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MOUNTAINS

Steamhammer

Crossover Prog


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loserboy
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars STEAMHAMMER's second release "Mountains" is just plain and simply one of those "full bodied brews" that the commercials always promised. This was STEAMHAMMER's strongest album (although the debut album is also quite amazing) and represents a great journey into a rather interesting world where progressive, blues and psychedelic genres meet. This five piece band play somewhere in the CREAM, GOLDEN EARRING, Peter Green school of music. One of the interesting aspects of this album is that fact that basically half the album was recorded live yet sounds dynamically like the studio album and goes on almost undetected. Perhaps though the aspect I appreciate the most in this recording is the standout instrument interplay with some fantastic guitar solos (aka SANTANA) and bass guitar that just wont stop.

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Send comments to loserboy (BETA) | Report this review (#40171)
Posted Sunday, July 24, 2005 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
3 stars 3,5 stars really!!!

This album is their third and also their hardest in terms of rocking. Gone is Steve Joliffe and in come more guitars. Please note also that Louis Cennamo from the first Renaissance line-up is in the fold on bass. This album is highly rated among collectioners and early 70's afficionados but personally I think that the second album is much better and suitable for a proghead.

A relatively stunning artwork sleeve enhaces the hard-rock listening bringing you through some not always basic power chords , searing guitar work and good interplay. Hold That Train and the title track being the highlights and so is, in a relatively way, the lenghty live track Riding On The L&N.

Prospective progheads should investigate the second album Mk II before moving to any other album.

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#40216)
Posted Monday, July 25, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars If this wasn't a prog-rock site, this album would be give five stars. IMHO, this is the best example of how great Steamhammer was, as a British blues Sixties band. "Mountains" marks a return to the blues-rock feel of the first album, after the commercial flop of the ambitious "Mk. II", but it is a bit more hard-rock than "Reflections", showing that maybe they would pursue a "rocker" sound, like Foghat's first and second albums or Savoy Brown in late Seventies. Highlights: "I Would Haven't Thought", the live medley "Ridin' on the L & N/Hold that Train" and the title track. But, like the first album, only progheads interested in blues-rock will find this album interesting.

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Send comments to M. B. Zapelini (BETA) | Report this review (#42013)
Posted Monday, August 08, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Steamhammer are an extreme good band. And "Mountains" is great lbum. In White Blues field... Extreme good (masterpiece?) in Prog field... Extreme good (but not masterpiece). Today is hard to consider "Mountains" a Prog album. But not in 1970.

The best song is "Riding On The L&N", recorded live. This song is simply perfect, boombastic and exciting. In one word: perfect.

Strange the fact that the worst song in this album... Well: In this album there isn't a really ugly song. Only except for succeeded. And in this field a correct example is, for me, "Walking Down The Road". That then it's really little succeed?

So this is another 4 star album in general field. Another obscure great album.

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Send comments to Ely78 (BETA) | Report this review (#143600)
Posted Thursday, October 11, 2007 | Review Permalink
stefro
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 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

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Send comments to stefro (BETA) | Report this review (#292993)
Posted Sunday, August 01, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars Nice but non revealing record, I would say that this is an example of typicall blues rock. "I wouldn't have,thought" typicall rhythm with great guitar solo, played with an open and clear sound which breaks the composition arrangement. Nice work by Kieran White and the best moment of the record for me. "Riding on the..."starts with hard march bass, gradually turns on percussion and some dripping guitar. Vocal is attached, after 4 minutes of bluesy melody we got small bass sollo which goes smoothly to White's solo. That and another number "Hold that train" were both live recorded. "Hold..." starts with some harmonica stuff - just like slow version of Black Sabbath "Wizzard" but finished like some of a Canned Head number. rest of material is not worth mention - nothing appeared no different. Blues rock impregnated of progressive connotations but clearly an irresistible.

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Send comments to imnotfashioned (BETA) | Report this review (#730002)
Posted Monday, April 16, 2012 | Review Permalink
Rivertree
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Psych/Space Team & Band Submissions
4 stars STEAMHAMMER came out of the Blues (the first steps were made as a backing band for Freddie King) and attracted my attention due to the forerunner 'MKII' from 1969. Now this album, simply called 'Mountains', saw them underway on progressive rock paths at the latest. Generally noted as the definitive band effort it was recorded by Kieran White (guitars, vocals), Martin Pugh (guitars), Mickey Bradley (drums) and Steve Davy (bass, organ). They have been a very inspired quartet at that time, with live performances standing for wide excursions of improvisations. Sadly though the commercial success failed to appear and when Kieran White decided to quit in 1970, this actually signified the end of the band unfortunately, even though the others tried to continue for a couple of years.

I've purchased 'Mountains' sometime in the 1970s (vinyl of course), where you have to consider that original and re-issue are offering different tracklists. Not a problem at all, I would say, because this only affects the track order. Anyway, two live recordings are given here which left me flabbergastet immediately. The masterpiece couple Riding On The L&N and Hold That Train was recorded at the Lyceum Theatre, London, is showcasing their excellent jamming qualities in the vein of Cream or The Byrds, provided with just that typical twin guitar approach also known from bands like Wishbone Ash and Man for example.

So besides the excellent guitar interaction, a driving groove is remarkable, groundbreaking harmonica and bass solos inclusively. Definitely danceable, thus highly recommended for your alternative party. This stuff is worthwhile alone ... but furthermore you will find high quality studio songs all the way through, outfitted with wonderful melodies to sing along, offering a balanced appearance of acoustic and electric guitar. Something outstanding .... especially when considering the year of recording in 1970. It was a real pleasure to put this into the player again after some time (years).

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Send comments to Rivertree (BETA) | Report this review (#876561)
Posted Sunday, December 16, 2012 | Review Permalink
GruvanDahlman
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I've always had a soft spot for Steamhammer. There's something inexplicably nice about their music. Their albums MK II, Mountains and Speech are all very, very enjoyable indeed, though I personally prefer Mountains above them all. I guess that's because it was the first album I bought of Steamhammer's. I wouldn't say it's prog but I would not say it's not either. I guess a fair judgement would be progressive blues-rock and that isn't bad, I'll tell you. At times I get the feeling of Jethro Tull bar the flute. The music on Mountains is folky, bluesy, progressive and quite brilliant. The musicianship is excellent and really, the album leaves little to miss. I heard or read somewhere that Steamhammer set out making the best album EVER with Mountains. Now, I can't say it's the best albums ever made but it's really worth the effort, money and time if you like proto-prog (which isn't too far off the mark, when I think about it) with rough edges and both feet stuck in bluesy hard rock. Good'un!

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Send comments to GruvanDahlman (BETA) | Report this review (#879313)
Posted Thursday, December 20, 2012 | Review Permalink

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