Slade in Flame

If you want to see Sheffield at its saddest, then look at Slade in Flame (1975), a bleak and sour look at the 1960s rock music scene.

Slade as a band had been an incredible success in Britain, but probably didn’t realise they’d peaked by 1974. Their manager, Chas Chandler, suggested making a movie, and so, Noddy Holder, Don Powell, Dave Hill and Jim Lea, found themselves showcasing the rise and demise of a made-up northern rock band called Flame.

Directed by Richard Loncraine, Slade in Flame was filmed in the second half of 1974, and subject of enormous enthusiasm when Sheffield, along with Nottingham, London and Brighton, was chosen as one of its locations.

There’s no doubt that Sheffield got the short straw when it came to the glitz and glamour, but the film is a revelation because it shows a city that has since disappeared.

Sheffield served up the hardship of working-class society and gave its best shot when offering up its depressing 1970s settings.

Photograph by Walkley History

This is the type of film that will probably show up on Talking Pictures TV one day.

When it does, look out for shining roles from the now-demolished Kelvin Flats, a polluted canal, slum-like terraced housing on Fox Road and Otley Street (long gone) at Walkley, and Douglas Road at Parkwood Springs.

Shortly afterwards, these houses, already boarded-up and convenient for filming, were bulldozed, the areas re-landscaped with no evidence to see of their shabby past.

Yes, it makes dismal viewing, but this was the Sheffield of yesterday.

Photograph by Walkley History

Slade in Flame got mixed reviews when it was released the following year. Teen audiences expecting a Slade romp-a-rama were left bewildered, not really getting what it was all about.

“It was quite a heavy movie,” said Noddy Holder years later. “It was about fallings-out in bands and all the repercussions they cause. There was a lot of violence and it had a very downbeat ending.”

However, the film has received critical acclaim since. The BBC’s movie critic Mark Kermode rates it as one of his favourites and calls it the Citizen Kane of rock musicals.

Photograph by Walkley History