Odds and sods about the British rock band Slade

Saturday, June 25, 2005

The Slade Bible

Chris Charlesworth's biography "Feel The Noize!" (Omnibus Press, 1984, ISBN no. 0-7119-0538-X) is by many fans regarded as a sort of Bible on Slade. It is so far the only official biography approved by all four original members of the band. The biography is very sought after by fans as it has only been published in one edition and prices run as high as £ 130 on eBay for a copy.
Not long ago a copy of the biography came my way. I'd been waiting for ages to read this book and when I finally did, I was…well, let's face it…I was a bit disappointed. The book is well-written and very loyal to the band and it covers the career of Slade from its very beginning and up until 1984. It also includes the background and early childhood of the Slade-members. That's all very fine and well, but what bugs me is that there's nothing new in it. I mean, to buy a book on Slade you have to be a Slade-fan, but if you're a Slade-fan you've probably followed the guys in the press and fan magazines of the time and this way learned all about them and their career. The biography brings no new inside information and all I learned from it that I didn't know in advance were the names of some of Don's former girlfriends and Jim's rather funny recollection of the presentation ceremony when Slade won the Band Of The Year category in Disc magazine's 1972 Readers Poll. Not much for a book on 128 pages.
When that is said I must admit that the book has many great photos of the guys - most of them are out there on the Internet on different fan web sites - as well as a complete discography from 1964 to 1984. The biography could do with an update, though, bringing it up to the end of Slade in 1991, but that is not going to happen as the plates for the book are said to have been destroyed.
I'm not saying that "Feel The Noize!" is a bad book. It is a nice work of reference, but I would never ever pay £ 130 for it. £ 50, tops! At that price I would warmly recommend it to everybody who wants to know what the heck Slade was all about.

Chris Charlesworth's biography Posted by Hello

Monday, June 13, 2005

Don Powell biography

Donald George Powell was born on the 10th of September 1946 in Bilston, Staffordshire, England as the second of four children of steelworker Walter Powell and wife Dora. Siblings' names: Carol, Derek and Marilyn.
Don was educated at Villiers Road Primary School and Etheridge Secondary Modern School for Boys. As a child he joined the Boy Scouts where he played the bugle before being offered to try out the drums. He also joined the local police force boxing club, fancying himself as a prize fighter, but had to leave in the end because of an ear infection. He then took up athletics for a couple of years as his main hobby alongside the Scout drums.
Don couldn't afford a drum kit at first so he practised on a borrowed one and word got around that he was good. He was offered to play in The Vendors, one of the popular groups in the area at that time, and had to have his dad sign an HP agreement for his first set of drums. The Vendors recorded a 4 track EP that was released in France only.
In the meantime Don had left school and done a college course in metallurgy at Wednesbury Technical College before getting a job in a foundry in Wolverhampton. He worked there for over a year before turning pro as a drummer with The 'N Betweens, the new name of The Vendors, who eventually became Slade.
In the early morning of the 4th of July 1973 Don and his 20 years old fiancée Angela Morris were on their way home in Don's Bentley from the Dix Nightclub in Wolverhampton, where Angela worked as a secretary. The car left the road, flew through a hedge and smashed up against a tree and a brick wall. Angela was killed on the spot. To this day no one knows who drove the car that night as Don lost his short time memory due to the accident and furthermore the both of them were thrown out of the car in a way that made it impossible to tell who was driving.
Don was left in a particularly bad way after the accident. Doctors feared for his life and surgeons had to drill into his scull to ease the internal pressure. But Don surprised everybody with a speedy recovery and six weeks after the accident he was back with Slade, recording the top 5 hit "My Friend Stan". Don was still walking with the aid of a stick, though, and had to be lifted on to his drum kit. The accident left him with no senses of taste and smell and to this day his memory is still dodgy. This has earned him the nickname "Mr. Memory Man". You can hear Noddy introduce him as such on the "We'll Bring the House Down" track on the "Slade on Stage" album from 1982.
Although both Jim and Nod owned homes in London (Jim in the Highgate area and Nod on Cheyne Walk) Don was the only member of Slade to actually move away from Wolverhampton. In 1974 he thus relocated to his flat in Hampstead, close to the London night life.
When Slade split up in 1991 Don owned and operated an antique import/export company before joining Slade II, since 1997 known as just Slade. Furthermore he had a small cameo role in the BBC-version of "Lorna Doone" in 2000.
Don has used Olympic, Premier, Pearl and custom-built Ludwig drum kits and is said to be particularly fond of Pearl kits. He uses Shaws sticks.
In the Mid-eighties Don married BBC reporter Joan Komlosi and the couple lived in Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex. In 2004 Don moved to Denmark to live with his new lady Hanne and her 3 children in Danish town Silkeborg.

Don Powell, 1974 Posted by Hello

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Jim Lea biography

James Whild Lea was born on June 14th 1949 at The Melbourne Arms pub in Wolverhampton in Staffordshire, England as the second of four children to engineer Frank Lea and wife Edna. Siblings' names: Raymond, Frank and Joan.
Jim was the nearest thing Slade had to a sensitive artist and trained musician. At the age of 10 he started learning violin and in 1960 he graduated with honours from the London National College of Music. He went on to pass the grades I to V with distinction at the Royal School of Music and at the age of 12 he joined the Staffordshire Youth Orchestra where he played the violin for 3 years as youngest member of the orchestra.
Jim went to the Codsall Secondary Modern and in 1962 he joined his first band. He played bass in school band Nick Vance and The Rocking Axemen and did all the arranging of the Axemen's music.
When it was time to leave school Jim applied for four art colleges as art, besides music and French, was his top subject. At the same time he spotted an advert in the paper for the job of bass player with The N'Betweens - his idols of the time. He turned up with his bass guitar in a plastic bag at the audition, but he could play the bass very fast, as his fingers were supple from playing the violin. He was offered the job, which meant turning pro at the age of 16. Within the next week his acceptances came through for all the art colleges, including Hornsey College of Art in London, but to his parents' dismay Jim chose The N'Betweens.
Jim was Slade's principal songwriter along with Noddy. Jim composed most of the group's music and wrote some of the lyrics, too. He played the piano/keyboards as well and was the lead singer on a few Slade songs. He started producing all of Slade's recordings and became an increasingly dominant creative force within the band. He even handled Noddy's guitar parts on record quite often and sometimes Dave's, too. Today he owns Slade's music jointly with Noddy.
On stage Jim's main instrument was a John Birch bass whereas a Flying V bass seemed to have been a studio favourite. Jim also played a Jaydee bass with tremolo arm and a Gibson EB3, which - to Jim's mortification - was refinished in white at one point from its original cherry finish.
Jim took the music very seriously and was horrified by Dave's eccentric stage costumes, which he thought would ruin the credibility of the band. All in all Jim had quite a pessimistic outlook on life, which led to the Slade road crew nicknaming him "Midland's Misery". In a 1999 interview in "The Record Collector", he explained it this way: "I was never happy. I don't think I ever am. It's a personal thing."
In 1977 Jim formed his own record company, "Cheapskate", with his younger brother Frank and started rmaking records under various psydonyms such as Greenfields of Tong, China Dolls, The Clout, Gang of Angels and Jimbo and Bull. The most noticeable release was The Dummies' album "A Day in the Life of The Dummies" (1991) which gathered together all demos and single tracks that he recorded with his younger brother Frank and wife Louise. His latest realise was "I'll Be John, You'll Be Yoko" under the name of Whild in 2000.
In 1991 Jim moved into record production, producing Slade recordings as well up until the Slade break-up in 1991. Jim attended college to study psychology in 1997, but the year after he started writing and recording again. From 2000 everything was put on hold for 2 years which Jim spent helping his mother care for his father, who died in 2002.
In 2002 Jim performed at the "Robin 2" in Bilston where he did a charity show with two musicians picked for the event, calling themselves Jim Jam.
In 1972 Jim married seamstress Louise Ganner, his first and only girlfriend whom he had met when he was 16. They have 2 children, Kristian and Bonny, as well as 2 grandchildren. Jim and Louise live in a secluded area of Brewood, Staffordshire, England.

Jim Lea, 1974 Posted by Hello

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Noddy Holder biography

Neville John Holder was born on June 15th 1946 in Walsall, Staffordshire, England as the only child of window cleaner Jack Holder and wife Leah. There are different explanations of his nickname Noddy: one is that he always nodded off in school, another that a noddy holder is slang for a condom. Take your pick!
At a very early age Noddy knew that he wanted to become an entertainer and at the age of 11 he got his first guitar. Nod was a brainy boy, too, so he passed his 11-plus at the Walsall Blue Coat School and went on to grammar school. At the T. P. Riley Comprehensive School in Walsall he passed 6 of his 8 G.C.E. exams, the two that he failed were art and French. Quite significant by the way, as they were Jim's top subjects at school apart from music!
In the meantime Nod had formed his own band, The Phantoms, later re-named The Memphis Cut-Outs, where he played guitar, and at 17 he quit school to concentrate on his music. To earn a little money he started working at an office selling car parts, but also that he quit. Shortly after The Memphis Cut-Outs were approached by singer Steve Brett, who was a well-known entertained in the Midlands. He had his own TV show and fronted the group Steve Brett and The Mavericks. His backing band had quit and he was looking for a new one, so this way The Memphis Cut-Outs became the new Mavericks. They made 3 singles and a TV appearance before Nod quit, too.
In 1966 Noddy was asked by Don and Dave to join The N'Betweens (future Slade) as a singer. Nod was thus the last one to get onboard the Slade wagon shortly after Jim, and it took them 5 years to rise to fame.
Noddy was the frontman of Slade. His loud raucous voice, his muscular rhythm guitar, the innuendo in his lyrics and his extrovert but always good humoured stage personality made him stand out and he went on to become a 1970es pop icon. With Jim he formed one of the most powerful song-writing partnerships ever, Nod writing most of the lyrics, Jim the music. Today they jointly own all of Slade's music and in 1983 they also collaborated as producers of the band "Girlschool".
For years Nod's main stage guitar was a Fender Telecaster. He also played Gibson SG Junior, Antoria Jumbo acoustic and Gibson Les Paul, but the Les Paul was mostly for studio work.
Slade stopped touring in 1984 on Nod's request, but they continued making records. In 1989 and 1990 Noddy and Dave even put out 2 singles on the Mooncrest label using the name "Blessing in Disguise". After Slade's 25 anniversary in 1991 Noddy left the band for good, feeling the urge to do something else in life.
He went on to have his own radio show on Piccadilly 1152 in Manchester and also appeared in various TV shows, notably "The Grimleys" (1997-2001) where he played music teacher Mr. Neville Holder. He also presented a show on Men and Motors, was a team captain in BBC's "A Question of Pop" and he appeared as Mick Burstin on "Max and Paddy's Road to Nowhere" (2004). Heck, he was even immortalised as a puppet in the famous children's series "Bob the Builder"!
In 1999 Noddy's autobiography "Who's Crazee Now?" was published by Ebury Press (revised edition in 2000 with an extra chapter) and in 2000 he was awarded an MBE for services to music in the New Years Honours list. At present, he is doing commercials for Nobby's Nuts!
On April 7th 2004 Noddy married TV-producer Suzan Price with whom he has the son Django, born in 1995 and named after legendary gypsy jazz-guitarist Django Reinhardt. From his previous marriage to Leandra Russell (this marriage lasted from 1976 to 1984) he has two grown daughters, Jessica and Charisse, who both work in TV-production. Today Nod lives with his family in Prestbury, Chesire, England.

Noddy Holder, 1974 Posted by Hello

Friday, June 10, 2005

Dave Hill biography

David John Hill was born on the 4th of April 1946 in Fleet Castle, Devon, England as son of mechanic Jack Hill and wife Dorothy. He has a younger sister, Carol. When Dave was 5 the family moved to Wolverhampton.
Dave went to school at Warstones Primary, Springdale Infants and Highfields Secondary Modern, but he was not very academic, though. He was good at metalwork and enjoyed music lessons, his granddad being a doctor in music. At first Dave wanted to learn how to play the recorder, then the piano, but ended up being taught how to play the guitar from a friend. In his early teens he had his first group called The Young Ones before joining an outfit of old blokes playing sax in working men's pubs. Here he was spotted by the manager of Don's group The Vendors and invited to an audition. In the early 1960es Dave thus joined The Vendors, who eventually became The 'N Betweens, then Ambrose Slade and finally Slade. Dave worked for 3 years as an office boy at Tarmac before turning pro.
Money was tight when Dave started playing guitar and right handed guitars were cheaper than left handed ones, so even though Dave is left handed he ended up playing and still plays guitar right handed. His best know guitar was the John Birch Superyob, custom made for Dave in 1973. It became a vital part of his image just like his huge platform boots, the fringes and the outrageous costumes. Dave also played a Framus Nashville guitar, John Birch J2 guitars, a white John Birch SG custom style guitar and "The Bat" made by John Birch in plain white. His main guitar was, however, "Dad's Gibson", a guitar with a Gibson neck and Sam Lee body that his dad helped him buy early on in his career. Today Dave plays the John Birch Superyob 2001.
Dave's bizarre costumes actually appalled Jim, by the way. Dave just laughed at it and said about their hits, "You write 'em, I sell 'em." One thing's for sure; once seen you never forgot Dave again as he looked like no one else on earth. Dave was referred to by the other members of Slade as plain "H" so he's the H mentioned in both "Know Who You Are" (1970) and "Mama Weer All Crazee Now" (1972). Later when Dave shaved his head bald Noddy nicknamed him "the grasshopper".
At the end of the 1970es Dave went into the wedding car business, hiring out his Rolls Royce with the registration YOB 1 to drive newly weds. He was seriously contemplating to leave Slade by the end of the 1970es and had to be talked into playing a final gig at the 1980 Reading Festival. The gig meant a revival of Slade and the band carried on for 11 more years. In 1989 and 1990 Dave even put out 2 singles with Noddy under the name "Blessing in Disguise".
Slade split up in 1991 but within long Dave decided to start over. It was actually rock queen Suzi Quatro's ex-husband Len Tuckey who brought the idea of touring as Slade again into Dave's mind and when Don accepted in 1992 Slade II was born. Apparently it was Nod who came up with the name Slade II, although it was shortened back to Slade in 1997. Today Len Tuckey is the new Slade's manager.
Dave married his wife, hair dresser Janice Parton, in Mexico City in 1973 and they have the children Jade, Bibi and Sam. Dave and Jan have embraced the Jehovah faith and today they live in Penn, Wolverhampton in Staffordshire, England.

Dave Hill, 1974 Posted by Hello

Monday, June 06, 2005

Book cover: Stoker, Paul, Charlie and Barry Posted by Hello

Slade in Flame

Maybe because of my education (I have 2 Ph.D.-degrees, one in literature and one in cultural studies), I've always been a sucker for analysing and comparing stuff. So I thought why not try it with "Slade in Flame". It's a movie, it's a book, it's a soundtrack album. Plenty of stuff to sink your teeth into.
The movie "Flame" was released in 1975 and the basic story is this: we're in the 1960es and the band "Jack Daniels and the D.T.s", consisting of singer Jack Daniels (Alan Lake), guitarist Barry Jenkins (Dave Hill) and bass player Paul Harris (Jim Lea), is on the outlook for a new drummer. The choice falls on foundry worker Charlie Spencer (Don Powell), as he's the only one around who has a full drum kit. The band is under contract to the menacing, two-bit agent Ron Harding (Johnny Shannon), who devotes more time to his greyhounds, fruit machines and thugs than to the band.
After a run-in between the band and the competing group "Roy Priest and the Undertakers", which involves both a car crash and a night in jail, Jack Daniels is out of the band. The rest of the guys regroup as "Iron Rod" with new singer Laurence Stoker (Noddy Holder) from "The Undertakers" and things start to happen. Accompanied by roadie Russell Hayes (Anthony Allen) and Barry's girlfriend Angie (Sarah Clee) "Iron Rod" does sell-out gigs, but Paul's nagging wife Julie (Nina Thomas) stays at home and scrubs the floors while her old man is out playing pop stars, as Angie puts it.
After a successful performance Stoker has a violent confrontation with agent Harding which leads to Harding dropping the band - but only verbally. This is of outmost consequence for the future of "Iron Rod".
"Iron Rod" gets discovered by businessman Robert Seymour (Tom Conti), a whiz at selling anything with a profit, who now wants to try his hand at the music business. He provides the band with a new image including matching costumes, a record deal, exposure to the media and a new name: "Flame", and presto, the band gets its first Silver Disc.
As soon as former agent Harding smells the money behind the success he confronts Seymour with his contract with the 3 original members of the "D.T.s", Barry, Paul and Charlie. A mean battle between the 2 agents takes its beginning and leads to both the firing of roadie Russell and the mutilation of Jack Daniels. The band, unaware of this, continues its success with sell-out concerts and more Silver and Gold Discs, but within the band there's trouble. Charlie is quietly saddened by Seymour's promotion, Barry and Stoker quarrel over Angie and Stoker and Paul quarrel over the music. The band is heading for disaster.
"Flame" is a bleak portrayal of the music business. Andrew Birkin wrote its original screenplay, before going on to be Oscar-nominated in 1983 for short film "Sredni Vashtar" and win the Silver Berlin Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival in 1993 for the film "The Cement Garden". He has written screenplays for "The Name of the Rose" and "Jeanne D'Arc", he was Stanley Kubrick's personal assistant during the making of "Space Odyssey" and yes, he is the brother of Jane "Je t'aime" Birkin.
Birkin wrote the screenplay for "Flame" basing it on true stories. Not the Slade story, but different episodes that had happened to different musicians such as Jimi Hendrix and Screaming Lord Sutch. All these episodes are incorporated into the film to make it more realistic. Also things from Slade's "real" life can be seen in the movie: Charlie works in a foundry, so did Don before turning pro as a drummer. Paul carries his bass in a plastic bag, so did Jim at the audition for the 'N Betweens (Slade's original name). Both Paul and Barry are in relationships, just like in real life where Jim and Dave were both married.
Slade's film-names are not chosen at random, either. Here we have a bass player named Paul like McCartney, a drummer named Charlie like Watts and a bloke called Stoker who dressed as a vampire lies in a coffin like in "Dracula", written by Bram Stoker. Then there is Barry. There were lots of famous Barrys in the 1960es, but most were singers such as Barry Ryan or Barry Gibb. Maybe the name is a reference to Chuck Berry as Dave was into Chuck Berry in his early years, but my favourite explanation of the name is, that it refers to Sir J. M. Barrie, Scotch author of "Peter Pan". There are several reasons for this.
First of all I know that Andrew Birkin is a J. M. Barrie enthusiast. Back in 1991 I wrote my Ph.D.-thesis in literature about Sir Barrie and his works and here I learned that in 1978 Birkin conceived and wrote the script for the brilliant BBC-trilogy "The Lost Boys" about Barrie. This also brought about his book "Sir J. M. Barrie and the lost boys" in 1979, a marvellous piece of research into the life of Barrie. Lately Birkin has written the screenplay for the movie "Finding Neverland" starring Johnny Depp as J. M. Barrie.
Secondly it seems appropriate to pair up the members of Flame: When 2 are named after musicians, then the other 2 should be named after the same as well, in this case writers. Why writers do you ask? It's not so much the writers as their fictive characters, Vlad Dracula and Peter Pan. But you can't call Stoker and Barry Vlad and Peter because Vlad sounds too odd, and you can't use the writers' first names, either, as they were Bram and James. I'm sure many fans would have found it strange if Dave suddenly carried Jim's first name in the movie. So instead it ends up with the last names: Stoker and Barry, Barry spelled with a "y" to make it a first name.
The link between Flame and Dracula is clear in the coffin-scene where Stoker is both dressed like and sings about a vampire. Knowing Birkin's passion, there also seems to be a cross-reference between Flame and Peter Pan. Peter Pan is even mentioned in the movie where Charlie talks to his former boss about Barry's 21st birthday. Here Flame personified by Barry is lied years younger (the members of Slade were that in real life, too) and Charlie says: "We're like a bleeding bunch of Peter Pan's." They're boys who can't grow up because of Seymour's promotion. Charlie's speech was by the way a stunning feat by Don. "Flame" was made only a year after Don's car crash where he lost his short time memory, so he could only remember a few minutes at a time. Don therefore had to learn lines for one take and then re-learn the lines for each additional take, but watching the movie you don't notice at all.
All Slade members deliver a solid job as actors in "Flame". Don is in charge of the comic relief, doing both slapstick and (as in real life) brilliant one-liners. Dave is the chain-smoking, girl-kissing fop and Jim the sulking, moody guy who comes across the best in the arguing-scenes. But it is Noddy who upstages them all. On screen he is larger than life, totally dominating the picture. When it comes to the book things are a little different.
The book by John Pidgeon was published in 1975, a bit before the film came out. You can't say that it is a well-written book in the literary sense of the word, but it is action-packed entertainment with an idiomatic down-to-earth language. In most reviews of the book the reviewers point out that it contains all the violence and sex that couldn't fit into the movie because Slade wanted a PG-rating so their younger fans would be able to see it. What I find more interesting is, however, that where the movie is a vehicle for Nod's acting skills, the book is a tribute to Jim's (Paul's) talents as a composer.
The main character in the book is Jack Daniels, most of the time we see the events through his eyes. In the beginning of the book we also follow the events from Charlie's point-of-view, but this is gradually replaced by descriptions of Paul's thoughts and feelings. It is Paul who foresees the troubles that Seymour's promotion will cause and he is the one who's really dying to write music his own way and therefore is unhappy with what is going on. In this way the book clears up some of the points that could have done with an explanation in the movie. The book also makes it clear that the career of the band expands over several years whereas in the movie you get the feeling that it all happens within a few months, making it rather unrealistic.
In the book the group-members also team up in other formations than in the movie. Where the alliances in the film are Stoker/Paul (the songwriters) and Charlie/Barry (the plain musicians) the alliances in the book are Paul/Charlie (the serious musicians) and Stoker/Barry (the entertainers). The book shows a mutual understanding and quiet, almost touching friendship between Paul and Charlie, where the team Stoker/Barry tends to spend their time quarrelling over girls and sex and who got whom pregnant. This fully explains the choice of group member names, as the names equal parts of their personalities. Two are serious musicians and two are respectively a charming but cynical "vampire", i.e. he uses and throws away women, and a boy who doesn't want to grow up, i.e. doesn't want to commit to Angie.
The picture thus painted of Barry and Stoker is a lot less sympathetic in the book than in the film. The opposite goes for Charlie and Paul, where especially Paul stands out as the true hero of the book, which is very remote from the sullen Paul in the movie. It is symptomatic that where Stoker has the last word in the movie, the last words belong to Paul in the book.
Finally there's the soundtrack album. The one who had the last word here was Slade's manager, Chas Chandler, who produced the album. The album is from 1974 and it contains the instant classic "Far Far Away" that made it to no. 2 in the charts. The beautiful, melancholy "How Does It Feel?" made it to no. 15 and was the very first song that Jim ever wrote back in 1969, allegedly on an old out of tune piano with half the keys missing.
My personal favourite is, however, "Them Kinda Monkeys Can't Swing", a very powerful rock tune with great drums and tongue-in-cheek lyrics about monkeys who can't swing and birdies who can't sing. Probably a reference to American bands the Monkees and the Byrds, that were popular in the 1960es where the story of "Flame" takes place. The Monkees are, by the way, mentioned several times in the book. They were the first prefabricated boy band ever, and Flame is afraid that with Seymour's promotion they will end up the same way.
Other great rock tunes on the soundtrack album are "Standin' On the Corner", "Lay It Down" and "This Girl", although the lyrics of the latter are not as good on the album as the cheeky ones about vampires, that can be heard in the movie only. The 4 remaining songs, "O.K. Yesterday Was Yesterday", "Heaven Knows", "So Far So Good" and "Summer Song" are more run-of-the-mill productions, although "Summer Song" has an annoying tendency to stick in your brain.
The sound of the album is slightly different from previous Slade albums because the band made use of a full brass and woodwind section on "Slade in Flame" to give it a more typical sound of the 1960es. The strong Holder/Lea songs can't hide behind this, though; they are still hard rocking stompers with a big thump mark of the 1970es. "Slade in Flame" is one of the best Slade albums ever, superbly produced and probably the most coherent.
Of the 3 "Flame"-outputs the book is - to my own surprise - my favourite. It is not great literature, but no matter how much I love to watch the members of Slade in the film and to hear the music on the soundtrack album, it is still the in-depth story of the book that really gets to me. Hmm…spoken like a true Ph.D. in literature!

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Cover: Dave Hill, Noddy Holder, Don Powell, Jim Lea. Posted by Hello

Review: Play it loud

Some weeks ago I wrote a review of Slade's album "Play it loud" which found its way to the Slade Archive - in my opinion the best and most thorough website/forum about the original Slade on the net these days. "Play it loud" is my all time favourite Slade album, so I thought that I'd put the review on this blog as well:

Play it loud
The 1970 released album "Play it loud" was Slade's second - or actually their first under the name of Slade as its predecessor "Beginnings" (1969) had been made while the group was still called Ambrose Slade.
"Play it loud" was recorded during Slade's skinhead days, but there is not much skinhead about the sound. Instead the album has a more melodic, almost melancholy feel to it than other Slade albums. The distinct, energetic, stomping sound that made Slade famous world wide does not surface on this album either, mainly because that sound was the product of the highly efficient song writing team Noddy Holder/Jim Lea and none of the songs on "Play it loud" are penned solely by them. Four of the songs on the album are instead written by Jim Lea/Don Powell, namely "Dapple Rose", "I Remember", "Dirty Joker" and "Sweet Box", where the two first mentioned especially stand out. "Dapple Rose" because of its beautiful violin part and "I Remember" because of its lyrics. "I Remember" was recorded 3 years prior to Powell's horrific car crash where he lost his short time memory, so with lyrics as: "like a fire in the grass it just wiped out my past and my memory's gone", the song seems quite eerie.
"Play it loud" contains 3 cover songs; "Could I", "The Shape of Things to Come" and "Angelina", all presented with professionalism, power and an almost nihilistic feeling that prevails all over the album. This also goes for the 4 songs penned by Holder/Lea/Powell; "Raven", "See Us Here", "One Way Hotel" and "Pouk Hill", where "Pouk Hill" sticks out with its almost teasing harmonious melody and narrative lyrics about the making of the cover for the preceding album "Beginnings".
The real gem of the album is, however, "Know Who You Are" - a remake of Slade's instrumental "Genesis" with added lyrics. Here the group is at the album's best, building up the orchestration strongly with underpinning bass, rounded drums, characteristic guitar riffs and Holder/Lea's beautifully blended vocals altering between restraint and full power. Not to mention the lyrics, which according to Powell are mainly about Dave Hill.
All in all "Play it loud" is a little gem in itself, pointing towards the successful career of Slade.