The Auditorium, Chicago

Chicago, June 21st, 1974

The Auditorium opened in 1889 to immense critical acclaim and soon became something of a ‘white elephant’ until the 1965 when it quickly became Chicago's premier rock venue and regained its former status as 'a jewel in American history'.

Former Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William McKinley gave speeches where, years later, musicians such as Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, Aretha Franklin, and Elton John performed. From Frank Sinatra to Itzhak Perlman, The Beach Boys to Booker T. Washington, all have graced this stage, a landmark theatre in one of the world’s greatest cities. 

In June 1974 Slade played The Auditorium and Matt Shaugnessy was there to witness the event.
"My friend Tom and I proudly displaying our tickets before heading off to the train station to see our first ever concert. And what a show it was!"

"We headed off from the front yard photo to the local trian station that would take us to downtown Chicago for the show. We were 15 years old at the time, just finished with our sophomore year in high school and quite innocent."

"It was the first concert for both of us and we were a bit anxious about heading into the big city on our own. The train ride was uneventful and after fiddling with a map for a bit we figured out a route we could walk. It was a bit over a half mile to venue and we made good time."

"The Auditorium is a grand old theatre with balconeys and boxes that holds about 3000 people and it was about 3/4 full. Upon arrival we scoped the lobby for Slade gear and or memorabilia but there was none to be had. Major disappointment as I wanted to upgrade the homemade t-shirt I had with a sewn on mini Slade fist patch to an official one. Oh well, them's the breaks."

"We headed to our seats: 7th row on JWL's side and settled in for a night to remember. But first we had to suffer through 45 minutes of 10cc. If I had been more sensitive I would have felt bad for them as they were barraged with cartcalls for Slade. Since I wasn't all that sensitive I joined right in! Once they finished the place started getting rowdy. I can't really remember how long it was until Slade began playing but whatever it was, it was too long!"
"Finally the moment came and the band was introduced:"

'Please, welcome from England, SLADE!'
Nod shouts "Take Me Bak 'ome" and they were off... and so were we. Out of our seats like a shot from a gun we were shouting along from the get go.

Nod was decked out in his plaid coat, vest, & trousers along with the iconic mirrored top hat, H was in his fish scale outfit with dollar sign boots and the SuperYob guitar, Jim was in some type of yellow get up, and Don was in his traditional striped pants & vest along with more gum than a playground full of kids.

From there the set list that followed:
Take Me Bak 'ome
Good Time Gals
Gudbuy T'Jane
Move Over
When The Lights Are Out
Darling Be Home Soon
We're Really Gonna Raise The Roof
Just A Little Bit
Let The Good Times Roll
Cum On Feel The Noize
Get Down With It
Mama Weer All Crazee Now
Keep On Rockin'
All in all it was a great show.

As I have said in the past I much prefer Slade originals to cover tunes and would like to have had them replaced with the likes of DWSDI, How'd You Ride etc but that's just quibbling. The band was in good form; Nod had the crowd going the entire evening, H did his schtick, and Jim & Don laid down the foundation."

"If there is one overall impression I took away from the show was that Slade were f**king LOUD!! My ears rang for 3 days afterwards and Tom and I literally had to shout at each other to be heard as we headed back to the train station."

"Although I haven't seen a whole lot of concerts I have been fortunate to see Kiss, Sabbath (both line ups), Nugent, UFO, and Rainbow among others this concert remains my favorite. I'm sure the fact that it was my first show and my favorite band has something to do with it but what a way to kick it all off."

The Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1975.

Thanks to Matt Shaugnessy for his experience. Live photos by David Slania, probably not from the Chicago gig?

Cum On Feel The Noize by Julie Clarke 1974

Super Star Magazine 1974

His voice was raucous, the platform-soles seven inches of silver, covered with gold stars. Trousers reached merely down to sock level and on his head he wore a black top hat covered in mirrored discs. Around his shoulders were yards of shimmering tinsel draped for effect. He looked every inch a pop star.

He was in fact an engineer, newly apprenticed, and a Slade convert.

More than anyone else, Slade capture the imagination of their fans who faithfully have followed them and their fashions for the seventies.

When Noddy Holder chanced to comment that some "rude young lady" had thrown a pair of knickers up on stage and he'd kept them as a souvenir - thousands followed. Joined inevitably by those famous top hats, copied meticulously down to the last detail, and assorted suspender belts and bras.

And throughout it all, Swin, who is the band's personal assistant has collected every object thrown at the band after every concert and brought them backstage for the group.

Holder's mother, in fact, sometimes despairs at the amount of souvenirs her son has collected and at odd times tries to dispose of them (when she thinks he's not looking) but without much success.

"I keep 'em in large cardboard boxes" Noddy confesses "And I don't like to throw them away."
If the object for many a Slade admirer is to throw some piece of underwear or outerwear at the band, it is usually achieved.

But for a more fanatical minority the prime target is to glean a souvenir of the gig, from the band.

For this precise reason the band are well protected and guarded by a well-trained road crew and also by the aforementioned Swin who guards them jealously like a mother hen. Unless you happen to be a groupie and will stop at nothing less than the body of the person concerned, the prime prize is a lock of hair belonging to one of the group. Tactics vary for achieving this goal, but as dressing room security is extremely tight, the best way of getting the lock, is when the band are either arriving or departing from a concert.

Says Noddy:
"It's not frightening, so much as worrying and you'd be amazed at the strength that some of those fourteen year olds have. And once they get hold of you, you can't punch or fight them back. Generally they work in pairs. One of them grabs hold of you while another cuts your hair off with a pair of scissors. Then if they manage to get a chunk of hair they'll split it between them later."
Noddy, after four years of hair pulling and cutting has become philosophical about his fate.
"You know why they are doing it and it's just something you have to put up with.

But it's really impossible to stop outside a hall to sign autographs because some of them just go berserk and rip you to shreads. It can be dangerous, not only for us but for the other kids who are around. And it hurts quite a lot."
On one occasion a large burly member of the band's road crew was called in by the police for alleged assault. The charge was dropped due to extenuating circumstances. Explains Holder:
"It's a major operation just getting to gigs and on this particular occasion, two girls got hold of me and just would not let go. Rob had to push them away because they were nearly killing me."
If the Beatles were the band of the sixties, Slade will undoubtedly go down in musical history as the group of the seventies.

To date they have had four number one albums and more hit singles in the seventies than any other band. On occasions, Jim Lea, the band's violin, bass and piano player, gets somewhat narked that people seem unaware of these facts:
"Just pull out the charts and have a look - at the number ones for a start;' he says. "There have been times when I think the press have taken us for granted - maybe because we were in a sense too readily available."
While the musical press does tend to become cynical of bands who are successful, the general public (record buying that is) never tire. And as for being "readily available" it has worked in the band's favour - since heavy gigging in Britain has brought its rewards.

In the beginning it was two tours a year, now we seem to be limited to one but the band always release plenty of products on the market -whether albums or singles, and believe in promoting the songs on television. Not from them is there a sneer at programmes like Top Of The Pops.

Says Don Powell of that particular programme:
"Say what you will, it's television. It's a great programme in many ways and should not be sniffed at. Millions of people watch it and it's important if you want to sell records to do programmes like that."
It was Powell of course who suffered a near fatal accidel1t which had the national papers going bananas. It is indicative of the band's nationwide popularity that when he had his accident, the story was considered front page news. And when a while back the band were beseiged at their Holiday Inn hotel in London, again it made the headlines.

Powell's accident, ironically, brought the band closer together than ever. To begin with, reports were doomy indicating he would not live or that if he did his chances of leading a normal life (much less the life of a drummer in Slade) were slight.

Looking back now it is easy to say those reports were exaggerated, yet it appears Powell's life was in danger.

With the onset of the accident the band were faced with a difficult decision. Numb-struck by the news, they still had to think about gigs they were obligated to do. Unable to communicate with Powell who was in intensive care, they decided to bring in Lea's brother Frank, on a temporary basis, to play a couple of gigs with the band.

Frank was terrified at the prospect, but a good drummer, in that his teacher had, in fact, been Powell. And for those few gigs he proved competent but not the powerhouse behind the throne that the band were used to. Powell of course recovered and soon joined the band to complete an album in the studios.

His memory disappeared covering some months of his life before the accident but he soon regained strength. The only evidence of the accident some months after was that he had to take it easier. Going to bed and resting before the rest of the band. He was, however, in good hands - once again, the road crew and personal assistant keeping a watchful eye on him. The closeness of the band is quite amazing. The trials they have been through together seem to draw them more into each other than drive them apart. And apart from the success there have been drawbacks. Not only Powell's accident, but an occasion when

Dave Hill the guitarist broke a leg after a gig in Liverpool.

Hill's broken leg night was perhaps the one time when Noddy holder openly admits he was "petrified:' He explains his fear thus:
"That night I really thought we'd had it. We had 90 bouncers holding the crowd but even they were finding it impossible to keep them back. After we'd finished playing Dave was the first to leave the stage and he was the first to cop it. And when he went to the floor we all fell on top of him."
Car accidents, broken legs and shorn hair are almost a lifestyle for the band. They set themselves up as entertainers and as such have become used to the disadvantages this can bring. But as aforementioned it has had the effect of drawing them closer together.

Over to Swin, who has been working with the band since before the early skin head days:

"I realise I must sound biased when I say it, but I truly believe they are as big in some ways as the Beatles and there is no way they cannot go on together.

But their main strength lies in the fact that they get on so well. I know every band makes out they' are good friends but Slade genuinely like each other - they socialise with each other and have a deep feeling for one another. From the very early days they have stuck it through - most bands would have split up before now. You've got to remember they played together for quite a few years before they became well known -they didn't always have it easy."

Coming from what is generally accepted as "working class" backgrounds, Lea insists that all the band wanted in the beginning was a "hit record. We didn't think about making lots of money. When we had a hit record we wanted a number one.

"After we'd got number ones -well, it's still important to have hits but whether it's one or not doesn't concern us so much now. We like to release the best possible material we have at the time."
From travelling to gigs in a van and later in a Ford, the band are now proud owners of their own limousines, a Rolls among them. But perhaps as a result of their working class backgrounds, spending vast amounts of money was something they avoided to begin with.

Says Lea:
"Even when we'd had several hits we were still stopping at transport cafe's on the way home. Only recently have we started to spend our money."
Certainly during interviews with the band they never seemed to have a cigarette amongst them and for an hour long session it was advisable to take two packets of twenty along if you didn't want to go short.
"I wouldn't" says Lea "say we were tight, just careful with money."

If Lea and Holder provide the musical force (they write most of the band's material) it is their manager Chas Chandler who is the business and inspirational force. Chandler, once a member of a sixties pop band, The Animals, later manager of Jimi Hendrix, saw the potential in Slade before anyone (save Swin) and intended to do something about it.

With his vast knowledge of the music industry, even he was given incredulous stares when he announced that this band were "going to be huge:' It was always his wish that the band should move to London but when the boys stuck together and preferred to stay in their home town of Wolverhampton he allowed them their wish.
"Wolverhampton" announces Dave Hill, "is where we come down to earth. We can't possibly get big headed when we go back there - it's where we come from and it's where we shall stay."
Hill made that comment some years ago and still retains a link with his home town. And it is only in recent months have Lea and Powell decided they might like to try living in London. Yet Wolverhampton, and the band's link with that town is part of the band's charm. While they were being screamed at and torn apart they were still going home, after gigs to mum and dad. Quite charming naivety which made them easy to identify with, if you happened to live at home (and most Slade fans still do).

This constant identifiability with the band helped a lot. So when Noddy and the boys realised football was such a popular thing they introduced "You'll Never Walk Alone" into their stage act. Soon, horns and scarves along with rattles were being brought to gigs.

"Ooooze yer favourite fooootbawl team?" yelled Nod and was soon rewarded for his pains by yells of Manchester United, Liverpool, Leeds or Arsenal. "D000 yooo know their songs?" he'd inquire innocently and immediately thousands of voices (often off-key) would sing the strains of their local football club song.

After a suitable time had elapsed Holder, who is always in control would raise his hands in the air and announce "Very good, give yourselves a clap."

Off stage, Holder is a quiet, witty and affable person. On stage he is omnipotent. Such is his control over the crowd, were it wrongly directed it would be most frightening.

"Everybody everywhere, raise your hands in the air" he commands, and instantly the whole audience (even the ones in the back rows) raise their hands in the air. "Clap your hands, stamp your feet" - again the command is obeyed. "Get down and get with it" The place goes mad.

Inciting the audience to clap or even stamp their feet has had its drawbacks. Audiences, when they number thousands can get excited. And when they get excited, chairs get broken, barriers get crushed and bent and inevitably there is much damage done.

After their memorable Earls Court gig (where they pulled in some 18,000 people) there was a damage bill of £5,000 to be paid.

When they played the Palladium the balcony cracked, and again the band had to foot the bill.

Noddy says they reckon to payout between two and five hundred pounds a night when they tour Britain for damages.

"We are;' he adds, "insured, but the insurance people know what's going to happen so they obviously don't give us cheap insurance. But we pay up, you have to foof-the bill if you want to keep on working at these theatres. And it's not as if the kids go about wantonly destroying seats - they just get a bit excited and carried away with it all."
Apart from identifying with football - Slade have been quick to realise that a bit of naughtiness goes a long way. Knickers is a pretty inoffensive word which is used to effect throughout the act. It used to be Holder announcing "David is wearing his pink frilly knickers tonight and if you are very good he'll show them to you" before being greeted with "oohs and aahs" as the audience made out they were shocked. Now, slightly changed, Holder announces: "We'll have a minute's silence - and any girl who breaks it will have to come up on stage and take her knickers off." There is, predictably, a loud noise after this statement and a pause for a giggle.

While Wolverhampton and the tag of working class heroes may have been their grass roots, America is undoubtedly the next goal to conquer. Holder reckons
"On the first couple of tours there it was really heavy going because they hadn't heard of us before and also because we've got what is basically a very English stage act."
The football sequence for instance had to be removed and lights, a hitherto unknown thing for Slade were implemented.

Gradually the conversion has come about. It is in fact very interesting to witness Slade playing in America. Early gigs in New York were at the Academy of Music which has a capacity of around 2,000 and seems very much akin to London's Rainbow Theatre but of late they have played the more prestigious Felt Forum (capacity 5,000).

Early in the Forum gig there were maybe a few hundred converts near the front participating with hand claps and foot stomps.

Those at the middle and back watched quite astounded. Astounded for it is very un-hip in the States to really participate.

After about four numbers those in the middle part of the auditorium were clapping along with the rest. And by the end, as one might expect, the whole audience were going berserk, discovering the joys of getting one's rocks off to a British band.

After the gig, the promoter came round to congratulate the boys and commented how he'd truly never seen anything like it. "They were all clapping and waving their hands in the air. They never do that here. Are you used to that in England?"

"Yes" the manager painstakingly remarked, "it did happen like that in England - all over England in fact." Certainly for that particular night Slade had reached yet another turning point in their career. The one thing that worried the Americans regarding Slade was the possibilities of a riot.

"If they can get them to behave in such a way, well, they could incite a riot." an onlooker remarked.

Says Dave Hill:
"There were some Americans present at a gig we played in Wembley and they could not believe the reaction we got. I think they thought we were going to say "Kill the pigs, turn the cop cars over" but of course we didn't and we never would."

"You are never really aware" chips in Holder, "of the power you have over your audiences - like you say to me what's it like when everyone waves their hands in the air -well I don't really think about it. I'm just up on stage singing and talking to people I'm not aware that I wield any power."
Certain young ladies however do get affected by the power of the band. It is not unknown for a fifteen year old to tell her parents she is "staying with a friend" and endeavour to spend the night outside a hotel where Slade are staying. Or unusual for young ladies to follow the band around from gig to gig when they are on tour. Two girls once found out Holder's home address and spent the night camping out in his garden (much to his mother's annoyance!).

Musically it was at one stage easy to say the band kept to a safe style once they had their early hits. "Cum On Feel The Noize" may to some then have sounded not too dissimilar to "Gudbye T' Jane" or "Mama Weer All Crazee Now" but of late there has been a maturity in their music and they have experimented more.

"My Friend Stan" was quite a departure as was the magnificent "Everyday" showing Holder in softer vocal strains. It was also the perfect vehicle to answer the critics who seemed to believe Slade could only play loud volume rock. In America they released "When The Lights Are Out;' a track off the "Old, New, Borrowed, Blue" album featuring Jim Lea on vocals. And for many Americans this is what Slade are all about.

"Sometimes" says Lea, "I think it would suit me not to go out on the road for months but Slade is all about touring. And look at Nod, he'll be on stage singing away when he's 50. Don't you think so?"
Indeed I do, and so do the rest of the members of the band who may by that time have grown quite bald or grey but will still have their individual brand of magic.


This article was written by Julie Clarke and is taken from the Super Star Magazine #1/2 which is entitled "Slade In Flame" and priced 30p back in 1974.

Then And Now - John Peel 1974

Super Star Magazine 1974


"Stand by" they said, "for a new group that'll really blow your mind. No kidding;' they said, "These boys are different. Wait till you hear them" they said, "then you'll know what it really means to flip” Thus spake Peter Jones in the first paragraph of his sleeve-note to a 1969 LP called "Beginnings" by Ambrose Slade. As informed folk all over the galaxy are aware, Ambrose Slade eventually became Slade, and "Beginnings" (released on Fontana STL 5492) must now be some sort of a collector's item. Certainly I had never seen or heard the album before and I had to go to the BBC's record library for the copy I did hear. "Beginnings" is a remarkable LP - not so much for the music that is on it but rather for the pointers which indicate not only what Slade have done since, but directions they may take in the future. The opening track is "Genesis" which, together with "Roach Daddy" was released as a single (Fontana TF 1015). "Genesis" starts with an electronic whine and wind noises and evolves into a fairly moody instrumental, featuring a bevy of electronic effects but displaying at once that Slade were, even at this early date, better than average on their chosen instruments. "Genesis" is followed by "Everybody's Next One”, one of two Steppenwolf songs on the LP. The other is the classic "Born To Be Wild;' which was later re-recorded for the "Slade Alive" album. On both of these there are strong indications of the Slade to come. Noddy's voice was already taking on the strong identity it has now - and this was recorded at a time when lead singers tended toward blandness and anonymity. The third track on Side 1 is "Knocking Nails Into My House" and this, a song written by Jeff Lynne who was then with Idle Race but now leads The Electric Light Orchestra, shows the band's Midland origins. The song and Ambrose Slade's treatment of it show the strong influence The Move had on popular music all through the region. There's some particularly fine guitar from Dave Hill here and the sound of nails being knocked in, Noddy yells "Look out" and the music is submerged beneath the uproar of the collapsing house. "Roach Daddy;' which follows, has a walking beat and a vaguely country-ish feel to it.

The vocals are a bit hesitant and this has to be one of the least satisfying tracks on "Beginnings” Ambrose Slade next turn their attention to "Ain't Got No Heart”, a nifty wee piece written by the curious Frank Zappa, leader of the Mothers of Invention. Zappa numbers are never easy things to play, involving numerous musical changes and vocal stylings which are often odd, to say the least. The embryo Slade acquit themselves well here and by this stage of the LP the impression is growing that the band and producer Roger Wake are anxious to prove that this is a group with the ability to work successfully on a wide range of material. "Pity The Mother;' which ends Side 1, heightens this suspicion. A Holder/Lea composition, it features more excellent guitar work and a basinful of tricky drumming from Don Powell. Side 2 opens with a number more representative of Slade as they are today. It's called "Mad Dog Cole;' all four members of the band took up their pencils to write it, and it's a solid rocker. There's an interesting section in which someone sings falsetto along with the lead guitar, following Dave's fast playing note for note. Not an easy thing to do and for this reason, and for Jimmy Lea's crunching bass playing, this is, for me, the best and the most interesting track on the LP. Ambrose Slade ring the changes yet again for the next track, which is another song written and performed by a major Midlands band, the Moody Blues. It's Justin Hayward's "Fly Me High" and the main interest here comes from the band's flexibility, their skill and from the fact that, briefly, Noddy sounds like Rod Stewart. Marvin Gaye's "If This World Were Mine" follows but it is not a success. The sleeve-note to "Beginnings" claims that Ambrose Slade give Lennon/McCartney's "Martha My Dear;' which comes after "If This World Were Mine;' "a somewhat astonishing new treatment” Despite featuring Jimmy Lea at the controls of his violin, the band stick fairly closely to the Beatles' original. "Born To Be Wild" is next, Noddy giving the lyrics, written by the extraordinarily named Mars Bonfire, a fair old going over. The quartet sound at their happiest on rockers and they end with another highlight, "Journey To The Centre Of Your Mind” This was originally performed by the American Amboy Dukes -at this period (1969) personal favourites of mine - and the Ambrose Slade version of "Journey" is no less hairy than the original.

"Beginnings" is an extraordinary LP -I wish I didn't have to return this copy to the BBC -because it shows so clearly all those features that were to lead, several years later, to the string of huge successes that Slade have to their credit. I'm slightly embarrassed that so-called experts like myself failed to notice the signs.

Also released in 1969 but produced now by Chas Chandler, was the single "Wild Winds Are Blowing" backed with "One Way Hotel” Both tracks are, of course, on the "Sladest" LP. Chas put more emphasis on Jimmy Lea's bass guitar and this new emphasis brings the sound of "The Slade" (as they're described on the label) closer to their 1974 sound. In addition to the mighty bass playing, there's also a load of highly inventive guitar from Dave. The song, however, isn't that great. In fact, the "B" side, a Holder, Lea, Powell composition, is a lot better. The playing on "One Way Hotel" is a revelation, showing that when Slade became a successful band in the singles market, that area of music that was until recently described as "progressive" may well have been the loser. "Hotel" is a most impressive performance, beautifully put together, with Noddy singing with real feeling and with each musician contributing strongly to the track. When I played this in an office at the BBC several friends who were present were hugely impressed and were not persuaded that this was indeed Slade recorded in 1969 until I showed them the label.

The following year (1970), the band lead off with "The Shape Of Things To Come" and "C'mon, C'mon” The" A" side, also on "Sladest” again demonstrates just how good Noddy, Don, Dave and Jimmy were becoming on their various instruments. It all drives along beautifully, the energy and the vitality of it all again causing me to wonder why so few people were paying attention to Slade at that time. Also in 1970 was released "Know Who You Are" and "Dapple Rose” The latter is a melancholy little number, a sort of horse's equivalent of the Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby” It's a story of common neglect, of the waning interest of a once-proud owner in a horse that has become "cold and old and slow” As a man who has been known to cry at a Tom and Jerry cartoon (there's photographic evidence to the fact) I was profoundly depressed by "Dapple Rose” "Know Who You Are" is a different pan of fish. It's dramatic stuff, opening softly but with an atmosphere of menace. Noddy's vocals are delivered with rare power and style before the band crunches into some great choruses. Again the guitar playing here is excellent, owing something to the Yardbirds and those two masters of the electric guitar, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page. The band show a fine sense of dynamics and there's more of the falsetto-with-guitar singing that we remarked on "Mad Dog Cole”, "Know Who You Are" is another tour-de-force for Slade, another major step in their musical development.

Both "Know Who You Are" and "Dapple Rose" are on the 1970 LP, "Play It Loud”. So is "The Shape Of Things To Come” Throughout "Play It Loud" there are countless examples of Slade's skill. Also their self-penned songs are improving all the time. They are well constructed, perhaps slightly over-elaborate at times, but showing clearly the strong melody lines that distinguish the most raucous Slade rockers and make these rockers more durable and more listen-able than the drab and colourless offerings of Slade's rivals. Some of the lyrics tend towards being rather poetic but in 1970 this was the fashion and none of the words sound as embarrassing as the lyrics written by ... well, I'd better not say, but there were a lot of bad songs written in 1970. The musicianship throughout "Play It Loud" is of a remarkably high standard. Don's drumming is varied, exciting and always apt. He is always contributing to the record, never content to just sit back and whack out the basic rhythm needed to keep the music rolling forward. The bass-playing is again an important feature - if you have the LP handy, then listen to "See Us Here" and you'll understand what I mean. Also, with Chas' help, the band's sound has improved, become clearer and brighter. The tracks on the LP may, in the main, be too complex to dance to very easily, but they make for pleasant listening. "Could I" has the sort of sing-a-long chorus that has distinguished Slade's greatest hits, while Dave plays some beautiful singing lead guitar. "I Remember" is another indication of the good things to come, with Noddy peeling layers of skin off his throat as he roars his way through the words, and the band rocking as though there were no tomorrow.

"Pouk Hill" is a glance back to the Midlands tradition of Idle Race and Move records, a sometimes tender, sometimes fey, little song of real charm. "Dirty Joker" is something of a curiosity, opening, as it does, with the type of guitar, bass, drums sound that distinguishes the best dance records coming from Black America in 1974. Both this track and “Sweet Box” which follows and also closes the LP, illustrate yet again the powers of invention within the band. The sudden shifts of emphasis, the impressive skills, are of the type that have made such bands as Yes and Genesis so widely popular with the LP buying audience. The only complaint that could be made against "Play It Loud" is that the songs and arrangements may have been too complicated. This complaint would have been erased with some violence by the next single release, the epic "Get Down And Get With It”

In some 27 years of buying records I cannot remember having ever sat down and listened to a band's entire recorded output as I have done with Slade's today. Hearing the early material for the first time and hearing the great hits again after a year or two, I'm genuinely impressed with the part the band have played in making the 1970s such an exciting musical era. And I don't say that because I'm paid to say it either. Looking back to "Get Down And Get With It" from the wet end of 1974, I'm amazed at the effect it's had on our charts since its release in the summer of 1971. The thunderous, very simple, beat and Noddy's exhortations to the listener to join in, to participate, have been echoed in countless records since. Each week's record releases bring more examples of this, although recently they've begun to sound rather flat and dated. Slade themselves have, naturally, moved on to other things, but their "Get Down And Get With It" still sounds just fine after nearly 3+ years. I am amazed to observe that the record rose no higher than 15th in the charts. I doubt that many of the 14 records that were above it still sound half as good. Of course, "Get Down And Get With It" was one side of a maxi-single. The other side is every bit as interesting and I must admit that, until yesterday, I'd never heard it. "Do You Want Me" has the same sort of lean and sensual accompaniment that has recently seen David Essex in the charts with "Rock On" and similar records. The difference is that "Do You Want Me" has a much stronger tune than "Rock On" and it was released 2 years earlier. Amazing! Also pretty amazing is "Gospel According To Rasputin" which completes the maxi-single. The playing here is incredible, the vocal harmonies majestic. Slade doing everything that Yes can do but doing it with energy and brevity. In 4 minutes and 20 seconds and without ever forgetting that this music is supposed to excite and stimulate, Slade get down more good music than you'll find on many fashionable triple-albums. By now we're moving into Slade's continuing golden period. All the records from Down And Get With It" are as well known to a whole generation of record buyers as their own names. Nevertheless I'd like to slither through the list with you for various reasons which may or may not emerge as I drone on.

Special Secret
October, 1971, brought us "'Cos I Love You" and "My Life Is Natural” The" A" side combined a great Holder/Lea tune with a backing that had all the power and drive of the Faces, my own favourite band. There's a special secret to the very best of rock 'n' roll, a sort of magic ingredient. Somehow, while putting down a storming beat, the very best rock musicians manage to inject a certain lightness, some subtlety of phrasing, that makes the whole sound of the band dance. In his day Chuck Berry could do it, the Stones and Faces still can - and Slade showed with "'Cos I Love You" that they too shared the secret. Slade have never been content with throwaway "B" sides either. "My Life Is Natural" boasts more stunning harmonies and deft playing. The same is true of "Candidate;' the "B" side of "Look Wot You Dun;' which followed in January of 1972. Clarity, simplicity and tunefulness were again the keys. It is sometimes easy to forget just how good those early records were - perhaps the shrillness of Slade's competition has diverted our attention somewhat. Instrumentally Slade invariably give the lie to Deep Purple's Ritchie Blackmore, who is quoted in the sleeve of "Slade Alive" as saying, "they don't care about the notes”

"Take Me Bak 'Ome" has endured the passage of time slightly less well. It's a more obvious crowd-pleaser - not that there's much wrong with that - with a less worthy tune. Nevertheless, even now many bands and producers seek the same sound, the raucous and echo-ey vocals, the massed hand clapping. The "B" side, "Wonderin' Y" is a surprising change of pace, a song of McCartney-esque poignancy and grandeur. A lovely tune. "Mama Weer All Crazee Now" is another of the greats. Released in August, 1972, it moved back· to the great dance beat of "Get Down” It had a great tune and a superior roar-along chorus too. The same was true of the November follow-up, "Gudbuy T’Jane”. Chas Chandler and Slade continued to cling to the central spirit of rock 'n' roll -simplicity. No half-baked suites, no famous friends sitting in on guitar. Although I have no doubt they'll continue to develop, Slade will, I reckon, always avoid these pitfalls, pitfalls into which lesser talents are all too keen to fling themselves, smiling softly.

February, 1973, and "Cum On Feel The Noize” Prior to this the LP "Slayed" had been released, and earlier still "Slade Alive” The latter is, at best, a souvenir of the band's gigs and "Slayed" brought together some of the singles and a few new numbers but generally suffered from a lack of variety. Two of the best tracks were Janis Joplin's "Move Over" and Shirley & Lee's "Let The Good Times Roll” Slade performed these, together with "Take Me Bak 'Ome;' "Darling Be Home Soon" and "Mama Weer All Crazee Now;' on a memorable session for one of my own BBC radio programmes. Note the small plug for me. "Cum On Feel The Noize" is another hit that doesn't sound quite as good now. Nevertheless and despite the curious spellings of the titles, it's to the group's credit that their lyrics have never sunk to the "shang-a-lang-a-yep-yep" level. Agreed that they may not be particularly deep (for which I'm grateful) but they always mean something and have some basic relevance.

"Skweeze Me, Pleeze Me” released in June 1973, continued the hit tradition. As a record reviewer I was beginning to ask whether, as Noddy continued to inflict injuries and insults upon his throat with every release, Slade would ever adjust slightly from storming rockers and try something a mite different. They did this in September of the same year with "My Friend Stan;' released a week after the LP "Sladest”, "My Friend Stan" remains my lady wife's favourite record and for months she tormented me by bellowing the chorus, with severe inaccuracies of both lyric and tune, as she went about the house. Nevertheless "Stan" is one of the greats, less raucous perhaps but still exciting. A demonstration that the best songwriters have this ability to pluck a great song out of the air and leave you wondering how you never discovered it first.

At the end of 1973 Slade, in company with Elton John, re-introduced one of the great pop traditions -the Christmas single. It marked another step in Slade's progress towards a more controlled, more durable style. Still, the more melodic approach never caused the drive of the single to slacken and it is this facility for combining energy with simple and memorable tunes that will ensure Slade's survival. The "B" side of "Merry Xmas Everybody" was "Don't Blame Me", like David Bowie's "Jean Genie", a nod back to the British rhythm 'n' blues boom in the early 1960s, a time during which producer Chas Chandler must have played, as a member of The Animals, numbers similar in spirit to the Holder/Lea composition. This again displays the range of the band's talents; also featuring some rather fine noises that could well have come from a guitar.

Early 1974 and the LP "Old, New, Borrowed and Blue" together with "Everyday" and subsequent singles are probably too fresh in the mind to merit discussion. Suffice to say that in "Everyday" and "Far Far Away" they have two of the year's best pop songs and in "Bangin' Man" one of the year's best rockers. The expanding talents of Noddy, Jimmy, Don and Dave have been on public display now for nearly five years. Listening to the records again brought me new pleasures I'd hardly expected. When the dust and glitter has cleared, I'm confident that we'll be able to look back at the 1970s and say, without fear of contradiction, that Slade have been responsible for the very best of British popular music. I expect too that they'll still be making great records in the 1980s. I certainly hope they will. Peter Jones concluded his notes to "Beginnings" by writing "Ambrose Slade Is For Real” Amend that to "Slade Is For Real" and I'm with you all the way.


This article was written by John Peel and is taken from the Super Star Magazine #1/2 which is entitled "Slade In Flame" and priced 30p back in 1974.