Our mini tour takes us across the water to Blighty, the home of progressive rock, Liz Hurley and bovver boots. Steamhammer started out in Worthing, Sussex as a blues/rock outfit, but gradually developed into a more progressive, heavy style, after having experimented with a jazzier feel. They were formed in the late sixties by bassist/vocalist Steve Daly, guitarists Martin Pugh and Mike Quittenton, drummer Michael Rushton and harmonica player/guitarist/vocalist Kieran White. Quittenton and Pugh would also later appear on Rod Stewart's debut album, "An old Raincoat won't ever let you down", in 1970. Steamhammer's debut, self-titled album, released in 1968, was one of the best examples of British blues/rock at its best, and the album could quite easily give albums by Fleetwood Mac and Chicken Shack a serious run for their money. The follow-up album, inventively titled "Steamhammer 2", featured ex-Tangerine Dream woodwind/keyboard player Steve Jolliffe and drummer Mick Bradley, who replaced Rushton.( Bradley died of leukemia in 1972). Quittenton had quit (sorry) the band and was now with Rod Stewart, helping him write the million selling "Maggie May". The second album, released in 1969, demonstrated the jazzier side of this great band, with some tasteful harpsichord and woodwind parts. This third album saw the band move to the heavier, more progressive side of blues/rock that they excelled in, with their version of this epic track, "Riding on the L & N", being the stand-out moment on the album, with some stunning harmonica work from the late Kieran White, (who released a good solo album called "Open Door" in 1975). It was at this stage that ex-(original) Renaissance bassist, Louis Cennamo, joined the band. A fourth, and final album, "Speech", featuring ex-Greatest Show on Earth vocalist/guitarist Garth Watt-Roy in the place of the departed Steve Davy, was released in 1972. This album featured some superb guitar work from Martin Pugh, who would, together with Cennamo and Captain Beyond's Bobby Caldwell and Renaissance's Keith Relf, go on to form the formidable Armageddon in 1975. All four Steamhammer albums have been available for a number of years on CD and are worth checking out. 
  
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Biography by Bradley Torreano
Blues-rockers Steamhammer formed in 1968 in the British town of Worthing. The band was made up of several blues and folk band veterans who were interested in playing something new. The band was pulled onto the road almost directly after their inception by blues legend Freddie King, who needed a backing band for his European tour. By spring of the next year, they signed a contract with CBS Records and released an eponymous debut. They mixed their own material with several standards, but failed to find an audience in the over-saturated blues-rock scene. The band did become quite the live sensation, despite a lineup shift that saw original members Michael Rushton and Martin Quittenton leave the band. Their second album was another stab at the same formula, with slightly different results due to new saxophonist Steve Jollife's incredible technical skill. By the time 1970 rolled around, they recorded their "definitive" album, the critical favorite Mountains. This album gave them some minor mainstream exposure, and revealed a band who was ready to adopt the rock side of their sound much more than before. They toured afterward, but lost most of the band members throughout the journey. By the time it was over, they only had original guitarist Martin Pugh and drummer Mick Bradley in the fold. They released one more album, 1972's Speech, to poor reviews and an indifferent public. The band broke up before they could even promote the album, and Bradley died the same year of leukemia. The band never attempted to reunite, but many of the members would go on to work with each other in projects like Armageddon. 

 

Steve Jolliffe
Kieran White
Mickey Bradley
Louis Cennamo
Steve Davy
Martin Pugh
Martin Quittenton
Michael Rushton

Jethro Tull
Gentle Giant
Caravan
Happy the Man
Gryphon
Pendragon
Renaissance

If you have any contribution to make to this band or something to add, email me - Japie Marais.

 

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Steamhammer - 1969 - MK II - 4/5

Steamhammer - 1969 - Reflection - 3/5

Steamhammer - 1969 - Steamhammer - 4/5

Steamhammer - 1970 - Mountains (Repertoire) - 2/5

Steamhammer - 1972 - Speech - 4/5

Steamhammer - 2002 - Junior's Wailing - 4/5

Steamhammer - 2003 - Mountains (Akarma) - 4.5/5

Rating

 

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