Don Powell’s supergroup set sights on Robin 2 gig
Express and Star 31.10.2016:
"He will forever be known for being the powerhouse behind the anthems of Slade – but drummer Don Powell is looking to show a new side to himself with a new supergroup.
Don, who provided the thundering drums behind the Black Country glam gods has joined up with bass player and vocalist Suzi Quatro, as well as Andy Scott of the Sweet to form QSP – a play on all their names.
The band is the brainchild of Quatro, who invited Scott and Bilston lad Don to come together for a jam session earlier this year, and now Don has his sights set on a hometown gig at Bilston’s Robin 2.
The trio clicked and recorded an album’s worth of covers and new tracks which they will release in the new year after inking a deal with Sony Music, who were instrumental in convincing the band to get out on the road. Don said of the formation: “It all started a few years ago. We did a big show in Birmingham and afterwards we were having a cup of tea and Andy said we would make a good band.
“We all made contact with each other, had a few days’ rehearsal and it worked fantastically so we decided to do some recording together.
“We started recording in Peter Gabriel’s studio in Bath which is a fantastic place. That’s where we recorded the album.
“The album is a bit easier and more melodic than what Slade do. We’ve had a great time doing the project together and known each other a long time. It felt like we’d been playing together for years and we were pleasantly surprised.
We used girl backing vocalists, keyboard player and a sax player. The album is all finished and mixed, we recorded in the old fashioned way of all being in the studio together and playing together.”
The band will support Quatro, who is taking her Leather Forever tour Down Under in the new year. Prior to the tour, Don is set to celebrate 50 years of Slade with a triumphant homecoming show at the Robin 2. The band is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year and the current line-up, which includes original members Dave Hill and Don, play the venue on December 16.
Next year, a convention marking the band’s achievements will be held at the same venue on May 28."
"Nobody's Fools. The Definitive Biography" October 2016
Omnibus Press publishes "Nobody's Fools" biography of Slade by Dick Porter on 17th October 2016.
"More than simply the iconic group of the 1970s glam rock era, Slade's huge popularity and the enduring levels of affection still exist.Although the original quartet ceased working as a unit in 1992, Noddy Holder, Dave Hill, Jim Lea and Don Powell remain household names.The first serious biography of Slade since 1984, Slade: Nobody's Fools details the complete story of this unique band, as well as the personal histories of the four unique individuals who combined to turn Slade into a genuine phenomenon.
Beginning by exploring the background and influences that shaped the foursome, the book charts their emergence from the 1960s beat boom, their initial successes, the epoch-making glam heyday, Slade's attempts to crack America and subsequent re-emergence as hard rocking heavyweights, through to their final dissolution and post-Slade careers. Featuring new interviews with all four members of the band, as well as a host of other key figures in their history, Slade: Nobody's Fools represents the final word on a band that won hearts and perforated eardrums across four incident-filled, often ironically bittersweet decades."
Jim Lea month continues... JIM LEA – THERAPY
Just backdated, Chris Charlesworth 16.10.2016:
"Back in 2009 Jim Lea, Slade’s multi-instrumentalist and chief songwriter, released an album of his own called Therapy which, in his own words, was ‘the product of a notoriously tricky journey into midlife and its incumbent crises’. If that sounds like a recipe for disaster, think again. Therapy was a thoughtful record, crafted with skill and imagination, a collection of 13 songs that only rarely echo the glam rock wham-bang of Slade. Painstaking recorded with immaculate attention to detail and a complement of strings, brass and woodwind, it would have exasperated Slade producer Chas Chandler, a firm believer in the in-and-out-as-fast-as-you-can style of recording.
Therapy was released on Jim’s own label, Jim Jam Records, which didn’t have access to decent distribution so it slipped by largely unnoticed except by a few Slade fans, though it’s sold consistently over the years through word of mouth. I don’t recall reading any reviews, and had Jim not told me about himself – and played me a few tracks in his car parked in the West End one lunchtime – I’d have been none the wiser. I was particularly taken with a song called ‘The Smile Of Elvis’ and though I wasn’t too keen on tracks that incorporated recitations, I warmed to the record as I listened to it while commuting. It was an album that could only have been made by someone who’d seen rock from the inside and now felt the need to comment as an outsider, and though I don’t think Jim intended it to be a concept work, there is a theme to the songs insofar as it does indeed reflect a journey into midlife, a bit deeper than most albums and certainly deeper than being all crazee now. This isn’t say it’s a moody trip – some of the songs rock out – but there’s a trace of maturity, of contemplation in the lyrics, that’s like an aged malt whisky.
Although Noddy Holder is widely assumed to be the cornerstone of Slade, the truth is that without Jim they’d have got nowhere...
Jim played bass on stage and like all bassists in bands that became enormously successful – McCartney, Entwistle, Bruce, Jones –he came from a musical background... He’s one of those slightly lopsided musical masterminds who can get a tune out of any instrument he turns his mind to, guitar, piano, strings, probably the bagpipes for all I know.
There is something else, too, in Jim’s make up. He is partially dyslexic. He doesn’t like to read books – he hasn’t even read my 1984‘official’ biography of Slade, which if I didn't know him as well as I do might have displeased me – and has trouble concentrating.
Nevertheless, although he was just 16 – three years younger than Noddy, Dave and Don – his skills ensured he got the job over a bunch of hopefuls with Fender basses and Marshall amps. Gear means nothing to him – he wrote most of Slade’s hits on an old Spanish guitar that belonged to Louise.
As Slade’s star lost its shine during the second half of the seventies, he was certainly up for a second trial of strength but like Noddy he knew when to call it a day, and now has no interest whatsoever in joining Dave Hill and Don Powell in their Slade II touring band.
“For every new song I wrote for them, I also wrote some lyrics but I left it to Nod to finish them or rewrite them,” he says, adding that his role in the band went some way further than simply writing the melodies and playing bass. “After a few weeks with the band it became natural for me to do all the musical arranging for them,” he tells me. “It was never an imposition, more an enjoyable encumbrance.”
Finally, I should mention that Therapy comes with a second CD taken from the one and only solo gig Jim Lea has ever performed, at the Robin 2 R’n’B Club in Bilston in November 2002. Fronting a trio, singing and playing lead guitar as opposed to bass, Jim called his band Jim Jam and rocked out without mercy, probably as loud as Slade in their day and, believe me, Slade could be blisteringly loud. The set list includes covers, a handful of Slade hits and a couple of his own songs, one of them a tribute to Keith Moon called ‘Over The Moon’ which segues into ‘Substitute’, as good a cover of this Who masterpiece as I’ve ever heard. More importantly Jim shows off lead/rhythm guitar skills I hadn’t imagined existed, a touch of Hendrix on ‘Hey Joe’ and ‘Wild Thing’, a hint of jazz in the slippery chords of‘Far Far Away’, a punk onslaught on ‘Pretty Vacant’ and an overall mastery of feedback whenever the mood takes him.
Jim also handles the introductions, anecdotes, self-effacing wit and a few dollops of homespun wisdom. “Nowadays bands take a year to make an album and tour for three weeks,” he says at one point. “In our day we had two weeks to make an album and toured for three years.”
Far be it for me to say which method produces the best results."
Big thanks to Chris "the Slade writer" !
Class act Jim adds a new string to his bow
Andy Richardson/Express & Star 8.10.2016
"He couldn’t make the call when we’d originally planned to speak. Jim Lea, the Black Country rock star
responsible for writing Merry X’Mas Everybody, was doing more important things.
His grandchild was looking forward to a significant birthday so Jim was buying food and drink for 80.
Lucky kid. Celebrating your 18th with the world’s coolest granddad is the only way to party.
I hope he serenaded her with Coz I Luv You.
But when Jim did call, the usually out-of-circulation bass-playing, Slade songwriter could have talked
for hours. And he very nearly did. We ran out of time initially – Steve Punt, one half of Punt and
Dennis, was due on the other line and we had to call it a day. So Jim called back a little later to
make sure we’d got all we needed. You can’t buy class. And he had it in spades.
Jim’s a fascinating man. Typecast as the curly-haired quiet one with one of the greatest pop-rock bands of them all, he’s always been viewed as the man who doesn’t say much; a dyed-in-the-wool technophobe who happily admits to not using email or a mobile phone.
A man who lived in his own head, rather than in the full glare of the spotlight, he retreated into the shadows where it was safe to write 17 consecutive top 20 hits, six number ones and mastermind the band’s status as the most successful British group of the 1970s.
Every Lennon needs a McCartney, every Liam needs a Noel and Slade probably wouldn’t have made it out of Walsall without the songwriting brilliance of Lea. He was the one who added substance to their style, who meant they could walk the walk as well as talking the talking. Jim was the engine room and the fulcrum, the glue that bound.
There’s an art in not outstaying your welcome. And Noddy knew when to call it a day on the band. After 25 years, a successful comeback and belated American breakthrough followed by a second decline in popularity – hell, at that point, they couldn’t get arrested and even their Greatest Hits album stalled at number 89 – Noddy did the sensible thing and left.
Jim explored the options of bringing in another frontman, but realised no one could cut it like Nod, so followed him into the world of retirement. Dave and Don Powell teamed up with three other musos to flog a dead horse in Slade II, which was never going to be a good idea.
The man who had lived in his head while the Slade brethren were partying their way around the world decided to study what had been going on in his mind for all of those years.
The man who co-wrote Skweeze Me Please Me, Mama Weer All Crazee Now and who wrote My Oh My after listening to Noddy and Dave tuning up before a gig at the University of Wales and imagined ‘bagpipes’ decided to study psychotherapy.
He immersed himself in particulate psychics and became probably the only man to have written six UK number one hits and develop a working knowledge of string theory.
String theory, for the uninitiated, describes the the way in which strings propagate through space and interact with each other.
It’s the sort of thing that you normally hear around the dinner table at King’s College, Cambridge, as masters pass the port – rather than in the dressing room of Bilston’s Robin 2. But then Jim’s always been a one-off.
His next record will feature violins, cellos, double bass and other instrumental music. And, you guessed it, he’s calling it String Theory.
“I don’t blow and I don’t hit,” he says.
And he’s referring to musical instruments rather than recreational drugs or hand-to-hand combat, before you say it.
Jim started his career in the year when England won the World Cup. And he’s still as creative as ever.
Cum On Feel The Noize. God love him."
The most frequently heard song on the planet
5.10.2016 Interview: Slade's Jim Lea talks ahead of band's 50th anniversary show
"Merry Christmas Everybody has been heard by more people more times than any other tune.
Forget The Beatles’ Yesterday and The Righteous Brothers You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling. The song that most people have heard was written by a bloke from Bilbrook while he was in a pig of a mood.
Jim Lea, the bassist with Slade, was in the USA when he wrote it. Homesick and depressed, he’d been told to write a festive number by Slade’s manager, Chas Chandler, the guy who also looked after Jimi Hendrix. Lea popped into the shower and started humming. A billion listens later, he’s glad he did.
Jim doesn’t thank his lucky stars for his moment of genius. He thanks John Lennon; for had the iconic Beatle not finished recording a solo album on time, the song would never have been written.
Jim says: “I came up with Merry Xmas in America. Our manager was always ringing saying ‘how’s the writing going’? I said I hadn’t got anything. I wasn’t very well and was really depressed and I just wanted to go home. There was a studio in New York, called the Record Plant, and John Lennon had been recording there.
“Lennon’s finished his album on schedule but his management had booked an extra two weeks in case he’d run over. He’d got his work done so didn’t need the studio. So Chas booked it for me. I told him I’d got no songs.
“But Chas said ‘The thing is Jim, it would be nice to be in the charts at Christmas’. And he said ‘You know what, it would be even nicer to be number one at Christmas’.
“So I went into the shower and got the lovely warm water on me. I just said to myself – and I was almost talking to my own brain – ‘Come on, do it now’. And lo and behold I pieced the whole thing together. I was really pleased with it. I got that melody – the chorus – and I thought what’s it about?
“Then I remember what Chas had said. And I literally started singing ‘So here it is, Merry Xmas, Everybody’s having fun’.”
Jim went back to the band to tell them about his latest tune. And they laughed in his face. Don Powell and Dave Hill didn’t want to record while Noddy Holder, the band’s singer and lyricist, thought Jim was off his rocker.“