U.S. Challenge

New Musical Express September 30th 1972

SLADE and the U.S. challenge

Until the recent growing awareness of the band in the U.S. one of the music mysteries of the year had been the lack of success there of Slade.

Despite a string of commercial hit singles including several number ones’, a stage act unrivalled in the British Isles, and a manager who had a hand in launching Hendrix and the Animals among others, Slade continue to be comparatively unknown on the North American continent.
"The trouble was:' Dave Hill told me, "that for so long we just didn't have any time to get over to the States and Canada. We had so many gig offers in Britain and throughout the Continent we couldn't pass up,"
I believe that it is only a matter of time before the band fully erupts in North America, purely on the strength of  the guts and irreverence it generates.
"We have never wanted people sitting down to watch us play," says Dave. "Our act provokes audience involvement. We like to have people leaping about. We've been on the road for years so we've had a chance to get an idea of what people want.
"We never wanted to look like' the audience. The kids want something to follow. We thought that if we looked different, we could give the kids a thing to latch on to. At first we felt as if we were bashing our heads against the wall. People didn't want to come and see us because they couldn't figure out what sort of music we played. Our image was in how we looked. We might as well have been a reggae band.
"It took a long time to get ourselves together and many times we regretted it all. Now, of course, we have no regrets. We seem to have created an aura around ourselves. People have fun when they come to see us. We try to get that same feel on our records.
"We’ve never been into that super-cool trip - we're not self-indulgent musicians. People have to pay to come and see us play so we do our best to give them their money’s worth.
"Kids are starting to dance again, in England anyway. Actually. I wish there was a new word to describe what we do. If you were to say we are a rock band, people would immediately think of the past. We try for variety so that we can appeal to as many people as possible. And we think that melody matters.
"We really do our best to be different in everything we do. It's such a bore seeing groups in jeans and T ·shirts. Kids want to identify with musicians.
"The first job was to prove ourselves in our own country. Along the way we've been through it all. We haven't missed much.
"And we've starved, Man. Now, at least, we're getting some money for what we do. And that's what it's all about."

My thanks to Chris 'The Historian' Selby for his relentless research. It is said, in certain circles, that Walsall Archives have a seat reserved specifically for him and that Wolverhampton archives consult him when searching the Express & Star

Boston Music Hall 1972

September 17th, 1972

Oliver Wendell Holmes called it "The Hub of the Universe." Whatever name you choose, Boston is a unique city that has played a major role in the American experience. World famous for its medical centres, The streets are winding and narrow, many of them one-way. The expression "You can't get there from here" is said to have originated here. The birthplace of the American Revolution, Beacon Hill, Harvard University, The Red Sox, The Bruins, The Celtics and The Boston Music Hall, which was built in Boston in 1852 and is now known as the Orpheum Theatre. A city of passion and a city of intellect.

Then Slade arrived!

This audience recording was made on their US tour. Slade toured to promote the release of Take Me Bak 'Ome and followed up with a European Tour. At the end of the European Tour they headed out to the USA for their first American Tour lasting less than a month. With Polydor US pushing the band as the new Beatles the band were in for a hard time converting the Americans. Fortunately, not all of America gave them a frosty reception and the Boston 'ravers' welcome was a warm one!

For Keep On Rockin' Holder says Slade Alive! is "our new album in the shops" which is obviously the US release and Take Me Bak 'Ome is "our new single that's out over 'ere...", he then announces Mama Weer All Crazee Now as "our #1 record in the UK right now", a lot going on for Slade in that late summer period?

This particular copy has been EQ'ed by Chicago's finest, Scott Samuels, to ensure that it sounds, as near as possible, the way Nod intended.

  • Hear Me Calling
  • Move Over Baby
  • Darling Be Home Soon
  • Keep On Rockin'
  • Take Me Bak 'Ome
  • Get Down & Get With It
  • Mama Weer All Crazee Now

The Download Link is here: Download.
Filename: Slade_Archive_05.rar Filesize: 66.04 MB


Mucho gracias Scott Samuels, another great job as always.


New Musical Express  September 16th 1972

At last, says KEITH ALTHAM, here’s
a kick for smug pomposity in rock

POP IS ALIVE and the proof is right before our ears and eyes in the shapes and sounds of Slade. The one ominous factor missing in the past few years from rock music has been some band with the kind of energy, honesty and humour which could compete with the educationalists. Slade are the first band since the Stones, the Beatles and the Who with the right approach to prick the inflated bubble of pomposity inherent in some of those artists who consider themselves above the common lot.

Slade are a working man's band - rock music at factory-floor level, a place where it's usually at its most simple and its most truthful. It is the vantage-point from which most of those bands who are now considered 'progressive' started - and from which they have either developed new sensitivities" or sunk into a morass of the banal and posturing stupidity which emerged with the few honest bands from the underground'''.

Noddy Holder, Don Powell, Dave Hill and Jimmy Lea can have now reached that point where they are tolerated by many of their previous critics because they arc overtly successful despite the labels of "rock and roll yobs” slapped upon them from a great height. “Oh Yes, quite fun but one can’t take them seriously, can one?"

One need not…
One should not, but if you need to talk to someone about music and Slade you could always try Jimmy Lea (bass and violin) who graduated from the London National College of Music with honours and passed Grades II to V at the Royal School of Music with distinction.

At one time Lea fiddled on the fringe of the National Youth Orchestra and could be found seated in the string section playing such celebrated works as Beethoven’s Fifth following five years of music studies under an eccentric old professor in Wolverhampton, who had an interest in spiritualism and who scared his young students so much that he insisted on having his Dad along for an initial period.

Today Lea refers to himself as the great unknown in Slade, due to the fact he stand~ back on the stage while Noddy pushes his face forward and Dave Hill flaps about like an asthmatic seal - mouth agape and strutting about in search of something to ride while Don does his amazing impression of a man hammering his kit into the floor.

More significantly, Jim has been responsible, together with Noddy, for every major hit written by the group and co-wrote Coz I Luv You, Look Wot You Dun, Take Me Bak ‘Ome and Mama Weer All Crazec Now.

He believed uncharacteristically for a musician, that in many respects his musical training held the group back because of his earlier preoccupation with doing the correct thing and insistence on attempting clever arrangements. Working with Noddy, he is now convinced, for the first time provided him with the right counter balance. Although he reads music perfectly he prefers to rely now on what he hears with his ears and what producer Chas Chandler tells him sounds right on record.

"I used to write quite complicated stuff for the group, with harmonics and arrangements, until Nod and I put our heads together.." said Jimmy when I spoke to him at his manager's London offices ... “After listening and playing classical music I've come to the conclusion that really ·simplicity' is what it's all about.
'The essence of really communicable music is in its simplicity - things that get into your head right away. You ask most people what they like about classical music and the immediately relate to the more popular pieces.
"Listen to Tchaikovsky’s B Flat Concerto and you realise how simple the really good music is. The appeal in things like Glenn Miller's "Moonlight Serenade' (he do-dahs a few bars to illustrate the repetition) was its amazing simplicity.”
“The really heavy composers like Brahms and Beethoven knew all about the effectiveness and importance of keeping it simple - the real delvers know about it but the public does not. Beethoven was a pop writer, he wrote for the masses. You have to communicate.  My musical training has been useful in that it gives me the ability to retain tunes almost at once - just after one hearing, when maybe the others might forget it. But the most valuable things I pick up by ear.
“It was really the Beatles who turned me off just studying and playing music by numbers, onto working things out for myself. There was a conflict between my love., the guitar and violin lessons but I kept up both to please my parents. I’m really all through with trying to be musically correct, what counts is if it sounds right. There was a time when I used to play a very fast bass just to be clever. It didn’t didn't fit in with anything - it didn't contribute to a group identity. It just blotted the other out.
“When we originally recorded "Coz I Luv You' I was completely dissatisfied with the way it was interpreted - it came out sounding much too sugary for me. We were all a bit scared of putting it out. Now I feel that it was the most complete thing we done because it was the simplest."
Criticism is something every band has to live with from the Press and media the like and Slade have taken their fair share and usually with a grin. The grin these days is a trifle drier, and they remember the people who helped them on the way up and needed encouragement - DJs like Tommy Vance, and sound engineers like Mike Harding at the DDC, who put a good word in for them on “Sounds of the Seventies" when they needed it.
"It’s difficult to take the critics too seriously once you've had a few reviews like the one we’ve had recently at places where Noddy has lost his voice, and out comes a rave review because they now think it is the thing to do in view of our popularity. Previously we've played really well and know it and out comes a slam!"
With a few of the nose in the air "musicians'" still around them, Slade also remember those few respected musicians who have been complimentary.
 “I think one of the nicest things to happen to me personally was Frank Zappa coming up to me in the Speakeasy after we had played a gig in the very early days, and saying he liked my bass playing. I’d respected him as a musician for some time, so it was really nice."
When it comes to being opinionated Jim can be as youthfully brash as his cohorts and on certain subjects at least, he might be saying what a great many feel, but feel it not polite to say. Jim jumps in with both feet firmly in his mouth.

On Lennon and McCartney today:
“I love them both, I really do.. but I wish they'd leave their wives out of their music. To me it just sounds as though Yoko and Linda are interfering, and I think both of them are poor musical substitutes for what Paul and John were to each other."
Are Slade a better group musically than T. Rex in his opinion?
"Bolan's a clever bloke, and that’s all I'm going to say. Its not just luck to have had the number of number one hits he has had. 0h he must have something."
Did he think they had the potential to become anything as good as the Cream?
"We played with the Cream twice - I never thought they were anything spectacular. I suppose they were a good group, but they were nothing compared to the Beatles.'"
On their own album "Play It Loud":
“As far as I’m concerned. it was rubbish - I hated that album. It was made at a time when were starting to write our own material.'"
One of the problems that Slade has is reconciling critics to the fact that they are not just a band, but an act and Jim made the point quite emphatically.
“I don't think you could or should separate showmanship and music. I think the two go hand in hand. Musicians right down the ages have bad personalities that they've been known for, and behaviour has often been even more infamous. They were all flash gits, or eccentrics. We've always been into things on stage, which would capture attention. Slade is music, humour and acting. If it was just music, there'd be no point m going on stage. We could just make records."

Sundown Club

Mile End, London. September 7th, 1972

New Musical Express: August 12th 1972

"The day after our opening date with Humble Pie in San Diego, we had to fly back to Britain. We were contracted to open a new venue in London. It was a big theatre in Mile End Road called The Sundown. We had been booked to do it for ages and it was just unfortunate that it coincided with the start of the tour. There was no way we could get out of it. Twenty-four hours after we'd arrived home, we had to get back on a plane for the States. It was the biggest distance we'd ever travelled between gigs. In the old days, we used to joke that our agents always booked our shows miles apart. They would give us one in Edinburgh, followed by one in Portsmouth. They never seemed to care how far apart they were. But compared to going to San Diego, then London, then back to LA, it had been nothing. We were clearly working on a whole new scale."
Noddy Holder: Who's Crazee Now?
Just before Slade's opening of the Sundown Mile End, production controller Ian Knight said that he thought the new rock centres could be the most important thing to have happened in the music business for many years. Few people know the scene as well as he does. After producing Sunday concerts at the Roundhouse for three years and being involved in forty festivals in Europe - he's also on the Government's advisory committee on pop festivals - he knows what it's all about. But even Ian Knight didn't anticipate the success which followed.
This was one of the costliest performances ever seen in any UK rock venue. Slade had broken off their USA tour to fly back for the opening concert. They've never been better.
"We wanted to play for London and for this new venue." said lead guitarist Dave Hill. 
The venue opens a new era for the whole pop/rock scene and Slade's stupendous show matched the occasion.

Before one of the wildest audiences they'e ever scene, they slammed into 'Hear Me Calling' and their 2,500 followers went wild. With 'Move Over Baby' it reached fever point. Girls screamed ecstatically and fought to get on the stage.

The encore of their current hit 'Mama Weer All Crazee Now' whipped up the frenzy and teenagers struggled with security men to get back-stage. It was a revival of 'Beatlemania' atmosphere that this hall and band had generated.

Melody Maker: September 30th 1972

This review was taken from an article in Melody Maker at the end of September 1972. In January 2010, Jerry Gilbert talked to John Conlan about The Sundown Experiment, the live venue chain that rocked London in the early ’70s. John Conlan opened four Sundown theatres in the London suburbs for the Rank Organisation.

Growing up in Ireland, Conlan was planning to set out across the Irish Sea by the early ’60s. He'd already been involved in the music industry in Ireland.
"My father had contacts in the Rank Organisation and they brought me over to the UK in 1964 as a management trainee."
At that time Rank owned 50 or 60 so-called ‘super cinemas’ which generally doubled as venues for the 1960s Rank touring pop shows. He was already familiar with these venues by the time the Sundown plan was being hatched.
"Rank provided the cinemas and the bands used the house system. I used to get sent to liase with the promoter and backstage crew."
Simultaneously, the Rank Organisation started opening Top Rank Suites, which would sustain it through the 15 years and Conlan became operations manager. As the hierarchy at Rank started to take notice, Conlan persuaded Rank MD Bryan Quilter to accompany him on a trip to Brighton to see a sell-out show with Rod Stewart & the Faces. Says Conlan:
"...Bryan was always forward thinking, very progressive. We hired out the venue to promoters and he fell in love with the concept."
"I told him we could do this ourselves. I said why don't we get involved and do what they had done at Fillmore"
Quilter was prepared to back the idea for the new Sundown concept, Rank ended up not only converting that old Regal Cinema in Silver Street, N.18, but also The Odeon, Mile End, Astoria in Brixton (now the O2 Academy) and Astoria Ballroom in Charing Cross Road. They allocated around £100K per unit to convert its old cinemas to live music venues, with the idea of running top line concerts on Friday and Saturday night, and a smaller band night on Thursdays.
"It's hard to make a large capacity venue work one or two days a week so we continued to run cinema midweek, using the Circle seating," says Conlan. "Downstairs we took the seating out and when we wanted to operate it as a discotheque we would put dancefloors in."
Technically, the Sundown was modelled on the Roundhouse but they were not created without a fight, recalls Conlan. 
"Rank owned lighting company Rank Strand and wanted me to use their fixtures; they also had a favoured hifi company... I almost got fired."
"...they brought this hifi-cum-discotheque type system... which was hopelessly under powered."

By now, Conlan had hired production director, Ian Knight, who had introduced him to Australian sound system genius, Dave Martin. For the Sundown demo, Martin lashed together a beefed-up version of the sound system he had provided for the Roundhouse. 
“We rigged up what we could," says Conlan. "The Rank guys made their presentation... and then we lifted the safety curtain and revealed ours... the Dave Martin sound just hit you in the guts. I think we also had some of Joe's Lights working. These Rank guys just stood in the middle of Brixton and said 'Holy f***'.
“We opened all four sites within a four-week period in 1972," Conlan recalls. "We made the decision that we would promote ourselves, and I went to see Neil Warnock at NEMS, who became the agency. I said we wanted to open in three months time and he nearly fainted. We tried to fill the date sheet which was not easy because bands had loyalties with certain promoters such as John & Tony Smith or Barry Dickens."
The Sundowns were set to open immediately after the summer recess and launched into the burgeoning autumn ’72 period.

Melody Maker: September 2nd 1972

Brixton, for one, was looking for a big band to play the opening night in September, and the promoters secured Deep Purple, who were on their big UK Machine Head tour. It was the closing show of the tour and their only London concert, promoted by Pete Bowyer of NEMS.

Britain’s hottest chart act in 1972, with three No.1 singles already to their name, Slade’s feverish opener at Sundown Mile End had been the first, on September 7, while Edmonton debuted with Steppenwolf on September 15 and Stephen Stills’ Manassas was also one of the first bands into Brixton.

Memories of Mile End — and how Slade nearly pulled out of that opener — brings a rueful smile to Conlan’s face.
"Mile End was a venue we should never have opened, it was in the wrong location."
"We booked Slade and in the meantime they had broken in America and we were told 'they are not coming back'. But we got them to come back to the UK for one night only or we would have had no opening night."

Mile End opening night September 7th 1972

Edmonton was the most successful venue, with the greatest longevity. 
"It had an enormous capacity of 3,500 and had an incredible stage. It was always the best venue, and where many of the bands, like Elton John, wanted to play. However, Neil Warnock found Brixton a difficult place to programme."
The anomaly was Charing Cross. 
"This was intended to be a larger version of the Speakeasy (the late night gathering point for the music industry, based in Margaret Street). We opened with The Crickets and it was quite a successful live venue before drifting into mainstream discotheque."
But just as the Rainbow’s business plan had foundered when it was unable to book two shows per night to meet its business plan, so Rank Organisation’s downfall — incredibly — came on the cinema side, which had always been its core business.
"The movie side was just so difficult. Even with Rank's clout we couldn't secure first run films [because it was no longer a full-time exhibitor]."
More successful were the small band nights — often funded by record companies — and the willingness to back rising stars like Genesis and Crazy Horse.

As for the larger events, the Sundowns still faced heavy competition and promoters such as Barry Dickens at MAM wouldn’t use the venues because the Rank Organisation were seen as competition. 
"We were marginally profitable but eventually the board asked 'Is it going anywhere?' and we said 'No', so it was phased out and I went on to other things."
Why had it failed so spectacularly, a lifespan of only four or five months, after hosting some of the most memorable concerts in the annals of rock lore?
"We simply opened too many and part of the plan was flawed."
In their way, the brief lives of these iconic venues each had been responsible for hosting some of the most memorable gigs of all-time (an accolade they certainly shared with The Rainbow).

John Conlan carried the legacy of Martin Audio forward, and continued to use its systems in Top Rank Suites through the remainder of the decade. These were live band systems for the kind of showbands that toured the Top Rank Suites and Bailey’s cabaret circuit — spiritually a world away from the Sundowns.

And so for a few glorious months from late 1972, the Rank Organisation managed to carve its name into rock history with the Sundown experiment, leaving an indelible mark and a host of wonderful memories.

The Sundown Experiment information is taken from Total Production International where you will find an interesting read with much more detail. Photos by Barry Plummer.

Allie Keith re: John Conlan at Sundown 1972,

Please get in touch. 

You can also find me on Facebook or several Slade forums. 

Mickey P. ;-)

Major British Tour In November

New Musical Express, September 2nd, 1972

Slade will headline a nationwide British concert tour in November, manager Chas Chandler told the NME this week Dates are currently being lined up for the tour, which will visit key cities throughout the country. Meanwhile, the group fly out this weekend to commence an American tour with Humble Pie - it is due to run until September 17, but the U.S. promoters have already asked for it to be extended in view of the interest it has aroused. This means that the outfit will probably remain in the States until the end of the month.
Slade will interrupt their U.S. tour for a 24-hour whilrwind return flight to Britain on September 7, when they are the opening attraction at London's Mile End Sundown. But their U.S. commitments have forced them to postpone other September gigs in Britain, which were to have included Sutton Coldfield (2), Weston-super-Mare (9) and Redruth Flamingo (10).
Their Mile End gig will be Slade's only British appearance until the concert tour in November. On returning from the States, the outfit will devote two or three weeks to recording, then set out on a tour of Europe.
Referring to reports that Slade had caused some upset by dropping out of the Buxton Festival on September 16, manager Chandler commented: "Don't blame us - we never agreed to do it in the first place. The promoters kept on at us, but right from the start I told them it was unlikely we would be able to do it."