DON’T STICK A LABEL ON SLADE
ONLY A MATTER of days after its release, the fact is that "Slade Alive" had swiftly established itself in the NME album charts - a rock-hard reminder that despite all their critics this screamers' band are now well in the running with others like the Faces and T. Rex.
These Wolverhampton-born rockers have built up an incredible following in only nine months since their first hit single, "Get Down And Get With It" smashed into the singles charts.
Are the band affected by this success? The answer to that one is definitely no. Maybe they're a little crazier, and maybe they'll buy flashier clothes than before. But that's about the most of it.
They love and respect their manager Chas. Chandler, the man who not so long ago did the same kind of work with Jimi Hendrix, and when I met Slade at his offices near Oxford Street it was a death-white and tired Chandler who'd been up all night working in the studios on the group's new single. 'Take Me Bak 'Ome"/"Wonderin' Y".
After a while he excused himself. pleading fatigue and I talked to Slade about just how instrumental he was in their success.
"Chas and John Steel. (once drummer with the Animals and now Chandlers right-hand man) have always worked very hard for us:' said guitarist Dave Hill. "We really respect them because it's been hard work promoting the group.
'We wouldn't have got anywhere without Chas. It took us a long time to break through. and anybody else would have given up.
But he believed in us. I can't think of anybody else in this business who has stuck it out with a group for so long. Two years is a long time when there is nothing happening."
Said Jimmy lea: "When we met Chas we didn't write any numbers, and he gave us confidence to write. He thought we were talented enough, only we didn't realise it.
"You need somebody who can look at you from a distance. He brought out all the good things in us. For instance, when we came down to London we thought it was all grooving and standing about. but Chas said no. He told us to do what we liked"
This new single is their follow up to "Look Wot You Dun" and probably stands a better chance than the others even though they all made the charts.
"We all think it's the best we've done." said Hill, "and feel it really represents what we're doing now.
'We could never reproduce 'Look Wot You Dun' on stage properly." interrupted Jimmy lea. "It was a good record and the excitement was there, but our stage version sounded nothing like it.
"'We go for numbers like 'Get Down And Get With It'. When we recorded that it was purely a stage number. This is in the same vein. It's good to play on stage and good on record:"
Had they expected "Slade Alive" to make the charts so rapidly?
"We were amazed that it got in so quickly," continued Hill. "The real promotion on the album hasn't even got going yet. This tour we start on May 10th is the main promotion - because the album is live and we sell it on our stage show:'
This is Slade’s second album. The first, "Play It loud", was purely a studio recording whereas "Slade Alive" is really what they're all about - live entertainment.
They tried very hard to recreate a live atmosphere and they succeeded. I asked if they’d ever consider making another live album.
"We don’t want people thinking that we're going to bring out live albums all the time, but if we feel that we've got enough live numbers we may try another one:" said Hill.
'We don't want to get typecast for anything, and want to keep trying new things all the while. So maybe our next album will be something different again.
"With every record and with each new number we write we're trying something different. We want to have an endless future for our records, so that no one will ever be able to label us.
"From the way we're writing now we feel our future will be great, because we’re writing the right kind of songs for this generation, and we're very proud to be part of it.
"We don't ever want to get off the road because it's what we enjoy doing. Recording is just one little part of it all and a couple of days in the studio is quite enough for us before we're itching to get out again.
"A studio is OK as long as something is happening but it's too technical and can end up a real drag. We like to get a number done as quickly as possible, and if it doesn’t happen right away then the right atmosphere is lacking, so it's a waste of time.
"The most enjoyable part of this business is playing live, when you can see what's happening. Actually playing to the people:'
Said Jimmy; "We tried something new a few weeks ago when we did a few concerts in theatres. and it went very well. There was so much room on stage that we were able to go absolutely berserk.
"Up to now we’ve been mostly playing in clubs, and we’ll built up a good following on this circuit, but now we’re venturing into big halls, because this is the way we planned it:' said Hill.
"Gradually we've worked our way through to the big halls, instead of planting ourselves there and expecting to draw people:'
Do they ever play to alien audiences?
"At some of the places they're all sitting on the floor concentrating and you have to break that atmosphere," said Hill.
"So sometimes we come in through the crowd, not from the side of the stage and they realise it's just a laugh and usually get up and loon about.
"Of course we can't do that when it's packed with screamers," said Lea. "Just at colleges where all they want to do is sit and groove.
"We look at our music and look at our appearance and figure that it's all show business, and everything about it is important.
"Don't get us wrong - we do care about what we play, the showmanship is just one part of it, besides all that we work things out. If we were to stand still and play our songs everything would be just right. But it would lack the atmosphere. We can play, there's no doubt about it.
"People tell us that all we do is romp about on stage, but that's a load of rubbish because we work very hard on our numbers,
"When you go in the studios to record something has to be well worked out, People don't see you jumping around on a record, do they? You can't make good records if you're not good musicians:'
Said Lea: "At the moment our stage act is quite varied. We don't restrict it to our own material because the people who see us for the first time like to hear a number they can associate with before they get into our own songs. People can't get into a group when it's all new to them.'