Odds and sods about the British rock band Slade

Friday, September 16, 2005

Those Danish papers!

At the moment I'm trying to find all gig-dates in Denmark of the original Slade. In that connection I've noticed that whenever Slade was in Denmark we had a paper-strike. Well, maybe not always, but often enough to make it difficult to find anything about their gigs.
There was the famous strike in 1977. It only lasted for nine days, 16. - 24. April, but then of course Slade played in Denmark in April from the 20th to the 25th. When Slade came back in May 1981, the papers were on strike again, this time from April to August just to be sure that nothing about Slade would be mentioned.
Well, even if the papers hadn't been on strike they probably wouldn't have written about Slade anyway. None of the "serious" national papers did. Some of the district papers sometimes brought reviews. And they weren't pleased.
I found a rather representative review from my district paper, appropriately accompanied by a really lousy, grainy photo. The review is from November 25. 1974, the day after a Slade-concert here in the city of Odense. The day before the concert, Alvin Lee & Co. (not Ten Years After) had also given a concert in Odense. The reviewer, "claus", quickly mentions that 500 people attended the Alvin Lee-concert, whereas 1,800 attended the Slade-concert, but…as he very loudly stresses…the Slade-audience "only" consisted of extremely young kids who almost demolished the venue in their enthusiasm - not a serious audience.
I know for a fact that that Slade-concert was awesome. I have it from this guy who was there. He was 11 years old at the time. 25 years later he managed to father my daughter, but that really has nothing to do with it. He was there, 11 years old, and he even got backstage and met the band, as his father was a jazz-musician who knew the promoter.
Anyway, back to the review. The reviewer "claus" praises Alvin Lee and then goes on to comparing Slade to him: "Quite different was Slade's unmistakable concrete rock, hard, straightforward and with no nuances. You have to admit that the band members know how to sell their music, though. They give their all in a perfectly arranged show with loads of fancy lights, a lot of action on stage and interaction with the audience in a very professional manner. It is a redeeming feature that Slade doesn't take things too serious, making room for a little fun now and then.
The music as such is not very good. Composition-wise it is very primitive and all songs actually sound exactly the same. Furthermore the vehement volume with which Slade plays removes all possibilities of distinguishing any nuances, if there are any. It is hard and straightforward, but one has to admit that it is well done."
This is symptomatic for the way the "serious" press looked upon Slade back then. They admired the stage show but hated the music. Much ado about nothing they would have called it, had they been that bright. I think that many a reviewer turned over in their graves or rocking chairs when Slade almost 30 years later were honoured with a fellowship from Wolverhampton University for their contribution to music. I don't think that has ever happened to Alvin Lee!
P.S. I love Alvin Lee, don't get me wrong, I actually met him once where he tried to get me to give him my red velvet jacket, but with no luck. I still have it.


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