Ambrose Slade Ballzy

Ambrose Slade Ballzy

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West Midlands rockers Slade started out as The ’N Betweens, a blues-influenced band formed by members of The Vendors and The Mavericks; their earliest recordings were issued in France by Barclay. In 1966 they met producer Kim Fowley in London, leading to a cover of a Rascals track for Columbia, which topped regional charts, but failed to impact nationally. Signed to Fontana in 1969, they became Ambrose Slade, the name inspired by the shoes and handbag worn by a label secretary.

The US edition of their debut album, titled Ballzy, shows the band still finding their feet, with a range of styles and diverse cover tunes: renditions of wistful Beatles track “Martha My Dear” and Marvin Gaye’s “If This World Were Mine” are contrasted by the slinking, guitar-led instrumental, “Genesis,” and blues-rock creeper, “Roach Daddy.” During the album’s recording, the group drew the attention of Hendrix’s manager Chas Chandler, who soon convinced another name change and shift of direction, leading to a skinhead look and ultimately, an embrace of glam rock; Ballzy captures the group at an in-between phase, experimenting with diverse influences in the quest for a sound of their own.