And now for something COMPLETELY different…
Yes, it was in a flat in Brixton that I first learned a hallowed reverence for the name Slade. A legendary band.
It’s one of those quintessentially British phenomena. Like HP Sauce, perhaps.
But on with the film…in the tradition of The Beatles and Elvis before them.
Director Richard Loncraine did a fine job of actually conveying both the anarchy and oppression of rockroll. Plainly put, this movie is a ton of fun, but the message which comes with the thrills is somewhat harrowing.
Loncraine’s filmography as auteur doesn’t really read like a Cahiers-approved canon. An illustrative title might be his Brimstone and Treacle from 1982.
At any rate, he certainly did a fantastic job leading Noddy Holder and the group into cinematic immortality.
There are some priceless contributions from actors such as Alan Lake (as Jack Daniels, rockstar).
Tom Conti is the perfect foil to the antics of Slade (in meta-character as Flame).
Noddy’s first real bit is fronting a band called The Undertakers. Like Screaming Lord Sutch, he gets locked in his coffin (think Screamin’ Jay Hawkins) on stage…a sort-of archetype to be later expanded upon for the “pods” sequence of This Is Spinal Tap.
What makes this film fascinating is the balance it strikes between the beer-swilling rock life and the Covent Garden big money managers who bring scruffy rabble to the masses.
I can’t stress enough how bad-ass this group was. The first performance they give in the film, in a shitty little club, is a revelation…absolutely devastating in an MC5 sort of way. The songcraft is impeccable–like Zeppelin meets Beatles.
Seeing the rows of council flats…a few mere years before Johnny Rotten laid waste to the decrepit stupor of Britain…this is a poignant time capsule.
Not only do we see Noddy as the veritable rock god he is, we get every angle of the meteoric rise to fame which has lobbed bands across the heavens since those heady mid-70s days.