HNE, a Cherry Red Records label, have recently released a new box set devoted to heavy psych rockers Sir Lord Baltimore. The set, The Complete Studio Recordings, is exactly what it sounds like: all of the band’s recorded material. As with Cherry Red’s previous releases devoted to “cult” bands, this is yet another solid box set.
A Little History
Sir Lord Baltimore were formed in Brooklyn, NY in 1968- with all three members meeting each other in high school. The band consisted of guitarist Louis Dambra, bassist Gary Justin and drummer/singer John Garner. The band were managed by Mike Appel, who would later go on to manage Bruce Springsteen. Appel is also credited for giving the band their name, taking it from a character in the 1969 George Roy Hill western Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The band were signed to Mercury Records around 1970, who would release two of the band’s albums before dropping them around 1972.
Given this is a box set, I will review this set album by album.
Kingdom Come (1970)
Released in 1970, Kingdom Come is a great obscure heavy psych gem. Engineered by Eddie Kramer, the album is filled with great stoner rock tunes and heavy guitar riffs reminiscent of early Black Sabbath. Some may find singer John Garner’s vocal delivery to be unusual but it does fit in with the music that’s on the album. Garner’s voice can be best described as a cross between Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and Arthur Brown. While a hard rock/heavy metal oriented album, Kingdom Come does have elements of other subgenres such as progressive rock and blues rock. From doom-ridden jams to frantic hard rockers, Kingdom Come is solid debut album.
Highlights: Hell Hound, Kingdom Come, Lady of Fire, Master Heartache, Pumped Up
Sir Lord Baltimore (1971)
With the addition of Louis Dambra’s brother Joey on guitar, the new four piece band released this self-titled album as their sophomore effort. Compared to the debut album, the self-titled album is more prog rock oriented than Kingdom Come although this album only clocks in at a little over a half hour. There are several hard rockers on here but some songs are fairly long- such as the 11-minute epic “Man from Manhattan” opening the album. This isn’t a bad thing but with the second album, it doesn’t have the consistency of Kingdom Come. That aside, this is still a solid follow up to their debut album.
Highlights: Man from Manhattan, Chicago Lives, Loe and Behold, Woman Tamer
III: Raw (recorded 1976 and 2006, released 2006)
Although the band were dropped by Mercury Records shortly after the release of their second album, Sir Lord Baltimore did regroup in 1976 to record material for a third album. Three decades later, John Garner and Louis Dambra reunited to complete the recordings, teaming up with session bassist Tony Franklin. From what has been written online, Garner claimed that some of the lyrics were reworked to fit a more Christian theme (for whatever reason) and the final product- which was originally released via mail order only- still feels incomplete: the six track album has a runtime of 27 minutes and the production pales in contrast to the first two albums. Had the band just simply recorded a brand new album, perhaps that would’ve been better- with the originals as bonus tracks. Still, this isn’t bad.
Highlights: Wild White Horses, (Gonna) Fill the World With Fire, Rising Son
As far as the packaging, this isn’t as elaborate or detailed as previous Cherry Red Records releases. While I do like that the CDs are housed in mini-LP sleeve replicas, the album is lacking liner notes about the band. Instead, all that’s given is a fold out poster with original recording information on the three albums- along with reviews written on the first two albums. Personally, I would’ve been interested to have heard from the guys in the band but that was probably not a possibility, considering John Garner and Louis Dambra both passed away in 2015 and 2019 respectively. From what Cherry Red were given to work with, it looks like an attempt was made to make the best box set possible.
As a whole, The Complete Studio Recordings is a great box set. It’s conveniently packaged with all of the band’s recordings, making this the one and only release from Sir Lord Baltimore. If you’re an avid music listener with a taste for obscure music, give these guys a listen.
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I'm a writer/journalist with a passion for music and pop culture. Having graduated from King's College in Wilkes-Barre, PA in 2014, I've been looking for a platform in which I can share my passions. Since 2009, I've been posting to my own blog- The Walrus' Music Blog- via Blogger. I'm also the author of two self-published books, "The Camp: Stories from the Summer" and "The College: Stories from King's." Together, the two books cover the story of my life from 2004 to 2014. I've been lucky enough to interview several of my favorite musicians over the years and go to concerts from time to time. I'm also very devoted to the CBS reality TV show Survivor, which I started watching in 2002 when its fourth season started. I currently live in New Jersey.