45 minutes in length approximately. The sound is very good-crisp and clean yet has a warmth to it. The fold-out pamphlet tells the story surrounding this album and the group. The CD is clipped in,inside a fold-out cardboard holder. The graphics (like on the group's other albums) are unique looking.
This is the fourth,and last,album by STEAMHAMMER. The group originally began as a a second-tier blues band typical for the times (1968),and then their sound began to move into a harder,slightly more progressive area. By this time (1972) the group was reduced to a three-piece,consisting of,Michael (Mick) Bradley-percussion,Martin Pugh-guitars and vocals,and Louis Cennamo-bass and bowed bass and vocals. Garth Watt-Roy is heard on lead vocals throughout this album. This album consists of three long,group written,mostly instrumental tracks. The lead vocalist up until this time,(the now late)Kieran White,had left the group-thus forcing the remaining members to carry on as best they could.
The first track "Penumbra",starts with some bowed bass guitar by Cennamo,and then leads into some progressive guitar from the fine player Pugh. This is the longest track,at a bit over 22 minutes. It's broken into a five part suite,with Pugh's guitar out front for the majority of the time. An adept player,Pugh coaxes several different sounds from his instrument,and along with Cennamo and Bradley (who died while this album was being finished up) weave a progressive sound typical of the era. The vocals are nothing great-they are adequate at best,and are brief.
Track two,"Telegram (Nature's Mischief)",begins with some good guitar,with the bass and drums weaving in and out of the tune. The vocals again are brief,with the accent on group interplay. Pugh's guitar has a harder edge to it,with the entire track having an overall hard rock feel to it. The wordless vocals (by the group) over Watt-Roy's vocals,gives added depth to this track. Pugh's alternating loud/soft guitar,with Cennamo's bass playing in unison,begins to stray into progressive territory. Bradley's playing is very sensitive and effective here-providing just the right foundation for Pugh and Cennamo to build the intensity up and down throughout the song.
The final tune,"For Against",begins with a short bass guitar intro,and then Pugh steps in with a hard,distorted sound,and they then play in unison for a few notes. Bradley comes in with some of his most progressive sounding percussion,and together the group delves even further into progressive territory. Bradley has a drum solo,which is better than average (and I'm not a fan of drum solos) with his percussive flourishes with the cymbals,giving some needed texture to his tom-tom playing.
From the beginning,STEAMHAMMER had a different sound than other groups plying the same blues based sound of the era. Their approach,starting with their first album ("Reflection") was a bit different,especially on their original tunes. Kieran White,who left over differences with the group just prior to this album,had a unique vocal sound,and wrote some likewise unique songs. The group,at times,moved out from straight blues playing,into harder rocking,and then into a progressive style. Anyone interested in British blues-based rock/progressive (for the group) music should give this group a listen. Never popular in the U.S.,they were well known (and liked) in Europe. This album is the final chapter from an intriguing late 60's/early 70's band. Given a chance,their music will grow on you. Now if only someone would release all the live tracks that were originally released in the 70's on vinyl (I have a double album ),that would be another chapter from this good band.