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Paul Brannigan

"Whatever they're on, I want some!" That time Slade's Noddy Holder ran a critical eye over Red Hot Chili Peppers, Smashing Pumpkins, Oasis, Nick Cave, Flaming Lips and more

Noddy Holder.

Slade's former frontman Noddy Holder is a national treasure. Would anyone in Britain even remember the annual celebrations marking the birth of son of God, Jesus Christ, were it not for the Walsall Warbler bellowing "It's Chriiiiistmaaaas!" at us from mid-November onwards? Unlikely. Beyond that, Neville John Holder MBE is a beloved actor, an author, a former quiz show host, a TV critic, an inspiration for a character in Bob The Builder and an all-round showbiz legend. Yes, he might have inadvertently contributed to the success of god-awful heavy Californian metal band Quiet Riot, but that can't be held against him in a court of law. 

Less well known is the fact that Holder is a keen fan of indie/alternative rock. This came to light when Slade's redoubtable vocalist/guitarist was recruited by the now-defunct British music magazine Select to review a selection of single releases in their March 1996 issue. Artists who faced Holder's scrutiny included Oasis, who had just released a cover of Slade's Cum On Feel The Noize as a B-side to future national anthem Don't Look Back In Anger, Smashing Pumpkins, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Lush, Rocket From The Crypt, The Flaming Lips, Nick Cave with PJ Harvey and more.

It was, perhaps, no surprise to read that Mr H was a fan of Oasis, hailing their Slade cover as "great", adding "The best bit is when they start doing a piss-take of our accents" - but who would have imagined that the Black Country legend was a fully-paid-up member of the Smashing Pumpkins fan club at the time? Invited by writer Clark Collis to assess the merits of 1979, the chilled third single from the band's 1995 masterpiece Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, Noddy revealed, "I've got this album."

"They just can't be pigeonholed," he enthused. "They've got their own little style going. It's off the wall. It's certainly not a major radio record. But you can hear this in 20 listenings' time and you'll hear something new."

Nolder also professed to be a fan of the Pumpkins' fellow US alt. rock big-hitters Red Hot Chili Peppers, then promoting their under-rated One Hot Minute album, featuring moonlighting Jane's Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro. Critical opinion was decidedly lukewarm for the LA funksters at the time, and Noddy couldn't summon up a huge deal of enthusiasm for the Aeroplane single, admitting "I'm not mad on this song... it wanders about a bit." Rocket From The Crypt's urgent Born In '69 single too failed to fire the Nodster's imagination ("I think they'll probably need a bit more time to develop") but Nick Cave/PJ Harvey ballad Henry Lee was more warmly received, Holder likening the murder ballad to Leonard Cohen, and stating, "It'll be good seeing the video."

Elsewhere, Holder was enchanted by the weirdness of The Flaming Lips' This Here Giraffe - "Whatever they're on, I want some!" - but reserved his highest praise, and Single Of The Month award, to Lush, for their Ladykillers single, which he claimed he'd still be singing along to "in a fortnight". 

"It's got handclaps in the middle bit," he noted. "You can't beat handclaps."

Wise words Noddy, wise words.

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