Odds and sods about the British rock band Slade

Friday, December 02, 2005

The Very Best of Slade - DVD

Last Monday the new "greatest hits" DVD and CDs The Very Best of Slade came out. I didn't get the CDs as I already had all the tracks on them, so here I'll just make a review of the DVD.
The Very Best of Slade DVD is divided into 3 sections: Wall of Hits with 15 songs, Set of Six with (of course) 6 songs and More Hits with another 6 songs.
The Wall of Hits section is not quite the same as the Wall of Hits-DVD from 1991. Them Kinda Monkeys Can't Swing has been moved into the More Hits-section and Mama Weer All Crazee Now and Cum On Feel The Noize have been added. Both familiar videos from Top Of The Pops. The hilarious Merry Xmas Everybody-video from Wall Of Hits showing a rather drunk band doing a German television performance has been replaced by a Top Of The Pops version.
When watching the Wall of Hits section you can choose whether or not to include the band's comments from 1991. If you choose to see the comments it is quite an experience as it is sooo poorly made. The comments freeze at the end, so you don't get to see the very last part of them. For instance you don't see Jim cringe over Nod's "It's Chriiiistmas!!" before MXE. And then the screen turns black for a few seconds before the actual songs comes on!
You also have to be adept with the volume button on your remote control. The levels of the sound of comments and of songs are not the same, so either the comments come out a whisper or the songs a roar if you don't do anything. Bad, bad editing. This could have been done much more elegantly.
Furthermore it seems odd that the clips that were not on the Wall of Hits don't have any comments and not even a chart position like the WOH-clips. Also the comments for Wall of Sound have been deleted as the band here said something about this being their new hit. The comment/no comment, chart position/no chart position, high/low sound etc. make this section seem rather messy. It is so poorly organised and I sure wish that someone had spent a little more time, love and effort in presenting the clips in a better way.
The Set of Six section is the fabulous live studio performance from Granada TV (gotta love it!). It was taped in front of a small audience at the Granada Studios in 1971 and the whole band delivers one heck of a performance here. It has Noddy giving his best both as a vocalist and an entertainer and Dave is in high spirits interacting with the audience. It shows a beaming Jim doing backbends and jumping up and down while playing the violin as well as Don in far-out high heeled boots playing the drums so hard that splinters from the sticks are literally flying around the studio. It's just perfect.
The six songs are Hear Me Calling, Look Wot You Dun, Darling Be Home Soon, 'Coz I Luv You, Get Down And Get With It and Born To Be Wild. All songs are just perfect, but my favourite here has to be Get Down And Get With It. This has to be the best live performance I've ever seen of that song. Noddy is absolutely captivating both as a singer and interacting with the audience, silly, loud and ever so charming. Jim is going totally crazy on stage, on his own and with Noddy, and both Jim and Dave are totally in touch with the audience. Don's still back there, holding it all together, breaking sticks and pumping up the energy with his hard beats on the drums. The energy is fierce!
This Granada Studio performance is so far the best that I have seen with Slade - except for the real thing (live) of course. It was always amazing watching those guys live, and this is probably one of the ultimate performances.
The More Hits-section on "The Very Best"-DVD includes - apart from Them Kinda Monkeys Can't Swing - versions of Take Me Bak 'Ome, Everyday, How Does It Feel?, In For a Penny and The Bangin' Man.
And well, how does it feel? I felt a little disappointed. Because this is stuff that we have all seen before. I mean, all the clips are very good and of high quality, but there's just not anything new for us hardcore fans. It's a great DVD for people who are just getting into Slade or who just want one greatest hits-DVD, but for the rest of us… Why couldn't there be a little something for us hardcore fans who - after all - have carried the band through the good years AND the bad?
The two biggest disappointments to me are MXE and Them Kinda Monkeys Can't Swing. Okay, I have to say that the version of Them Kinda Monkeys Can't Swing is loads better than the one on Wall of Hits, because on Wall of Hits the clip had been brutally edited. On the new DVD you get the whole song, including the dialog between Alan Lake and Johnny Shannon from the Flame movie, but… why doesn't the DVD include the brilliant comments from Nod, Don, Dave and Jim which could be seen on Wall of Hits? These were in my opinion the funniest comments on the whole 1991-DVD with Don pretending to forget his name and Jim impersonating Tom Conti. I just don't get things like these.
I don't get the replacement of MXE either. The Top of The Pops-version on the new DVD is good, but the original one from Wall of Hits with the drunk band was way better. It was just so hysterically funny with Don going berserk on the drums and Jim laughing so hard that he almost wet himself. Actually there are two versions of this German TV-performance. On the other one the band doesn't come across as drunk. Instead Don is chatting with the audience and Jim is almost blown off stage by a fake snowstorm where the fake snow flakes come in so heavy that he gets them in his eyes and mouth, making it impossible for him to play. In this version the song ends with Dave, Nod and Jim singing in perfect harmony, whereas the Wall of Hits-version ends with Jim and Nod almost tumbling over on the floor while Jim's voice drowns out the playback. But I digress… Back to the new DVD. I really, really think it a shame that the great version from WOH is not included on the Very Best of Slade.
When that is said I have to admit that to me the highlight on the new DVD is…the Top of The Pops-version of Merry Xmas Everybody! I know this may sound a little self-contradictory, but the reason for my fondness of the TOTP MXE-version is, that I hadn't actually seen it before. I know most other hardcore fans have, but for some odd reason not me. And this version is really very charming with a cheerful band and Don on toy drum when the band goes into the audience. Here Jim is sporting his Elvis-shakes and Don even does a little twist. Truly charming. I just don't get the liner-notes for this version as it says that it was aired on Top of The Pops on December 12, 1973. How come that Dave has short hair, then? As far as I know Dave didn't have his hair like this before the filming of Flame in 1974. Furthermore I've been informed thay the clip is from TOTP's Christmas show in 1974 and if I can get that kind of info, the ones behind the DVD certainly could have got it as well!
Anyway, this brings me to the design of the DVD, the graphics, and it is horrible! The cover is white with a head shot of the band looking very sullen and miserable, the back cover has misspellings (of misspellings) of several of the titles and the DVD is only accompanied with a piece of paper stating the basic info on the songs. Boooring! And the cover doesn't even catch the tiniest bit of what Slade was and is all about.
Now that I've vented my frustration I also have to say this: buy the darn DVD! Buy it, buy the CDs, buy it for yourself, for your friends, for Christmas, just buy it! Because as said before, it is a really good introduction to Slade for newcomers and also a great reminder for those who haven't followed the band closely since their heydays. And the rest of us, well, we have to buy it as well, just to let the powers that be notice that we are still here, we are still supporting the band, so maybe in the future we could get something that we actually haven't seen before. Please? Pretty please?


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