I heard my next song for the first time under the bedclothes listening to radio
on a tiny transistor radio. I don’t remember why I was under the bedclothes,
but I do remember that Radio Luxembourg reception wasn’t very good, it would
phase in and out, even drift away altogether sometimes to be replaced by some
European chap speaking phlegm.
I was twelve going on thirteen when ‘Raven’ a new song by a group called Ambrose Slade crackled through the ether. From the moment I heard it I knew that it was something special. It had a hypnotic beat and a rawness that seemed dangerous and new at the time. Later I would find that same rawness in the music of the Sex Pistols, but this bluesy slightly raucous sound grabbed me immediately.
When Ambrose Slade changed their name to Slade it became the opening track on the 1970 album Play It Loud which I immediately bought. Raven was written by bassist Jim Lea, lead singer Noddy Holder and drummer Don Powell and was produced by the band's manager Chas Chandler who once managed Jimi Hendrix.
was also responsible for Slade’s original skinhead image, a bit of a mistake in
retrospect as their music didn’t suit the image as it wasn’t reggae and made
them look scary as fuck.
Anyway, it must have worked for me and I spent my formative teenage years dressed in a Cromby and wearing sta-pressed trousers and loafers. Yes, this record was responsible for giving me an image, something that, although it changed and morphed over the decades, was important to me until recently. These days, I don’t give a toss how I look, I still like Slade though.