Thursday, 2 May 2019

Ambrose Slade - Beginnings (1969)

Knocking nails into my house....


Released May 1969

This was the debut album from later to be glam gods Slade (known as Ambrose Slade on this release). It is a totally impossible to categorise album made up of covers and a few originals. The covers are from some names that are well-known now but, at the time, were certainly not household names. While there is Lennon and McCartney's Martha My Dear, Marvin Gaye's Motown ballad If This World Were Mine and Justin Hayward's hippy rock of Fly Me High, there is also Steppenwolf's Born To Be Wild and Frank Zappa's punky, psychedelia of Ain't Got No Heart. Journey To The Center Of The Mind was from the relatively unknown Ted Nugent. The songs are covered in a sort of hybrid folky, proggy, bluesy, rocky style that, try as I might, I just cannot pin down. Even Noddy Holder's trademark rasping bellow has not really developed at this point.
Everybody's Next One has Slade sounding like The Who, while Knocking Nails Into My House is very Small Faces-esque. They were struggling to develop their own trademark sound.


1. Genesis
2. Everybody's Next One
3. Knocking Nails Into My House
4. Roach Daddy
5. Ain't Got No Heart
6. Pity The Mother
7. Mad Dog Cole
8. Fly Me High
9. If This World Were Mine
10. Martha My Dear
11. Born To Be Wild
12. Journey To The Center Of Your Mind   

The group's own songs included the really catchy, spacey instrumental opener, Genesis, and the chugging blues of Roach Daddy. Pity The Mother is utterly unrecognisable as being anything latterday Slade would do. It is full of acoustic guitar, Zeppelin-esque chunky lead guitar and also dreamy strings. It is a very hippy-ish proggy number. Mad Dog Cole is an instrumental with Hendrix-style "woo-woo" effects. It did show, though, that the group, at this point were a little short of actual songs, even though they could play.

One thing that is clear is that Slade could play, something that was never really acknowledged in their glam days. Dave Hill, Jim Lea, Don Powell and Holder all knit together really well and instrumentally, it is an impressive offering. The problem is that Slade just couldn't really create an identity at this point. Were they rock, were they prog, were they psychedelic. Fans and the band themselves didn't really know. The band have admitted that they were a bit overwhelmed by the whole recording experience.

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