Sir Lord Baltimore / Kingdom Come (Vinyl LP)
Reissue / Gatefold
Reissue / Gatefold
Format: Vinyl LP
Release date: 2019
Vinyl reissue of heavy as hell 1970 U.S. hard heavy rock monster, originally released on the Mercury label.
Heavy metal is commonly thought to have been pioneered by bands such as Blue Cheer and, of course, Black Sabbath. The very first album to be described in print as ‘heavy metal’ though was Sir Lord Baltimore’s 1970 album Kingdom Come, in a review for the magazine Creem. Like the aforementioned bands Sir Lord Baltimore was unpopular with the critics of the time but unfortunately didn’t have the same underground fanbase, causing them to remain obscure despite the quality of the music.
Limited edition vinyl pressing with original gatefold cover.
” In 1969, three longhairs from Brooklyn, New York, were thrown off the stage of Bill Graham’s Fillmore East, for being what that now legendary promoter described as ‘Pus’. The trio was Sir Lord Baltimore and they’d just recorded a flawed but fantastic first album, called Kingdom Come, which combined thee most histrionic proto-Kiss, proto-David Lee Roth vocal acrobatics ever with enough Stooged-out proto-metal to last any sane band a lifetime. Did you ever wish that ‘Speed King’, ‘Highway Star’ and ‘Fireball’ were the only songs Deep Purple had ever recorded? Did you ever feel that everything Blue Cheer recorded after side one of OutsideInside was unnecessary, including side two of that very LP? Did you ever lament that telling people just how much you love ‘I’m on Fire’ and ‘Atomic Punk’ from Van Halen 1 inevitably made them think you secretly loved later sub-Genesis detritus such as ‘Jump’ as well? Well, search out this album and you’ve got everything you need in one record.
What does it sound like? Well, I’ll tell y’all. The music gets 10 out of 10, but the vocals get 100 out of 10. From the opening notes of ‘Master Heartache’, it’s clear that Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons AND Patti Smith were at every Long Island gig they ever played. From the mouth of John Garner, such simple lyrics as ‘I know’ become more spiritually uplifting than Handel’s Messiah (I’d actually be scared to hear John Garner sing ‘I know that my redeemer liveth’ – I’d probably be in church within the hour).
On ‘Hard Rain Fallin”, the fuzzball riffing is marvy, Harvey, but again obliterated by John Garner’s impossibly strident and braying delivery. By the time we get to ‘Lady of Fire’, it’s revealed to us that Van Halen was formed specifically because of this song. No doubts. When you first hear Garner scream ‘Fire’, you feel like every 999 call in the world is coming to your aid, and your aid alone. It’s more than magnificent – it’s truly life affirming. Whilst Richie Blackmore nicked the middle of ‘Lady of Fire’ for Purple’s ‘Woman from Tokyo’, Ian Gillan even copped the laugh in the last verse for the end of ‘Speed King’. Yup, it’s just so brimming over with proto-everything.
What are the lyrics to ‘Lady of Fire’ about? Well, Garner’s unable to sleep, takes a walk, meets a prossie who tells him that no man can do it for her, including him. Garner tries and is so fab that she crawls after him forever and will bed no other thereafter. Crap macho bollocks? Not when John Garner tells the tale, it isn’t. In fact, it’s suddenly a whale of a tale and he’s Moby Dick!
So why did Bill Graham kick them off stage all those years ago? Was it the controversial lyrical stance? Was it the Garn’s overwrought macho singing style? No, I don’t believe so. And brain dead bluster was a common enough lyrical style in ‘69/’70 for no fucker to have given a damn. No, it was probably that they were simply a pile of living shit when it came to playing on stage. For a start, John Garner was a singing drummer. This in itself is almost a crime against rock unless you’re the greatest genius that ever roamed the planet – and even Iggy had to put down his drumsticks before he became the Pop we know and love. If you are a singing drummer, you can wield enormous power and slow songs up in really unlikely places, then hang ‘em up for hours while you growl through particularly meaningful bits, like Joey Smith did so successfully with Speed, Glue & Shinki. But John Garner and Joey Smith are still the only two I know who got it right, and Bill Graham’s Fillmore antics kinda proves Sir Lud weren’t the live force they were on record.
The other possible negative aspect of Sir Lud Live woulda been the formidable assault course of multi-tracking which Louis Dambra put his guitar through. We ain’t exactly talking guitar-bass-drums on this record. Brother Louis builds it and builds it so intricately that the original guitar is almost un-locate-able under the sheer weight of otherness. By the second LP, he’d even got his kid brother in to do some supporting licks. Indeed, it was surely Louis Dambra’s collection of riff-upon-riff-upon-riff-upon-riff which gave this album its stupendous drive. Even the Misunderstood or the Page’n’Beck Yardbirds never managed the sustained sonic assault which Dambra attains on this Eddie Kramer-produced throbfest.
I could write 20,000 words about this one album (and probably will one day), but for now you must know (or rather ‘Knowwwwurghhhh!’) that there was a time around 1969/1970 when Sir Lord Baltimore managed to fuse the Stooges’ primeval ‘TV Eye’ free-rock with Van Halen’s version of ‘You Really Got Me’ and Blue Cheer’s ‘Come & Get It’ without missing a beat. Besides, who had titles like ‘Helium Head’ in 1970? Sir Lord Baltimore did. And while you’re trying to figure out the morass of amphetamine soup they called ‘Pumped Up’, they pull the musical rug from under you and leave Louis Dambra’s bucking bronco guitar rearing alone and uncontrolled. No drum and bass. Nothing.
The album isn’t perfect, but it’s short. Indeed, it’s exactly the same length as the first four Van Halen albums were: 17 minutes per side. Excellent. Yes, there’s a terrible acoustic song on side one and I even used to think that the title track itself sucked big logs. But really, it just as good as the rest, just more painful and strung out and more of everything. So, M’Luds, Ladies and Gentlemen, I here present you an album of sublime rock’n’roll – excruciatingly and gratingly sublime, and that’s a fact.” — Julian Cope
A1 Master Heartache 4:35
A2 Hard Rain Fallin’ 2:55
A3 Lady Of Fire 2:50
A4 Lake Isle Of Innersfree 4:03
A5 Pumped Up 4:03
B1 Kingdom Come 6:40
B2 I Got A Woman 3:00
B3 Hell Hound 3:17
B4 Helium Head (I Got A Love) 4:00
B5 Ain’t Got Hung On You 2:20