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HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERon 15 March 2010
For years I've been a fan of late 60s/early 70s British prog rock in the form of Colosseum and Jethro Tull. I've always loved the long jazzy workouts with complex rhythms and inventive melodies. A little while ago a friend asked `what do you think of Keef Hartley's stuff then?', and I had to admit I'd never heard of him. I started off with the band's 4th album, Overdog, and was incredibly impessed. As a result I've started to collect all of the Keef Hartley Band's records, starting with this little gem.

This is exactly the kind of music I enjoy. It's rocky, bluesy, jazzy and darned good. Extended cuts allow for a degree of experimentation, but nothing too navel gazing as some bands of the era made the mistake of doing. Generally it's nice and tight and never outstays it's welcome. The musicians are all talented, mesh together well and seem to be having a great time. You feel that they really enjoyed making the record, and as a result you enjoy listening to it all the more.

The music is at times a little reminiscent of Cream crossed with early Blodwyn Pig. Why this stuff is not better known today is a mystery to me, as it is great music that will appeal to a wide range of tastes.

This is another excellent release from Esoteric. The sound has been nicely remastered and restored, and sounds sharp and clean on my stereo. There is a booklet with some interesting notes from Hartley about the formation of the band and the recording of this, their first album. There are also a few photographs. Included on the disc is a single of the time, `Leave it `till the Morning', which adds to the album. All in all a great release. I've had a few discs form Esoteric now, and am consistently impressed with the high standards of their releases. One note - Amazon page currently lists 9 tracks, my copy only has 8, there is no repeat of `Just To Cry' as listed. I'm sure this is just a simple error on the part of whoever was typing it onto the website.

All in all a 5 star release of 5 star music.
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on 5 January 2004
Amazing… with thousands of mediocre CD’s out there this excellent album remains deleted. Some inspired record company executive needs to rectify this sorry situation. Why?... well, it contains some of Keef Hartley's, Henry Lowther's & Chris Mercer's best post John Mayall work and in “Sinnin’ For You”, “Just To Cry” and the superb jazz/blues jam "Hearts And Flowers/Confusion Theme/The Halfbreed" it has some of the very finest tracks to come out of the late 60’s UK R&B scene. After 30 odd years it still grabs space on my hi-fi and, I suspect, many others. A worthy contender for much more interest…
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on 4 June 2009
Bought the original on vinyl in 1969, obviously several years before I could talk! This album blew me away....up until this time no 'popular' music seemed to transcend the three minute epic! I bought it for the cover and the fact it only had 7 tracks! Years later I found it on a DERAM CD available by mail order... I kissed the postman when it arrived(or at least I would have done had I been in!). I would swap neither the vinyl or the CD for a gold pig. This is simply an awesome recording that deserves to be heard in any era - a constant companion for 40 years. Born to Die? Music like this is worth living for (without Too Much Thinking!).
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HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 29 April 2005
This CD is now available as a professionally produced CD-R in Universal's CD archive series. You get the music, but not the detailed liner notes that came with the original issue. It's a bit pricey for what it is - but at least it is available once more! There is also some data on the CD, mainly artwork.
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VINE VOICEon 30 August 2004
I own this album on vinyl and find it incomprehensible that it remains unavailable on CD. At 60 I've heard pretty much everything of significance in the blues genre, yet this album remains timeless and stands out head and shoulders above most of the stuff recorded around this time and on down to the present, across the blues tradition.
Every one of the musicians on this album stands out, yet there is no grandstanding, just a bunch of muso's playing as a band. The sound is tight, together, big, fat and warm and oozes the kind of juice that defines the blues.There isn't a duff track among the the seven on the LP.

Eric Clapton? Peter Green? Spit James was playing every bit as good as these guys, and then some, yet he seems to have walked off into the sunset as it were. Everywhere I've been around the world, when the talk turns to blues, the name of this album comes up again and again and people ask: who was this guy and where is he?
This album is a salutary reminder of all that the blues can be and how good we used to be in the UK at making music and setting the pace, yet with very few exceptions I can't think of another album which comes even close to "Halfbreed".
With only a modest marketing budget and todays cost-cutting technology this album could become even more of a cult classic than it is at present. Any takers out there?
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on 24 March 2007
amount of tracks:8
excellent:4
v,good:2
good:0
fair:2
poor:0

i was first introduced to keef hartley way back when when my older brother played me 'the time is near' album - as i was a sabbath freak at the time it kinda went over my head a bit with its jazzy-rock content, but there was a certain feel about the content that appealed to me anyway. then i was introduced to this album and it cemented my initial feel for the band. there are four truly great songs on 'halfbreed', the remainder is not far behind in terms of quality but slightly more conventional in terms of structure, whereas the four im gonna mentioned are slightly more inspired.
'too much thinking' is simply a fantastic peice of music, beautifully played and structured with a great lyric and really powerful vocals from the very underrated miller anderson who shines throughout this album
'leavin trunk' is a mose allison blues number which is transformed here into what is probably the heaviest take on the blues ever recorded, with a riff to die for. as heavy as sabbath, it really is a sonic boom of a track that stays controlled whilst being super-heavy and manic. just brilliant
'born to die' is another lengthy blues trip, slower and more traditional in its approach but still very dense and dark and these two tracks have to be among the best white-man take on the blues ever recorded , up there with creams finest moments
'just to cry' is a more lightweight, jazzy kind of number but has a lovely melody and lyric

these four songs are absolutely essential listens for anyone into good music. the musicianship is absolutely flawless throughout and this a fine example of just how great music was back in the late 60's/early 70,s. of the remainder, there is a pretty directionless instrumental which slightly lets things down. plus two great kicking blues rock numbers, 'sinnin for you' and 'think it over' - like i said earlier, these are not far behind the others but fail to stand out as much cos theyre approached in a more traditional and typical blues rock manner for the time. this doesnt however, detract from their quality, and if you dig straightforward pumping blues rock you'll love these. whether youre a metal fan, prog,rock,blues,folk, or whatever - you'll love this album and especially these four great tracks from a band who should have been huge. an absolutely essential album. and oh, i hit the wrong button when i submitted this review, it shoulda been five stars!
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on 21 May 2015
This review is for the Esoteric release of 'Halfbreed'
This is a great album of first class British blues. However, if you have already bought the Deram version that came out a few years back there is nothing on here that you don't already have. The 'extra track' was included on the previous release, albeit in a different place, and as for the remastering - maybe my dog can hear the difference but I can't. Don't be fooled into buying it again (like this particular fool did). Both versions have decent sleeve notes so nothing to gain there, It is however, as I said already, a fantastic album. If you enjoyed the music from this period (Mayall's Bluesbreakers, Colosseum, Fleetwood Mac etc.) you are sure to love these guys.
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on 10 October 2009
Keef Hartley's masterstroke was to add the richly talented Miller Anderson to the excellent band lineup, and this album was the stunning result. Anderson's powerful vocals are the icing on the cake of excellent: songs, arrangements, production, and musicianship. His impressive guitar skills were not to be on display until the brilliant follow-up Battle of NW6 - Spit James (aka Ian Cruikshank) is the 6 string maestro here.
I'm another old-timer who bought this when it was first released. It dazzled me then, and sounds just as good now. It was released at a time when it was almost impossible to keep up with the onslaught of wonderful music coming from the UK, Ireland, and North America (and no doubt other parts of the world). But this brilliant band could hold their own in any company.
If you haven't heard this, and you like a blues edge to your rock - you're in for a treat with this one, it's something special.
R.I.P Keef
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on 16 September 2016
I'm getting old now and spending the time left trying to appreciate the current music scenes whilst looking back to the late 60's and early 70's to refresh the memory, buying stuff I couldn't afford back then. Keef Hartley was a name I'd heard of but whose music passed me by on disc and Peel's programme. So I listened to this via Youtube as I read the glowing reviews here. I'm grateful for those. I bought the album and it is exceptionally good. If younger folks want to know what the late 60's and early 70's sounded like before stadium rock and some of the rather self-obsessed Prog Rock, then listen to this. It has echoes of Colosseum, Blood Sweat and Tears and many more bands yet it is distinctly different. It's professional and makes one want to look back to Hartley's music with John Mayall. A well-known guitarist in his last years said to me on more than one occasion, 'The music's got to say something. It's got to speak out.' This album does that for its time, and its time speaks of a freedom of playing that echoes the wider freedom that young folks sought in that era. The recording seems fresh and crisp to my failing ears and the music is tight. It really is a great find for me and I guess that is why I'm writing this first music review. If you are looking for something different from that we hear on radio etc, then this is well worth a listen. It's made me search out more Keef Hartley. Don't be put off by the outfit on the cover. It's not something I'd wear to tea dances on a Wednesday afternoon but the music within is something I'll play on many a night. Great music and a touch of humour there too!
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on 16 February 2015
as good as I remembered, with an excellent version of 'Leavin' trunk'. I really wish they would do a cd of the double lp/cassette of which I have copies. This might well be all the Keef Hartley that one really needs......Just to Cry is also a stand-out track with haunting, bitter-sweet memories for me.....Top-notch musicianship throughout
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