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Look Wot I Dun: Don Powell of Slade Hardcover – 14 Oct 2013
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About the Author
Lise Lyng Falkenberg is a Danish author of mostly fiction and biographies. Since her debut in 1983 a dozen of her novels and biographies have been published in both Danish and English along with hundreds of short stories, poems, essays, articles and reviews.
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Top customer reviews
Don tells us about how the band formed, their glory years, the USA misadventure and the University gig years as well as the bitter ending, the squabbles afterwards, the Slade II years and hints at the business disagreements that have fragmented the band forever afterward (but not saying quite enough to get himself sued to Hell and back by Holder and Lea).
Though Hill and Powell were effectively shafted by the other two business wise (two have to work, two don't), he remains good natured about it all and this book tells his / their story in an unbiased and natural way.
I can't recommend this book highly enough. It's far closer tot he definitive word on Slade than Holder's autobiography (Who's Crazee Now??) which placed Holder in one certain situation he never saw in Germany... that doesn't therefore make it into Don's book.
…“in contrast to Marc Bolan’s fey cerebral other-worldliness, Slade were totally common, out-of-town yobbos intent on raising hell everywhere they went. Slade’s songs weren’t music, they were aural graffiti, slabs of working class consciousness spray painted across the wall of the Establishment, each new song more misspelled than the last”
Drummer Don Powell’s book (actually written by Don's friend Lise Lyng Falkenberg) has been sitting on my shelf for a few years and, after listening to Slade for the last few weeks, I was inspired to pick it up.
Two things emerge, Don has had more than his fair share of setbacks and problems, and he is also probably one of the nicest men in music, certainly the nicest member of Slade.
Don’s problems include an appalling car crash at Slade’s commercial peak and resultant permanent short term memory loss, loss of his sense of taste and smell, and loss of confidence; becoming an alcoholic; numerous broken relationships; serial promiscuity; a brief addiction to cocaine; frequently being penniless; and, of course, the roller coaster ride that was being a member of Slade.
In 1992, after Noddy Holder and Jim Lea had quit the band, Don and guitarist Dave Hill continued as the core of a second version of Slade that continues to this day. Noddy and Jim wrote most of Slade’s hits and own the publishing rights to most of the band’s music, so can afford to relax. Don and Dave have to keep earning. Noddy was not interviewed for this book and his voice is conspicuous by its absence, and some of the comments about Jim are a bit disparaging.
There are some amazing stories in Don’s book and, as a tale of resilience and fortitude, it is well worth reading. It is, however, too long and too detailed. Lise Lyng Falkenberg, who wrote it, seems to have felt obliged to include virtually everything she gathered from Don’s numerous friends and family, and much from his diaries (something Don habitually wrote to help combat his post-crash amnesia). It could have lost about 100 pages and that would have made it a more compelling read.
I was delighted that the book has a feel good ending. Don is now settled with a new family and seems to have conquered most of his demons, and learned to live more ably with his amnesia.
Slade, at their peak, were a remarkable band, and Don’s eye witness account of this period is superb and if you're a fan of the band, or enjoy music memoirs, then this is well worth reading.
Who would have thought that Don had co-written many of their early songs, which are some of my favourites - which forged the raw Slade power captured on Slade Alive. These songs had working class grit, depth, intrigue and stark pull and are far greater than some of the Holder/Lea pop hits later penned. I became a little angry and totally disagree with how much praise he self-effacingly heaped on the 'superior' song writing of Nod/Jim, which into the 1980s became all too often tardy, cheap and superficial anthemic good time dad rock of little merit.
I also didn't know that Don had been a serial womaniser and an alcoholic but was delighted to see that he is now a camomile sipping happy family man who really appears to have found some inner peace. Wonderbar, and I wish you many more happy years to come old son!!
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Much better read than Noddy Holder's