memories of the ’70s – Slade

The 1970s owes a debt to this band from England who were happily part of the decade’s shiny, rock ‘n’ roll glam stage: Slade.

Don Powell, Dave Hill and Noddy Holder met while doing the club circuit in the late 1960s and although members of different bands, came together to form ‘N Betweens.

Adding bass player Jim Lea, the band focused on writing new songs as well as playing covers and attracted the attention of record companies.

The new band, called Ambrose Slade, was signed to Fontana Records and released a debut album Beginnings, which didn’t attract much attention. But at a live gig, Chas Chandler formerly of The Animals asked to become their manager.

Their new manager changed their look to skinheads, changed the band name to Slade and got them a new deal with Polydor Records. But for two years the band still wasn’t getting any notice.

In 1971, Slade released a cover of Chuck Berry’s Get Down and Get With It, a popular song in their live show and the song became a radio hit and entered the Brit top 20 charts.

The band changed their look again, growing their hair long and going for the glam look, working with Dorothy Anakin, who created elaborate top hats worn by the band. Slade released the single Coz I Luv You, which became another hit. The boys quickly released another single in early 1972, Look Wut You Done, which went to number four on the charts.

Capitalizing on their live show, the band released Slade Alive! in March 1972, which became their bestselling album to date and for the first time gave them airplay and hit the charts in the US. Recorded in a club in Piccadilly, the album was recorded in front of an audience of 300.

Take Me Bak ‘Ome was the band’s third hit single followed closely by one of the band’s most popular singles ever Mama Weer All Crazee Now. The band smartly released its third album, Slayed? in November 1972, which upset Slade Alive! on the charts.

1973 started as a banner year for the band with the single, Cum on Feel the Noize going to number on in the UK and Europe, but not in the US. The band’s drummer Don Powell was in a car crash and suffered many broken bones and slowly recovered over 10 weeks.

The band’s last number one single, recorded in August 1973, was Merry Xmas Everybody, followed in early 1974 with their fourth album Old, New Borrowed and Blue, which went to number one on the UK album charts. Retitled Clap Your Hands, Stomp Your Feet for the US market, the album failed to attract any attention and its single Everyday hit #3 on the UK charts, but nowhere else.

Although the band’s live shows continued to draw fans, the band wanted to change and worked on a soundtrack for a film Slade in Flame, loosely based on the band and other bands of the time period. The gritty bleak film confused fans and its single Far Far Away, wasn’t the happy party sound fans had loved.

Moving to the US in late 1975 and touring with Aerosmith, ZZ Top and Black Sabbath enabled the boys to keep going, but didn’t bring them the notice they wanted as glam rock style was no longer trendy. Their album Nobody’s Fools failed to chart in the UK.

Returning to the UK in 1977, the band realized punk was king and their version of rock was no longer chart worthy. But for the glam rock era, Slade is seen as one of the true patriots to the style.


memories of the ’80s – Brideshead Revisited

An Evelyn Waugh novel was transformed into a series in the early 1980s and became the mini-series of the Fall season: Brideshead Revisited.

Based on the 1945 novel, the 11 part series was based on the unique friendship of Charles Ryder, played by Jeremy Irons and Sebastian Flyte, played by Anthony Andrews.

The series was initially conceived as a six part drama, and Michael Lindsay-Hogg was hired as director in 1979 to start photography and film on the island of Gozo, Malta which was to be the location for the story’s sequences in Morocco, Mexico and South America.

But a four month strike at ITV delayed production and when the strike was over, Lindsay-Hogg couldn’t work on the production and director Charles Sturridge took over, and negotiated to keep many of the main actors involved including Jeremy Irons and Laurence Olivier.

Irons ended up shooting this series and the film The French Lieutenant’s Woman at the same time, doing double duty as both productions were affected by delays.

The story follows the friendship of Ryder and Flyte before and during World War 1, and the scandals, mistresses, secrets, gay relationships, and financial stresses that affect Flyte’s lofty family, the Marchmains.

Ryder is Flyte’s saviour, trying to keep him alive and keep his lifestyle a secret, while still being loyal to Flyte’s mother and sister who are devout Catholics and to the father, who lives with his mistress in Italy, yet trying to maintain their own secret lives. The series ends at the end of WWI, with the numerous consequences of financial ruin, secrets and lies.

After almost a year of filming the series debuted in October 1981 on ITV, CBC in Canada and PBS in the United States and soon became the Sunday night obseession.

Nominated for multiple BAFTA, Emmy and Golden Globe Awards, the series won seven BAFTAs, including best actor for Anthony Andrews, was nominated for nine Emmys with a supporting actor win for Laurence Olivier as Lord Marchmain and three Golden Globe nominations with a win for Andrews for best actor in a mini series.

The series once again cemented the fascination with historical family dramas by television viewers.


memories of the ’70s – Upstairs Downstairs

The public and private lives of the Bellamy Family and their servants became appointment television and cemented the schedule of fledgling PBS show Masterpiece Theatre with the series Upstairs Downstairs.

Created by actors Jean Marsh and Eileen Atkins, their original idea was a series about two housemaids set in the Victorian era. As the idea evolved and the producers got involved, it became the story of two families – the one upstairs and the one downstairs.

Residing at 165 Eaton Place, the upstairs was all about the Bellamy Family, Richard, a Member of Parliament and his well-to-do wife Lady Marjorie and their two children James and Elizabeth. Richard is the son of a country parson who has married well, while Lady Marjorie’s parents are an Earl and a Countess and not happy their daughter didn’t marry someone of the nobility.

Downstairs, the servants are overseen by butler Mr. Hudson and cook Mrs Bridges as well as maids and footmen: Daisy, Rose, Emily, Alfred, Sarah, Pearce Ruby and Edward.

Starting in the Edwardian era, the series debuted on ITV in October 1971, and slowly gained its audience despite its late Sunday night timeslot. The series was later picked up by the BBC and then sent overseas, gaining audiences in North America and Australia.

Each episode took 10 days to create with the actors going through rigorous rehearsals before the two days of taping.

Over the five seasons, the family got older, got married, servants came and servants left, and they all went through World War 1 and the 1920s. Ending in 1930 at the beginning of the Great Depression, the series showed a slice of English history that hadn’t been shown on television in such detail and through the eyes of so many characters.

The series was honoured with numerous awards including BAFTAs, Golden Globes, and Emmys for the series as well as the individual actors. Creator Jean Marsh won an Emmy for her role in the series in 1975.

And its effect was a long-time fascination with a time period and way of life that doesn’t exist for most of us.