SLADE — Beginnings (Ambrose Slade) (review)

SLADE — Beginnings (Ambrose Slade) album cover Album · 1969 · Proto-Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
2.5/5 ·
Interesting debut from the 1970s Kings of Loud, under their initial moniker, Ambrose Slade, with immediate influences worn on their sleeves, but a really nice, tight style of their own audible from the get go.

The first song on Beginnings is a cool, bouncy number with the catchy title "Genesis" - possibly influenced by The Gods album of the same name. The unmistakable strains of Deep Purple's "Woman From Tokyo" drift out at you a few years early - this is nothing like the Glam band most people know. A massive wash of phase, and a hard "dum-da-dum-da-dum" monotone chug suggests influences from Status Quo and Steppenwolf.

Like Judas Priest's Rocka Rolla, this debut from Ambrose Slade is not what you'd expect; It's rooted in that 1960s psychedelic pop/rock sound, with the pounding drums and hard-edged blues of Fleetwood Mac, Cream, Small Faces and the Yardbirds, and some nice sharp-lined riffs, like creases ironed into denim jeans.

The covers are really interesting, off-the-wall numbers, including the fabulous "Knocking Nails into Walls", originally by The Idle Race, two Steppenwolf numbers - the obligatory "Born To Be Wild", and the (now) less well known "Everybody's Next One", The Moodies' "Fly Me High", Marvin Gaye's "If This World Were Mine", Ted Nugent's Amboy Dukes classic "Journey To The Center of Your Mind", The Beatles' "Martha My Dear" and, incredibly bravely, even a Zappa cover, "Ain't Got No Heart".

The remaining orignals are a mixed bag - while "Genesis" is a strikingly original piece, "Roach Daddy" is a simple, nice piece of blues rock with the distinctive tones of Noddy Holder just starting to assert themselves.

"Pity The Mother" is the standout piece though, with crashing guitar chords, and a dark, Sabbathesque metallic flavour running through a kind of Beatles in their darkest hour feeling. A really amazing song, with all the instrumentalists coming together to produce something *gasp* progressive, dramatic and cathartic.

By way of complete contrast, "Mad Dog Cole" is a stomper, more akin to the music the band would become famous for, based around a standard 12-bar progression. But man, check out the vocals! Now that's unexpected!

As to the covers, with the band members all involved in the production, there's an unrealised if rather diffuse vision beneath all the music, and they are all well done - although I find the Marvin Gaye one grates.

If I'd written a review at the time of release, I would have said something like "An incredible debut, full of promise, but altogether too many covers to provide a good picture of what this band are really capable of. That said, all the covers are so well done that what we have here is a top notch Rock and Roll party album. Buy it - this band are going to be big!".

To metal fans, I'd say it's a really interesting curio - if you have a taste for late 1960s hard rock, then it's a must-have, otherwise, have a listen - it's not a metal album, but there are some great moments.

Avoid "If This World Were Mine" - Noddy has never been Marvin Gaye, and it's the only painful moment on the album, although the cover of "Martha My Dear" is so close to the original that you wonder why they bothered except to show they could.

Two and a half stars - collectors only, but what a collector's piece!

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