"some music was meant to stay underground..."


Sunday Old School: Sir Lord Baltimore

When looking through the Sunday Old School archives, perhaps you'll notice that while we pay a lot of attention to thrash, death, black and doom metal bands, we haven't forgotten the roots of the genre we all know and love. Over the years, we've taken a look at such bands as Black Sabbath, Budgie, Blue Cheer and Spooky Tooth, who all helped shape heavy metal in it's earliest form. Today, we'll be looking at another such band, who despite a relatively short career, are still mentioned frequently when discussing the most influential groups in the genesis of metal, Sir Lord Baltimore.

Sir Lord Baltimore was formed in 1968 by John Garner, who was joined in his musical endeavour by schoolmates Joey Dambra and Gary Justin. After putting some material together, the band performed in front of talent scout Mike Appel, who would go on to discover, Bruce Springsteen. Appel agreed to mentor the group and is rumoured to have been the one to give them the name Sir Lord Baltimore, which was taken from a character in Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid.

Shortly afterwards, the band signed a deal with Mercury Records, who released their debut album, "Kingdom Come" in 1970, for which Appel served as co-producer, along with Jim Cretecos. The album featured numerous techniques which were uncommon for the time, such as multi-tracking and distorted guitars. It has also been cited as one of the first albums to be described as heavy metal, a tag it was given by Mike Saunders, a writer for Creem magazine who went on to form Angry Samoans and who had previously used the term when reviewing an album by Humble Pie six months previously.

After joining Black Sabbath on their "Paranoid" tour in early 1971, the band returned to the studio to record their eponymous sophomore album, which was released that same year. The album marked a change in direction for the band, who displayed a much slower style, which would later go on to be credited as a major influence in doom and stoner metal. Reviews for the album were less warm than its predecessor and a little while later, Mercury dropped Sir Lord Baltimore from its roster.

Despite this, and the public announcement that they were dealing with drug and alcohol addictions, Sir Lord Baltimore did their next to continue and began writing material for a new album, which was expected to be released in 1976, however the group decided to disband before they could enter the studio to record the music.

It was to be another thirty years before the band became active again, as Garner decided to revive the group in 2006, with Dambra back on drums and Tony Franklin handling bass duties. The trio released a new album, "Sir Lord Baltimore III Raw" later that year, displaying lyrics which reflected the Christian faith of Dambra and Garner, however most, if not all of the music was taken from the previously cancelled third album from the seventies. The album was initially only available as a mail order, though the band continued to perform at festivals at home and abroad. Sadly, in December of last year, John Garner passed away after suffering from liver failure and Sir Lord Baltimore ceased to be once more, ending the story of a somewhat underground, yet highly influential chapter in metal history.

Sir Lord Baltimore - "Kingdom Come"

Sir Lord Baltimore - "Helium Head"

Sir Lord Baltimore - "Where Are We Going?"

Sir Lord Baltimore - "Chicago Lives"

Sir Lord Baltimore - "Love Slave"

Sir Lord Baltimore - "Fill the World With Fire"

Diamond Oz's avatar

Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com for four years and has been a metal fan for ten years, going so far as to travel abroad for metal shows.

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2 Comments on "Sunday Old School: Sir Lord Baltimore"

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1. LARDASS writes:

What a nice surprise! A great band that has been overlooked for far too long. Good job, Oz!

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Senior News Correspondent

2. Diamond Oz writes:

Thanks mate! Glad you enjoyed it!

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