Jul 07

SLADE – “Cvm On Feel The Noize”

FT + Popular56 comments • 5,773 views

#326, 4th March 1973

dave-hill.jpgSomething came up on the Sweet comments thread that tied in with a point I’ve been looking for a space to talk about, viz. what the “glam” in “glam rock” can possibly mean. Glamour? Well, of a sort – Bolan was glamorous, Bowie beautiful and overtly freaky, Eno an androgyne peacock, and so on. This is the version of “glam” that’s more easily exportable, the one that the film Velvet Goldmine picks up on, the one with all the sexual and cultural mystique. But then what about Slade, or the Sweet, or Gary Glitter or Roy Wood? What about their “brickies in dresses” version of glam, the louder, less poised one that seemed to take everything in the past and present pop atmosphere – skins and suedes, longhairs, pantomime drag acts, wrestlers, art school androgynes – and slap it all together with the contrast turned on full?

I have often had a problem with glamour – born squarely out of resentment, I admit – but not with glam: the absurdity, glee and aggression of Slade’s look win me at once. This is dressing up for the joy of it, even if it’s also a smart marketing move in an era where instant teatime TV impact was becoming half the battle. The glam rockers look part ridiculous and half superheroic, and even the word – “GLAM!” – is like a comic book sound effect, kinetic and thrill-powered. I don’t know if they were asked very often why they dressed the way they did – I’m sure the response was along “because we can” lines: their look is an expression of liberated force just like Noddy’s bellow in “Cum On Feel The Noize” – “WELL IT MAKES ME MONEY!”

This will to stardom is what links Slade to Oasis, who covered this track even though they dressed much worse – the Gallaghers entrants in a now-long line of British pop wannabes who thrilled the press by proclaiming fame and worship as theirs by right. Whether Slade made similar statements verbally I don’t know but that sense of entitlement comes through in the music from their all-conquering glory year, 1973. I have never owned a copy of “Feel The Noize” that plays as loud as the song wants to be – live this must have been an awesome, frightening spectacle, the thick-cut hooks and Noddy’s buzzsaw shriek coming through clearer, louder and stronger than they can on disc.

(This song stayed at Number 1 for four weeks, and during the fourth I was born. My contemporary existence won’t be a relevant factor in these entries for another couple of years, though. But I thought I’d mention it.)



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    Tom on 6 Jul 2007 #



    This – well the first paragraph or two – is me having a wrestle with the idea of glamour as a baseline pop “good”, one of the first things written on FT in fact. I think the ENEMY IN MY HEAD while writing that piece was none other than London’s top ponce JERRY THE NIPPER, who I did not know personally at the time but who had been a great foe of D Gedge.

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    Alan on 6 Jul 2007 #

    you’ll be wanting one of these ->

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    Rosie on 6 Jul 2007 #

    I never thought of Slade as ‘Glam’, more as a kind of high-spirited stomping pretence to be more uncouth than they actually were. Bowie was glam, Bolan was glam, Elton John was glam. Glitter was an over-the-top pastiche of glam. I never liked glam all that much, but in a sneaky way I rather liked Slade, and still do.

    Tom, if you really have to bowdlerise the title, how about going all Welsh – Cwm on, etc?

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    Marcello Carlin on 6 Jul 2007 #

    I can confirm that Slade never tried it with the Gallagheresque ego trips; they were humble, hearty and happy down-to-earth Midlanders.

    The fact that this was the first single to enter the UK singles chart at number one since “Get Back” was largely down to astute marketing on Polydor’s part; briefing the fan club several months in advance, leasing the record out to radio 4-6 weeks prior to release rather than the (then) normal 1-2 weeks etc., all to build up demand.

    But the demand had to be there to begin with, and yes, Slade absolutely, totally and thoroughly deserved it; they are right to sound celebratory since this is their moment and they grasp it gloriously rather than offputtingly. Note that Liam had to take the song down nearly two octaves to sing his version, but everything is in place on the original; the lovely sideways shuffle of Don Powell’s drums, the gritty but not overpowering lead guitar of Dave Hill, the endlessly inventive bass playing from Jim Lea, and Noddy, shrieking triumphant out at the front as though Lennon lived again (as the man himself acknowledged to Sir Nod later that same year).

    Here those of us who weren’t quite old enough to get the first wave of fuss over the Beatles could get an inkling of what it must have been like; they perform the song as though they owned pop in 1973, and in many ways they did – and it was ours, magically and wonderfully ours.

    I would consider this a 10.

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    yes in my s&s piece on glam (“a masterpiece” © kpunk) i argued that slade were more glitter than glam (i defined glitter as glam’s “bubblegum wing” — ie making no claims for “cultural importance”; i occurs to me in ref. LOOK that glam is the bubblegum wing and glitter the oavish quarter — but that’s the entire territory for you, topsyturvydom-a-gogo yay)

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    koganbot is on holiday currently — he is very pro-slade also and notes that they introduced a new BEAT to rock which i am not competent to describe (and forget where he discussed it)

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    jeff w on 6 Jul 2007 #

    I think it may be in Frank’s book!

    Marcello OTM by the way, and I have nowt to add.

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    Erithian on 6 Jul 2007 #

    This is what the chart rundown should be like – no JK’n’Joel spoilers telling you what’s coming up, just play every record up to number 2 and let people slowly realise there’s a new entry at number 1, for the first time in living memory (mine at any rate) and then drop the needle – “Baby Baby BAAAABYYYYY…”

    As Marcello beat me to saying, this was the first new-entry Number 1 since “Get Back”, which I was too young to appreciate at the time, so it was a major chart event. (Spoiler alert) Slade did it twice more that year and Gary Glitter once, and after that nobody repeated the feat for just over six years, until Polydor (again) perfected the art of timing The Jam’s releases to give them three straight in at the top from 1980-82. It happened a few times in the rest of the 80s – the big charity records, Duran, Frankie, Madonna – but remained a rarity until 1991, when it happened six times in the year, including four times in eight weeks after Bryan Adams’ marathon stint. Then of course the marketing chaps really got a grip, and it gradually became customary for records to enter the chart at their highest position, until in 2000 there were 44 new number 1s, virtually all of them new entries. So anybody whose interest in the chart began after the early 90s can’t imagine what an exciting thing the rundown could be in ’73!

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    Marcello Carlin on 6 Jul 2007 #

    Noddy talked about the rhythmic “innovations” on the Radcliffe show a while back; he ascribed Slade’s “shuffle” to blurred childhood memories of Bob Wills’ Texas two-step, halved in speed and right-angled in pronunciation (or something like that; basically Slade’s beats are accentuated differently – I think on every third bar as opposed to to the 1-3 of reggae or the 2-4 of rock – and the triplets themselves are divided up erratically JUST LIKE TONY OXLEY), and the Military Two-Step.

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    Marcello Carlin on 6 Jul 2007 #

    (actually mark s & I need to entice top drummer Glyn to come on here and give a proper technical explanation of all this)

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    Tom on 6 Jul 2007 #

    I think if I ever got my hands on a copy (I have it on 33 and 45 vinyl, CD, and MP3) that sounds as clear and awesome as the one in my head it wd have got a 10 – is there a really good master or pressing of it? (And if I’d been there it wd have got a 10 too – Marcello’s v.evocative comment made me nostalgic for certain straight-in-at-#1 dressing-up-games crazy-rhyrhms extravaganzas of my own youth…)

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    Tom on 6 Jul 2007 #

    That should be “remaster” – I assume if there is a really good master it is in the hands of their record label!

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    Andrew Farrell on 6 Jul 2007 #

    Also one of their TV performances shows that glamourous is also one of the elements on display, along with some kind of Dalek made of… light?

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    nooooo! s(a)lade of all the (other) harmonic convergences :0

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    grange85 on 6 Jul 2007 #

    Oh this is so definitely a 10 – murky or not. While Sweet were a bit sinister, Slade were surely the glam your granny could like. I started to write “lovable rogues” but they weren’t even that. Just nice sweet boys (with long hair and spangly togs). Was Noddy on that Culture Show “Living Icons” shortlist because he darn well should have been – just as much a national treasure as Stephen Fry or Alan Bennett.

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    Rosie on 7 Jul 2007 #

    I have to say that while I like this and it’s my favourite of Slade’s singles, I can’t really see it as a 10.

    But then, I suspect that most followers of this site will value most highly the music they grew up with, and I’d moved on by this time. For me, House of the Rising Sun was a shoo-in 10, it was like nothing else that had topped the charts at the time, and even now, forty-three years on, it can still send shivers down my spine in a way that Slade can’t.

    I worry about grade inflation from here on in – more tens maybe, more ones, fewer nuanced scores in the middle. I hope it won’t happen. There are strange times ahead – from a very long run (Jimmy Jones to Diana Ross) in which I was very familiar with everything, to a period when some things are familiar, some things I thought I remembered are something else altogether, and some things are new to me. I wasn’t listening much to singles radio from here.

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    Tom on 7 Jul 2007 #

    I have a spreadsheet to stop grade inflation (well hopefully) – it’s worked so far, in terms of keeping 10s special anyway – the danger is more 6s and 7s becoming 8s and 9s I think. But it won’t be a danger until the late 70s (78-82 were the Great Singles Sales Recovery anyway, so if I value those years highly at least the market will agree with me!)

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    Waldo on 8 Jul 2007 #

    This effort WAS Slade. A truly great record and the Oasis replica didn’t come close, which loathsome though the Gallaghers are, wasn’t their fault.

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    Erithian on 9 Jul 2007 #

    “Tom, if you really have to bowdlerise the title, how about going all Welsh – Cwm on, etc?” – a reminder that the Stereophonics’ Cardiff Castle gig in 1998 was titled after their home town, “Cwmaman Feel The Noize”!

    Number 2 Watch – another great feelgood tune, the Faces’ “Cindy Incidentally”, stalled at 2 behind Slade. It was around this time that the Faces played a gig in Sunderland the night after Sunderland FC had beaten Arsenal in the FA Cup semi-final (before going on the beat Leeds in the final) – often cited as John Peel’s favourite gig of all time, as the band just keyed into the town’s euphoria.

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    intothefireuk on 9 Jul 2007 #

    Ah yes I remember sneaking a crappy old transistor radio into school to listen to that weeks top 30 on (I think) the Johnnie Walker lunchtime show (chart was announced on a Tuesday then). When he played this it was an amazing head rush to hear that a record could actually jump in straight to No1. (like an earlier commentator I was aware of put not party to the Beatles reign). The single screamed out from my inadequate tranny speaker like nothin before it. Slade succeeded in crafting an anthem for the teen generation & managed to encapsulate everything in one single that was great about pop at the time. Glam was seemingly an excuse for artists to dress up as outrageously as they wanted – some were more reluctant than others. Mick Ronson famously questioned Bowie’s clothing ethics until he was assured that he’d pull more girls – which in turn he apparently did thus winning him over. Not entirley sure what Holder was aiming for but Dave Hill looked like he’d been let loose in a pantomime wardrobe. The emphasis was on fun so it all seems odd when TV docos highlight how depressing that period of the 70s was. Maybe Glam was then partly a backlash – the great British stiff upper in action. Whatever it was it was exciting & entertaining – a no hold(er)s barred solid gold 10.

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    Marcello Carlin on 9 Jul 2007 #

    Any American readers prepared to defend/explain the Quiet Riot version?

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    Brian on 9 Jul 2007 #

    I love this song, No matter who’s behind it – it’s perfect. It wasn’t released until 1983 by Quiet Riot ( a heavy metal band ) and we still hear it by them ( i think ) on ” hits ” radio in Canada. Quiet Riot are better known as a band than Slade over here.

    ROSIE SAYS :But then, I suspect that most followers of this site will value most highly the music they grew up with….

    Because I spent several years in desert and didn’t hear a lot of singles UK radio , I was at a loss for many of the songs posted. But I, for one, am looking forward to hearing more subjective reactions to songs. All of my posts have been totally subjective ( and mostly crap ) .ALthough it’ll take a few more years before Tom can gurgle ” I remember that “, I look forward to the emotional , personal reacations to songs.

    I may not get it from the the levelled out reviews , but that’s OK. All music is subjective, anyway. It’s gonna sneak through.

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    Waldo on 10 Jul 2007 #

    The Johnnie Walker show was magnificent. Each day at one o’clock there was a treat. On Monday, he played the current Number One; Tuesday, as has been mentioned, came the new chart; on Wednesday Johnnie played a Number One on that date from a year gone by; Thursday was a track from the UK Number One album (James Last??!!) and Friday was the US Number One. It was on such Fridays that we were treated to some great stuff which often but not always flopped over here. One which certainly sticks in the memory (and didn’t flop here) was Wild Cherry’s “Play That Funky Music” and I can recall clearly being captivated by the funky intro from the get-go. I have read Walker’s autobiography and would recommend it to all of you, young or old.

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    Erithian on 10 Jul 2007 #

    Dead right, the Johnnie Walker show was an education. My favourite moment of his was when he played Mott The Hoople’s “All The Way From Memphis”, then went right against the playlist rules and stuck it on again, explaining “it’s just so good”.

    Yeah, Wild Cherry – I was appalled when I first heard it, being on the rock side of the music divide and hating the large majority of disco. The “rock singer gets converted to disco and takes the band with him” narrative went totally against what I believed in. The problem was, as I soon had to admit, it was a bloody fine record.

    Rosie – I hope your remark about moving on doesn’t mean you’re about to leave us!

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    Marcello Carlin on 10 Jul 2007 #

    Yes, and JW used “Time Is Tight” as his chart rundown music. Indispensable school lunchtime listening.

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    Waldo on 10 Jul 2007 #

    Johnnie’s signature tune, though, was and is “Because they’re young” by Dwaine Eddy. His tendency to frequently go against the playlist drew me to him even more. On one occasion, he read out a few rude letters from teenaged girlies, fans of a certain group of tartan-wearing Sweaties (more of whom later, alas), who had taken offence to Walker slagging them off on air. Johnnie responded by saying that he was certainly not withdrawing his remarks and that “the day your idols produce anything as good as this, I will apologise”. He then played “Get Back”.

    ONE-NIL !!!!!

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    Marcello Carlin on 10 Jul 2007 #

    Not long thereafter he “left” Radio One.

    Oh, and “pop-pop-POP! POP-POP THE QUESTION NOWWWWWW!!!!!”

    This is all scintillating reading for the teenagers innit?

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    Waldo on 10 Jul 2007 #

    Oh yes, “Pop The Question”. Happy Days! We used to sing “Hop-Hop-Hop Hop-Hop the lesson Nowwwww!” when we didn’t fancy double maths.

    And, yes, Johnny W was invited to leave very soon after the Bay City Rollers slur (whoops, spolier!). The Head of Radio One (Derek Chinnery, I think it was) pleaded with him that “you have a lunch time show with lots of kids listening and you can’t just slag off the chart acts”. As Private Fraser would say “he was doooomed!!!!!!!”

    I hope any teens reading these ramblings are indeed interested in some of this. I was one myself at that time, although I never quite got into old time music hall. Leonard Sachs did nothing for me at all.

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    Erithian on 10 Jul 2007 #

    A quick shudder as I remember that these are events of 30-odd years ago that we fortysomethings are talking about, and the equivalent for us would have been oldies telling stories of Vera Lynn and ITMA. It’s sobering to note that the exact mid-point between VE Day and today is the long hot summer of ’76! – just shows how elastic time can seem.

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