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Speech

Steamhammer

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Album Review

Musically, Steamhammer was the cream of the crop of all rock bands from their thriving primordial era. In the realm of power rock trios, they were comparable to Cream. Yet this band is far superior in every way, but they failed to get the rave reviews and critical attention that the flashier Cream garnered. Diverging from the typical power rock style on Speech, their fourth and final album, the band found themselves in a dilemma without their vocalist, who had left after the previous release, Mountains. This led to a radical development for the band. Instead of hiring a new singer, the rest of the group picked up the slack, and reduced the role of the vocals significantly, opting for a progressive jam style that was hugely innovative for its time. Guitarist Martin Pugh offers a crashing, furious style that mixes Jimmy Page with early Robert Fripp. When Pugh seeks passages of beauty and tranquility, he finds them with ease, but when he aims for intensity, watch out! He literally attacks the listener, pounding them with his mammoth, perfectly executed riffs. Meanwhile, bassist Louis Cennamo is so talented and innovative that he single-handedly brought the bow into rock music with his bowed bass intro to the album. Several years before Page would pick up the bow for "Kashmir," Cennamo uses the bowed bass as means to an end, not for simple effect. Just as a normal bassist alone, masters within the genre owe their lifeblood to him. For he is able to play along with just about the toughest, most technical drumming around, that of drummer Mick Bradley, who is easily the most accomplished musician of the trio. To state that he is rock's greatest drummer is simply not enough. His energetic approach to the drum kit helped him become one of the first and only drummers in rock history, along with King Crimson's Michael Giles, to use polyrhythmic drumming, a style commonly used by jazz drummers. His dynamic performance on the primarily instrumental "For Against," which blows away John Bonham's "Moby Dick" and Ginger Baker's "Toad" in a heartbeat. On this album, there was a rumor that the band received some secret vocal and lyrical help from Yardbirds vocalist Keith Relf. Whether or not this is true remains a mystery, but what is fact, sadly, is that not long after this album Mick Bradley succumbed to Leukemia and passed away. This marked the end of Steamhammer, but the other two members forged on, forming a band called Armageddon. Speech is one of rock's finest and most creative hours, and one tends to wonder where Steamhammer could have gone from this point on had it not been for obscurity and sudden tragedy.

Biography

Formed: 1967

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s

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...
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Speech, Steamhammer
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