By Thomas Semioli
These Wolverhampton lads started out as a just another British blues ensemble whose debut slab flopped. However when they commenced to cranking out pop tunes abetted with volume aplenty – these unlikely rock gods caught the glam train to superstardom in the UK in the early 1970s, scoring several platinum sides and singles until it all came to a screeching halt in ‘75 when their film and move to Los Angeles tanked.
Along with his showman mate Neville John “Noddy” Holder, bassist James Whild Lea created such scholarly compositions which infuriated English professors en masse including “Cum On Feel the Noize,” “Gudbuy T’ Jane,” “Skweeze Me Pleeze Me,” and “Mama Weer All Crazee Now,” among others.
A skillful, melodic song player ala Sir Paul and Brian Wilson by way of the Wrecking Crew who skillfully balanced himself atop platforms oft complimented by sparkling haberdashery, Lea and his Slade cohorts joyfully set the template for the pop metal onslaught of the 1980s as evidenced by the chart and video successes of Quiet Riot’s renditions of their signature tunes.
Following Slade’s initial demise, Lea recorded under a few monikers including The Dummies, yet never approached the commercial success of Slade, who continued to tour well into the 21st Century as a nostalgia act – sans James.
Among Lea’s many weapons of choice included a Framus bass similar to Bill Wyman, Gibson EB-3, Fender Jazz and Precision, and Rickenbacker 4001.
Dig James on…
And a personal favorite of The Viletones’ legendary leader, singer, composer Steven Leckie: Dig James’ rhythmic and harmonic movement on their rendition of Janis Joplin’s “Move On” https://youtu.be/X502fNgvST0