Saturday, March 31, 2007
Slade In Flame Collectors Edition
Union Square Pictures is now releasing the Slade In Flame Special Collectors Edition DVD Package. This is really a beautiful piece of work. The package includes:
- a new Cinemascope transfer of the film ”Flame"
- a documentary featurette including interviews with Noddy, Jim, Don, Dave, Tom Conti and Richard Loncraine
- the remastered ”Slade in Flame” soundtrack
- a 16 pages booklet including 21 photos shot by screenwriter Andrew Birkin during Slade’s mid-1974 US–tour, all with commentary from Jim.
This new transfer is really good. The images are so much brighter and clearer than in the 2003- edition and this means that now you can actually SEE what is happening in the darker scenes of the movie. On the other hand the sound is as lousy as ever, making it close to impossible to hear what the actors are saying when they turn away from the camera. Well, I know what they’re saying, anyway, so I’m just glad that now I’m able to see what is happening as well!
The featurette is what many fans have been waiting for in connection with this collectors edition as this is really something new. Sort of, anyway. The interview with Noddy is the one from the 2003-edition, but all other interviews were conducted in 2006 and have been cut together with the Noddy-sequences to a beautiful 10 chapter run-through of all aspects of the film. Well done!
As for the soundtrack album it is the same as Union Square Music’s “Slade In Flame” CD re-release, although the artwork on the CD itself is different. It’s brilliantly remastered but as with the February re-release there are no bonus tracks, not even the promised alternate lyrics-version of “This Girl”. That’s a bit disappointing, especially as now there’s no difference between the 2 releases, so if you have one, there’s no need to get the other.
Finally there’s the booklet which comes in colour except for Birkin’s 21 black and white shots. All shots have been featured in bigger and better versions in the Slade Box etc. so what makes this booklet interesting is Jim’s commentary to the pics. Jim is honest, revealing, and you may even get to learn a thing or two about Slade that you didn’t know in advance.
All in all this Special Collectors Edition is a very attractive package, to me mainly because of the clearer images of the film, the featurette and Jim’s booklet commentary. I rate the package a must for fans, a thorough glimpse into the Slade-universe for non-fans and I strongly recommend it.
Monday, March 26, 2007
Flame in Record Collector
The April-issue of Record Collector has a 2 pages feature on the Flame-DVD that is to be out on April 2nd. Here the film is being duly praised and furthermore commented on by Noddy, Dave and Jim. Nice article although I don’t really get the accompanying photo as it has nothing to do with Flame.
Monday, March 19, 2007
Cum On Feel The Noize! The Story Of Slade
Let me starts by saying that the biography ”Cum On Feel The Noize! The Story Of Slade” is unauthorized. Slade themselves had absolutely nothing to do with it and when you read it you understand why: this book is a total rip-off. The authors Alan Parker and Steve Grantley have lifted almost everything from other books, magazines, TV-interviews, websites, whatever they could get their hands on. Own inputs are scarce and often incorrect and interpretations of events mostly odd. Frequent are however typos, repetitions and gross errors, one of the worst being that they lay the blame for Don’s car accident solely on Don. Not even the police did that! The massive quoting of other people’s work is done in a way so nobody but Nod can sue them, and personally it pissed me off seeing my interviews with Don being lifted and placed in the book, credited to Messrs Parker & Grantley, without even a mention of source. Look out, Carlton Books, you’ve got mail! Well, actually I don’t know what is worse: being ripped off without mentioning, or being listed as a source for this scam. When that is said, the book has really great photos!
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
The Slade Papers
The Slade Papers is a collection of the Slade Fan Club newsletters from July 1971 to April 1976 (although it says May 1971 on the cover). This book is quite difficult to get hold of, at least I’d never been able to, but recently a fan made it possible for me to read it.
The newsletters included news updates, tour dates, contests, sales of Slade-related paraphernalia, reviews, a Dave Hill “guitar school” and personal messages from band members. When reading those messages, they sometimes come across a bit odd and “out of character” so to speak. No wonder, because according to Don they didn’t write them. It was just one of the fan-“illusions” created by the Fan Club, another being that of Diana, who penned the newsletters. In real life Diana didn’t exist, but was the penname of John Bright, an employee of Chas Chandler.
As the newsletters were written for fans, their contents were all rosy, the guys could do no wrong, and serious happenings such as Don’s accident is quieted down. It almost feels like a shock when in the Dec/Jan 1975/6-issue there surfaces a BAD review of “In For A Penny” from Melody Maker! What makes The Slade Papers a great read anyway, is that the newsletters were written right then and there when it all happened. This kind of authenticity is priceless. And for people like myself who love all kinds of totally useless trivia The Slade Papers is also a goldmine.
Thanks a lot for helping me out, Lee, and a thank you from Don as well.
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
The Slade Story
The Slade Story podcast at www.thesladestory.com is a rework of the BBC Radio 2’s documentary ”The Boyz From The Black Country” from 1998. In 1998 the documentary was presented by Toyah Wilcox, but this ”new” Slade Story is presented by Stuart Maconie, rock music writer, BBC Radio 2 broadcaster and cultural historian. The narration has been altered a bit and a bit more of the interviews with Nod, Dave, Jim and Don can be heard, but all in all The Slade Story is pretty much the same as the 1998 documentary. If you don’t have that already The Slade Story is really worth its money, if you do, then maybe there are better ways to spend £ 5, although the overall impression of the “new” version is better than the old one.
Friday, March 02, 2007
James Whild Lea: “Therapy”
In January I made an “over-all impression” review of the downloads on Jim’s website. Now the CD is here and as I had to do a track-by-track review anyway, I might as well put it up here for you to read, too. So here goes:
James Whild Lea’s new album “Therapy” is now out on CD. It is a very honest album with very personal lyrics evolving around themes like death, loneliness, insecurities, identity and thoughts of growing old and of coming to terms with fame and life in general.
The 13 tracks are mostly ballad-like songs with an orchestral sound spiced with a few rock tunes. The album has a both disillusioned and elevated feel to it, where the frequent use of words like shit, screw and masturbation is quite becoming within the otherwise often thoughtful lyrics.
James Whild Lea has written, produced and arranged all tracks and with the exception of French horns (Heidi Bowdler), oboes (Vicky Adams), trumpet (Rob Adams), cellos (Graham Carter) and extra percussion (Mark Viner Stuart), almost all vocals and instruments are by the artist himself. He hasn’t lost his hand as an instrumentalist, guitars, strings, piano etc. having that JWL-sound. Here’s a track-by-track review of the album:
1. Heaven Can Wait (For Those Who Pray). Without doubt the album’s most perfect composition. From the key modulations in the beginning to the violin in the end (extra violin by Andrew Kosinski), this is a truly magic song which not even Paul McCartney could have matched. With its instrumentation, megaphone-chorus and unexpected changes in melody this is the perfect opener for the album.
2. Big Family. Known as “Great Big Family” from the Jim Jam-concert in Bilston 2002, but now with the full lyrics. A rock-tune with semi-philosophical lyrics about the love/hate-relations of families, both the close family and the global one. Spoken megaphone-vocals and a Beatlesque “Love, love, love”-ending with a twist. Backing vocals/screams by Paul Hudson. This song was recorded as “Samen Door Het Vuur” by Belgian boyband Mama’s Jasje in 2000.
3. The Smile Of Elvis. A melancholy ballad and favourite of many Slade-fans. Introducing the theme of self-insecurity. Dominated by piano and oboe, which underlines the wistful lyrics. JWL’s somewhat hoarse voice suits the track.
4. Deadrock U.K. Listing the many rock stars, who died an early death. The music is composed to match the sound of that of the departed with a “Bye, Bye Love” (“All That Jazz”-version) bass-line in the end. Andrew Sadowski is on drums. The megaphone-voice, record crackling and crowds cheering set the scene of glories past and a typical ironic “See you later guys” finishes off the song. One of the best rock tracks of the album.
5. Could God Be A Woman. This track seems a bit pompous orchestration-wise and JWL’s voice sounds almost like Dave Davies’ in the chorus. The song is however saved by JWL’s spoken verses and a hefty punch line. A homage to motherhood and the female sex, it seems a gentle echo of Lennon’s “Woman Is The Nigger Of The World”.
6. Go Out In Style. This Who-inspired song about Keith Moon will be known as “Wild, Wild, Wild” from the 2002 Jim Jam-concert in Bilston. Probably the album’s weakest track as it is not as well-composed as the rest. Still it fits in with the dead rock stars theme of some of the songs and it is one of the few rockers on the album.
7. Universe. Re-recording of JWL’s Slade-tune from 1991. This solo version is not as grandiose as Slade’s. Instead it has a soft, poetic feel to it. Especially JWL’s voice at the end of the track makes this version warmer and lighter and therefore less desperate than Slade’s.
8. Time And Emotion. A follow-up on Universe, so to speak. A new take on loneliness and longing for the loved one, although in a more philosophical wrapping. This tune stays in your head for ages. Backing vocals by Paul Hudson.
9. Your Cine World. One of the album’s most haunting tracks. Another tune that sticks in the head. Very flattering for JWL’s voice and with a megaphone echo at times. Hard, condemning lyrics about the psychic masturbation of certain female media personas with a little laugh at the end to soften things up. The very abrupt ending seems a bit unfinished, though.
10. The Valley Of The Kings. Lyrics-wise probably a personal song about the (Slade-)past. An okay pop-tune with a great chorus in the end, elevating the whole song. “Singalong assistance” by Tony Clarkin.
11. Why Is Youth Always Wasted On The Young. A step deeper into personal lyrics, it seems, this time about coming to terms with own youth wasted on being miserable. JWL doesn’t mince his words, which can also be heard in the stereo-effect comments to the song. A mourning of the loss of youth on behalf of gaining the wisdom of maturity. Great tune, another one that sticks, and great vocals as well. Again the ending seems a bit abrupt.
12. Notice. Another track with very personal lyrics. A both gentle and cynic-pragmatic track with a haunting melody. This delightful composition with thoughtful, spoken megaphone-verses makes you think that the British Invasion hasn’t quite ended yet.
13. Let Me Be Your Therapy. A tongue-in-cheek sinister song with creative use of sound effects. One of the album’s best. JWL’s use of a convincingly smutty voice and heavy breathing in the verses and the crude pronunciations in the raw choruses questions psychotherapy, getting back to the theme of psychic masturbation. The last line of the song gives both the track and the whole album an ironic twist.
The album comes in a cardboard cover that is adorned by a striking 1976 sepia drawing, based on a photo by Alan Barrow, and it shows a young Jimmy Lea with icy blue eyes (!). It reminds of Albrecht Dürrer’s copperplates, but the depiction of JWL as a classical renaissance artist is shattered by the fade-out of the brocade fabric, a trick mostly used in commercial drawing. It echoes and almost contradicts one of the album’s themes, the one of not being able to be a sage in a young body, the commercial brocade-drawing showing the young, extrovert, commercial side of the album whereas the Dürrer-style shows the mature, introvert and intellectual.
The album is accompanied by a booklet containing the lyrics. Unfortunately this suffers from a vast amount of typos. The sloppy piece of inferior typing is in dire need of proof reading and pulls down an otherwise fantastic album.
James Whild Lea’s “Therapy” is released through Jim Jam Records and can be ordered from: www.jimleamusic.com