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Steel Mill: Jewels of the Forest (Green Eyed God Plus)

Leave it to a company like Rise Above Relics to unearth a splendid little hard rock/prog rarity like this 1972 release from British act Steel Mill. Recorded in 1971 and released in Germany the following year, Green Eyed God didn't see a release in Steel Mill's home country until 1975, and sadly by that time the band had already disappeared, despite some tours opening up for David Bowie, Tyrannosaurus Rex, Ray Russell, and Taste. This Rise Above reissue contains the original album, completely remastered (discovered thanks to help from original members David Morris and John Challenger), along with a wealth of bonus tracks (singles, b-sides, mono recordings, and a newly recorded song from 2010 by four of the original members) and a thick, informative booklet containing all the information you need to know about the band and plenty of photos.

Steel Mill back in 1971 were John Challenger (sax, woodwinds), David Morris (vocals, keyboards), Terry Williams (guitar), Jeff Watts (bass), and Chris Martin (drums). Mixing elements of hard rock, progressive rock, and jazz, the band had a sound that can best be described as a cross between Black Sabbath, Jethro Tull, Traffic, and Deep Purple. Williams' heavy rock riffs play well against the soaring sax and flute of Challenger, and Morris' vocals & occasional keyboard work are quite excellent. The heavier numbers like "Blood Runs Deep" and "Treadmill" contain some pretty ferocious riffs and pounding rhythms, while the more progressive, jazzy tunes like "Summer's Child", "Black Jewel of the Forest", and "Mijo and the Laying of the Witch" have a haunting, folky flavor, made all the more majestic thanks to Challenger's gentle flute passages and Morris' alluring vocals. "Green Eyed God", the enchanting title track, might just be the best song that Traffic or Jethro Tull never recorded, a near 10-minute epic filled with wispy flute lines, intoxicating vocals, and fuzz-toned blues rock guitar riffs.

The bonus tracks all contain some sparkling material as well. "Get One the Line" is a proggy, jazzy heavy rocker with some throbbing bass, crushing riffs, and squealing saxophone, while "Zangwill" has more of a jazzy groove but also retains the hard rock & blues element. There are five previously unreleased studio recordings from 1970 also included here with a different drummer and bass player, but the feel is still the same, with bruising blues-rockers "Confusion" and "Super Clean Man" mixing in with folk-jazz numbers like "Monday Arrives" and "Keep Working", while "Growing Bald" has a bit of that late '60s psychedelic pop feel to it. "A Forgotten Future/A Future Past" was recorded in 2010 by Morris, Challenger, Martin, original bassist Derek Chandler, and new guitarist Graham Parker, and to put it mildly these guys haven't missed a beat in all these years. Containing heavy riffs, fluttering flute, and plenty of jazzy/proggy atmospheric passages, we can only hope that the band decide to do more in the future.

As far as reissues of rare '70s recordings go, this is really a great one. Steel Mill most certainly deserved more than their fate turned out, and anyone into heavy rock with a prog, jazz, and folk feel from that era would be well advised to check this release out.

Track Listing
1. Blood Runs Deep - 5:05
2. Summer's Child - 4:25
3. Mijo and the Laying of the Witch - 7:52
4. Treadmill - 4:00
5. Green Eyed God - 9:45
6. Turn the Page Over - 3:52
7. Black Jewel of the Forest - 6:04
8. Har Fleur - 0:48
9. Get on the Line - 4:15
10.Zangwill - 3:43
11.Green Eyed God - 3:46
12.Confusion - 3:50
13.Monday Arrives - 3:15
14.Super Clean Man - 3:33
15.Keep Working - 3:56
16.Growing Bald - 3:52
17.A Forgotten Future/A Future Past - 5:00

Added: June 13th 2013
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Rise Above Records
Hits: 2499
Language: english

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