I hope you will appreciate this article, published 42 years ago in the NME. I have personally transcribed this from the original paper and you are free to use it as you like. Still, it would be nice to get some sort of credit for my work, so a link to my blog would be nice! Thank you! 🙂
Vulgar Slade by Julie Webb
Going to see Slade live is like attending a drunken party. You can see what`s happening but you don`t believe it! It`s very crowded and very hot.
People are packed in like sardines, yet, remarkably, you don`t want to leave.
I went to see them at Watford Technical College – a venue they hadn`t played before, yet they broke the house record and people queued for two hours to get in.
Back-stage the group were lounging around – a blackboard with times the groups were due on stage was on the wall and a few obscene remarks had been added – “Aitch is queer” was one of them. According to their publicist this is something that gets chalked up all over the place!
Before they go on they change into their stage clothes – Dave Hill in a bright orange track suit affair, Noddy with white trousers, the familiar braces and his ever famous hat.
The hat isn`t to cover baldness incidentally, he wears it “because people expect it now and if I leave it off they ask me where it is.”
Noddy is an important part of the band. It`s his strained vocals that shouts out at you on every number they play.
“Before we got anywhere the mums and dads of the other members in the group always said `You`ll never make it with a singer like that. He`s always shouting – you can`t call that singing.`”
Shouting it may be – but Noddy has an incredible range and, with their PA system, an incredible amount of volume. Does he ever worry that if he`s shouting, as opposed to singing, the strain on his vocal chords might eventually lose him his voice?
“No – because it comes naturally to me now. I always sing with a shouty voice and I haven`t had a sore throat for more than 12 months now. But I believe in looking after my throat.
I always drink honey and lemon before I go to bed – I don`t know if it does me any good but I feel it helps.
The vocals are a very important part of our sound. I mean our sound because I think we`ve now got to the stage where you can switch on the radio and recognise who is singing.”
Slade are now in the enviable position of being able to play almost any type of gigs – clubs, ballrooms or colleges and are sensible enough not to outprice themselves.
Noddy comments: “We`re not putting up our money astronomically. We`d rather keep our price realistic and go back and play a venue several times rather than get a lot of money and only play a place once.”
At the places the group played when they first began to make a name for themselves – back in the days when they were known as a skinhead band and were unable to get bookings because of their unsavoury image – the band only work for a percentage.
“Well, they were good to us,” said Noddy, “no one wanted to book us then because they didn`t want trouble and we spelt trouble.”
Playing virtually every kind of gig around the country is one of the contributory factors to the group`s success, Noddy feels.
“That`s how we reckon we broke into the charts – by doing continuous one-nighters. It`s taken us one and a half years to build up a following and I think now that same following would help us even if we had a downer.
“Before, people were frightened to come and see us because of the image – or they were frightened the place would be full of skinheads. And it was harder in those days to get the audience going. If you can`t get the audience going. If you can`t get the audience leaping about then you`ve had it.”
One thing that separates Slade from any other band is that they talk to the audience as opposed to at them. And if the audience is enjoying themselves then the band draw their strength from that. Of course, they are not everyone`s idea of a pop band – and if you find offence at programmes like “Casanova” on the telly, or feel you couldn`t attend a rugby party without feeling a trifle embarrased then you might indeed find the band guilty of a certain amount of rudery.
At one point in the act Noddy introduces lead guitarist Dave as “queer” and invites a certain section of the male public to come backstage – that`s if their lovelife has been neglected of late! (He`s far from bent – I must add!)
And after getting the audience to imitate a howling noise, Noddy informs them they`ve been making the mating call of the lesser spotted something or other.
If he thinks the crowd looks miserable he`ll say, “don`t sit there looking as if you`ve crapped yourselves.” With the occasional effing and blinding that`s about the extent of their rudery.
Noddy comments: “We`ve had a few complaints from promoters because some of them thought we were being filthy for the sake of it. I don`t honestly believe we influence the audience in that way because we don`t use any words they haven`t heard before. Older people get offended – that`s all.
“Three weeks ago a promoter brought in the police because 20 people complained. But out of 3,000 that`s hardly the majority. We thought we were going to have a writ served on us but were lucky in that one policeman had been there all the time and said he found our act amusing rather than offensive. Anyway, as far as I`m concerned we`re only talking to the audience. We want to talk to them as if we`re their mates – we want them to be our mates.”
How did the talking to the audience like this first develop?
“Well, we haven`t always used vulgarity. It originally stemmed from when we got smashed one night and it just came out. It went down a storm and we`ve used it ever since. People aren`t only bothered about the music, they want taking out of themselves.
“We`re not a group who goes on to play perfect every night – if you just make people feel good about the act then that`s something.
“Even if they only dig the vulgarity that`s all right with us. Crowds want to get on their feet and loon again – I`m sure that`s what will happen much more in the future.
“People are fed up with just sitting down and listening. `Get down and get with it` is what we are all about.”
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