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- Dave Hillon --
Rating: *** (3 stars)
Catalog: SRF- 67598
Grade (cover/record): VG/VG
GEMM catalog ID: 4
Guitarist Dave Hillon and drummer Don Powell
started their musical collaboration in 1965 as members of the Wilverhampton,
West Midlands-based The Vendors. Within a year the band had been renamed The
In-Be-Tweens. By 1966 ongoing personnel changes saw the band lineup
consisting of Hillon, Powell, former Steve Brett & the Mavericks rhythm
guitarist Noddy Holder and bassist Jimmy Lee.
In demand on the local club scene, the quartet eventually scored a one-shot deal with Columbia, resulting in the release of the 1967 single "You Better Run" b/w "Evil Witchman". A commercial flop, Columbia quickly dropped the band, leaving them to return to the Midlands club circuit. 1969 found the band having relocated to London, where they were hired as house band for the Rasputin's Club. Their act caught the attention of former Animal-turned-manager/producer Chas Chandler, who promptly signed on as their manager. Under Chandler's direction, the group underwent another image change, adopting pseudo-skinhead attire, reappearing as Ambrose Slade.
Signed to Fontana, their Chandler produced 1968 debut "Ballzy" (titled "Beginnings" in England, offered up a mix of group-penned original material and (mimicking their live act), popular and lesser known covers. Propelled by Holder's craggy voice, musically the set was fairly diverse, the band taking stabs at a number of genres, including atmospheric instrumentals ("Genesis"), conventional hard rock (Steppenwolf's "Born To Be Wild"), Zappa ("Ain't Got No Heart"), psychedelia (The Amboy Dukes' "Journey To the Center of Your Mind") and even a Motown cover (Marvin Gaye's "If This World Were Mine"). While the set's a minor collectable valued among collectors, it's hard to see what the excitement's about. The 12 performances were certainly competent; occasionally quite entertaining ("Fly Me High" and a hysterically inept cover of The Beatles' "Martha My Dear"). That said, the set wasn't particularly original, or memorable.
"Ballzy" track listing:
1.) Genesis (instrumental) (Jim Hill - Noddy Holder - Jimmy Lea - Don Powell) - 2:44
2.) Everybody's Next One (John Kay - Gabriel Mekler) - 2:44
3.) Knocking Nails Into My House (Lynne) - 2:24
4.) Roach Daddy (Jim Hill - Noddy Holder - Jimmy Lea - Don Powell) - 3:01
5.) Ain't Got No Heart (Frank Zappa) - 2:36
6.) Pity the Mother (Noddy Holder - Lea) - 4:00
7.) Mad Dog Cole (instrumental) (Jim Hill - Noddy Holder - Jimmy Lea - Don Powell) - 2:41
8.) Fly Me High (T. Hayward) - 2:55
9.) If This World Were Mine (Marvin Gaye) - 3:18
10.) Martha My Dear (John Lennon - Paul McCartney) - 2:17
11.) Born To Be Wild (Bonfire) - 3:36
12.) Journey To the Center of Your Mind (Ted Nugent - Steve Farmer) - 2:45
At Chandler's suggestion, further releases were credited to Slade (see separate entry).
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