Slade in Flame
Panther, St Albans, 1975
The blurb on the back:
Based on the hard-hitting film starring SLADE this story takes a savage look behind the scenes at the pop business. The music will never sound quite the same again.
In 1974 Slade seemed still to be the biggest rock band in the country. They'd started the year at the top of the singles charts with 'Merry Xmas Everybody', their sixth #1, and a greatest hits compilation, Sladest, heading for the top of the albums charts. With all the big hits co-written by band members Noddy Holder and Jim Lea, and with an impressive melodic gift accompanied by classic songwriting, they were the new Beatles. And so they decided to make a movie.
The resulting film, Slade in Flame, turned out surprisingly well. The story was the standard cliché of a band - here named Flame - fighting to make it in the pop industry, and the members of Slade were, as is traditional, cast as rock musicians. They acquitted themselves quite well, though only Noddy came close to revealing any natural screen presence. (His analysis of the others was that: 'Jimmy took it seriously; Don's very witty; Dave doesn't come out of it too well.') The real problem was not the film, nor the soundtrack, but the fact that by the time the thing was released, the bubble had burst.
1975 saw a complete withdrawal of popular support for the heroes of glam, and Slade were amongst those who got swept away in the tide of indifference. Turned out they weren't the new Beatles after all, they were just the old Oasis.
Because of that, the film effectively got lost, but it's worth searching out if you like 1970s rock (in a non-kitsch way). It was issued on video by Eagle Rock Entertainment in 2000. And the book's not bad either. Written by John Pidgeon (later to give us Rod Stewart and the Changing Faces, one of the better rock biographies in the 1970s) from a script by Andrew Birkin, it's efficient if uninspired. It's got eight pages of photos, as well. This isn't one of them:
Flame in concert
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: 3/5
HIPNESS QUOTIENT: 4/5
and a neat bibliography
(have a look around, there's some great sheet music as well)
from the author of...
rock & roll