Monday, October 17, 2005
I just received some photos from Danish Slade-fan Søren Duer. He took them at the Køge Civic Festival in July 1978. They are particularly interesting to me as they were taken just 2 days after I had seen Slade in the town of Tved. It tricked a lot of memories seeing those photos where the guys look exactly as they did the one and only time I saw them together on stage. Thanks a lot for the photos, Søren, and for letting me use them on my blog. There's a few more on my Jim Lea-blog.
Friday, October 14, 2005
When The Black Country Rocked
In 2003 Philip Solomon produced, directed and presented the video "When The Black Country Rocked Vol. 1". It consists of interviews with musicians from Wolverhampton in the sixties, their groups and how their careers developed. All in all there are 13 interviews running from 30 seconds to 10 minutes in this one hour-video.
For Slade-fans 3 interviews will be of particular interest, namely the ones with Johnny Howells, Jim and Dave. The interview with Dave only runs 30 seconds, whereas Johnny Howells and Jim do a 7 minutes interview each.
Johnny Howells tells about how he and Mick Marson formed The Vendors and how Don came into it. He says, that at that point Don didn't have a drum kit to his name and used a telephone directory as a drum pad before borrowing a kit. He also tells that Dave blew them all away with his style of playing. Finally he tells that they didn't realise how popular The Vendors/The 'N Betweens were at the time, and that the biggest compliment to the band was, that Jim wanted to join them.
Jim for his part recounts how he started playing the violin and later got into rock. He tells about his shyness that let him to choose the bass over the guitar as he found the guitar too out front. He gets into the problems he had in being taken seriously because he was a very small teenager who looked like a child and that when he started playing bass he had to use short scale basses because his hands were so small. He also reveals that in his early years he was anti-women as he found women to get in the way of the music.
During his 30 seconds on the video Dave only gets to tell a bit about how he got into The Vendors and that music kept him out of trouble.
The other people interviewed in the video are drummer George Evans (5 minutes), Danny Cannon of Danny Cannon and The Ramrods (7 minutes), Roger Clark of The Black Diamonds and The Californians (4 minutes), Keith Farley, author of "'N Between Times" (4 minutes), journalist John Ogden (1 minute), Anna Terrana of Lady Jayne and The Royaltee (10 minutes), Mick Brookes of The Califonians (5 minutes), John O'Hara of The Californians (30 seconds), Bill Hayward of The Montanas (30 seconds) and Ian "Sludge" Lees of Finders Keepers, The Montanas and Light Fantastic (5 minutes).
The video is not professionally made which reflects in its quality. That aside, the only real annoying thing is that during all the interviews you hear music from the different groups mentioned. Although the music is good, it sometimes makes it almost impossible to hear what the persons interviewed are actually saying. Still, it is fun seeing how all the musicians look today. The video can be ordered from PKN Publications.
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
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.
Monday, October 10, 2005
On the net you can find many strange things, among them a Slade Alive! CD/DVD. The CD is the ordinary Slade Alive!-album, and the DVD, well…
The DVD consists of 22 "rare videos", and some must really be said to be rare! Some are even so rare that they are listed wrong on the sleeve. Here In For A Penny has been mistaken for A Night To Remember and Take Me Bak 'Ome has been re-named All Right. Take Me Bak 'Ome is an old b/w video, so are Born To Be Wild and How Does It Feel. Squeeze Me Pleeze Me consists of a mixture of stills and concert footage, among that concert footage from the 1974 Copenhagen concert.
You'll see a lot of funny spelling on the sleeve, for instance The Bagin' Man, Goodbay T'Jane, Look Wat You Dan, Mary Xmas Everybody and Wel Bring The House Down, which takes even Slade's spelling a step further.
All the Granada Studio-stuff from 1972 is on the DVD, so are commonly known videos of for instance 'Coz I Luv You and Get Down And Get With It and also some semi-common as the version of Mama Weer All Crazee Now.
To me the highlights are Look Wot You Dun as I'd never seen it in this version before, Rock And Roll Preacher and - despite its lousy quality - a rendition of When The Lights Are Out from the late 1970's. I've never seen Jim do that on video before.
The DVD runs 80 minutes, the quality of the individual videos varies from the excellent to the totally poor, but if you're out shopping for the Slade Alive!-album in the first place you might consider this version, as you're guaranteed some laughs and at least a few nice videos as well.
Sunday, October 09, 2005
Footage from Copenhagen 1974
Last month I mentioned some rare footage that I have on Slade in Copenhagen 1974. I've now checked it out with the TV-station that aired the footage back then. It turns out to be part of an 11½ minute long item in a youth programme from November 23rd 1974 about Slade's concert in "K.B.-Hallen", Copenhagen.
I just received a copy of it from the TV-station and to my surprise it was in colour. The clips that I had seen so far from this footage have always been aired in b/w so it was a nice surprise. There is not much on Slade, though, but it is quite a good piece on rock concerts back then.
The first 2 minutes you see Slade's road crew built the stage, set up the lights etc. You can easily spot Swin, Charlie Newham, Johnny Jones and Haden Donovan among others. The commentator tells that the film crew wasn't allowed to film Slade doing sound check. And with almost horror the commentator reveals that Slade kicked in a locked door at the venue instead of waiting for someone to find the key.
The following 1½ minute is interviews with young fans waiting to get in. They talk about the ticket prize being 48 Danish kroner (£ 4) and that they are probably going to wreck the chairs at the venue. You also see some British blokes selling Slade scarves outside the venue.
The next 30 seconds are showing Don and Jim backstage having a go at the buffet consisting of smoked salmon, cold meat, chicken, fruits and a wide range of whisky, gin, champagne and other such beverages.
A police officer outside the venue is then interviewed for about a minute, vending his frustration about not being allowed to get rough with the kids who try to sneak in without a ticket. Then it is back to Slade again for another 30 seconds.
Now they have changed into stage clothes and they are all backstage. Dave and Jim are tuning their guitars and you can hear Dave say, "I think it sounds well." "Not to me, it doesn't," is Jim's answer. Dave is then stomping around in his $-boots yelling, "Are you in, Noddy?" whereupon Noddy roars, "We are going to rock and roll in Copenhagen tonight!" "Rock and roll in Copenhagen tonight," Dave repeats while Jim is playing an acoustic ditty on his bass guitar. Don is staying behind, drinking from his huge magnum whisky bottle.
Slade's Danish promoter Erik Thomsen is interviewed for 2 minutes, telling that the band costs approximately 45,000 Danish kroner (£ 3,750) per concert and that they walk away with a profit of 30,000 Danish kroner (£ 2,500). During the interview there are more footage of the guys backstage, Dave tuning his Superyob guitar, Jim getting his scarf tied, Nod eating and Don still drinking. Dave leaves the room, returns, then Jim leaves.
During the next 60 seconds you see Slade coming down the stairs from their dressing rooms and wait to get on stage. Some of the guys from the road crew are cracking jokes, making Jim laugh and Don look rather confused. The noise from the fans in the concert hall is massive and Slade enter the stage.
The last two minutes of the programme is without original sound. Instead you hear "Hear Me Calling" from the Slade Alive! album. On the visual side you mostly see young fans going berserk, but also a short clip of Slade on stage, where Jim has already stripped off his jacket and gets behind Noddy, so that Nod, Jim and Don are lined up behind each other. Dave is doing his own thing on his side of the stage, although both Jim and Nod are shouting something at him. Jim then walks back to his own stage side. And that's it. That's all there is.
The TV-station no longer has the original tapes with the full concert etc. They also don't have the copyright to anything else with the original Slade. Both this station and the other major Danish station TV2 that came into business in the 1980's have material on Slade II, but nothing on the old Slade.
The programme here mentioned can be ordered from firstname.lastname@example.org and prizes run between 1,000 and 4,000 Danish kroner (£ 85 and £ 335) for those 11½ minutes depending on what it is going to be used for, if you were present during the concert yourself and other such things.
Friday, October 07, 2005
'N Between Times
'N Between Times from 2001 is a wonderful little book by Keith Farley. It is "an oral history of the Wolverhampton group scene of the 1960's" as it says in the subtitle, and it is really great. Through statements from fans and members of the vast number of bands in and around Wolverhampton in the 1960's, Farley throws light on the careers of the early Wulfrunian rock groups, the venues that they played, the agents and promoters they had and the conditions they had to work under.
Farley takes his readers through a time travel from the mid-1950's to the early 1970's and introduces you to groups like The Montanas, The Redcaps and The Soul Seekers, promoters and agents like Roger Allen, Nita Anderson and Ma Regan and venues like the Plaza at Old Hill, Ship & Rainbow and Three Men In A Boat. Although you have never set foot in Wolverhampton, Farley paints a picture so vivid that you sometimes think that you were actually there. In the sixties.
For Slade-fans the book is of utmost interest. You'll walk hand in hand with Nick & The Axemen, The Rockin' Phantoms, The Memphis Cut-Outs, Steve Brett & The Mavericks, The Vendors, The 'N Betweens and Ambrose Slade through Wolverhampton's rock scene as described by for instance Johnny Howells and Mick Marson of The Vendors and The 'N Betweens, Pete Bickley of The Memphis Cut-Outs and The Mavericks, Steve Brett himself and of course Jim. Many, many others have put their opinion into this book, among them the great and late Tommy Burton to whom the book is dedicated. Slade-fans will remember Burton as the piano-player on "Find Yourself A Rainbow" on the Old New Borrowed and Blue-album.
'N Between Times furthermore features a special chapter on venues, an A-Z listing of Wulfrunian groups and a listing of some of their recordings from 1964 to 1973. The book is 112 pages, richly illustrated with old b/w-photos and it has the ISBN no. 0-9541583-0-X.
Thursday, October 06, 2005
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
Original Slade - Danish tour dates
Well, I don't want to postpone it any longer, so here are the Danish tour dates of the original Slade, or at least the ones that I've been able to get confirmed up until now. I'm sure that there are more, but at the moment I haven't been able to get them confirmed and it will still take a little time before that will happen. When it does, I will of course update this list:
- April 12. (Thursday) at 8 p.m. in "Falkonerteatret" Copenhagen. Support: Secret Oysters
- November 9. (Friday) at 8 p.m. in "K.B.-Hallen", Copenhagen.
- November 10. (Saturday) at 8 p. m. in "Vejlby-Risskov Hallen", Aarhus.
- November 14. (Thursday) at 8 p.m. in "K.B.-Hallen", Copenhagen. Support: Bonny
- November 22. (Friday) at 8 p.m. in "K.B.-Hallen", Copenhagen.
- November 23. (Saturday) at 8.p.m. in "Vejlby-Risskov Hallen", Aarhus.
- November 24. (Sunday) at 8 p.m. in "Fyens Forum", Odense.
- April 20. (Wednesday) at 8 p.m. in "Falkonerteatret", Copenhagen. Support: Mabel
- April 21. (Thursday) at 8 p.m. in "Holstebrohallen", Holstebro.
- April 22. (Friday) at 8 p.m. in "Dyrskuehallen", Hjørring.
- April 23. (Saturday) at 8 p.m. in "Tvedhallen", Tved.
- April 24. (Sunday) at 8 p.m. in "Aalborghallen", Aalborg.
- April 25. (Monday) at 8 p.m. "Nykøbing F. Hallen", Nykøbing Falster.
- July 20. (Thursday) in "Løkken Hallen", Løkken. Support: Lola.
- July 21. (Friday) at 9 p.m. in "Tved-Hallen", Tved. Support: Lola.
- July 23. (Sunday) at Køge Byfest (Køge Civic Festival), Køge.
- May 9. (Saturday) in "Esbjerg Stadionhal", Esbjerg, as support for Whitesnake
- May 11. (Monday) in "Oddfellow Palæet", Copenhagen as support for Whitesnake CANCELLED due to the stage being too frail for Whitesnake's PA-system
Sunday, October 02, 2005
Some days ago I found part of a cut-out poster of Slade. I've been searching for the rest of it, but with no luck. It was a live-sized poster from the German music magazine Bravo in 1973. The poster came in 19 pieces with 2 to 4 pieces in every magazine for 9 weeks. When you had cut out all the pieces and glued them together you had Slade life-size to put on your wall. I had this poster, but apparently also an extra piece (piece no. 10 a, showing Jim's face).
That poster hang on my wall for several years and I remember wondering if the guys were really that small. Having had the opportunity to compare to "the real thing" I later realised that the dimensions of the poster had been diminished by approximately 5%. So much for life-size posters!
Saturday, October 01, 2005
I borrowed some books from Don, one of them being Paul William Schmidt's "History of the Ludwig Drum Company" from 1991 (ISBN 0-931759-49-8). The book is a detailed story of the Ludwig-family, their drum company, their products and all the drummers that have used Ludwig drums over the years.
Of course this is most to the interest of drummers, but for Slade-fans there is also something there. On p. 151-152 the book features a poster that was made for Ludwig's 40 years anniversary in 1984, where they'd invited 75 drummers from all over the world.
Don was among them, as seen on the poster - I've circled him in with red in case you couldn't pick him out. I've also included a close-up where you can see him a little better. Among the other drummers on the poster are Joe Morello, Vincent Dee, Johnny Bee Badanjek, Don Brewer (form. Grand Funk Railroad) Alan White (Yes), Bun E. Carlos (Cheap Trick), Steve Palmer (Steppenwolf), Rick Downey (Blue Oyster Cult) and many more. On the listing of endorsees who were not present "due to schedule conflicts", you'll find names like Danny Gottlieb, Ginger Baker, Nick Mason (Pink Floyd), Eric Carr (Kiss), Roger Taylor (Queen), Darrell Sweet (Nazareth), Joey Kramer (Aerosmith), Bob Benberg (Supertramp) and Nigel Glockler (Saxon). At the table you see Bill Ludwig III and Bill Ludwig II.
The poster-text reads: "Class Act! The most famous drummers in the world…toast the most famous name on drums. On August 26. 1984 these top name drummers arrived in Chicago to celebrate seventy-five years of business. Three quarters of a century of hard work and dedication, something they all know and relate to. That's why they believe in Ludwig, that's why you should too! Visit your local Ludwig dealer soon, and join the celebration."
Bet we wouldn't be offered a glass of champagne, if we did that, but on the poster there seems to be plenty in the hands of those drummers! Anyway, the book also features a special mention of Don on page 161, see below.