Hillow Hammet – Hammer (1969; 2011 reissue)

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Once again, the Colorado-based Gear Fab label pays a visit to the rock ‘n’ roll graveyard, and in the process unearths an album so ghastly obscure that even the members of the band behind the project have apparently vanished from the face of the planet. But what is known about Hillow Hammet is that they came from the Washington D.C., area, and guitar wizard Roy Buchanan co-wrote a song, “Home,” here on their sole effort.

Originally released in 1969 by House of Fox Records, Hammer was reissued this summer by Gear Fab Records — and it rumbles and grumbles to the finish line with the type of heavy electrified blues rock that was then so popular with the hippie set.

The first track on the disc, “Slip Away,” gets the show on the road in ear-shattering form as it shamelessly slings the opening jarring riff of Led Zeppelin’s “Good Times, Bad Times” into the lethal brew. Torched by a run of beautiful classical music influenced piano passages, “Trouble” soon quickens the pace and turns into a rowdy rocker, where “Nobody But You” wiggles round and round and up and down to a brash boogie beat. Punching in at over seven minutes in length, an impassioned version of the gospel styled “Oh Happy Day” pays credible respect to the Edwin Hawkins Singers, and “We Want To Be Free” screams and stomps with rebellious intent.

Hoarse, throaty vocals, backed by blaring guitars, crazed drumming, and an occasional wild jam, were Hillow Hammet’s method of operation. There’s really nothing groundbreaking on Hammer, but it is a cool artifact and should have no problem pleasing those who say yes to the hard-edged blues sounds of bands like Steppenwolf, Dragonfly and Poobah.

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