Steamhammer - Mountains album review

Reissued third album from the super-sunny South Coast cats

Steamhammer Mountains album cover

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Fondly remembered for their sub-text – original member Martin Quittenton being co-writer of the Rod Stewart hits Maggie May and You Wear It Well – Steamhammer were partly Worthing’s answer to San Francisco’s Quicksilver Messenger Service, partly a British blues/progressive hybrid à la Man.

Mountains, their third album (first released 1970 and now remastered), didn’t contain anything quite as epic as Junior’s Wailing but it’s still a guitar lover’s dream thanks to the interplay between Martin Pugh and Kieran White.

For this updated version producer Martin Birch tweaked the sound, ensuring the instrumental passages on Levinia and the title track grabbed listeners by the throat. Folk elements, such as the Sussex madrigal Leader Of The Ring, pushed them into Fairport territory, although the ‘Ammer were happier ripping into the metallic wah-wah pulse of Lionel Hampton’s Riding On The L&N, a standard workout for Brit blokes back in the days of the three-day week when the nation huddled around joss sticks and shivered in Afghan coats.

This is music for dopers, and the whiff of patchouli oil is all over Henry Lane and Hold That Train, recorded live at London’s Lyceum; the musical equivalent of a Camberwell carrot.

Max Bell

Max Bell worked for the NME during the golden 70s era before running up and down London’s Fleet Street for The Times and all the other hot-metal dailies. A long stint at the Standard and mags like The Face and GQ kept him honest. Later, Record Collector and Classic Rock called.