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Will Slade reform? ‘A miracle would have to happen’ says ex-singer Noddy Holder

Slade – Cum On Feel The Noize

As the singer with chart-topping ’70s rockers Slade, Noddy Holder is used to spreading cheer. His band’s colourful glam rock image means Noddy’s trademark outfit – a tartan suit and huge top hat with outlandish mirrors stuck to it – remains one of the most popular outfits for fancy-dress parties. At Christmas, Noddy and his band’s classic 1973 smash Merry Xmas Everybody is as much a part of British life as fish and chips, curry and a pint. At 75, Noddy has earned his happy semi-retirement. Having enjoyed six No 1 singles with Slade, he now spends half the year in Portugal with his wife Suzan. The only cloud is Slade themselves. Since he quit the band in 1992, Noddy has stopped performing – and the four members of the heavy metal Slade are virtually guaranteed never to get back together.

Sadly for fans, even the potential lure of a lucrative reunion tour would be unlikely to do it, admits Noddy.

“I doubt it’ll happen again with the band. A miracle would have to happen for all four of us to start peace and loving together.

You never know, but we might be falling off our mortal coils by then.”

After Noddy walked out, guitarist Dave Hill, bassist Jim Lea and drummer Don Powell carried on in various line-ups.

But they ended up playing holiday camps rather than the huge arenas Slade starred in during their heyday.

A bitter split between Dave and Don last year finally called time on the band, which formed in the West Midlands in 1966.

Explaining the break-up, Noddy reveals: “Every band splits up for one of five reasons: egos, money, drink and drugs, women or musical differences.

With Slade, it was all five.” Noddy wrote Slade’s hits, including crazily spelled chart-toppers such as Mama Weer All Crazee Now, Cum On Feel The Noize and Coz I Luv You, with bassist Jim.

He recalled: “Jim wanted to take over in the studio. He kept telling us he could write better songs on his own. In the end, I got tired of hearing it.

“I said I’d get out of the way, so that Jim could take the band in another direction. It was tiring, and I never wanted to be part of a band that was just treading water.”

But neither did Noddy want to be a solo performer.

Instead, he’s become a TV and radio presenter. He also acts, having played classical music teacher Neville Holder in five series of hit ITV sitcom The Grimleys alongside, among others, Amanda Holden and Brian Conley.

That was written by Jed Mercurio, creator of BBC1 smash dramas The Bodyguard and Line Of Duty.

“I follow Jed’s career and I knew he was a brilliant writer,” says Noddy. “He’s a proper Midlands guy with a great Black Country humour. Everything Jed does is superb.”

Mostly, Noddy is happy to focus on his family. He and Suzan live in Cheshire when they’re not in Portugal.

Will Slade reform? Noddy Holder

Will Slade reform? Noddy Holder, left, and with the band during its prime (Image: RB/Redferns/Getty Archive)

Lockdown has been tough because Noddy misses his two young grandchildren, a 10-year-old granddaughter and three-year-old grandson.

He dotes on his grandkids after missing his own two elder children, daughters Jessica and Charisse, when he was away touring with Slade.

“What I’ve hated most about lockdown is not being able to see my grandkids,” says Noddy, who also has a 26-year-old son, Django.

“I missed a lot of my two elder kids growing up, as I was on the road all the time. I thought: ‘Oh, I’ll make it up with the grandkids’.

The pandemic has slowed all of that down. It’s good that we’re starting to come out of lockdown, but the grandkids’ Christmas presents are still here.”

Noddy’s sadness about missing a normal Christmas is why he’s starring in a hilarious new ad for Pret A Manger.

The sandwich chain has put its popular Christmas Sandwich, filled with turkey, cranberry sauce and stuffing, back on sale until the first week of August.

Pret says it’s to compensate for customers who couldn’t buy the sarnie during lockdown last Christmas.

“Christmas was hard on everyone last year,” says Noddy. “Making up for it with their Christmas sandwich is a fun idea by Pret.

“I like that it helps raise money for the homeless too. Plus, me and Django are huge fans of that sandwich.”

Will Slade reform? Noddy Holder

Will Slade reform? Noddy Holder eats a Pret Christmas Sandwich to spread some joy (Image: Paul Grove)

Although it’s the middle of summer, Noddy still can’t escape Christmas and his famous shout of “It’s Christmaaaas!”, which he bellows at the start of Merry Xmas Everybody.

He laughs: “There’s not a day goes by when I don’t walk down the street and have somebody shout: ‘It’s Christmaaaas!’ at me. In December, it’ll be 40 or 50 people shouting it at me every day.

“It’s a bit weird, but I’m used to it after nearly 50 years. It’s very funny, because I only shouted ‘It’s Christmaaaas!’ as an ad-lib near the end of us making the song.”

Merry Xmas Everybody is the nation’s favourite festive anthem, but it was actually written partially as a protest song.

On its release in 1973, Britain was in economic turmoil. High earners like Slade had a staggering 93 per cent of their income taxed.

Noddy recalled: “The economy was in chaos and there were strikes all the time.

“Loads of other bands became tax exiles. Silly us, we wanted to support the country, so we paid our 93 per cent tax, which the government totally wasted.

I came up with the line ‘Look to the future, it’s only just begun’, because the country couldn’t get any worse.

At the time, Merry Xmas Everybody brightened Christmas up because we were going through such a hard period.

The song still does that for anyone having a tough Christmas, I think.

None of us expected that song to still be going strong 48 years later, but I’m very proud that it still sounds good today.

It’s the band’s pension plan, as we still make money off it every year. And it’s nice when little kids tell me they’ve sung it at their Christmas carol concert.”

Will Slade reform? Noddy sings on stage

Will Slade reform? The band performs Cum on Feel the Noize on Top of the Pops in 1973 (Image: Getty)

Although his hair is shorter now, Noddy still sports his famous sideburns and wears a colourful patterned red shirt for our interview.

Slade were famed for their outrageous stage clothes, which Noddy feels also helped cheer everyone up.

“The country wanted exciting records that put a smile on people’s faces,” he explains.

“We were spearheads of that, and it’s why glam rock happened. It was a bit of fantasy for everyone.”

Even before they found fame, Slade set out to catch everyone’s eye with their stage wear.

Noddy remembers: “When we formed the band, me and Dave wanted Slade to have a colourful image. My tartan suit came from the music hall artists I loved, like Max Miller.

“The top hat with mirrors was thanks to Lulu. In the late 60s, I saw Lulu on TV wearing a sparkly dress.

“Whenever the cameras caught it, dazzling lights came off her dress. I thought, ‘If I could somehow do that on stage…’”

He bought the giant top hat from Kensington Market in West London, while his bandmate Jim’s wife found the mirrors which Noddy stuck on.

Will Slade reform? Noddy Holder in The Grimleys

Will Slade reform? Noddy Holder played a classical musical teacher in ITV’s The Grimleys (Image: Granda Television/ITV)

The hat dazzled audiences and was so important to Slade’s look that it had its own flight case. Noddy laughs: “Our roadies were under strict instructions not to let the hat out of their sight, or they’d face the guillotine.”

Also at Kensington Market, Noddy and Dave bought shirts from another stall – run by future Queen superstars Freddie Mercury and Roger Taylor.

“We’d had a couple of hits by the time we bought our gear from Freddie and Roger,” said Noddy.

“Freddie would tell me: ‘I’m going to be a big rock star like you one day.’ And I’d tell him: ‘Oh, f*** off, Freddie, that’ll never happen.’

“I was very pally with Queen, and Freddie always remembered me saying that. He’s such a loss.”

If Noddy is unlikely to get back on stage, he doesn’t mind. He summarises: “My attitude is, if it looks like fun, I’ll do it. If not, why bother? I’m happy with my lot.”

The Christmas Sandwich is available in Pret A Manger nationwide until the first week of August, and can also be ordered via Deliveroo, Uber Eats and Just Eat. 50p from each sandwich goes to The Pret Foundation

Cyclist injured in accident received life-saving miracle thanks to doctor

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) — The worst accidents can happen when we’re doing something we do every day, in familiar surroundings. In fact, transportation experts say more than half of serious car accidents happen within five miles of the home, and nearly 70% happen within 10 miles of home.

But, it’s not just car crashes. An avid cyclist named Larry Sears says a freak accident nearly cost him his life, but then a doctor he’d never met took a chance on him. Dr. George Al Shamy describes it as “a pretty devastating brain injury.”

Sears was out doing what he’s done daily for decades – riding his bike. He was less than a mile from home when a deer crashed into him. “I literally don’t have any memory until two weeks after the accident when I woke up from a coma,” says Sears.

Sears admits he was not wearing a key piece of equipment. “I was foolishly not wearing a helmet.”

When he arrived at the hospital, Dr. Al Shamy says he was in bad shape. “Blood in the brain, he has something we call an epidural hematoma. A couple of skull fractures and a couple of brain contusions,” Al Shamy said.

Doctors scanned Sears’ brain and planned to wait a few hours before performing a second scan. But, Al Shamy had a hunch and decided to scan him sooner than later. Sears was then rushed into surgery.

“I told his wife, ‘We have to act now,'” Al Shamy said. “We don’t even have 15 or 30 minutes to lose.”

Al Shamy said it was one of the biggest blood clots he’d seen, and had they’d waited any longer “his bleeding would have been much, much, much worse.”

Sears said he’s now recovering at home from what could have been a much worse injury. Now that he’s home, Sears said he had one thing left to do – meet the doctor who helped save him.

“You know, I stuck out my hand, and he kind of just went right past that and gave me a hug,” Sears recalls. “You know, I think maybe it was a bit of a deal for him too because I was a pretty extreme case.”

Then, Sears said the words he’d been practicing for this meeting, “I believe you saved my life.”

Sears gave one final piece of medical advice that he’s learned the hard way. “Just always wear a helmet. It’s just, you know, there’s really no reason not to.”

Sears says his two adult sons flew to Houston when he was in the hospital, even bringing clothes for a funeral. But, instead, they’re now celebrating his new life.

“It is a miracle that I’m alive, and I’m thankful to God,” he said. “I’m thankful for those people that took care of me, and I’m thankful for Dr. Al Shamy.”

Sears said he hasn’t gotten back on his bike just yet and that his exercise bike will have to do.

When Sears is ready to hit the road again, Dr. Al Shamy said he plans to join alongside him for a ride.

“You know, not every case we do ends up with such a good outcome,” Al Shamy said. “That’s why this case is so amazing. Something that was so scary has now brought a lot of joy to a lot of people.”

Follow Melanie Lawson on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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Author: Melanie Lawson
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Review: Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX – Vintage Sega Hero In Mediocre Remake

We know we’re risking the ire of several hundred very cross Sega Master System fans by saying this, but we have to be blunt — the original Alex Kidd in Miracle World, while inarguably an important and formative classic, is and always has been an exceptionally flawed game. Don’t get us wrong, there’s plenty to like and a surplus of charm present in its curious world, but mechanically and structurally there’s a lot to be desired. Gotcha traps, luck-based design, missable key items and localisation issues rendering puzzles near-unsolvable? It’s issues like these which make it something of a perfect candidate for a remake. Elevate the features that people enjoy (level design, visuals and soundtrack, shopping/inventory system) and iron out or fix the ones that they don’t. It’s a no-brainer!

Why, then, does Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX seem to double down on the more unfriendly elements of its source material while doing next to nothing to update them? It’s a truly odd decision that results in an experience that will irritate long-time Miracle World fans while doing nothing to bring new people into the fold.

Rather than accentuate the negative (for now), let’s talk about what Alex Kidd DX does well. For a start, it’s absolutely gorgeous, with vibrant and enjoyable pixel art bringing the world of Radaxian to life as it’s never been seen before. Familiar stages are given a beautiful lick of paint, creating something that’s recognisably Miracle World but with a contemporary look. It may irritate some purists, but there’s plenty of character in the reworked sprites, even if it’s not quite the same character as the Master System original. The same, unfortunately, can’t be said for the new map and character artwork. There’s nothing essentially wrong with it, but it’s somewhat generic in a way that the sprites certainly aren’t.

The soundtrack has survived the remake, to a point, though it’s worth noting that there weren’t many songs in the original Master System title anyway. They’re all here in new arrangements and with a handful of new songs to boot — which, in a nice touch, have equivalent 8-bit versions available if you switch to “Classic mode” mid-game by holding ZR, akin to the Lizardcube remake of Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap.

Said “Classic mode”, however, flags up a major issue for series stalwarts: it’s not ‘right’. At a glance, yes, it looks the part, but if you’re familiar with Alex Kidd in Miracle World you’ll quickly realise that it’s not at all faithful to its game feel. Alex just doesn’t feel right moving around and the sound effects are routinely just… wrong. It’s bizarre and we can’t imagine why it turned out this way given that M2’s Sega Ages version of the same game is spot on.

Let’s talk about the aforementioned issues. The most prominent that comes to mind is the retention of rock-paper-scissors as the principal ‘boss battle’ mechanic. Now, we hear you cry, that is exactly what was in the original game. You’re quite right! It was. And, like here, it was primarily a luck-based system. Pick rock, paper or scissors and hope you win. Get it wrong twice and you die. Life lost. Yes, you can memorise the order of the games. Yes, you can locate a Telepathy Ball that lets you read the minds of opponents, but you lose it when you get a Game Over, and you will get a Game Over. And every time you do, you’ll receive a suggestion to pop into the Options menu and give yourself infinite lives, which we have to admit got more and more compelling as the game wore further and further through our patience. But it’s a crutch; a way to paper over cracks that we’d suggest should have been removed in the development stage.

On one hand, it’s a little churlish to criticise Miracle World DX for being too much like Miracle World. After all, a good remake should be evocative of that original experience. We feel in this case, though, that too little has been updated outside of the aesthetics, resulting in an experience wherein the visuals and the moment-to-moment gameplay feel somewhat mismatched almost all the time, which means we never quite felt comfortable controlling Alex.

The changes that have been made feel universally detrimental, though in a way that we can sort of see the reasoning behind them even if the outcome hasn’t been a great one. For example, in the early-ish game there’s a boss battle with an angry bull. In the Master System game, this was simplistic in execution; you simply punch the bull when it approaches you, causing it to be knocked back before coming at you again, this time a little faster. It’s very, very basic, but it’s also quite tense and exciting — it’s a pure test of reactions and lasts less than thirty seconds. In the remake, it’s been changed to a much more traditional sort of thing where you need to jump over the charging bull so it rams into the opposite wall and becomes stunned, allowing you to attack it. Isn’t that just… worse? For no reason? What was wrong with the original approach? Other boss battles have been changed to similar, more routine fights. The tension of the forest boss, for example? Gone.

There are new levels added here and there, and they’re fine. Mostly, though, they have the (presumably unintended) effect of reducing environmental variety — there’s now a second, nearly-identical volcano stage right before the original volcano stage. A later stage outside Janken’s fortress, though, is very cool and great addition, so it’s a bit of a mixed bag.

You unlock a couple of modes on finishing the game, but they’re not super interesting: there’s a Boss Rush (which inexplicably includes the rock-paper-scissors challenges, too) and a full Classic Mode, but this, again (and bafflingly), still isn’t the original game. We initially assumed it was the Master System ROM running in a wrapper but it’s not and it still doesn’t quite feel right. The Sega Ages version is, again, right there on the Switch eShop.

Conclusion

We can’t pretend this isn’t a disappointment. After promises of updates and improvements to this classic title, what we’ve got is something that we’d honestly not recommend to either prospective new fans or enthusiasts of the original Alex Kidd. We’re inclined to think this may have been something of a rushed release, but that’s pure speculation based on some of the more lax features (there’s a lot of new dialogue but almost all of it is awkwardly written, with typos and errors). Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX is not horrible by any means, and you might have fun with it until you run up against its irritating issues — unless you use infinite lives, in which case you’ll finish the game in two hours, tops. If this was supposed to be Alex Kidd’s big comeback, we’re sad to say that we don’t think we’ll be seeing that Alex Kidd: High-Tech World remake any time soon.

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This post originally appeared on Nintendo Life | Reviews

‘A miracle didn’t happen’: Armenian basketball in mourning after body of ex-international lost in conflict is found after 5 months

The Basketball Federation of Armenia has announced its “deep sorrow” after reporting the body of former youth international Aram Mkrtchyan has been found months after his disappearance in the Armenia-Azerbaijan war in 2020.

In a Facebook post, the governing body said that Mkrtchyan’s loved ones had hoped he would return.

“For six months, all his friends and relatives were waiting for his return,” they added, paying their respects to the former member of their under-20s team. “But a miracle didn’t happen.

“The Armenian Basketball Federation expresses its condolences to Aram’s family, relatives and friends on his untimely death, as well as to all relatives of war victims.”
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Dozens of mourners and well-wishers responded to the post, with one remarking that it had been “cruel” to lose “so many young people” to conflict.

“Condolences to the relatives,” added another. “Irreversible pain and unforgettable sorrow for all of us. May god rest his soul.” 

Known officially as the Nagorno-Karabakh war, the fighting concerned Azerbaijan, with support from the Turkish government, and the self-proclaimed Republic of Artsakh, backed by Armenia over a disputed region and surrounding territories.

It was concluded in November by a ceasefire after more than 5,000 casualties.
Also on rt.com Three months after Moscow-brokered Armenia & Azerbaijan truce, Nagorno-Karabakh proposes making Russian an official language

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