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2023/4 Albums Thing 310 - Slade “Slade In Flame”

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Slade were massive, and what did massive bands do at this time ? Well they made a movie didn’t they, usually some sort of slapstick comedy caper, which is exactly what Slade didn’t do. Slade only went and made what is now regarded as one of the greatest films about the grubby side of the music business, “Slade in Flame”.

The film sees two rival bands playing the club circuit (the backing band for ageing singer Jack Daniels (!) features Dave Hill, Jim Lea and eventually Don Powell while the singer for Roy Priest & the Undertakers is Noddy Holder). Those 4 eventually come together as the fictitious Flame who are taken on by a marketing company and eventually reach the top, only to break up at their peak due to their disillusionment with the business. It’s a dark and gritty film, described by critic Mark Kermode as the “Citizen Kane of rock musicals" and stars some great British acting talent as the supporting cast, Tom Conti, Alan Lake and Johnny Shannon (one of those you’d know him if you saw him actors) among them.

The other star of the film is Slade’s soundtrack, which makes up arguably their absolutely best album. It kicks off with the utterly brilliant “How Does It Feel ?” a song I’ve loved since first hearing it aged around 12. It was played at a dear, dear friends funeral as the curtains closed around him some years ago. I was fine until that point but as Jim Lea’s piano started I couldn’t hold it in anymore and turned into a blubbering wreck, it still tears me up now. 

“Them Kinda Monkeys Can’t Swing” appears in the film being played at the newly formed Flame’s first gig. It’s prime glam-rockin’ Slade and the scene itself is perfect, with Noddy as music hall front man and the band really flying.

There is plenty more prime rockin’ Slade to keep fans happy. "O.K. Yesterday Was Yesterday”, the superb "Lay It Down" and “Standing On The Corner” are all real rockers. But Slade were changing, lead single “Far Far Away” demonstrated that. It was a gentle acoustic tune regaling the listener with tales of some of the things the band had seen and done while touring the world but professing ultimately that there’s no place like home. It’s a great, great song and reached #2 on the singles chart. Follow up single “How Does It Feel ?” confirmed the bands growing musical horizons but only reached #15, the first time they had missed the top 5 since “Get Down And Get With It” in 1971.

The film itself being quite bleak and the noticeable change in sound, following on from “Old, New, Borrowed & Blue”, means you can mark the release of this film and album as the point in time where Slade lost their crown as Britain’s favourite band. “Slade in Flame” really is their strongest album but Slade were seen as a good time, Glam-tastic, boot-stomping singalong band and on this album they were obviously moving on and away from that. America beckoned and Slade would never again be the chart topping good time boys of the early 70’s.

Them Kinda Monkeys Can’t Swing - https://youtu.be/nePTkyIEPjM?si=B1btmJ6jdiWKMhEE

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