Beginnings 5 ( 1969 )
Genezis / Everybody's Next One / Knocking Nails Into My House / Roach Daddy / Ain't Got No Heart / Pity The Mother / Mad Dog Cole / Fly Me High / If This World Were Mine / Martha My Dear / Born to Be Wild / Journey To The Center Of Your Mind
Originally recording as the 'N Betweens, Slade were surely one of the inspiration for Spinal Tap. Well, look at the daft album titles and artwork. I met Dave Hill once (the funny looking one) when I worked selling computers. He wanted to buy a laptop and seemed unnerved that I didn't say I knew who he was. Anyway, Slade got picked up by Chas Chandler, fresh from managing Jimi Hendrix, in 1970. He changed their name from Ambrose Slade to Slade and a run of hits ensured Slade became one of the UKs biggest acts in the early to mid-seventies.
'Beginnings' is very much of its time, a collection of covers by and large and although the arrangements are often a little different from the originals, there's simply not enough here to reveal Slade as the distinctive act they would become. Noddy Holder's ear shredding vocals are already falling into place though, so that's ok. The spelling words wrong for a laugh is already in place for the opening 'Genezis', a surprisingly muscular psych instrumental. The other originals of the set are 'Roach Daddy' and 'Mad Dog Cole' neither of which strays too far from the blues-boom that England was enjoying circa the late Sixties. There are some interesting choices of cover here, though. I mean, 'I Ain't Got No Heart' by Frank Zappa at a time nobody in England knew who Frank Zappa was?
Jeff Lynne's 'Knocking Nails Into My House' you might think would be a good fit for Slade and indeed, it reveals more of what Slade would become that almost anything else here. Slade had a thumpingly basic rhythm section but they were powerful and at their pomp, almost hypnotically so. 'Knocking Nails Into My House' has such a rhythm section although the mixing and production leaves a lot to be desired. The Beatles 'Martha My Dear' doesn't stray very far from the original and sadly is the most enjoyable track here. 'Born To Be Wild' would have been a live favourite but doesn't work here somewhat drenched in echo and effects. So 'Beginnings', technically by Ambrose Slade rather than Slade, completely fails to display any of the pop genius Slade would soon demonstrate but does still give out enough hints of the power-house live proposition Slade were.
Mickey Parker Essex Seems a bit harsh, although I do agree with much of what you are saying. Most of the work on this album was ahead of it's time and it loses a lot of it's value without that edge. I believe this album was overlooked and unappreciated at the time and is now viewed with advanced ears that cannot place the music of 1968/9 into the timeline. So much changed so quickly at this period that if a recording wasn't heard immediately, it could well sound dated soon after.Take, for instance, Roach Daddy, written by the band themselves and recorded circa December 1968 - January 1969. You say, par for the course with the Blues thing of the time. I say, listen to For You Blue by the Beatles... a year later!You say Martha My Dear stays close to the Beatles original, I say listen to the Beatles version again, in comparison. This version leaves it in the shade, Lea's violin in particular making a hell of a difference. Listen to Journey To The Centre Of Your Mind against the A!
mboy Dukes original and marvel at how advanced the Ambrose Slade cover is. Born To Be Wild will always be measured by the Slade Alive! version. Genesis (don't know why your copy has a 'z', all 5 of my copies are correctly spelt) has an incredible swirling psychadelic backdrop which was considered 'distinctly freaky' back at the time of release. The album was released in mid 1969 and mostly recorded in December 1968 and January 1969 without Chas Chandler. Chandler came to hear the finished album playback. It was his first meeting with the group and he saw them live, decided to manage them and then tried to stop the album from being released. The group produced the album themselves with only a studio engineer (Roger Wake) for consultation.I admit to being somewhat biased in my opinion but I do try very hard to be objective and I think my observations are valid as well as rabid! Mad Dog Cole indeed, great track that shows Dave Hill was a great talent before he became the c!
Play It Loud 8 ( 1970 )
Raven / See Us Here / Dapple Rose / Could I / One Way Hotel / The Shape of Things to Come / Know Who You Are / I Remember / Pouk Hill / Angelina / Dirty Joker / Sweet Box
Chas Chandler produces Slade's second LP, although technically it's their debut under the shortened 'Slade' moniker. We've got more bass in the overall sound which is welcome and just a couple or three covers as the Slade writing team start to show us all what they can do. The cover art sees Slade adopt a "skinhead" image heightening the bands working class roots. Whilst of course Slade would later become a massive part of the glam scene, this sense of working class Slade would endure long after the glam scene had faded. And yes, for those that can't take Slade seriously due to the whole glitter/humour part of their career, 'Play It Loud' could be the one release of theirs to make you change your mind. Much like children of the eighties and beyond finding it incomprehensible to contemplate ageing rockers Status Quo as once having been credible, I feel those same children find it difficult to understand that Slade were definitely a proper, artistic force. An artistic force and also a band with chops. We may all laugh at Dave Hill, yet there was a reason Slade built up a fearsome reputation as a live act. Well, Jim Lea was something of a powerhouse and we all know about good old Noddy Holder and his wallpaper shredding vocal chords.
'Shape Of Things To Come' was the first single and didn't chart. I find it interesting their record label still wanted a cover to be the main single release. Slade's take on 'Shape Of Things To Come' is accomplished yet doesn't really reveal anything about Slade or their character. Compare and contrast with the self-penned 'Dapple Rose', a glorious slice of English songwriting combining sadness, redemption and a very memorable chorus. 'Pouk Hill' is another excellent track that deserved to be a hit, a tale of a real location nearby where singer Noddy Holder lived in Walsall, England. Meanwhile, songs such as 'Sweet Box' and 'Raven' remind this listener very much of the late sixties scene in England. Although I wasn't there, not yet born, 'Sweet Box' seems to combine several strands of British music circa 68/69. We've got the blues, hard rock, psychedelia and a nod to the mod scene aka Small Faces. Overall, we've got a tight, focused thirty-six minute or so album that Slade quite genuinely can be proud of. It's packs a punch in rock terms, lyrically Noddy was just getting started and Jim Lea and Dave Hill were also just starting to find their respective roles within the band. That's the key to 'Play It Loud', one of the best showcases of Slade as a fully democratic and credible rock band. Play it loud, indeed.
Slade Alive! 8½ ( 1972 )
Hear Me Calling / In Like A Shot From My Gun / Darling Be Home Soon / Know Who You Are / Keep On Rocking / Get Down With It / Born To Be Wild
For a band who were not enjoying any kind of album success, this live set was designed for Slade to have a presence on the album charts. Released around the same time as ‘Slade Alive!’ however was compilation album ‘Coz I Luv You’ – a strange beast compiling a few singles, b-sides and half a dozen cuts from ‘Play It Loud’. Although it failed to chart in the UK, for some reason it reached number 10 in the Netherlands. ‘Coz I Luv You’ was named after the first Slade UK number one single and was pure cash-in from label Polydor - it has never been issued on CD. I guess it did provide a welcome way for a bunch of the better songs from non-charting album ‘Play It Loud’ to get noticed, though.
‘Slade Alive’ meanwhile was a big success, hitting number one in Australia and number two in the UK. Containing three originals and four covers, only three of the songs had seen the light of day in one form or another on previous Slade releases.
This gig was in front of a couple hundred people, an invited audience (no less!) whom Noddy seems somewhat polite to until he unexpectedly burps during a nice old ballad performance. Noddy is asking the audience to get into the music rather than imploring them to do so. Well, he didn’t need to implore them to do so, when Jim Lea’s bass pounds throughout and Dave Hill (Yes, the one with the pudding haircut, stupid face, stupid everything!) manages (despite all expectation) to play exciting guitar solos.
I met Dave Hill once when I was working in Wolverhampton. He wanted to buy a laptop and I blinked several times trying to work out if Dave Hill himself really had just casually walked into a high-street store asking for a Laptop ‘to do music on’.
Oh, those thinking Slade and Glam Rock? Until ‘Keep On Rocking’, this is just rock, with heavy bass and noisy guitar and predictable yet energetic drumming. ‘Keep On Rocking’ though hints at the true Glam Rock Slade that were very imminently to come. A game of two halves? Yes, this is a perfectly structured album in that respect with Side A containing four songs which ends with (a belch-enhanced) quite beautiful ballad. It is perfectly structured, so then Side B begins with the all-out party fun rock of, erm, ‘Keep On Rocking’. Not too sure they needed to incorporate ‘Tutti Frutti’ into the thing, but there you are, a fun time was had by all I am sure.
Better is first Slade hit proper ‘Get Down With It’, a live version of a song that invents Oasis and splits your speakers in half when Noddy lets out his unequalled howl of a voice. Noddy? He sounds like a goat, always ramming against your head – his horns accidentally cutting you open when all he really wants to do is be friends…… a true gent.
Clap your hands, yeah. Born To Be Wild’ – the almost militaristic drums, the fat bass guitar, that Noddy howl then what is this? Four and a half minutes in they sound like thrash metal. No, they genuinely do! They are giving off more energy than pretty much any punk band I can even begin to think of.
Noisy and stupid but oh so clever - Slade hit number two in the UK albums charts and stayed on the charts for around a year. This was 1972 and checking the chart facts, four Slade singles were released this year, reaching numbers 4, 1, 1 and 2. ‘Slade Alive’ was vital to supporting this success and leant the group the credibility they needed.