100 spins later - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #42

“One of god’s own prototypes, never even considered for mass production...”

This statement will come as a huge surprise if you’re one of my close relatives and slipped into a chemically induced coma around 2005 (hey, HST shot himself). I love Sir Lord Baltimore. Sir Lord Baltimore is a name that’ll have you already smiling if you move in the right circles, but if you don’t you’ve probably never heard of them. Let me lay down some ground rules. Their first album, Kingdom Come, upon the alter of which I gladly throw myself, all my possessions and any passersby, and on which this review is focused is a white hot slice of fried gold and the physical manifestation of such gloriously repercussion-free sonic bliss that any spin becomes 37 minutes and 42 seconds of more fun than any mortal sinner has any right to have. Their second album, eponymously titled is well over the hill like Hendrix at the Isle of Wight, and their third album released in 2006 with less Gary Justin and more Christian imagery plotted exactly where you would expect it to on a graph, as the downward spiral hinted at by the total sonic failure of the second album has remained constant. Sell your spare kidney and lung to get a copy of Kingdom Come if you have to, sell your spare kidney or lung to avoid being put in the path of the tidal wave of wallpaper paste of the two follow-ups. Just thought I’d flag this up. All my upcoming comments about righteous energy, profound proto-metal riffage and a place in history refer to Kingdom Come and nothing else; Sir Lord Baltimore were a spark, a flash in the pan, never to be repeated.

Sir Lord Baltimore spent the bulk of their career being thrown out of clubs, playing to empty rooms, being the butt of jokes and derided when they weren’t being ignored. It’s funny because they also impressed Pink Floyd with their studio set and literally spawned the term ‘heavy metal’ as a description of musical sound. All this aside, Kingdom Come is one of the most instantly enjoyable and endlessly respinnable albums of all time. Put together solidly in the blissful late-sixties and early-seventies period which spawned a whole buncha incredible bands and reaching the zenith of the distortion, inexpert passionate playing and stunning volume that would characterise the whole movement. History lesson: when the Beatles first came to America, at the shows all you could hear was girls screaming. That all changed when Marshall and Orange started to manufacture massive high-wattage amplifiers and now I have tinnitus. A large part of early electric rock and roll from between 68-73 is a series of groups trying to make sense of all of the volume, distortion and raw power that had been laid at their feet. This period gave us, among others the best of Blue Cheer, Black Sabbath at their peak, Deep Purple – In Rock, the best of Grand Funk, Mountain’s 18 month four album run, Pentagram, the Stooges, MC5, Budgie, May Blitz, the Groundhogs, Dust, Captain Beyond and of course, Sir Lord Baltimore’s Kingdom Come.

While most adolescents, boys in particular, have a Sabbath phase, and those who stick with it will get Deep Purple and Grand Funk and Mountain, and then a little down the line will get the Groundhogs and Budge and Blue Cheer, very few people drop down to the C or D level bands from the period; bands whose discography has been kept alive by reissues because the bootlegged vinyl made at the time is virtually impossible to get. It’s a shame because down in the depths, much like the bandcamp bands of the current age, the lack of any real proximity to success or even airplay leads the more creative elements of the band to the fore because hell, nobody listens to our stuff much anyway, why not make it weird? Now I’ve already explored in this weekly foray into music in no order (except Freudian order) that the Grand Funk eponymous album was a record brimming with adolescent fun and Sir Lord Baltimore is cut from the same summertime cloth. The tempo maintained through the album is refreshing, punching through extended songs the way a train moves swiftly across miles of landscape.

Reading the history around the record is quite amazing itself. To this day, the members of Sir Lord Baltimore have not received a penny for their efforts, despite sales nearing 350,000. When your executive producer is Dee “little Angelo” Anthony with his alleged threats of limb-breaking and peculiar pre-gig psyche-up line “no-one leaves this band alive!” and Mike Appel taking co-writing cred on most songs, it is sad but not entirely shocking that the members of Sir Lord Baltimore are victims of one of the most spurious stings in underground music history, especially considering the quality of the product; the creative genius responsible ought to at least be able to buy a house with the proceeds for channelling such a pure version of the great magnet for us undeserving commoners. But then again, the band was also responsible for the dire eponymous follow-up and the inestimably appalling revival record, I guess we can call this one karmatically even.

Kingdom Come is a moment. A helluva moment, that inspired a whole heap of other moments, but you put it on your stereo and turn the fucker up loud! Then you’re gonna hear some magic, baby. The world for you will never be the same. Even the flaws become good points. The amateurish feel that shows it really was a flash in the pan rather than genuine artistic vision; the layering of guitar tracks on one another almost to absurdity; the macho pompous singing that almost falls into straight parody, all of it just comes together and makes me love this baby more with every spin, and it’s had a helluvalot of spins.
Re-iteration: Do not buy either of the other albums this band produced. Dreary disappointing sludge that you can hardly believe leaps from the very same frets as the greatest cuts from this beast.
Written under duress by Steven

Check out my words on Grand Funk Railroad if you liked this. More of the same sweet stuff.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...