Don Powell interviews

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Location: Odense, Denmark

Published author, Ph.D. I write mostly fiction and books on music, movies, art and literature.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Interview, October 9, 2006

I went to Silkeborg on a crisp October-morning and Don picked me up at the station. We then went to the house where I was introduced to Rocky, Don’s 10 weeks old Golden Retriever-puppy. It was just so cute! We went to have lunch in town (excellent buffet, by the way) and then back home to do a short interview and some pics. After that we had some other work to take care off and as the day progressed more and more family-members got home from school and work. We all had a lovely dinner together (thanks to Don’s lady Hanne) and in the evening Don and Hanne drove me to the station. As usual a superb day in superb company.

Don and me, October 9, 2006 Posted by Picasa

October 9, 2006: interview conducted at Don’s place, Silkeborg, Denmark

What do you think of the Slade Box?
I’m very impressed. When we visited Union Square a couple of weeks ago to do the comments for Flame, the guys there, Chas Chandler and Steve Fruin, told us about it being remastered by Tim Turan and he did a fantastic job! Especially when they said that a lot of the tracks, they hadn’t access to the original masters, so they remastered them from the singles of the time, like the B-sides and he did a great job, Tim Turan did. And when we went there, Dave got home before I did, and he called and mentioned to me, play them, because they sound REALLY good and they’ve done a great job. And he has. And I called Nod to say the same thing, because he hadn’t played the new box set. I said, when you play them you’ll be really impressed what a good job the guys did on them. It is really good. When you think some of these tracks go back over 30 years and they’ll obviously sound a little dated, but sometimes that’s quite nice because that’s like the appeal of the thing. But again, that’s different for me being in the business, but the way records sound nowadays, it’s incredible. The kids expect that when they buy records. They expect an A1 incredible sound and I think the guys did a great job.

What do you think of the pick of the tracks?
I think they also did a great job there, choosing the tracks. All the hits gotta be on them, but that’s quite good with some of the other tracks, they actually work well with the hits. Things from the late seventies and the eighties, “Knuckle Sandwich Nancy” and things like that. They are quite nice, the tracks they’ve chosen. It’s good. It’s a good collection of them. Especially what works nice is…we did the album which is actually my favourite album, the “Nobody’s Fools” album, and there’s quite a few tracks from THAT. That’s quite nice. For me anyway!

I read some review that said it was strange that both CD 3 and CD 4 consisted of tracks from after the heydays.
I think that is quite nice. I think they HAVE to. A box set has to include those.
It also said it was strange that there were so few live tracks, but…I thought, the live-collection has just been released…
Exactly! It is there on the live-CD with Slade Alive 1 and 2 and the other live albums. Anyway, it must be a pretty difficult job, when they are doing that, releasing other albums like they were, and they have to sort of chose tracks for this particular project. Just take the first side or CD1 rather, which I was quite impressed with, there are some nice songs there. Some of my favourites like “She Did It To Me”, there are some wonderful songs there. I’m a bit disappointed that we didn’t do MORE of that. Because when we recorded it I was quite impressed, it’s a lovely song.
Different reviewers also complain that there is nothing new there, on the box.
Well, it’s not a new release. It’s a box set. The thing with a box set is to have the big ones. It is more like the history of the band, basically. Spanning Slade’s entire recording career. That’s what it is.

What do you think of the way that the box looks?
[Don bursts into laughter:] You know, at first I didn’t even noticed that at all! Nod’s hat! It’s so obvious! Not until Chas at Union Square said, noticed something? [still laughing] Of course! [laughs a bit more, before continuing:] But I think it is quite effective. Especially the black and white with the red Slade. And also what is nice as well is the photographs in the booklet. Photographs that haven’t really been seen before. Like when we made the Flame-movie and Andrew Birkin and Richard Loncraine came with us to America, and Andrew took a LOT of photographs obviously when he was on the road with us. And it is SO nice to see new photographs. It would be so easy to use the usual photographs that you see everywhere, so I think that is SO good. Some of them I remember. Like the one where we get on a plane and the guy at the bottom, Russ Shore his name was. He was from a record company in America and was travelling with is. He was like their promotions man. So when we arrived where ever we were travelling to, he would have interviews for radio-stations lined up, so we spent the afternoons splitting up and do radio shows and press.
It is nice seeing new photographs and it is nice seeing Chas as well. I like that Chas is there. He was always travelling with us. Mmm…it’s nice seeing the photographs of Chas…And the clothes, of course! [laughs] You waited for that one, didn’t you? [laughs again] And the clothes, of course! I think that is what I look for more than anything. What were we wearing? It’s like when you read the dialogs of the booklet about Dave changing in the toilet and we would give him a shout, what’s he gonna wear? It is SO true, that!

I like that it is Keith Altham who did the essay and not somebody hired without knowing the band.
Yeah. Yeah, that’s good. He got sort of like a closeness to the band, obviously, being our publicist in those days. And he did sort of know us. He’s not somebody from the outside. And he’s writing as he sort of saw things. But at least Keith DOES know us. And he can write. [laughs] That makes such a difference. I haven’t read the whole thing, just skipped through it. I always do that, skip through it at the moment and then sit down at some point and read it properly. But I’m glad it is someone like Keith that got the job to do that. He is a writer and he DOES know the band. Plus the fact that he was responsible for us being skinheads! [laughs long]

Well, I don’t have much more, because we talked so much about the tracks the last time and I can just use that with the box as well.
Yes. And as I said, I’m very impressed with the box set. And I think it’s what the fans have been waiting for. The general sort of comments that I get is: About time! And it is quite nice. Okay, they’ve released 2 hits albums, or 2 versions, within the last decade or whatever, but this is the whole thing. Of course on the box they have to use the obvious tracks of the hits, but they’ve chosen some of the other things, some of the B-sides and some album-tracks that were never really…you know, that were totally wasted, like I said, “She Did It To Me”, like that, and that’s nice.
Oh, by the way, something I have noticed in most of the reviews is that “Wonderin’ Y”, which you wrote, is one that gets special mention.
Yes, that’s true! I saw, I think it was in MOJO, that somebody said that it had been overlooked or something.
Record Collector also mentions that it should have had more exposure.
Did they? Okay. That’s good. Yeah, that’s good. I always remember when we first started working with Chas, because in those days the B-songs were considered throw-away-songs. Like a song you would never ever use on an album or whatever, then put it on the B-side. But Chas said, NO. It’s gotta be just as strong, it’s gonna stand up in its own right. He actually used the Beatles, what they did. If you think, Beatles records, all the B-sides were almost just as good as the A-sides, so when kids bought obviously the A-side of that time they’d get just as good a product on the B-side. And it is so true. When I would buy records and the B-side was a great side as well, that was like a bonus. I got two great songs for the price of one. And it is so true, what Chas said. He sort of got it from the Beatles, there’s always such a great B-side as well on every single record. You got value for money, basically. I think it is a good policy to have, I think. In stead of what they call like album-fillers. Arhh! [Don looks horrified] Arhh! Why? Album-fillers? You’re supposed to be out making a product, every song is going to stand up on its own and not be throw-away things. It’s simply…it’s just a CON. It is a total con! When I buy albums, I like to sort of put an album on and get something out of each track, not put the album out and go, oh that’s just a filler. It’s a horrible description, I think, it’s just a B-side, it’s just a filler or whatever.

Well, I think that was about all….
Yes. Well, I’m just generally impressed with the box set. I just hope that they do what they said, the way they said they’d go with the promotion, because they promised, and I hope they do that. I assume it was released in all the European territories and Scandinavian territories at the same time. Was that last week?
Originally it was supposed to be in late September, but it was postponed. I think it was out last week.
Okay. Because I took some of the flyers round and in the record shop they asked when it was released.
Well, it is out now.
That’s good.

My favourite photo from October 9, 2006 Posted by Picasa

The October-interview in use

This short interview was made to tie in with the August-interview aimed at the Danish promo campaign. More about the actual use later, so for now you just get another photo of Don, this time with his Golden Retriever-puppy Rocky which 10 weeks old on the pic.

Don and his puppy Rocky Posted by Picasa