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Slade, Others Too Loud




slades Noddy Holder SAN FRANCISCO - It was rock and roll at ear splitting volume at Winterland Saturday night, with three of the loudest groups this side of early Led Zepplin or Black Sabbath "getting down" into the range of primal scream and throbbing drums.

Brownsville Station, the James Gang and Slade were there to set your ears on end, and in that endeavour they succeeded. Enjoyable music should always be more than gut churning bass and heavy repetitive riffs from lead guitar. But that's about all that the James Gang and Brownsville Station offered.

Led by vocalist Cub Koda's pleas for the audience to get into a party spirit, Brownsville Station came on like a 747 with engine trouble, doing a wham bam version of Jerry Lee Lewis' "Drinking' Wine Spo-de-o-de" which made the eardrums throb, but it was almost unrecognisable otherwise.

Throughout the half hour set, Koda and bassist Mike Lutz strutted across stage, traded Peter Townshend style leaps, and tried to make the audience feel obligated to "boogie."



They did a sloppy version of their AM hit, "Smokin' In The Boys' Room" and earned an encore mostly by their frenetic posturing, with 1950's style guitar riffs getting a heavy metal treatment, while Koda made like he was warming up a TV quiz show audience for the cameras.

The encore was the best number Brownsville Station did, an exact cover of the MC5's version of "Ramblin' Rose." Bassist Lutz ended the presentation by leaping from the 10 foot high speakers onto the stage.

During the break, while ears resonated, the closed circuit television showed Mick Jagger singing "Angie" and other tunes from the Rolling Stones newest album. But that was only a momentary respite.

On came the James Gang, who seemed to be caught somewhere between their Kent State origins and early San Francisco psychedelia. The quartet featured three guitarists and a drummer, two gongs and a sophisticated wah wah box to make a guitar sound like a jet plane, an endless echo, a machine gun or anything else which might cover for the groups lack of imagination and innovation.



Boring, overly loud guitar riffs and flashing lights on the groups speakers couldn't make up for the cacophonous sound - more like a wall of noise than anything else. They finally got their act together on the encore "Roll Over Beethoven." which was more coherent than the half baked early psychedelia the group had opened with.

By now everyone's ears were shattered enough for Slade, an English supergroup that has never made it in America. They are an amazingly loud and tight quartet, but after two gutslammer bands preceeding them, this reviewers ears had just about had an evening's quota of skull cracking rock and roll.



Noddy Holder, Slade's lead singer, had an interesting vocal style that was backed by a ballsy bass and rhythm guitar and pulsating drums.

The arrangements were short, crisp and mind boggling in loudness, with Holder, looking like a fleshed out Ian Anderson, making good use of his voice and a mirrored top hat, which reflected a spotlight trained on his head in a hypnotic sort of lighted circle.

Loud music is fine for a while, but a triple bill topped by Slade is too much of a beating for ears to absorb in one evening. Winterland's prices are high enough, without having your ears sonically crushed in the bargain.





From the archive of Chris Selby

Transposed by David Graham

Photograph Slade In England




Slade in England © 2015



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