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Sir Lord Baltimore's Complete Recordings: revelatory, and endlessly entertaining

Gloriously untamed proto-metal unearthed on Sir Lord Baltimore's The Complete Recordings: 1970-2006

Sir Lord Baltimore's The Complete Recordings: 1970-2006
(Image: © Cherry Red)

Heavy metal was built on audacious sonic ejaculations that pushed hard rock to wild extremes. While the crazed thunder of Blue Cheer is well-documented, Brooklyn trio Sir Lord Baltimore flew totally below the radar, only noticed later by Julian Cope, who frothed over their “histrionic proto-Kiss, proto-David Lee Roth vocal acrobatics and enough Stooged-out proto metal to last a lifetime”. 

Cope’s spot-on ravings provide notes for this box set gathering 1970’s Kingdom Come, 1971’s self-titled follow-up and 2006’s reunion III Raw. Produced by Eddie Kramer at Electric Lady, Kingdom Come sounds about to burst out of its skin as singer-drummer John Garner lays spectacularly frenetic vocal templates for future cock-rocking caterwaulers, while Louis Dambra multi-tracks car-crash fusillades of blistering guitar on onslaughts such as Master Heartache, Helium Head and Hell Hound, predicting Motorhead on Hard Rain Fallin’ and thrash by Ain’t Hung On You’s explosion-ina-snake-nest finale.

Adding second guitarist Joey Dambra, Sir Lord Baltimore soften the relentless attack and widen the sound, adding flute and presaging prog on 10-minute opener Man From Manhattan, before Where Are We Going pursues Mott-like raunch, and hilariously macho Woman Tamer mints big-riff slowies. Despite seat belts and subtleties, Garner’s cartoon-metal yelps frequently sound like someone has placed a sharp object on his drum stool. 

Then they were gone. Until Garner and Bamra reconvened for 2006’s still-rambunctious III Raw, reflecting the former’s Christian conversion on Rising Son and Mission to complete this often revelatory, endlessly entertaining set in their inimitable style.

Kris Needs is a British journalist and author, known for writings on music from the 1970s onwards. Previously secretary of the Mott The Hoople fan club, he became editor of ZigZag in 1977 and has written biographies of stars including Primal Scream, Joe Strummer and Keith Richards. He's also written for MOJO, Record Collector, Classic Rock, Prog, Electronic Sound, Vive Le Rock and Shindig!