A strange phenomenon sometimes occur in the music business when a band who is very successful in their home country don`t “make it” in another country, even if their language, culture and shared history is the same. This is the story of Slade trying to crack America in a tale that countless other bands have experienced through the years. Slade did very well for themselves in Europe, but it is still a mystery why they never achieved the same levels of success in the US.
Just a spot of homely vulgarity
Noddy Holder talking to Steve Peacock
Well, they had to drop the knickers out of the show, but a bit of good old Wolverhampton vulgarity didn`t come amiss in New York.
“We had this press conference in New York,” said Noddy, the day after Slade got back from their first States tour, “and all these underground press people were there asking all these really mad questions. All they wanted to know about was our dope and sex habits, what sort of creams do we use, that sort of question.”
So what did they do? “Told them. They weren`t expecting that I don`t think, but we can be just as vulgar as them any day, so we were. The press conference got really well debased after that, it was great fun.”
After holding off from the States for a long time, for as long as it took them to achieve a string of hit singles and a solid on-stage reputation in this country, Slade had decided the time was right for them to go and start telling American audiences to Get Down And Get With It. It seems to have worked.
Their tour was opening the show for the likes of Humble Pie, J. Geils, and Boz Scraggs, and from all accounts – Noddy`s included – the audiences sat up and were interested.
“We had to work just like we did in England about a year ago – had to really work on them to get them interested and show them what we were all about. Opening the show, of course, we only had about 30 minutes, so it was a bit different, we had to change the act around a lot, cut out a lot of the humour, and make the music a lot harder.
“But the whole thing worked just like we hoped it would, and like we expected it to. Pie were bringing in the sort of audience who were likely to dig us anyway, so that was no problem, and they followed the instructions – right, they got up on their feet and danced. The only hassle we had was with the cops really – every time people got up to dance they pushed them back in their seats again. That was bad.”
Slade`s onslaught on the States seems to have been run as efficiently and cleverly as most of their operations. They picked the right time, the right tour, and – it seems – the right way of working.
Cutting the act down to 30 minutes, they wisely cut out a lot of the chat – “we had to leave out a lot of the humour thing anyway; some of it they could take, but some of it they couldn`t understand at all. The knickers thing for instance, that didn`t go over well at all” – and left in a set that ran “Hear Me Calling”, “Move over Baby”, “Darlin` Be Home Soon”, “Keep On Rocking”, “Tak Me Bak Ome”, and “Get Down And Get With It”.
If there was an encore it was “Mama Weer All Crazee Now”. If you`ve ever seen Slade on stage, you`ll know that would be a pretty impressive burst of rocking, especially from an opening act.
They got the audiences going: “Promoters and people were telling us they don`t often see a band, especially a bottom of the bill band, go on stage with the attitude we do, wearing all the clothes and the make-up and stuff, and make such a good impression with the audiences. It was just working hard that did it I think – they were surprised.
“But I think it`s improved the band an awful lot too. In Europe it was getting to the point where the act was getting more important than the music, but America really tightened us up. People over here seemed to want all the act stuff so we were getting more and more into that, but in America they really wanted the music so we had to work hard on that, detail it out.
“The audiences over there seemed to be much more interested in the songs than they are over here, they really wanted to get into what we did as well as get up and rave. We did two shows in a lot of the places, and you`d get a lot of young kids coming to the early house, but mostly older people at the second one. That was a lot harder, because they were usually pretty stoned – it was hard getting over to them.”
But whatever the local difficulties, the tour seems to have set Slade well on the way to establishing themselves in the States. Just as they were leaving for home, “Slade Alive”, the album, and their single over there “Tak Me Bak Ome”, had both started into the chart. From here, they have to finish their studio album, do a European tour, then a British tour, and then back to the States, in the new year.
The change has been refreshing in a way – as they predicted, it was like starting again. “The nice thing about it is that I think everyone steps into the States with an equal chance. Like people had heard a bit about what we`d been doing over here, but I think you really have to prove yourselves, to the audiences and to the press. They want to see for themselves.”
Did that apply to T. Rex as well, did he think. “I think it does. Nobody really asked us much about them or seemed to think they were much different from any other band going over there and trying to crack it.”
How did he feel it was going, comparatively?
“I think we`re winning.”
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: Dan Hicks, Home, Tom Paxton, Camel, Dave Davies, Chick Corea, Mott The Hoople, Jimi Hendrix, Stackridge, Alan Hull, Lindisfarne, Danny Seiwell, Natural Acoustic Band, Dando Shaft.
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