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21.6.09

Steamhammer




Steamhammer - Mountains - 1970 - Brain

"Mountains" has been called Steamhamme's "definitive album". The album is mainly comprised of electrified white urban blues of the highest quality, and contains eight straight-ahead blues numbers with a healthy dose of rock'n'roll. The live cut, "Riding On The L&N", is one of the best tracks on the album. "Mountains" is a well structured blues rock album, with great jazzy improvisations. An unusual band in that their music has been categorised as progressive blues, which was an unusual music style in the late sixties. The album established Steamhammer as a prominent blues rock group, and received good reviews from critics, and the general public. It is arguably the band's "best" album. Steamhammer became a popular live act in the sixties, especially in Germany. Tracks A2 & A3 were recorded live at the Lyceum. "Mountains" is an enjoyable album , and well worth listening to for its variety of expertly played musical fusions. Try and listen to the band's "Speech" album. There is info on the Steamhammer (a.k.a. Reflection) album @ STHAM/REFL and you can find the band's "Mk II" album @ STHAM/MK2

TRACKS

A1 I Wouldn't Have Thought - White, Pugh
A2 Riding On The L&M - Burley, Hampton
A3 Hold That Train - White, Pugh, Davy, Bradley

B1 Levinia - White
B2 Henry Lane - White
B3 Leader Of The Ring - White
B4 Walking Down The Road - White
B5 Mountains - White

BAND

Martin Pugh - Guitar (Acoustic), Guitar, Guitar (Electric), Vocals
Kieran White - Guitar (Acoustic), Guitar, Harmonica, Guitar (Electric), Vocals
Louis Cennamo - Bass, Vocals
Steve Davy - Organ, Bass, Vocals
Mickey Bradley - Drums
Mick Bradley - Percussion, Drums
Keith Nelson - Banjo

REVIEW

Although considered by many as a second-tier combo, Steamhammer issued a handful of well above average albums beginning with their 1969 eponymous debut. It blended B.B. King and Eddie Boyd covers with a healthy sampling of originals by core members Kieran White (vocals/harmonica/acoustic guitar/electric guitar), Martin Quittenton (guitar), and Martin Pugh (vocals/harmonica/acoustic guitar/electric guitar). By 1970 Steamhammer had already endured several personnel changes. These included the departure of both Quittenton and supplementary woodwind/brass contributor Steve Joliffe (sax/flute), as well as the replacement of drummer Michael Rushton with Mick Bradley (drums/percussion). It is this slightly amended quartet that would create their most memorable effort, Mountains (1970). They retain their fusion of improvisation-inspired jazz while cranking out a harder and edgier brand of electric blues. The centerpiece of the platter is the ten-plus-minute "Riding on the L&N," mixing the long and languid interplay of classic Allman Brothers with the fiery momentum of Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac. The sinuous groove winds its way into the John Lee Hooker-esque "Hold That Train" with a riff that immediately conjures Hooker's familiar "Boogie Chillun" groove before intensifying into a full-blown jam, rivalling the likes of Canned Heat. The spry and syncopated "Levinia" allows the band to explore their formidable chops in a liberated and faintly trippy approach that would not sound out of place from Mick Abrahams-era Jethro Tull, especially Kieran White's earthy vocals and Pugh's equally impressive acoustic fretwork. "Henry Lane" is another highlight, exploring Steamhammer's stylistic diversity within the laid-back melody before launching into a rousing radiant round of instrumentation headed up by guest performer Keith Nelson (banjo). "Walking Down the Road" is definitely traveling music, led by the palpitating rhythm section of Steve Davy and Bradley. The long-player concludes with the mid-tempo title track, again probing some jazz-flavored exchanges. Steamhammer would continue for a few years until leukemia took the life of Bradley, at which time only he and Pugh remained from this lineup. © Lindsay Planer, All Music Guide

BIO

Blues-rockers Steamhammer formed in 1968 in the British town of Worthing. The band was made up of several blues and folk band veterans who were interested in playing something new. The band was pulled onto the road almost directly after their inception by blues legend Freddie King, who needed a backing band for his European tour. By spring of the next year, they signed a contract with CBS Records and released an eponymous debut. They mixed their own material with several standards, but failed to find an audience in the over-saturated blues-rock scene. The band did become quite the live sensation, despite a lineup shift that saw original members Michael Rushton and Martin Quittenton leave the band. Their second album was another stab at the same formula, with slightly different results due to new saxophonist Steve Jollife's incredible technical skill. By the time 1970 rolled around, they recorded their "definitive" album, the critical favorite Mountains. This album gave them some minor mainstream exposure, and revealed a band who was ready to adopt the rock side of their sound much more than before. They toured afterward, but lost most of the band members throughout the journey. By the time it was over, they only had original guitarist Martin Pugh and drummer Mick Bradley in the fold. They released one more album, 1972's Speech, to poor reviews and an indifferent public. The band broke up before they could even promote the album, and Bradley died the same year of leukemia. The band never attempted to reunite, but many of the members would go on to work with each other in projects like Armageddon. © Bradley Torreano, All Music Guide

MORE ABOUT STEAMHAMMER

The extraordinary blues-rock band ‘Steamhammer’ was formed at the end of 1968 in Worthing, England. Martin Quittenton (guitar) and Kieran White (vocals, guitar, harmonica) came out of the British folk circuit. Quittenton had worked together with the Liverpool Scene and, like the other members Martin Pugh (guitar), Steve Davy (bass) and Michael Rushton (drums), had played with numerous R&B groups. Blues hero Freddie King ordered Steamhammer as his backing band on tour through Great Britain. Come Spring time, 1969, they signed a record contract with CBS. The first album, "Steamhammer", was a mixture of classic blues by B.B.King and Eddie Boyd and modern blues written by White and Quittenton with the help of Pugh. At the end of the British blues boom, only a few hardcore fans took interest on the finest lyrical blues-rock statement of the century. Not selling as many records as they'd hoped to, Steamhammer nevertheless became a top European open-air attraction, mainly due to their brilliant live performance. For over two hours each night they would indulge in wide excursions in instrumental improvisations, embodied by the impressive guitar riffage of Martin Pugh and the sensitive harmonica of Kieran White. In the summer of 1969, Quittenton left the band, followed by drummer Michael Rushton. They were replaced by Steve Jollife (saxaphone, flute) and Mick Bradley. Jollife's feel for precise arrangements and jazz influences especially inspired the recording of Steamhammer's second, "Mk II", album. Overstepping the boundaries of traditional blues forms, they unleashed their own musical creativity and imagination without resorting to any technical trickery. These highly professional and creative musicians performed many live shows at various festivals in Scandinavia, West Germany and the Netherlands. On the continent, it turned out, they had become more popular than in England. In the summer of 1970, Steamhammer recorded their "definitive album" (rock session), called "Mountains", as a quartet. White, Pugh, Davy and Bradley were really working as a team and offering electrified white urban blues of highest quality. The live cut, "Riding On The L&N", is one of the highlights of the "Mountains" album, which contains straight-ahead blues numbers with a healthy dose of rock'n'roll. It was only with the release of this album that Steamhammer began to be noticed by the rock world. After the Altamont and Fehmarn fiascos, the era of open-air events of such calibre was ended at least for quite a while. In the late summer of that same year, Steamhammer toured for the last time in Germany and the Benelux. The following autumn, the line-up changed again. Only Pugh and Bradley stayed together and engaged ex-‘Renaissance’ member Louis Cennamo (bass) for the recording of one more album. "Speech" was recorded in the winter of 1971 and released in the beginning of 1972. By that time, Steamhammer had ceased to exist. "Speech" was a disappointing, partly chaotic album, and the negative reception of the record led to the end of the group's popularity. Mick Bradley died in February 1972 of leukaemia. Kieran White released a solo LP, "Open Door", in 1975 and Martin Pugh and Louis Cennamo put together a cult band Armageddon (with Keith Relf on vocals), which released only one album. [ (Courtesy of "Christian Graf - Rock Music Lexikon", Verlag Taurus Press, Hamburg. Edited by Alex Gitlin. From the CD reissue of "Mk II", Repertoire, REP 4236-WY)]

BIO (Wikipedia)

Steamhammer was a blues-rock band from Worthing, England. The band was founded in 1968 by Martin Quittenton (guitar) and Kieran White (vocals, guitar, harmonica). The first stable lineup consisted of Quittenton, White, Martin Pugh (guitar), Steve Davy (bass), and Michael Rushton (drums). This version of the band acted as backing band for Freddie King on one of his tours of England. The band's first album, Reflection, was released in 1969. It included covers of "You'll Never Know" by B. B. King and "Twenty-Four Hours" by Eddie Boyd as well as original songs by White, Quittenton, and Pugh. Session musicians Harold McNair (flute) and Pete Sears (piano) also played on the album. This album was not commercially successful, but the band became a popular live act, especially in West Germany. In the summer of 1969, Quittenton and Rushton left the band, and Steve Jollife (saxophone, flute) and Mick Bradley (drums) joined the band. This version of the band recorded the album Mk II, released in 1969. It consisted entirely of original songs, and the musical style had more jazz and progressive rock influences. Jollife left the band in 1970. The remaining band members recorded the album Mountains, which was released in 1970. This album included a cover of "Riding on the L & N" by Lionel Hampton and seven original songs. In 1971, White and Davy left the band, and Louis Cennamo (bass) joined the band. This lineup, along with session vocalist Garth Watt-Roy, recorded the album Speech, which was released in 1972. It consisted of three long, mostly instrumental songs. Bradley died of leukemia in 1972, leading to the break-up of the band. Pugh and Cennamo went on to play in Armageddon. After that band broke up, Cennamo joined Illusion. White recorded a solo album, Open Door, which was released in 1975. Quittenton played guitar and co-wrote songs on albums by Rod Stewart. Jollife joined Tangerine Dream in 1978 and played on the album Cyclone.