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Sir Lord Baltimore: Kingdom Come/Sir Lord Baltimore

So many people talk about the birth of heavy metal, and how acts like Cream, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Iron Butterfly, Deep Purple, Jimi Hendrix, The Who, and Blue Cheer all either had a hand in creating the genre or were individually responsible for the sound that is 'metal'. Well, one band that rarely gets talked about, and who are just as influential in the scheme of 'proto-metal' is none other than New York's Sir Lord Baltimore. Chances are though unless you followed the underground hard rock scene back in the late 60's or early 70's, these guys might have fallen a bit under your radar. SLB was formed in 1968 by lead vocalist/drummer John Garner, guitarist Louis Dambra, and bass player Gary Justin, and their only two official albums, 1970's Kingdom Come and 1971's Sir Lord Baltimore were both released on Mercury Records, both included here in this 1994 PolyGram reissue. Joey Dambra joined on second guitar for the bands second, self-titled album.

This is HEAVY stuff, quite well ahead of its time. In many instances the guitar crunch from Dambra is as heavy as anything Tony Iommi was doing at the time, but the music overall was faster than Sabbath's, more in the line of Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, or Mountain. Garner had a voice that was a cross between Jack Bruce, Ian Gillan, and John DuCann of Atomic Rooster. Many of the songs are 'riff heavy' with frantic rhythms and wailing vocals, plus some tasty, distorted lead guitar work thrown in for good measure. Listening to the hard rock & thumping groove of a tune like "Master Heartache", you can imagine where Aerosmith got some of their swagger from, and "I Got a Woman", "Helium Head (I Got a Love)", and "Ain't Got Hung On You" is heavy rock and boogie for those that can't get enough classic Cactus. "Hard Rain Fallin' " is a real heavy rock bonanza with some chugging bluesy riffs that wouldn't have sounded out of place on Led Zeppelin's or Mountain's early albums, and "Lady of Fire" and "Kingdom Come" are as heavy as anything on Black Sabbath's first few records. There's even some gentle prog on "Lake Isle Of Innersfree" and more adventurous & atmospheric music on the lengthy " Man From Manhattan". However, it's the frantic, heavy rockin' "Pumped Up" and "Hell Hound" that provides the two most memorable tracks here, each one a revved up mix of In Rock era Deep Purple with Smokin' era Humble Pie, featuring wailing vocals, crushing riffs, manic rhythms, and stinging lead guitar work. "Loe and Behold" matches Grand Funk Railroad for groove, and "Woman Tamer" throws Sabbath/Aerosmith styled riffs at the listener and grabs you firmly by the balls. "Where Are We Going" is a fun party rock song, and you have to wonder if the guys in KISS were listening at that time, because you can definitely hear some of the hard rockin' pomp that eventually wound up on their first few albums.

Each and every song on these two releases is a complete winner, and it's puzzling to wonder just how this band didn't become huge back when these albums were first released. The band broke up in the mid-70's after attempts at a third release fell through, although they did reunite in 2006 sans Justin, recording the album Sir Lord Baltimore III Raw, which was never released through any retail channels. Some have proclaimed the band "the godfathers of stoner rock", and you can definitely see where that came from by listening to these two extraordinary albums. Basically, if you love the classic heavy sounds of bands like Mountain, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Cream, Cactus, Deep Purple, Humble Pie, Atomic Rooster, Budgie, Grand Funk Railroad, Blue Cheer, Aerosmith, KISS, and Captain Beyond, you NEED to get your hands on this compilation of Sir Lord Baltimore's first two albums.

Track Listing
1. Kingdom Come
2. I Got A Woman
3. Hell Hound
4. Helium head (I Got A Love)
5. Ain't Got Hung On You
6. Master Heartache
7. Hard Rain Fallin'
8. Lady Of Fire
9. Lake Isle Of Innersfree
10. Pumped Up
11. Chicago Lives
12. Loe And Behold
13. Woman Tamer
14. Caesar LXXI
15. Man From Manhattan
16. Where Are We Going

Added: January 25th 2012
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 3081
Language: english

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