Slade are an English rock band formed in Wolverhampton in 1966.
Beginnings is a mixture of self-penned songs and cover versions including two tracks by Steppenwolf. 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.
The cover artwork for the original British release of the album features a photo of the band on Pouk Hill in Walsall, a local landmark which was close to lead singer Noddy Holder's home. The band didn't enjoy the photo session due to the photographer insisting that they should pose naked from the waist up in extremely cold weather. The incident was later to form the basis of the lyrics to their song "Pouk Hill", which appeared on their second album, Play It Loud, in 1970.
The album has been included as part of John Peel's Rarest Records documentary.
Slade had originally formed as The 'N Betweens in 1966. Aside from recording the odd, unsuccessful single, the band mainly concentrated on building a reputation on the UK's live circuit. In February 1969, Jack Baverstock, the head of A&R at Philips Records, took an interest in signing the band after hearing two of their demos, recorded during 1968 sessions with producer Martin Irving.
Baverstock soon offered to sign the band if they changed their name to Ambrose Slade and found London-based management. Despite their concerns of losing the reputation gained as the 'N Betweens, the band agreed. The name Ambrose Slade was inspired by Baverstock's secretary, who had named her handbag Ambrose and her shoes Slade. Baverstock soon found them an agent, John Gunnel.
During the recording of the album, Ambrose Slade would be introduced to Chas Chandler, who visited the band in the studio with his business partner Gunnel. Impressed by what he heard in the studio, Chandler decided to watch the band perform live at Rasputin's club the following night. By the end of the show, he decided that wanted to manage the group and soon became the band's manager.
Genesis" is an original instrumental, written by all four members of the band. The song would later be re-worked, with lyrics added into the track "Know Who You Are", which appeared on the band's 1970 album Play It Loud. "Everybody's Next One" is a cover of the 1968 song by Steppenwolf. "Knocking Nails into My House" is a cover of the 1968 song by The Idle Race. "Roach Daddy" was also written by all four members of the band. In addition to its inclusion on the album, the song also featured as the B-Side on the "Genesis" single. "Ain't Got No Heart" is a cover of the 1966 song by the Mothers of Invention. "Pity the Mother" was the first song to be written by Slade's future songwriting team Holder and Lea. The song features Lea on electric violin. In 1980, Lea recalled of the song: "We wrote it in Nod's parents' kitchen, the day before we went down to do some recording in the studio. Louise [Lea's wife] was there, and she helped me and Nod write the song."
"Mad Dog Cole" is another original instrumental. The song had the working title of "My Cat's Got Fleas". "Fly Me High" is a cover of the 1967 song by The Moody Blues. "If This World Were Mine" is a cover of the 1967 duet by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell. "Martha My Dear" is a cover of the 1968 song by The Beatles. The band would later perform the song on the BBC children's show Monster Music Mash in 1969 when promoting the single "Wild Winds Are Blowing". "Born to be Wild" is another song originally by Steppenwolf. "Born to be Wild" was later included on the 1972 live album Slade Alive!, which gave the band's version of the song greater recognition. "Journey to the Centre of Your Mind" is a cover of the 1968 song by The Amboy Dukes.
Upon release, reviewer Lester Bangs of Phonograph Record described the album as "a real dud". Record Mirror, in a review of the "Genesis" single, described the album as a "fine debut" from a band of "very substantial talent".
Later in 1991, a retrospective of Beginnings by Q said: "It's an odd but pleasant album, which sees the quartet nervously relax in The Small Faces' shoes." Dave Thompson in a retrospective summary for AllMusic feels that the album presents "little of what you'd expect from Slade", although "Noddy Holder's vocals are unmistakable". Thompson praises the "well-executed covers", which served to "demonstrate the band's musical versatility". He concluded: "While there are a handful of disappointments ("Martha My Dear" is almost heinous), Beginnings stands as a fine beginning. But things were going to get a lot better than this."
Noddy Holder – lead vocals, rhythm guitar, producer