Odds and sods about the British rock band Slade

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Inside Slade

I was able to borrow the DVD "Inside Slade. The singles 1971-1991" from a die-hard Slade-fan. I've never bothered to buy it myself as I have never been sure about its contents. Anyway, here is my opinion on it.
The DVD consists of independent critical reviews of Slade's 21 hit singles. That puzzled me. What 21 hit singles? Lock Up Your Daughters is included on the DVD, so if the singles were to represent Slade's Top 30 hits, there ought to have been 23. It took me a while to realise that the 21 hits are the same as the ones on the greatest hits CD "Feel The Noize" from 1991. This means that Lock Up Your Daughters which charted at no. 29 is included, whereas Thanks For The Memory that charted at no. 7 and Let's Call It Quits that charted at no. 11 aren't mentioned at all. Too bad as they are both great song.
Respected rock writers, producers and musicians review the 21 hits on the DVD, but only very brief clips of Slade themselves can be seen. Thirteen of the hits are illustrated with short clips from various studio recordings, namely Get Down And Get With It, 'Coz I Luv You, Look Wot You Dun, Merry Xmas Everybody, Bangin' Man, How Does It Feel, In For A Penny, We'll Bring The House Down, Run Runaway and All Join Hands from Granada Studios, Mama Weer All Crazee Now from Top of the Pops, Gudbuy T'Jane from German Musikladen and Far Far Away from Australian ABC. The last eight, Take Me Bak 'Ome, Cum On Feel The Noize, Squeeze Me Pleeze Me, My Friend Stan, Everyday, Lock Up Your Daughters, My Oh My and Radio Wall Of Sound, are only mentioned without any clips.
The reviewers say a lot of nice things about Slade. Trevor Boulder, bass guitarist in David Bowie's Spiders from Mars from 1971 to 1974, says that Slade was THE best pop band of the era. Producer Rob Corrich rates MXE as probably the cleverest Christmas song in the world and music writer Jonathan Wingate even draws the attention to MXE's underpinning church organ-sound which most people tend to overhear.
Both Jonathan Wingate and lead guitarist Steve Whale from The Business stand in awe of Jim, calling him a musical genius, able to play on any instrument and being totally underrated as people don't realise how much he did for the band. Music writer and broadcaster Malcolm Dome characterises the band members as: "Jimmy Lea was the brains behind Slade. Don Powell had the power. The guitar virtuoso was Dave Hill. The front man that was Noddy Holder. It needed Jim Lea's innate talent to write, to arrange and equally as important to produce." The reviewers all revel in the genius of Jim and in the voice of Nod. There is some uncertainty about Dave's abilities, though, as John Wingate thinks that he never improved his guitar playing whereas Malcolm Dome and writer Jerry Ewing seem to agree that Dave was good and underrated. Steve Whale ends the debate by telling that Jim did many of the guitar solos on the albums, so that's why they are good. Don's abilities are not mentioned on the DVD. To the reviewers he is obviously just another drummer.
There are also some highly weird comments on some of Slade's greatest hits. Jonathan Wingate for instance dismisses Everyday as a weak song and producer Les Davidson feels that making How Does It Feel? was a wrong move, taking Slade in a wrong direction. Of course reviewers are allowed to these opinions, but it really annoys me when Les Davidson assumes that How Does It Feel? was made because the producers had probably asked Slade to write songs that sounded different from the usual. He obviously doesn't know that How Does It Feel? was the first song that Jim ever wrote back in 1969!
It really annoys me, that when you get all these noted writers and producers together to review Slade, they turn out to know very little about the band after all. There are just so many inaccuracies and mistakes in their reviews. Not only the one about the origins of How Does It Feel? On the DVD you can also hear Jerry Ewing say that Slade had only been around for four years prior to Get Down And Get With It and that up until this, their first hit, they had been playing bluebeat and ska only! Somebody has certainly been fooled by Slade's early skinhead looks!
Most inaccuracies occur, however, when the reviewers talk about who wrote what part of the different songs. Malcolm Dome says, that Look Wot You Dun was a great stomping rocker, exactly what Noddy Holder and Jim Lea would do throughout their entire career. He obviously doesn't know that this song was primarily written by Jim and Don. Steve Whale says that Far Far Away gave Nod a chance to write some really predominant lyrics, and he did, but Whale doesn't seem to realise that the lyrics for the chorus were actually written by Jim. And finally writer Hugh Fielder gets the whole story about the title Gudbuy T'Jane all wrong. According to Fielder Nod first called it Hello T'Jane and when Jim expressed his wishes for it to be a sad song, Nod promptly changed it to Gudbuy T'Jane. As most Slade-fans know, it was Jim who originally called it Gudbuy T'Jane and Nod then changed it to Hello T'Jane, but had to change it back as he was out-voted by the rest of the band. There is a lot of weird stuff like that on the DVD.
To me the best thing about the DVD is the very brief interview clips with Dave while the rest of the guys goof around behind him. Especially Don is funny trying to get himself noticed as the gum chewing drummer of the band. Nod cheekily mentions that David Bowie is Dave's boyfriend whereas Jim only sticks fingers in Dave's face. This is really fun to watch and much too short - just like the studio recordings with the band. I would have preferred to see those recordings in full instead of listening to a bunch of only semi-knowledgeable reviewers. Especially the last five Granada-recordings of How Does It Feel?, In For A Penny, We'll Bring The House Down, Run Runaway and All Join Hands would have been interesting to see in full, as they are rarely aired.
The "Inside Slade"-DVD was made in 2003 by Classic Rock Productions.


At 2:30 AM, Blogger Robert said...

A very good review of the Slade DVD Inside Slade .... I definitely will not be buying this item, I saw an empty slot for this item in a local record shop and hoped it would be the singles A and B sides.

At 11:33 PM, Blogger Lise Lyng Falkenberg said...

Hi Robert,
To me this DVD only holds two things of interest. The one is (as I mentioned) the way that Don tries to make himself known as the gum-chewing drummer of Slade, while Dave is being interviewed. The other is how Jim flickers his violin-bow during Run Runaway. I've never been able to do that with my own violin-bow, and I am sooo envious!!!!


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