Tuesday, October 7, 2008

SLADE-Get Yer Boots On Boyo!

SLADE-Wild Winds Are Blowing/One Way Hotel U.K. Fontana TF 1058 1969

Here's an odd rock n' roll scenario for you, imagine the successful manager/Svengali of one of the biggest names in rock takes an unknown long haired hard rocking band and decides that capitalizing on the skinhead movement will bring them notoriety and then fame, instructs his charges accordingly, gets their nuts (heads) cropped, kits them out in boots and braces but allows them to continue playing their loud and brash brand of r'n'r. Sound like utter b.s? It's true. Ex-Animals bassist/former Jimi Hendrix manager/producer/Svengali Chas Chandler happens upon a Wolverhampton, U.K. band called Ambrose Slade (formerly The N' Betweens) who've been kicking around for a bit. They released on unsuccessful album ("Beginnings" on Fontana in April 1969) and a flop single ("Genesis" culled from the LP). Neither were bad at all, in fact the LP had a few spirited originals as well as a nice mix of covers of songs originally done by The Moody Blues ("Fly Me High"), Idle Race ("Knocking Nails Into My House") and Steppenwolf ("Born To Be Wild") to name but a few.

Chas shortened the band's name to Slade and had them crop their shoulder length hair (to at least a three and half crop), got them in braces, boots and Ben Shermans. The band were all aghast of this new image. There's a great bit on YouTube someplace from a Slade documentary where guitarist Dave Hill shudders about how a band who'd cover "Martha My Dear" w/ their bassist on gypsy violin would go down amongst the hardcore reggae bootboy set. But having played half their career in rough Northern clubs the band agreed and dutifully slogged on. Chandler launched their new name and new look on October 1st 1969 with "Wild Winds Are Blowing"/"One Way Hotel" on Fontana.

"Wild Winds are Blowing" is a (excuse the phrase) balls up straight ahead rocker. Seeing the band on YouTube playing this live on Tyneside TV in '69 in the skinhead gear is probably one of the coolest moments of rock n' roll on the tube (see below, it should still be there). Seeing them then do "Martha My Dear" on the same show in the same gear (w/ bassist Jim Lea playing a violin) is surreal! "Wild Winds..." is a jaunty hard rocking number with lead singer Noddy Holder bellowing like a bootboy Bill Sykes on his way to a post match punch up. The rhythm is jerky full of slash it up guitar licks and catchy stops. It didn't chart but paved the way for the bands future "stomp, clap your hands" style.

"Wild Winds Are Blowing" Live on Tyneside TV 1969:

The flipside "One Way Hotel" (also soon to crop up on the debut "as Slade " album "Play It Loud" in early 1970 in re-recorded form) is almost a polar opposite to the topside. It starts out with a light guitar lick that reminds me of The Jam's "Mr. Clean" intro and turns into a catchy melodic little number with a Beatlesque/Idle Race style bridge. The tune itself is about a man being committed to an asylum.

Both tracks are available on a U.K. CD that packages both "Beginnings" and "Play It Loud" on one disc with assorted a and B side bonus material, or you can download them from iTunes.

"One Way Hotel" for your entertainment:


Mickey P. said...

Interesting article but I have a couple of questions:

1. "Chandler launched their new name and new look on October 1st 1969..."

I know it was around this time but what makes you quote 1/10/1969 specifically?

2. What makes you think One Way Hotel is "about a man being committed to an asylum."

I don't disagree but I'd like confirmation if you have it. One Way Hotel on the flip of Wild Winds... is a different recording to the Play It Loud version. It is available on The B-Sides remastered compilation recently released by Union Square Music.

wilthomer said...

The 1/10/69 date comes from the liner notes to the reissue CD of the first two Slade LP's, oddly the 45 version I had of "Wild Winds" had the same version as the LP, weird! I must seek out the CD you mentioned to hear the "original" recording, cheers!

wilthomer said...

I just went back and listened to a CD-R I burned of the 45 and damn you're right it IS a different version, quite simlar but not nearly as produced!

m. linna said...

What an oustanding group they were- and great with us diddly-squat fans!

Mickey P. said...

It's taken me a few years but I've just found out that you actually answered me. Thanks. ;-)

Mickey P. said...

FYI, this is my take on it. http://sladestory.blogspot.com/1970/02/slade.html
We've yet to find any earlier evidence than 9/10/1969, not that it matters but it keeps me out of trouble and stops Chris getting bored. ;-)