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Germaine Gets Slade’*

  A Short Study of Editorial Policy
  in the Hashtag Era              
  (#MerryXmasEverybody)

 Name of Sender







I love Slade to this day. I don’t know how it was that I got to see Slade live on stage at the Albert Hall. What I do know is that I wouldn’t have bought a ticket. In the circles I moved in, if you weren't invited to a rock concert and didn’t have a backstage pass, you didn’t go.


                    *

Dear (insert name of publication),

I hope this finds you well! I am a senior publicity manager at * representing amongst many others Germaine Greer. Ms. Greer has alerted me to a recent piece she wrote on the enduring personal impact of the band ‘Slade’, which I am approaching you with because we believe (insert name of publication) would be the perfect platform for its online publication.
    Ms. Greer will publish her new book, ‘On Rape’, in the autumn, and Slade have an intensive touring schedule beginning this month. The piece is surprising and intimate, much fun, and revises culturally a great deal of what has been said /written /catalogued about both Greer and the band respectively.
     Please let me know today if this is of interest to you. The piece is attached.

In anticipation,

        (insert name of sender
)


                    *


I certainly wasn’t invited by anyone connected with Slade, who were never to be seen hobnobbing with other musos and their molls at the Speakeasy or anywhere else.
    As far as the wider rock and roll community was concerned, Slade were a commercial operation put together by the same man who gave us Jimi Hendrix, and former bassist for the Animals, Chas Chandler (but then they also thought that David Bowie was a useless hanger-on). Somehow I did get to see Slade, and that legendary foursome, Noddy Holder, Dave Hill, Don Powell and Jim Lea, did blow my cynical disbelieving mind.



                    *


Dear (insert name of sender)

Can I get back to you tomorrow on this?

Many thanks,

        (insert name of publication 1)


                  /


Dear (insert name of publication 1),

No, not really.

Many thanks,

       (insert name of sender)


                   /


Dear (insert name of sender)

I’m afraid in that case we can’t really go ahead with this.                        
Sorry about that. Maybe next time.

All best,

        (insert name of publication 1)


                    *


Far from being in the wings or backstage, I was miles away on the very top rung of the Albert Hall, where the backstage staff used to come to catch some of the gig in between chores. So how I got there I’m blest if I can remember, but I shall never forget what I witnessed.
    The Albert Hall acoustic is peculiar: the sound came up to me with a force that pummelled me breathless. No other band ever managed to make a sound like that. It was certainly loud, but it was also driving, pushing along with incredible energy.


                     *

Thank you for your email.

Due to the quantity of pitches we receive we are unable to respond to every one. If we’re interested, we will get back to you within three days.

If it’s been a week and you haven’t heard back, please take that as a no.

All the best,

        (insert name of publication 2)


                       *


In the centre was the skinny figure of Dave Hill, shrouded in a cloud of black hair, working on his guitar like an engineer shovelling coal into this express train of a band. I was used to virtuoso guitar from Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix; Hill was different because his sound was thoroughly integrated into the whole sound.


                      *


Many thanks for this, (insert name of sender).

This is really interesting, but unfortunately we don’t tend to run personal essays in (insert name of publication 3).

Best,

        (insert name of publication 3)


                    *


The key was the man who could have been choirmaster at Winchester Cathedral, the bassist Jim Lea. Lea was even better educated musically than Hill so, rather than duelling with his lead guitar, he listened and responded. Hill also listened to him, as carefully as violin and cello listen to each otstring quartet.
    The result may have been less spontaneous than lead guitar and bass bouncing off each other as usual, but it was far more musical. Incredibly the whole band were in tune, which meant that harmonies and dissonances could build and interact to produce Slade's characteristic depth of sound, even more striking in performance than on record.


                    *


Dear (insert name of sender),

Thanks for sending this our way. I’m afraid we’ll have to pass on the piece, mostly because I don’t think it would be best placed with our audience. Slade are more of a legacy act for our readers (our core demo is 18 to 30) and Greer’s statements over the years have tended to run against some of our editorial stances on the rights of trans people, the rights of pop stars to wear the clothes they choose to and so on.

But again, I really do appreciate you pitching this to us, and I’m sure you won’t struggle to have it snapped up elsewhere!

All the best,

        (insert name of publication 2)


                    *


Up there above the heaving crowd, I couldn't believe the transcendental noise I was hearing. Noddy was certainly screaming the place down, but his was a real tenor yell, right up to the highest notes.
    Most of the lead singers I knew had hardly more than a single octave and sang their high notes falsetto, usually out of tune; indeed, one of the most successful British bands had a lead singer who was utterly tone deaf. Most rock and roll vocalists don't sing but shout. Inside the bony cavities of his outsize head Holder created real resonance so he could really sing.


                    *


Dear (insert name of publication 2),

Many thanks for your fast response and understood! However, could you be a little more specific about your editorial position? Would you broadly refuse to give Greer a platform? Perhaps you could be specific also about her comments over the years?

Do please take the time to advise me on this—it would be hugely helpful.

Very best,

        (insert name of sender)


                    *


Like most drummers, Don Powell is best known for battering solos, and he was allowed his 32 bars, but more importantly he always hit the middle of the beat. He could cross it, bend it, twist it, but he never forgot where it was.
    The result was power. All rock and roll bands were after power, but most of them were too disorganised to arrive at it. Slade used discipline and concentration to become the Wagner of rock and roll.


                    *


Dear (insert name of sender),

Unfortunately I’m editing on deadline and don't have time to run through each of Greer’s controversial comments. In this case, we wouldn’t publish her Slade piece because it wouldn't allow us to call her to account, if necessary. She is a public figure with such a big platform already, whose sometime inflammatory remarks are already reported on widely – as such, I don’t think that her views on a band who aren’t a core XXX act would be the best use of a link with Greer.    
    I’m sure you’ve been following the reactions—in news, then ensuing opinion pieces—on her comments on Beyonce, on rape jail terms, on the #MeToo movement as indicative of “whingeing” and so on. And as such, you'll understand that a figure as controversial as Greer would need to be treated with journalistic rigour, rather than as a regular freelancer given a platform for a personal essay. If that’s not something you’d yet considered, I’m afraid it might be best discussed with Greer's team in more detail.
    Again, I appreciate you considering us for this opportunity – and please note that there isn't a ‘c’ in my first name.

All the best and thanks again,

        (insert name of publication 2)


                    *


What was also obvious was that the Slade sound was nourished by the best of urban rhythm and blues. I didn't know enough to recognise all the riffs I heard, but there were quotations from everywhere, some part of the shared musical tradition, from Bo Diddley, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Chuck Berry, Big Bill Broonzy and all, some from much closer to home.
    For 10 years, rock and roll had been working towards something that would combine the extraordinary capacities of electronic instruments with the anarchic energy of youth, and there in the Albert Hall on July 16, 1971, I found it. The spring god Dionysus had arisen and was shaking his streaming red-gold mane on stage.
     In these four figures spinning in their vortex of sound, male display was transcending itself. There really never was anything quite like it. The Rolling Stones might have been closer to the marrow of rock and roll, but Slade were its super-toned muscle.


                    *




https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BpfHSqLXePI
                    *


Hi (insert name of sender),

Thanks for getting in touch. We’re going to pass on posting this, but thanks for the offer.

(insert name of publication 4)

                    /

Thanks for your message, (insert name of publication 4). Can I ask why?

                    /

It’s just not the right fit for our site.


                    *


In 1972, when Slade toured Australia (one of the first bands to tour Australia) I was in Sydney and, having time on my hands, decided to gatecrash a reception at the Sebel Townhouse and say hi. And I found that they were big, physically, not boys but men.
    Noddy asked me if I would be going to their concert. To tease him, I said his wasn't my kind of music, “too commercial.” And bless me if he didn’t question me closely, as I gulped his champagne, for all the world as if he cared what I thought.


                  *


Hi (insert name of sender),

Is there a fee?

Thanks,

        (insert name of publication 5)

                    /

Dear (insert name of publication 5),

Yes, $100 only… the entirety of which will be donated to Wolverhampton-based children’s charity, Promise Dreams.

Best,

        (insert name of sender)

                    /

NO RESPONSE


                   *


This was more than I had bargained for, and I eventually had to confess that I understood only too well why, after years of contributing the best bits to bestselling albums, he had decided to get out there and show them how it was done.
    The band were to discover over the years that theirs was a pact made with the devil, but, in 1972, as four British lads on the razzle in Sydney, their frolicking was more innocent than debauched. The legendary excesses must have come later, if ever.


                    *


Dear (insert name of sender),

Yes, we would be interested in publishing the article.

Best wishes,

        (insert name of publication 6)

       
                   *


*    ‘The article’ first appeared in the Daily Telegraph in December 2007, titled The night Led Zeppelin blew my mind and was authored by Germaine Greer. All references to Led Zeppelin have been redacted and exchanged for references to Slade and its members. All e-mails are excerpts from authentic correspondences with the editorial teams behind leading cultural publications in the British press. Following contact, the names of publications and editors have been redacted to protect the integrity of the publications and privacy of the correspondents.

Slade’s tourdates for the Christmas season can be found here


                    *


‘Look to the future now: it’s only just begun.’









2018


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Hotel is a magazine for new approaches to fiction, non fiction & poetry & features work from established & emerging talent. Hotel provides the space for experimental reflection on literature’s status as art & cultural mediator. The magazine is bi-annual, the online archive is updated periodically.

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2019
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