Lincoln Festival, Great Western Express

Lincoln, Sunday May 28th, 1972
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By the end of May 1972, John Peel had switched his allegiance to newcomers Roxy Music whose immediate acceptance by critics was simply a matter of style and fashion. That same weekend there took place at Lincoln the Great Western Festival, an event that was partly financed by the actor Stanley Baker. 
Melody Maker 27-12-72, Melody Maker 27-12-72
John Peel compéred this event and both Slade and Roxy Music were part of an impressive line-up that included The Beach Boys and The Faces as nominal headliners and another up and coming UK band Lindisfarne. Some 50,000 fans gathered to absorb the music and graze like cattle for three days in the damp Lincolnshire grasslands.
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The Archive: a history of UK rock festivals recounts the following information taken from the press at the time.

Groups of damp policemen standing by deserted hot dog stands. A few rain sodden freaks wandering through the village, one half-heartedly sticking out a thumb at a passing bread delivery van,. 
Aerial Site
A few miles further out a few fields full of cars, tents water logged and looking precarious in gusting winds that often reached gale force. Low grey clouds without a break. 
Crowd
Photo © Ian Cater 
The roof of the main stage consisted of polyethylene sheets held up by a crane. A large marquee had collapsed and been abandoned. The absurd 30 metre deep press pit was eventually breached by fans. No more than 40, 000 people came and many of them did not stick out the full four days. 
Stage
Photo © G Williamson
On Friday the rain chilled every ones performance but Buddy Miles raised a few weak cheers and Rory Gallagher set some bodies moving under the protective plastic  coverings.
Plastic People
By Saturday the site was a mud bath . The first person to stir up any excitement was Steve Goodman, making his UK debut. Wishbone Ash's set was a reasonable explanation of why their 'Argus' album is zooming up the charts.
Straw Dogs
Photo © Cynthia Bateman
Without doubt the peak of the day was reached when Maggie Bell and Stone The Crows took the stage. Steve Howe of Yes replaced Les Harvey, who died tragically a few weeks before after being electrocuted on stage but Maggie Bell still deserved every cheer and whistle she got.


SUNDAY MAIN STAGE
NATURAL ACOUSTIC  BAND
FOCUS
BREWERS DROOP
SPENCER DAVIS
INCREDIBLE STRING  BAND
LINDISFARNE
AVERAGE WHITE BAND
PERSUASIONS
SLADE
MONTY PYTHON'S  FLYING CIRCUS
THE BEACH BOYS

The first highlight on Sunday was the fantastic reception given to Lindisfarne, with half the audience claiming to be from the groups home town of Newcastle. The bill toppers were the Beach Boys and it was possibly their best UK date ever.
Press Pit
Photo © Chris Keegan
Monday, everyone was waiting for Joe Cocker, the festivals closing set and headline attraction. But first a succession of medium rank British artists like Johnathon Kelly, Jackson Heights and Vinegar Joe. And then immediately before Cocker, came the group which for many people stole the show. Sha Na Na, already pretty big over here, the British feel for nostalgia being what it is. The sun shone for a few seconds and the group had to do three encores. Joe Cocker had already lost but it was made worse by the damp hour wait that preceded his set. He didn't look thrilled by his reception, didn't seem to care. He sang well, but it was his blasĂ© attitude that largely turned off the audience. No Golden Oldies that night and the customers weren't satisfied.

But there were plenty of Golden Oldies to be found elsewhere. The Bishop of Lincoln, Dr Kenneth Riches, toured the site and announced, "They have a lot to teach us, at least in the way they live so simply. These people have proved themselves."
Straw Babe
Photo © Cynthia Bateman
Police chief George Terry said that in future he'd have to reconsider his decision not to let his men loose inside the site. "...the misuse of drugs on the site was so great that it must be amounting to a threat to society" he said "you only had to see the degradation we saw amongst the people that we had to arrest, young and otherwise decent people on an LSD trip and stinking of cannabis."

Melody Maker called it "one of the most successful of all British Festivals"

News Of The World called it the "Great Western Flop"

The ubiquitous Julie Ege (she played Voluptua in the movie, Up Pompeii) told a reporter "...its the first time I've been to a pop festival... I love all the the fresh air, the marvellous music and the surroundings. But I couldn't have managed without my waterproof hat."

Sladest
In Chris Charlesworth's 'Feel The Noize' they recall the event.
"They were terrified of that audience:' says Swin. "They were completely overawed by it all ... it was an underground audience and Slade had become a pop band."
Their fears were justified. When John Peel announced Slade's imminent appearance there was an outbreak of booing from the large crowd.
"Chas did everything he could to delay us going on stage" says Jim Lea "He was waiting for the sun to set so we could benefit from the stage lights and the big screen projection they had. When John Peel announced us he was very unenthusiastic. We just did a fifty minute set ... bang, bang, bang ... all rockers. We had the crowd in the palm of our hand after ten minutes and in the end we walked away with it."
GW Nod rep
Photo © Repfoto
"....we got a big break. We were invited to play the Lincoln Festival, which was being put on in a vast field in Lincolnshire by the actor Stanley Baker. I don't know why he was involved, except that he was a big music fan. It was a three-day event and the first big festival since the Isle Of Wight. The other acts were all much hipper than us, not your usual pop-singles bands. There was Joe Cocker, The Beach Boys, Rod Stewart and The Faces, Status Quo and Lindisfarne. Apparently, we were only asked to be on the bill because Stanley Baker was a Slade fan.
The festival ran from Saturday through to Monday. It was a May bank-holiday. We were to play on the Sunday, the day that The Beach Boys were headlining. Our slot was in the early evening. It had been pissing down with rain the whole of Saturday and all Sunday morning and afternoon. The audience was drenched and the ground was all muddy. It was a very strange atmosphere. When we arrived at the site, we realised that we were due to corne on straight after Monty Python's Flying Circus. We thought that was a terrible slot. Monty Python was too weird an act for us to follow. In fact, it turned out to be perfect. We later discovered that Chas had really pushed for us to go on then. It was just as well he didn't tell us that at the time. We would have killed him. Chas had worked out that this slot would have us going on stage at exactly twilight, when the sun was setting. It would be the first time all day that the crowd would be able to see the stage lights. Chas thought it was important for us to be properly lit because we were a lot more visual than the other bands.
We got booed when we walked on stage that evening. It was the first time that had ever happened to us. The audience was incredibly hip and they hated pop bands, which most of them thought we were. Just the fact that we had had a No.1 hit was enough to put them off us. It wasn't the whole crowd who booed, but it was enough people to disconcert us. We carried on regardless. There was nothing else to do. As luck would have it, two minutes into our set, the rain went off. Then all the lights came on. Suddenly, the whole audience stood up. They had been sitting down all day.
After the first song, people began going berserk. The place just exploded. We took everyone by surprise, particularly the press. We could see them down the front, ready to slag us off. Even they were on their feet, dancing. We knew we had taken the place by storm. It was a fantastic feeling. We were only allowed one encore, but we could have played on for hours. When we finally came off stage, the crowd was still going mad. They were chanting for us to return. We weren't sure what to do. We looked at the organisers and they were just waving us on to go back out.
My mind was racing about what we should do for a second encore. We had nothing planned. Then I saw Stanley Baker standing with Chas at the side of the stage. Both of them were beaming. Suddenly, a mad idea popped into my head. I went up to the microphone and thanked Stanley for putting on the festival and invited him to come on and take a bow. As he was walking on, I started doing the Zulu chant, from the film Zulu that he had starred in. The rest of the band joined in, then the entire audience. Stanley absolutely loved it. It was the perfect end to our set.
The next week, we were on the cover of every music paper in the country. During the show, I had worn a big bowler hat. The reviews all said that I had looked like a character from Clockwork Orange. I hadn't thought of that. I just liked the hat. I had stuck a badge on the front. It was upside down, but it read, The Pope smokes dope'. There were photos of me on all the front pages, with my arms raised above my head and the bowler hat on. The impact of that gig was amazing."
Noddy Holder: Who's Crazee Now? 1999
In fact, it was the first public outing for 'the coachman's hat' commonly referred to (incorrectly) as 'Noddy's Top Hat'. This would totally eclipse and replace the flat cap (said to have been stolen from Eastmor Castle, allegedly taken following the Sammy Davis gig), with which he'd become associated at the time, and become a national iconic Slade symbol.  The famous, much photographed, bowler hat that Holder refers to, was thrown onto the stage during the bands encore. Also worthy of note is that this occasion also saw Dave Hill dressed in his silver trousers.
"When It was over,” says Swin, "record company men were throwing steak dinners down their mouths and inquiring when their record contracts expired. Chas strode around backstage like that cat that's got the cream."
The Lincoln show was an important breakthrough for Slade, which is more than can be said for Roxy Music. It was a straight fight between fashion and experience. Bryan Ferry's trendy modernists had played but a handful of live shows in a singularly brief career up to this point while Slade had averaged 250 live performances in one guise or another since 1966.
"We stole the show at the Lincoln Festival and 'Take Me Bak 'Ome' went straight to number one the next week. The live album rocketed up the charts too," says Noddy Holder. 
GW Blue Flyer
Personal recollections from The Archive
"The weather was average to lousy, but it didn't kill the atmosphere. All in all I have very fond memories, including sharing a tent. Rod Stewart kept complaining about the cold weather, Don Mclean sang Vincent whilst it was pouring with rain. Joe Cocker was totally stoned and had to be supported in between songs, but when he sang he was perfect."
Ron Baker
"I was aged 17yrs when me & two mates went to this festival... Slade got one of the biggest receptions from the crowd, didn't expect that! I might be wrong on this but Stanley Baker coming on stage and announcing something? Lying down in a sleeping bag (covered in plastic) watching some movies on a large screen most the night. There was machine pumping foam into a field, it spread the foam 100yrds about 10ft high in places."
HeY jOe
 "Other highlights included the place going "crazee" with Slade. The chance to see the cast of Monty Python perform live. . . I seem to remember a lot of other things going on as well as the music, there was one area where they had a machine producing foam to a depth of about 5 foot. I had a van and fortunately did not have to sleep rough as did many others."
Anonymous
"What a great start we had. We spent the Thursday night at the Orchid Ballroom in Purley to see the strange combination of Status Quo supporting Slade. After a great set by Quo, we were threatened with knives by some dodgy looking skinheads and retired to the bar where we chatted to Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt during Slade."
Derek Garland
"I recall Gallagher being on 2 nights, the rain, mud, the foam fight with John Peel playing East of Eden's Jig A Jig single and Slade bringing on Stanley Baker."
Dave Elson
"Sunday for me was the Beach Boys set and stomping in the mud along with Slade. And then there was huge applause for the actor Stanley Baker who was something to do with the organisation of the event?"
Big Will
"I remember being completely unimpressed with Slade"
David Hardy (Genesis fan)
"On the Sunday I think there was a little sunshine so we went for a walk. ...we had missed the first 3 bands for that!! Back at the festival everyone was shouting out "Wally". Anyway, we got to see saw Lindesfarne, Slade, Average White Band, Monty Pythons Flying Circus, Beach Boys & Rory again."
David Brown
"I'd already seen Slade in the local Mecca (Locarno) at that point, but my friends with me hadn't. I was trying to convince them that they were a proper rock band, and to give them a chance, but my friends were all young hippies and tended to dismiss Slade as an up and coming pop band. Slade came on stage and tore the place apart. Noddy managed to command a crowd that didn't really want to like the band, but by the end of the set everyone was converted."
Peter Smith (Slade fan)
"Return to main site in time to find mates and receive massive cheers when stash revealed, get smashed and be entertained by Slade, Monty Python, Beach Boys. Hurrah!"
Neville D

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Most of the festival info and photos have been stolen from Reverend Barker's labour of love, The Archive: a history of UK rock festivalsAnybody interested in Rock Festivals would be well advised to pay a visit to this fantastic non profit website and those with personal memories or photographs should contribute to this excellent project.  Some trivia courtesy of Slade In England's fab and groovy archives with thanks due to Dave Graham & Chris Selby.

Take Me Bak 'Ome

May 26th, 1972
70's,Slade,1972,Ome,Home
Polydor Records 2058-231

Slade Alive! hit the streets in March 1972. For those that had only heard Slade's chart hits, it must have come as one heck of a surprise, especially if they hadn't heard Get Down & Get With It. Even then, the difference between studio and live performance was enormous, to the point of preposterous. The live album was representative of a serious rock band with an axe, well ground and ready to use. Yet the chart releases, and related media, displayed a colourful bunch of likeable lads with a 1. violin 2. piano 3. liking for glitter. Confusing signals for those young and easily led teenagers of the day.

To make things harder, certain journalists had declared war on Slade. Chas Chandler memorably sent an award to a music journalist who gave Slade a bad review. A mounted piece of fabric in the shape of an ear inscribed "Cloth Eared Shit Of The Year Award 1971". Amusing, true, but probably not his smartest move as Slade's manager. The New Musical Express had several journalists on it's staff that seemed to have taken exception to either 'Skinheads' or Chas Chandler. Whatever the reason, bad press did it's damnedest to stop the ride. Reports saying how good a gig was were casually accompanied by negative comments dressed so as to act subliminally.

Against the odds, Slade forged ahead. Coz I Luv You left a mammoth task of undertaking, the next hit! Despite Dave Hill's repetitive chant of "Piano equals failure.", Look Wot You Dun spent two of ten weeks at #4 despite being the accursed follow up. It was also held at bay by T. Rex who dominated the #1 spot with Telegram Sam. Nevertheless, the group managed to write the next hit, refine their sound and consolidate their image and Take Me Bak 'Ome became their second #1 single in May 1972.
"Take Me Bak 'Ome was an old song I'd had kicking around for ages. I re-vamped it a bit and nicked a phrase or two from The Beatles 'Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey'. Nobody ever noticed."
Jim Lea: 'Feel The Noize' 1984
Graham Swinnerton recalls an early venture to a working man's club in Nottingham. The 'N Betweens managed to get through a few verses of 'My Girl' before they were booed off, essentially because of the volume. The club manager came on stage and announced morosely: 
"Well, committee insisted on have a Wolverhampton group and we've had 'em - so now we can send 'em back 'ome."
By this time the writing partnership of Lea & Holder had become established. Generally, Jim composed the music and Noddy the lyrics.
"I never felt any jealousy about it. It worked that way and I was content to take a back seat on that side of things. I didn't feel they were earning any more because they were writing but in fact they were earning stacks more.I was earning plenty though so why be concerned that they were earning double?"
Dave Hill: 'Feel The Noize' 1984
Two days after the release of Take Me Bak 'Ome, Slade played the Great Western Express Spring Festival, a four day event of epic proportion. They were alongside many of the highly acclaimed rock acts of the moment but had recently been adopted by the Pop fraternity. This period is such an incredibly fine balance of good fortune and downright tenacity. The Lincoln show was an important breakthrough for Slade, who had averaged 250 live performances in one guise or another since 1966.
"We stole the show at the Lincoln Festival and 'Take Me Bak 'Ome' went straight to #1 that week. The Live album rocketed up the charts too."
Noddy Holder: 'Feel The Noize' 1984
Take Me Bak 'Ome treads a fine line between the live rock of Slade Alive! and the chart success of Coz I Luv You, retaining the finery and the stompiness but placing it firmly on a busy bed of, what Mr Holder liked to describe as, 'boogie'.


Slade appeared on '2Gs and the Pop People' ITV, 17th June 1972. Take Me Bak 'Ome was at #3 in the UK Top 40 at the time and it had been a slow climb. Released at the end of May, it reached #1 on the 1st July. This was not unusual for the charts and since Get Down & Get With It had spent 14 weeks in the chart, it is probably only in retrospect that the group feel that it took it's time getting to #1.
  • Take Me Bak 'Ome
  • Wonderin' Y
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My thanks to Ralle for supplying the German picture cover. 

Take Me Bak 'Ome
(Noddy Holder & Jimmy Lea)

Came up to you one night
Noticed the look in your eye
I saw you was on your own
And it was alright
Yeh it was alright

They said I could call you Sidney
Oh I couldn't make out why
Standing here on your own
An' it was alright
Yeh it was alright

So won't you take me back home
A take me back home
And if we can find plenty to do
And that will be alright yeh
It will be alright

You and your bottle of brandy
Both of you smell the same
You're still on your feet, still standing
So it was alright
Yeh it was alright

The superman comes to meet you
Looks twice the size of me
I didn't stay round to say goodnight
So it was alright
Yeh it was alright

So won't you take me back home
A take me back home
And if we can find plenty to do
And that will be alright yeh
It will be alright

So won't you take me back home my baby
Ah won't you take me back home yeh
I said take me, take me take, take me back home
Take me take me take
Take me back home oh won't you..

Wonderin' Y
(Jimmy Lea & Don Powell)

Here I am in the same old clothes
Looking back on my life
'cos I'm left alone
Left out here without a home

Take no chance, read between the lines
Don't accept a way
When she always cries
Just read between the lines

I tried to love you, now I'm here
Taking things as I find them
Now I'm here wasting time
Thinking of me
Looking back on my life
Wonderin' Y

It's hard to see and to understand
Just a what it's like
To be pushed around
Kicking stones along the ground

I don't think it will ever change
Can I find a way
To the front again
And have another chance to spend

My life with you and now I'm here
Taking things as I find them
Now I'm here wasting time
Thinking of me
Looking back on my life
Wonderin' y

Both tracks © Barn/Schroeder Music

Hate Campaign

New Musical Express, May 25th, 1972
Tony Norman on Slade large, NME Great Western supplement, 25th May 1972
SLADE
"Was a time, not so long ago, when the thought of a group of Skin'eads muscling in on the Festival scene would have been enough to make any self-respecting freak hurl his Woodstock badge to the floor and beat his sleeping bag in sheer fury.
But, my friends, times change and now Slade are all set to belt out their own brand of rock on Sunday.
Oh, but I'm forgetting Slade AREN'T Skins anymore, are they? Silly of me. That was last year... or was it the year before? Anyway, the point is that they have grown their hair and that changes everything.
Well, I'm sure they are going to really get a lot of reaction from the crowd. Their manager, Chas Chandler, says they've never yet come across an audience they couldn't get through to.
He sounded very confident. So you Great Western people had better look out. Slade intend to grab you right from the start - I'm not quite sure where - and refuse to let you go until they power to the end of yet another masterful and dynamic set. Sounds quite nice, doesn't it?
They aren't planning anything special for the Festival. They'll just play it as it comes. But doubtless the one who gets accused of swearing well he will be telling you to shout and scream and stomp and generally make a complete idiot of... I mean generally have a wonderful time with the boys. Indeed, I sincerely trust you will get down and get with them.
And when the deed is done and Slade have succeeded, the field will be buzzing with excited chatter and I will be feeling vaguely sick.
Slade are great if you think they are. What more can I say?"
TONY NORMAN

A nicely balanced write-up from Our Tony, after nearly three years (October 1969) and many public admissions that they made a mistake, the NME's self-appointed 'Witchfinder General' is still hell-bent on burying Slade. This total rant is a doozy though! Pigeon's are flocking in their thousands as Tony's story goes to print and they're home to roost a few days later. Hey Tony, don't fret, I'm told it's lucky?
"Well, I'm sure they are going to really get a lot of reaction from the crowd"
Yep! You betcha....
"I sincerely trust you will get down and get with them."
And they did, with great delight by all accounts...
"And when...Slade have succeeded....I will be feeling vaguely sick."
I guess you must have choked on it Tony and gone to that grey newsroom in purgatory reserved for critics such as yourself?
"What more can I say?"
"SORRY" would have been a good start, closely followed by, "I wasn't been objective and I got it all wrong. It's official, I'm a hateful twat! Please forgive me and I'll try to make amends."

Anyway, you were of no consequence and Slade did exactly what they said they were going to do and history records the Great Western Festival as a great day in their career.

Of course, NME later sent Julie Webb, among others, to climb on board the good ship Slade. I would like to find out exactly what was behind the extreme hate campaign against Slade in the few years before 1973?


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Want to know more about Tony Norman or his new book then click here and feel free to ask him why he hated Slade so much.

Rude But A Riot

New Musical Express May 20th, 1972

The paper ran this review of Slade's May 14th gig at the Civic Hall, Guildford with Status Quo in support. Reading this article, you could be forgiven for thinking Slade were the support band, such is NME's reluctance to praise the band. In little more than a week they would take the Lincoln Festival by storm and opinions would begin to change. 
20th May 1972 top
20th May 1972 pic
20th May 1972 title

SLADE/QUO
Whoever thought of putting Slade and Status Quo on the same bill must need his brains examining. True, both bands are very talented - but nothing is more guaranteed to start a riot than a combination of both.

Needless to say, so far the tour has been a tremendous success - Status Quo drawing in the heads and older ravers, and Slade bringing in the young boppers.

I wonder if the organisers of the hall at Guildford last Sunday knew what they were letting themselves in for. They'd obviously employed numerous jobsworthys who, during the early stages of Status Quo's act, were urging everybody to sit down.

Still Status won through - as one might expect. Mike Rossi, looking like an arch type rocker, denim jeans rolled up at the bottom and high heeled black leather boots, is the one who controls the audience and encourages them to let rip.

Certainly the band work bard. The first number "Juniors Wailing” set the audience off but it was their third number “In My Chair", perhaps one the audience were more familiar with, that really got them at it. Status have improved 200% on the last time I’d seen them, some eighteen months ago and it is hard to recognise them as the band who four years back were coming out with teeny singles.

Their best number is the one they close with, "Is It Really Me", simple and with a very basic sound, tailor-made for those who want to get up and freak. By this time in the proceedings, the jobsworthies who bad previously been loitering with intent, had either given up or been stampeded underfoot.

This is the band’s best number in that they seem to be able to wield a lot of control over the audience, building them up to a frenzy and slowly letting them down again. Certainly they make the audience work hard.

Slade are a band who never fail to excite the coolest of crowds and Sunday was no exception. Lewd, rude, loud and very proud, they even have a professional way of being vulgar.

An excellent PA and a capacity hall provided a perfect setting and the first number "Hear Me Callin'" had the majority of the audience crammed up against the stage. Holder is the one who controls everyone with his million watt voice. Looking like a character out of Andy Capp land, he prances around the stage. Dave Hill, looking like a reject from Apollo, scatters those at the front with silver dust. Even Jimmy Lea who, until recently, had been the quiter one of the group, has come to the fore and one of the highlights of their Sunday act was violinist Lea giving his rendition of "Sweet Georgia Brown".

One of the things that draws an audience to Slade, and sets them apart from other bands, is Holder's ability to talk to the audience in a way that is harmless enough but by innuendo is exceedingly rude. I wonder if they overstepped the mark on Sunday, Holder telling the fellers "if you want to take your trousers off do" and then adding "if any young ladies fancy taking their knickers off, that's OK too."

At one particular point in the set, where they get the audience participating with the "Yeah" bits, Holder tells the ladies in the audience they are not singing loud enough, asks them to have another go and adds "Open your legs a bit wider".

Still, rude remarks apart, Slade are a musically excellent band. Apart from the rockers "Keep On Rocking" and "Look Wot You Dun", there was John Sebastian's "Darling Be Home Soon", which always goes down well for them. And their new single released this month "Take Me Back 'ome" is another stomper that had the whole hall bopping.

Closing number was "Born To Be Wild" - and that just about sums up Slade. Wild and outrageous they certainly are - and entertaining too. Rock on. - JULIE WEBB.

20th May 1972
The previous week Noddy was visited by the local constabulary at their Green's Playhouse (later Glasgow Appllo) gig on 11th May. The complaint here was that he had used 'the F word' on stage and the audience was mainly young teenagers. The NME ran this in the same edition a few pages earlier, I believe that they were doing their best to make it as negative as they could.
NME
Noddy Holder on
'obscene' charge
Slade lead singer Noddy Holder was charged in Glasgow last Thursday with using obscene language during the group's act at Green's Playhouse. The charge was made shortly after the group had left the stage. Manager Chas Chandler commented: "Naturally we shall deny the charge and Noddy will plead not guilty." Holder informed the NME that, when cautioned and asked if he had anything to say, he replied: "It's a load of old ****."


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