I think there may be a lesson or two when it comes to songwriting in this one. Many bands have been tempted to shake things up a bit in their career and do something else than they usually do musically. Quite often they fail, if not musically, so at least among their fans. Never change a winning team, they say, and in many ways this is very true for musical artists with one or two exceptions. Most should follow Slade`s lead on this one.
Until next time… have a good read!
Now`s the time for Slade
By Steve Peacock
“There`s a line in it that says `So you think my singing`s out of time, well it makes me money,`” says Noddy Holder, pausing to take in the effect of his words. And then he laughs.
`It` is “Cum On, Feel The Noize”, Slade`s new single, and is the reason that they were sitting around in a small dressing room at BBC TV centre last week, waiting for the technicians of Top Of The Pops to sort out some problems with Olivia Newton-John and the orchestra before the programme`s run-through started.
around showing off his Australian sun-tan – “actually it pissed with rain half the time we were over there” – and the anecdotes were flowing free. (This text started like this in the paper – not a mistake – Blog ed.)
A man from Scene and Heard bustles in clutching a tape recorder and asks them to do a quick trailer or two for the programme. Noddy shouts one into the mike – “This is Noddy Holder from Slade, we want you to listen to Scene and Heard because we listen to Scene and Heard, all right (crescendo) awrightawrightawrightawright! Keep On Rocking!” – and then he, Dave and Jimmy make up a couple of ditties based on Slade singles and bellow them into the mike with Nod strumming on acoustic.
They get a call that they`re on soon, and as Nod dons striped socks, tartan trews, tartan waistcoat and top hat to match. Dave disappears into the washroom to deck himself out in his latest creation. There`s a sudden hush as he re-appears, and the whole room dissolves in hysterics: he`s wearing a long black robe with mirrors stuck all over it, silver trousers underneath, and a kind of wire mesh headdress, silver, with more mirrors, that fastens under his chin. He looks like a Busby Berkely nun, and when someone stops laughing long enough to say he ought to be auditioning for a part in “The Sound Of Music”, he looks mock-hurt: “I was trying to look like Cleopatra.”
Listen he says as the helpless cackling starts to die away, “You write `em, I`ll sell `em.” A chorus of groans and “You`ve used that one before,” greets that one, and they`re off down the corridor into the cavenous studio for the run-through.
Watching on the monitors, it`s quickly apparent that the cameras can`t handle the reflected glare from all Dave`s mirrors – every time they turn on him the screen fills with dazzle. Back to the dressing room, manager Chas Chandler says he`ll have to strip it down a bit, and Dave looks suitably distressed.
There can be no doubt these days that Slade are stomping right to the top of the heap – a tight, exciting, fun rock band who`ve got the business of hit-singling, hit-albuming and sell-out concerting down to a fine art. They`re not breaking any frontiers of music, and they don`t much want to, but they`re rocking on, having a great time, and honing themselves up into one of the tightest and most expert rock bands we`ve ever had.
“The new single,” says Nod, “was made in much the same way as all the others – we went for a good commercial sound, and what we tried to get was something with a good singalong chorus. It`s got a lot more chords in it than we usually use – you can actually play it on Spanish guitars and it sounds just as good – and a strong melody, and I think it`s very easily remembered. It goes back to something we used to do a lot in a way, because we tried to use a lot of ringing chords, play them high up on the neck with a lot of open strings so they ring out.”
At its basic approach, “Cum On Feel The Noize” is quite obviously well in the traditional Slade mould, and they`re happy about that: “You can`t escape certain aspects of our singles,” says Dave. “I mean this one is very obviously Slade, and I don`t think you have to make a direct difference in your approach just because it`s your next single. You`ve got to keep it well within the vein of what`s being enjoyed nowadays, which is to get up and sing and really get on with it.”
Which is what they do, and the combination of enjoying what they`re doing at the moment and being successful with it, gives them little incentive to think about drastically changing their music. Though they hurry to point out that they`re not being complacent.
“We are progressing in many ways,” says Nod, “we`re getting better on stage, and in the studio we`re getting more relaxed and beginning to understand the techniques of recording better, and I think we`re writing better songs all the time. We don`t feel the style is getting worn at all, we just want to make it better all the time, adding ideas, and seeing what comes out of it all; what changes are coming will come gradually.”
As a guitarist, did Dave ever feel he needed more space to stretch himself? “No,” he said emphatically. “I think what I do inside the numbers is right at the moment. There are a lot of things I could do if I wanted to be a clever dick, but I think it would be pretty pointless.”
Nod: “The whole band works towards the vocals and the melody, and if anything cuts across that we scotch it. What we try to do at the moment is to make everything in the band complement the melody and the vocals – we don`t have to try to blow each other off or anything.”
Dave: “We haven`t got to prove anything to each other, we know exactly what we`re doing and what we can do.”
Nod: “We were listening to our very first album `Play It Loud` the other day, and the arrangements on it… just nothing complemented anything else. What we`ve been doing is simplifying everything down, so that you`ve got the bass and the drums keeping the rhythm going, and a strong melody, and then anything else you put in is really the icing on the cake.
“There are lots of things we can still use – like the violin, we`ve only used that on `Coz I Luv You` so far, so, we`ve got that to use still, and there`s vocal harmony which we used to do a lot, but we haven`t used much for a while. So we`ve got plenty of things still in the can that we can draw on.
“People in the business keep saying we ought to change soon because people will get sick of us, but the fact is that people aren`t getting sick of us – we`re selling more records every time we bring one out. The `Slayed` album sold as many in two weeks as `Slade Alive` did in nine months that it was in the charts, so things like that prove to us that we`re going the right way.”
What would happen if it came to a time when – as has happened to so many other groups – Slade wanted to change their music, but the record-buying people wanted them to keep on bashing out the same old story? “You mean if I wasn`t happy playing but people still enjoyed it? I don`t think that point will ever come. I`m happy playing at the moment, but if it ever did… well, we`d have to cross that bridge when we came to it. But I don`t think we`d ever get to the stage where we`d go on and play things we didn`t like just because other people like them.”
And remember, that cuts both ways.
I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!
This number of Sounds also contains articles/interviews with these people: Darryl Way (Curved Air), Sounds staff analyse David Bowie, Nazareth, Steve Marriott, Average White Band, Elton John, Geordie, Status Quo, Thin Lizzy, Stackridge, Peter Gabriel, Mike Heron, Jesse Winchester.
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