Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Steamhammer - Mountains (1970)


The group's third release, 'Mountains' is possibly Steamhammer's most complete album, featuring amongst it's eight tracks a nice mixture of their trademark brand of earthy blues-rock with tinges of psychedelia and some nicely-judged progressive elements. Steamhammer's career was, unfortunately, a fairly brief one, with their discography made up of just four studio albums, but they were a talented group of musicians whose style developed noticeably on each album, with the straight-ahead blues-rock of their 1968 debut 'Reflections' gradually making way for a more experimental approach evident on each of their following albums and culminating with the epic prog-blues of 1972's 'Speech'. For 'Mountains' the group was four- strong, made up of Martin Pugh(vocals, guitar), Louis Cennamo(bass), Kieran White(vocals, guitar, harmonica) and Mick Bradley(drums) and augmented by sessions players Keith Nelson(banjo) and Steve Davy(organ, bass), a line-up that would soon fragment(due, in part, to the tragic death of drummer Mick Bradley thanks to undiagnosed leukemia) after 'Mountains' release. However, despite their limited time together 'Mountains' features as it's second track an excellent live rendition of the old blues track 'Riding On The L & N', thus showcasing the band's tight interplay in the live arena. And it's a great start to a great album, with 'Riding On The L & N' coming after a cracking opener in the form of 'I Wouldn't Have Thought', a song that starts with a funky, rolling groove before completely hi-jacking the listener by unexpectedly morphing into a mesmerising, deeply-psychedelic and seemingly never-ending guitar solo from White which slowly builds up momentum before the original groove crashes back in. It's a wonderfully eclectic track and it is this mixture of boogie-blues and prog-orientated ideas that gives the album a fascinating slant, cleverly combining toe-tapping rhythms with a highly- orchestrated, multi-layered sound that incorporates elements of early metal and rock 'n' roll alongside the more obvious blues and prog motifs. The group also show they could write more sensitive songs as well, with the beautifully-crafted 'Levinia' showing Steamhammer's softer- side and the final track, 'Mountains', showing off Martin Pugh's wonderfully gruff vocals to full effect. Fans of The Groundhogs, Ten Years After, John Mayall Blues Band, Led Zeppelin and Cream should find much to admire both on 'Mountains' and the group's previous two albums, with the only disappointment being that Steamhammer's career was, simply put, far too short. STEFAN TURNER, LONDON, 2010  Review from Progarchives.com


Songs / Tracks Listing 

1. I Wouldn't Have Thought (5:39)
2. Levinia (3:34)
3. Henry Lane (3:52)
4. Walking Down The Raod (3:43)
5. Mountains (5:38)
6. Leader Of The Ring (2:48)
7. Riding On The L&N* (10:23)
8. Hold That Train* (5:50)

Total Time: 41:27


Line-up / Musicians

Martin Pugh / guitars, vocals
- Kieran White / guitars, harmonica, vocals
- Mickey Bradley / drums
- Steve Davy / organ, bass, vocals


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