BELGIUM CALLING.... rAN VINCKE, BELGIUM
Everybody remembers the first records they ever bought, it is either something that you remember with affection or look back on in abject horror as you try to work out what on earth it was that possessed you to shell out your hard earned cash on some two bit novelty record by a one hit wonder. Thankfully, It is with some pride that I remember my first single purchase was 'MY FRIEND STAN',that was 30 years ago. My Next door neighbour was a big fan, his bedroom, like many others throughout Europe at the time was liberally festooned with posters and photo's and all other manner of what would be now described Slade memorabilia.It seemed magical, and when I first heard 'That Voice' I was hooked!
Hearing 'SLADE ALIVE' for the first time completely overwhelmed me, the diversity of the rock music, the raw edged under produced rough and ready power of those songs, the sheer excitement that album generated in me turned me from boy to man in an instant, and almost at once I was begging, borrowing or stealing everything that I could get my hands on as it came my way. SLADE Roolz indeed!!
I got to see and meet the band a few times over the years, my biggest regret however is that I never got to witness the band live in the 'glory days', but as all fans know, Slade were always fantastic live and always managed to pull out all the stops on stage.
I was 16 years old in 1979, and about to embark on a drumming career with a local new wave band when I saw them for the first time. The band were promoting the excellent 'RETURN TO BASE' Lp at the famous 'Ancienne Belqique' in Brussels.SLADE may not have been 'hip' anymore but I remember clearly when the band arrived in a Black Estate car there were plenty of fans, the die hard's, girls and boys all waiting to catch a glimpse of their hero's, Don was sitting in the front, and I was a matter of just a few inches away, but we could only see them for a few seconds as they had to make a hurried dash through the heaving throng and into the venue. The place was almost full and as usual they produced a fantastic concert, which had the Belgian press of the day unanimously announcing "SLADE'S STILL GREAT"..............Indeed they were.
Over the next few years I managed to see the band four more times, 'Lochem' was unbelievable, and the same year they played an unannounced gig at Belgium's jazz bilzen festival with some 35.000 souls in attendance, a lot of them were parents with their children, jazz and blues aficionado's, all other kind of music lovers and the rest off course were SLADE fans who found out just in time that the band were coming. As usual at the end everybody loved SLADE.
Fast forward a year and as a result of a meeting with a gay Belgian TV personality (Television not Transvestites!) he arranged for me and his boyfriend who was also heavily into the band to meet and greet them in Blankenburg where they would be performing three tracks for later broadcast. They did 3 songs, with Holder singing live over backing tracks of ' We'll Bring The House Down', 'I'm A Rocker' and finally one of my favourites 'Wheels Ain't Coming Down'.
It was clear that the band didn't enjoy the experience as it was the middle of a long hot summer, 35 degrees and the band had to play in a huge tent, which was only 1/3rd full as most people were not interested in SLADE at that time and decided to stay on the beach instead. I finally met the band in a small pub. We chatted for about half an hour or so, had a few beers and smokes before they had to hurry off to travel back to England for the Donington Monsters Of Rock Festival
The last time I saw SLADE?.................well I don't really want to mention it here as it wasn't the same band personell and therefore not Slade at all, but some Mickey Mouse parody tribute band that just happened to feature two former members of SLADE.
I am not blinded to some of the crucial bad decisions the band made over the years regarding certain releases and direction that they took, that is all a matter of historic fact, but if I could turn back time I would have wanted SLADE to have taken another musical direction, other single choices.
SLADE with Noddy Holder, arguably one of the best British rock vocalists ever, were a hard rocking, in your face combo and surely one of the best live-acts in history! They may not have always produced the goods musically and could never be classed as the purveyors of a fine lyric, but despite these minor drawbacks SLADE were an incredible band who are not remembered the way they should be.
I would like to see the band inducted into Rock and Roll's hall of fame where there are many many lesser lights than SLADE already there.
Slade deserve it.