"Beginnings" was Ambrose Slades 1st studio U.K. album, they were later to be known as Slade. Ambrose Slade originally released their version produced by Roger Wake and themselves via Fontana record label on 9th May 1969.
This album failed to appear on the U.K. chart. It was also released as "Ballzy" in the U.S.A.
The artwork for the album featured a photo of the band on the Pouk Hill in Walsall. The band didn't enjoy the photo session due to the cold weather.
In February 1969, the group (then known as The 'N Betweens) managed to get a deal with Fontana record label. A&R boss Jack Baverstock teamed the band with engineer Roger Wake to record an album. Reluctantly the band agreed to Baverstock's condition that they adopted the name Ambrose Slade. "His secretary was a bit loopy, she named everything she owned," lead singer Noddy Holder later revealed. "Her handbag was called Ambrose, her powder compact Slade. Jack just put them together, we hated the name."
Fontana's other stipulation was the engagement of a reputable manager. In former Animals bassist Chas Chandler, who had already discovered Jimi Hendrix and guided the guitarist to worldwide fame, the band found the perfect choice.
Ambrose Slade's debut (and only) album "Beginnings" was a mixture of self penned songs, instrumentals and cover versions including 2 tracks by Steppenwolfs "Born To Be Wild" and "Everybody's Next One". As to confirm the diversity of the group's influences, they also cut Ted Nugent & The Amboy Dukes' "Journey To The Centre Of Your Mind", "Ain't Got No Heart" by Frank Zappa & The Mothers Of Invention, The Moody Blues' "Fly Me High'", Lennon and McCartney's "Martha My Dear" and "If This World Were Mine" by Marvin Gaye.
Its 1 and only single was "Genesis", an instrumental piece that the band later rewrote as "Know Who You Are". There was also another instrumental "Mad Dog Cole", plus self penned tracks "Roach Daddy" and "Pity The Mother". Issued in April 1969, "Beginnings" failed to dent the British or US chart (titled "Ballzy" in America, it was later reissued by budget label Contour as "Beginnings Of Slade", with a different sleeve and revised track listing). An original vinyl copy in decent condition now fetches anything up to £500 at online auction.
"Beginnings" was released via Fontana Record label on 9th May 1969.
In 1980, Jim Lea was interviewed for the Slade fan club newsletter. He spoke of the band first recording the album. "This was our 1st major crack at making a record, so it was all important now to let it slip. So we did "Roach Daddy", "Mad Dog Cole" and "Genesis" out of total fear."
Jim Lea was asked how the cover versions of numerous tracks ended up being recorded. "They were all numbers that we were doing live on stage at the time. We had started to move away from the Flower Power thing then, but we were still doing unusual numbers. You can see by all the writers of the songs, they are all big names now, but at the time they were unheard of. Frank Zappa he was totally unknown, he had only recorded one album, but we recorded his "Ain't Got No Heart".
Jim Lea was also asked how "Pity The Mother" was written. "It was another one of the songs that Bavistock "forced" us to write. We wrote it in Noddy Holders parents' kitchen, the day before we went down to do some recording in the studio. Louise (Jim Lea's wife) was there, and she helped me and Noddy Holder write the song."
Originally, the band were introduced and recorded with producer Irving Martin through their London Booking Agent Roger Allen. The band and Martin recorded "Journey To The Centre Of Your Mind" and "Mad Dog Cole". Bavistock heard the demos and thought "Mad Dog Cole" was great, and insisted if the group wanted a contract they would have to write more of their own material. Out of total fear, and realising this would be the big chance, they sat down and wrote "Roach Daddy", "Pity The Mother" and "Genesis" within days of Bavistock's request. Bavistock and Co. were suitably impressed with the results and, together with a suggested name change to Ambrose Slade, a contract was agreed upon.
"Beginnings" was originally released on 12" vinyl.
For a 1980 fan club interview, Jim Lea was asked how the album did upon release. "It dropped drastically. But that wasn't the point, you see it got us the footing in London, so it was a case of mission accomplished for us. Chas Chandler took us over. We still had some time to run on our contract with Bavistock, so we released our next two singles "Wild Winds Are Blowing" and "Shape Of Things to Come" on Fontana. There were some internal hassles between Chas and the new boss of Fontana, and the next thing that I knew was that we were out of the Fontana deal. Chas had connections with Polydor record label, due to when he managed Jimi Hendrix, so we signed a contract with them."
In a September 1997 article from Mojo Magazine, the magazine stated the value of an original vinyl copy of Beginnings was £380, also stating the vinyl had become a prime counterfeit item. The text wrote "3 years had passed since Dave Hill, Noddy Holder, Jimmy Lea, and Don Powell had last appeared on record, as The In Betweens. Then, almost out of nowhere, Fontana record label released this album, produced by Roger Wake. Initially, it was to have been called "Genesis" and it was even suggested that the band should be known as 'Nicky Nacky Noo'. Thankfully, common sense prevailed and Ambrose Slade made their brief appearance before linking with Chas Chandler, abbreviating their moniker to Slade, and moving to Polydor. At which point Wolverhampton breathed a sigh of relief. Though this debut has been reissued both as the budget vinyl "Beginnings Of Slade" (Contour record label) and on CD (Polydor record label), original copies remain sought after. So much so that it became a prime counterfeit item at one point."
A promo video was filmed on London's Euston Station to promote the albums release and the "Genesis" single in April 1969. The video was filmed in the style of a Benny Hill sketch.
Aside from this video, the band's live performances were also a form of promotion.
"Beginnings" single failed to enter the U.K. top 100 singles chart.
Track listing - 12" LP U.K.
A1. Genesis (Dave Hill, Noddy Holder, Jim Lea, Don Powell) - 3:23
A2. Everybody's Next One (John Kay, Gabriel Mekler) - 2:44
A3. Knocking Nails Into My House (Jeff Lynne) - 2:24
A4. Roach Daddy (Dave Hill, Noddy Holder, Jim Lea, Don Powell) - 3:01
A5. Ain't Got No Heart (Frank Zappa) - 2:36
A6. Pity The Mother (Noddy Holder, Jim Lea) - 4:00
B1. Mad Dog Cole (Dave Hill, Noddy Holder, Jim Lea, Don Powell) - 2:41
B2. Fly Me High (Justin Hayward) - 2:55
B3. If This World Were Mine (Marvin Gaye) - 3:18
B4. Martha My Dear (John Lennon, Paul McCartney) - 2:17
B5. Born To Be Wild (Mars Bonfire) - 3:36
B6. Journey To The Centre Of Your Mind (Steve Farmer, Ted Nugent) - 2:45
"Genesis" written by Hill, Holder, Lea and Powell, this was originally released as a single by Ambrose Slade via Fontana Record label on 2nd May 1969 and failed to appear on the U.K. chart.
This is an instrumental track, being the 1st of 4 original compositions on the album. It was the only single from their "Beginnings" album, failing to make any impact. This single featured the band in their first promotional music video.
Allmusic.com wrote "But the opening "Genesis" will be familiar to anyone who rocked out to the second album's "Know Who You Are", proving that the band already knew a great song when they wrote one." Allmusic.com also wrote "The innovative "Genesis" as the 1st instrumental. Hearing "Genesis" alongside early Steppenwolf is a trip."
Everybody's Next One
"Everybody's Next One" written by John Kay and Gabriel Mekler, originally performed by the Canadian - American rock group Steppenwolf from their self titled album in 1968.
Allmusic.com wrote "Holder does an impressive John Kaye, and the inclusion of 2 tracks from the first Steppenwolf album indicate the real influence behind Slade. They were Britain's Steppenwolf. "Everybody's Next One" and "Born To Be Wild" sound great in the hands of these U.K. rockers."
Knocking Nails Into My House
"Knocking Nails Into My House" written by Jeff Lynne, and originally performed by the British rock group 'The Idle Race' as a 1968 b - side to the single 'The Skeleton And The Roundabout'.
Allmusic.com wrote "Bringing Jeff Lynne's "Knocking Nails Into My House", from his Idle Race - Move period, was a very classy idea."
"Roach Daddy" written by Hill, Holder, Lea and Powell, is the 2nd original composition on the album, this was the b - side to Ambrose Slades original single "Genesis".
The track is a recommended track by allmusic.com.
Ain't Got No Heart
"Ain't Got No Heart" written by Frank Zappa, originally performed by the American band 'The Mothers Of Invention' in 1966.
Allmusic.com wrote "A suitably deranged romp through Frank Zappa's "Ain't Got No Heart", demonstrates the band's musical versatility." Allmusic.com also wrote "And though they would inspire Quiet Riot the way they were influenced by Steppenwolf, including Frank Zappa's "Ain't Got No Heart" gives another indication of what they were listening to."
Pity The Mother
"Pity The Mother" written by Holder and Lea, together for the 1st time, who both went on to write the majority of Slade’s material is the 3rd original composition on the album. The song features the use of electric violin, played by Lea.
Allmsuic.com wrote "The songwriting duties are split between well executed covers and full band compositions the Holder, Lea team of future renown has still to crystallize itself, and their 1 joint effort, the hauntingly folky "Pity The Mother", has little in common with anything the future held." Allmusic.com also wrote "Listen to how musical the Holder, Lea original "Pity The Mother" is to hear how inspired and truly underrated these artists were and still are."
Mad Dog Cole
"Mad Dog Cole" written by Hill, Holder, Lea and Powell, is the final original composition on the album, another instrumental like the opener "Genesis".
The song had a working title of 'My Cats Got Fleas' and a one sided single accetate exists.
Originally, the band were introduced and recorded with producer Irving Martin. The band and Martin recorded 2 tracks including "Mad Dog Cole". Bavistock heard the demos and thought "Mad Dog Cole" was great, and insisted if the group wanted a contract they would have to write more of their own material.
Fly Me High
"Fly Me High" written by Justin Hayward, originally released as a single by the English rock group 'The Moody Blues' in 1967. Slade would also later perform the band’s song "Nights In White Satin" for an early 70s BBC studio session, aired live at the time.
Allmusic.com wrote "Bringing a post Denny Laine Moody Blues single to the world, Justin Hayward's "Fly Me High", was a very classy idea."
If This World Were Mine
"If This World Were Mine" written by Marvin Gaye, was originally performed as a duet by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell from their album 'United', releasing in 1967, and despite being more of a soulful song, Ambrose Slade decided to cover it.
Allmusic.com wrote "However, this album of tasteful covers is charming, even if Holder has trouble reaching the notes on Marvin Gaye's often covered but still somewhat obscure "If This World Were Mine"".
Martha My Dear
"Martha My Dear" written by Paul McCartney, although credited to John Lennon and McCartney together. It was originally performed by 'The Beatles' in 1968, from their studio album 'The White Album'.
The band performed the song with the 1969 single "Wild Wind Are Blowing" on BBC One's Children show 'Monster Music Mash Show' which was hosted by Alan Price. This was the band’s 1st appearance on national TV.
Allmusic.com wrote "And while there are a handful of disappointments ("Martha My Dear" is almost heinous), still "Beginnings" stands as, indeed, a fine beginning." "Lea should have employed a bit more of 'Velvet Underground' bassist John Cale's insanity on the violin. He brought an exciting element to his playing while Lea goes by the book on "Martha My Dear".
Born To Be Wild
"Born To Be Wild" written by Canadian musician Mars Bonfire, first performed by Canadian - American rock group 'Steppenwolf' who released it as a single from their self titled album in 1968. The b - side to this Steppenwolf single was '
"Everybody’s Next One" that Ambrose Slade also recorded for this album. Allmusic.com wrote "Holder does an impressive John Kaye, and the inclusion of 2 tracks from the 1st Steppenwolf album indicate the real influence behind Slade. They were Britain's Steppenwolf. "Everybody's Next One" and "Born To Be Wild" sound great in the hands of these U.K. rockers, the essential keyboards ripped away from "Born To Be Wild" giving us a garage rock version full of life. If only Lee put some wild and crazy violin on this to replace the missing keys. Slade Alive doubled the length, turning "Born To Be Wild" into one of their hard rock show stoppers, but the original incarnation here has more charm." A cover of "Born To Be Wild" sets them up for the definitive version featured on their first live album."
Journey To The Centre Of Your Mind
"Journey To The Centre Of Your Mind" written by Ted Nugent and Steve Farmer, originally performed by American rock band 'The Amboy Dukes', from their 1968 album 'Journey To The Center Of The Mind'.
Originally, the band were introduced and recorded with producer Irving Martin. The band and Martin recorded 2 tracks including "Journey To The Centre Of Your Mind".
Allmusic.com wrote "Following that Steppenwolf classic "Born To Be Wild" with the Ted Nugent, Amboy Dukes' masterpiece "Journey To The Center Of Your Mind" is brilliant - the 2 songs both hit in July of 1968 and both had a similar vibe, although "Journey To The Center Of Your Mind" is almost a note for note copy on this Fontana debut where some of the other songs display signs of what Slade would evolve into." "A floor shaking slam through the Amboy Dukes' "Journey To The Center Of Your Mind", demonstrates the band's musical versatility."
Dave Hill - lead guitar, backing vocals, producer
Noddy Holder - lead vocals, rhythm guitar, producer
Jim Lea - bass guitar, electric violin, backing vocals, producer
Don Powell - drums, producer
Roger Wake - producer, engineer
Richard Stirlin - photographer
Linda Glover - artwork