music papers, and he said that he really enjoyed the show, and that our old numbers sounded really fresh and that they could have been written yesterday. He sat there not knowing whether to believe him, because the press always tend to put barriers up against us because we haven't had a hit record for three years. If we get another couple of hits under our belts though that will all change.

Slade News: Sheila Prophet was different though, she liked the group.
Jim : But like you said, we have gone back to doing more of the old sort of thing, and she's into that. You see, when we walk on stage we can rip the arse off straight rock, but we can't do the same with "Rock n Roll Bolero". It's great on record, but it's us thinking, it's not us being ourselves. I was talking to this bloke the other day that saw us in 1967, and he said we were different to other groups even then. I asked him what he meant by "different", and he said that we would play a Tamla Motown number, and it wouldn't be like the Four Tops, or whoever, doing it. He said other bands would play this stuff and try to get it to sound like the actual record, but we were never like that. But the thing is we were always trying to sound like the records but when we played it never came out like that. He said our music came out like a ton of bricks, but we never intended that. It's just this thing we've got between us in the group. We were onstage during a sound-check and Frank (Jim's brother) thought that we were rehearsing but we were only mucking around, and he was really getting off on it.

Slade News: Do you think that you're going to make it with your next single “Ginny Come And Get It While You Can”?
Jim : It's very catchy, and we're going to make it, yeah. Our writing is returning to a more concise format. I mean songs like "Be" are hardly concise, they're clever, but hardly the sing-along down at the pub type song.

Slade News: Why do you tend to have more male, rather than female, fans?
Jim : We've always had more male fans. Even during the height people would say we were a teeny-bop band, and also that the Rollers and Marc Bolan were teeny-bop artists. Well it was all birds going to see the Rollers, and it was all birds going to see Marc - but it was all mad headed blokes coming to see us, ripping the halls up!

At this point a jovial Dave Hill entered the room, making a quip that Slade had so many male fans "because they are all queer". Jim had to leave to tune his bass guitar, so Dave sat down and gave us an extensive interview that we will print in the next issue.


At Last ..... The NODDY HOLDER Interview...... We haven't been able to talk to Noddy ourselves, but due to approximately 70 letters saying “Where was the interview with Noddy that should have been in issue 4?” we have decided to print an interview that Noddy did with Maggie Norden of Capital Radio in 1976 (Slade had returned from America for a short period to promote the “Let’s Call It Quits” single that had just been released on Polydor at that time).

M.N. Getting us off to a rocking start is Noddy Holder, back on Hullabaloo again, one of our old friends with “When The Chips Are Down.” Who wrote this one Noddy?
Noddy: Me and Jimmy wrote it.

M.N. And where did you write it, because you are always around everywhere!
Noddy: We wrote it in America. I’ve wrote a lot of stuff while we were over there. Last year we did about 20 songs while we were on the road, that was one of them, Lets Cal1 It Quits was one of them, and all of the new album which will be out in a couple of weeks time we wrote over there as well.

M.N. Tell us something about the album, as I believe there is something historical about the cover.
Noddy: We did the album in New York, and we spent six weeks recording it. The album is going to be called"Nobody' s Fools", and the picture on the front is in the same stance as we were on our very first album "Play It Loud", but it' s sort of a picture that is six years on though.

M.N. In fact we are all very sad because you will be leaving us for an indefinite period, when are you going to the States:
Noddy: We' re going in a couple of weeks time, we' re waiting for the date of the album release in the States, then we’re going over to promote it and tour there.

M.N. Will you go all over the States, or are going to stay in one particular place?

Noddy: Everywhere. We don' t like staying in one place for a long time because we get a bit bored, we love going out on the road and playing live - so we cover all the ground while we're there.

M.N. Do you have any idea why Slade, and Sweet, are doing so well in the States at the moment?
Noddy: It's difficult to say. I think that the next generation of listeners are coming up in America now. We're not getting the radio exposure that we need to get the really big hits yet. We've got big hopes for the next album. But on live concerts it's been really good. There is a sort of new audience coming along now, and we've been playing with bands like ZZ Top and Kiss, who are new groups coming up in the States at the moment - and they're pulling in a new generation, which is great for us, as you don't have to preach to the people who are a bit blasé. This new generation of fans have their minds wide open to listen to what's going on now.

M.N. What' s the stage act like? Do you do all the old numbers and some new ones, or just the new ones?
Noddy: It's a pretty new act over there, we still do "Gudbuy T' Jane" and "Mama Weer All Crazee", also "Get Down And Get With It" - because they know those songs, but all the rest of the act is new stuff.

M.N. What about my favourite, "Thanks For The Memory" - is that in the act?
Noddy: Yeah, we do that sometimes, it's one of my favourites actually!

M.N. Will you be sorry saying goodbye to Britain, because it must be very nasty not knowing when you're coming back.
Noddy: It's weird. What we wanted to do was to break fresh ground and get new ideas - that's why we've been spending so much time in America. I think that it's benefiting us as a group, and it will benefit the fans here in the long run, because we' re going to come up with fresh ideas and fresh material. We don't like staying out of Britain, but it's a case of having to at the moment.

M.N. Can you fill us in about the tax situation, because everyone has an opinion of the nasty tax man following you all the way to Heathrow airport, and then you fly away and it's no longer a problem.
Noddy: It's always a problem. In our case we didn't go to America for tax reasons, we want to get new ideas, and to tour constantly and get a new stage act together. From the tax point of view, everyone has been hit by it, It's not just people in this business, everybody is being hit. But the problem is that all the artistic people such as groups, and film directors, only have a short lived career - when you look at it from a doctor's or lawyer's point of view. You earn a lot of money in a short space of time, but the tax man always forgets about the years you were struggling before and never earned any money and. the years you may be struggling later on in life. They just tax you on what you earn in that short space of time, which isn't really fair. That's why most people are having to skip the country, nobody wants to, it's just a case of trying to keep a little bit of the money that you have worked hard for.

M.N. Do you ever look into the future and think what you will do once you've stopped being the singer Noddy Holder
Noddy: I always want to be on stage. I always want to be involved in the business. Obviously I'm not still going to be singing "Mama Weer All Crazee” when I'm forty - but maybe I will, I don't know. But! I don' t think that I will!

M.N. Looking back on the film "Flame", does it whet your appetite to do more film work?
Noddy: We've had offers to do more films, but that film took so long out of our career last year. In all we must have spent 9 months on the film, 2 or 3 months shooting it, 5 weeks doing the album soundtrack, then there was all the dubbing to be done, then we spent 3 months promoting it all over England, Scotland and Europe. It just took such a big chunk out of our career, we didn't tour for a long time, we were not able to record for a long time, or write, and we don't want to get in this situation again too soon.

M.N. Would you like to write your own script for another film?
Noddy: Basically with "Flame" we chipped our ideas in. The basic story was there, the screenplay writer just added to it. That's an idea that we'll have to look into in the future, there are lots of ideas kicking around.

DAVE HILL INTERVIEW from Slade News Issue 6 - UK November 22nd, 1979

We talked to Dave before Slade's concert at the Top Rank Suite in Sheffield - the last date of their tour.

Slade News: Dave, you say that the new album "Return To Base" will be out soon, do you have any definate release date?
Dave Hill: Not yet, it should be out before Christmas though. We thought that we would release the single first though and see what happens with that.

Slade News: How long in all did it take to get the album recorded?
Dave Hill (Consulting Nod): It must have taken about six weeks, on and off.

Slade News: Did any one member do the bulk of the work on the production side?
Dave Hill: No, we each took it in turn to produce certain parts ourselves - which makes it the first album we have solely produced ourselves.

Slade News: The title "Return To Base" - how did this come about?
Dave Hill: Well, we had a whole list of suggestions for the title, and "Return To Base" is the one we eventually decided upon. "Return To Base" is from one of the lines of "'Sign Of The Times".

Slade News: On to the cover - has it been designed yet?
Dave Hill : It's still being done, but I understand that it is going to have a photo of a ticker-tape message on the front saying "Return To Base" in computer-like lettering. But it should be a very basic cover - so that it ties in with the "basic" reference in the title.

Dave Hill: Yes, I'm very satisfied with it. It's got a mixture of different types of songs on it, all of which adds up to it being a good album!

Slade News: What's your own favourite track on the record then?
Dave Hill : Mv favourites are the Rock n Roll one (I'm A Rocker) and the instrumental one (Let Me Love Into Ya) - probably because of the way that they come over on stage more than anything else.

Slade News: On to the new stage-act, how did the new version of "Look Wot You Dun" get back into the act - as you haven't played it live since I973!
Dave Hill: What happened was that we were doing a session and we just suddenly started jamming it, and we took the song from there. We changed it from the original because we thought that it would have sounded a bit weak - so we made it a bit more heavy for the current show. We are planning to get some more tracks from the next album into the show, but we want to have the record released first - so at least the audience have an inkling as to what the songs are before we start playing all these new numbers onstage!

Slade News: Will you be adding some more old ones, like "Look Wot You Dun" to the set?
Dave Hill: We've all agreed that there are no more oldies that we can re-do. We've got to go forward, not backward. For example we've been doing a new one, "The Wheels Ain't Coming Down" - and that's been getting a fantastic reaction, and nobody's heard it before! We've got to get new numbers like that into the show.'

Slade News: Why haven't you been doing "Sign Of The Times" live?
Dave Hill : The reason for that is that at the moment we feel the act is. just about right. We have added two numbers that have worked very well, and. we are now hoping to get "Sign Of The Times" in on the next stretch of dates. Also at the moment we've got one slow ballad in the act, and on this tour we didn't want to have two.

Slade News: I've seen the new stage outfits of yours, are they your own creations? (For those of YOu who didn't get to see Slade on the tour, they consist of a red silky Chinese style long-sleeve shirt, that alternates with a red and white bomber jacket, along with red PVC trousers and white boots)
Dave Hill: In a way I designed them myself. I came alone with the ideas, and I took them to a lady called Jean Seal, he made the clothes for me. I've decided to return to wearing colourful stage outfits once again, rather than maintaining the Black and White look. Watching the music scene at the moment, what with the flashiness of the Punks, and also taking the theory that the whole music business revolves in a circle, I see it as inevitable that the Glitter scene will come back again, and when it does I'll be top of the pile!

Slade News: You've always liked wearing flash clothes though, haven't you?
Dave Hill: I like to get reactions by my clothes, I suppose it's a means of expressing myself. In many ways I felt like a punk in our early days dressing weirdly just for the hell of making people look! Even as a kid I can remember wearing a cap and long cape and walking through Woolworth's, so as to make everyone stop and stare!

Slade News: Will you be taking a trek abroad before the year's out?
Dave Hill: We can always go abroad, but while we've got the single out over here, and while we are trying to break back into the market again, we'd rather stay "at home". We might do the occassional stint on the Continent - but not at the moment.

Slade News: This is the last night of the tour - how do you feel that it has gone, well or badly?
Dave Hill: It's gone well, even you have seen that, Look at the Music Machine gig - there was a far bigger croud there this year compared to last year's Gig. It was packed out. "

Slade News: One question that I've always wanted to ask you; what's the favourite record you have ever recorded?
Dave Hill : My favourite of all-time? We haven't recorded it yet ....