Welcome to another Be-Bop Friday - slightly rebadged today in honour of one of my best friends. That's Mark (Beano to his buddies) pictured above - the photograph will make perfect sense, I'm sure, by the time you've read his love letter to a band that still make the hairs on the back of his neck stand up, some four decades after he first discovered them.
"Do you remember your first kiss? Of course you do! Mine was from a girl called Sarah Blackburn, she lived on our street and I would have been maybe 10, fancied her like mad for ages. Likewise, I bet you remember the first band you discovered. I do too, and their music still gives me goosebumps to this day. At one time they were the biggest band around. They reached the dizzy heights of Number 1 no less than six times in the 70s - and remember you needed to sell a million copies in those days to reach the top spot. Three Number One 1 albums followed; one of which is considered up there with the very best live albums ever (I’ve just voted for it in Classic Rock’s best live album poll).
They made a film too, a proper one, which you went to the flicks to see. It was way ahead of its time and showed the dark side of the music business. Years after its release it would be described by BBC film critic, Mark Kermode as 'the Citizen Kane of rock musicals.' The movie subsequently went on to achieve critical acclaim.
Know who it is yet? Well, Q magazine once described them as ‘the missing link between Oasis and the Beatles’ - Oasis would go on to record a splendid cover version of one of their hitz and then play it in front of an adoring 60,000 fans at Maine Road, Manchester. But let me guess, you still don't know who it is. (I think we do, Mark! John).
The band is SLADE, and they get little recognition for their considerable input to this great nation’s music scene other than for a certain festive hit. Not that is until you venture into my world: bitten by the bug in the early 80s via one of those compilation albums SLADE Smashes, I couldn’t believe what I was listening too. It was awesome, with that voice hitting you between the eyes like a sledgehammer. The Black Country Boyz even returned to the charts for me, reinvented with Noddy as the Rock 'n' Roll Preacher. Every locker in my school had the words ‘BEANO – SLADE’ plastered all over them: Beano being my nickname (still is, 40 years later) and SLADE being my band.
Their second coming lasted till the mid 80’s when they were cast aside chart wise, but I still got my fix by going to Slade related TV shows & and conventions - attended by the Magic 500, a bunch of like minded super fans whose sole purpose was to turn it up to 11 and 'Stamp your feet and clap your hands.' These events have created some amazing friendships which go far wider than just the love of music, and nobody can take that away; no matter what the non-disciples may think.
And the love affair continues to this day, with walls full of memorabilia and guess what? My band returning to the album charts (in the Top 10, again) with a look back at past glories in the shape of Cum On Feel The Hitz. Time for this SLADE super fan to feel normal again, well at least for a little while!
So, don’t forget your first love, and, remember, SLADE are for life, not just for Christmas!"
A huge thank you to Mark for this. As you can see, Beano is now the proud owner of Jim Lea's confetti jacket - the one he wore on the front cover of their 1972 album, Slayed? Though I'm told it's a little on the snug side.
What a great guest post. Great jacket too. They were the biggest band in Britain back in the early '70s yet little recognition nowadays for some reason (blame the Christmas hit).ReplyDelete
It's a wonderful thing being a super-fan of anything, as you immediately become part of a niche community and can make friends for life. Sounds as if Mark/Beano has done just that.
Mark is too modest to say that he's also meet all four members of the band a number of times too; he still can't convince them to get back together for one last tour tho'.Delete
Alyson, Glad you liked the post. The Jacket is a very recent addition to my "collection" and its a privilege owning it. Personally I think the lack of recognition is as a result of the Boyz not being part of the London/Manchester/Merseyside set. Even when they became Britain's biggest band they refused to relocate to "That There London", choosing instead to party in their local in Bilston Near Wolverhampton. BEANO.Delete
My Slade Box Set is unlike most other Box Sets in that it regularly gets played from start to finish. Superb band, and more than just the singles.ReplyDelete
How Does It Feel is one of the greatest songs ever written, so how come it only scraped into the Top20?
And how many bands can get a Heavy Metal crowd standing in a filed singing a Christmas song in August?
I remember buying Sladest when it first came out and being totally blown away by all the 'non-hits'; the depth of Noddy and Jim's songwriting was amazing - so much more than mirror top hats and platform boots.Delete
It was a notable change in direction & like the Film It was way ahead of its time, but your right it is without doubt one of the best Holder Lea Compositions, in short a classic. BEANODelete
Great read and photo, fellas.ReplyDelete
Glad you liked it, Brian; shame they never made it in the States; though it wasn't for the want of trying.Delete
Cheers Brian. BEANODelete
Yes, a great post. My 7 year old is particularly fond of Slade's "Let's try to crack the American market" comeback songs. Radio Wall Of Sound is his favourite.ReplyDelete
Thank you, Rol. Their story is a great story; I would heartily recommend Noddy's autobiography - 'Who's Crazee Now?'Delete
They are, also, one of the few bands of the time whose original members are still alive.
Your son has great taste, this is a brilliant song. Notable for it marking their 3rd decade of hitz (70/80/90's) and being their last charting record peaking at No 21. This was written by Jim Lea and if your son likes this he should check out Jim's post SLADE Album 'Therapy'. It's on Spotify and is brillant. BEANO.Delete
My second favourite Slade LP after Alive. In my sleeve notes I refer to Chris 'and Janet' - Janet was a girl whose, er, favours I was seeking at the time. Worked too. CCReplyDelete
Fine albums, both. I've read that Chas Chandler gave you 20 quid cash for your liner notes; as I relate all 'old money' comparisons to beer prices, how much was a pint of grog in 1972?Delete