April’s edition of Stick It In Your Ear has reviewed Steamhammer’s Riding on the L&N – The Anthology.
Steamhammer, among the most respected of all the British Blues bands of the late Sixties. They came together in Worthing, Sussex in 1968 teaming up lead guitarist Martin Pugh and singer/harmonica player Kieran White with Martin Quittenton (rhythm guitar), Steve Davey (bass) and Michael Rushton (drums).
They backed American blues legend Freddie King during a British tour and were offered a contract with CBS. Debut album ‘Reflection’ (1969) included ‘Junior’s Wailing’ a track covered by Status Quo and a hit for Steamhammer in Germany, where the group was very popular. Pugh and Quittenton later wrote for Rod Stewart’s album ‘An Old Raincoat Won’t Ever Let You Down’ and Quittenton co-write Rod’s million selling ‘Maggie May.’
On ‘Steamhammer Mk II’ (1970), they were augmented by Steve Jollife on flute and saxophone. There was another change when drummer Mick Bradley replaced Michael Rushton. When Steamhammer cut ‘Mountains’ in 1971, Quittenton quit to work with Rod Stewart and Steve Jollife left to join Tangerine Dream. The group stripped down to a four-piece, responsible for the 10-minute saga ‘Riding On The L&N’ and ‘Hold That Train’ recorded ‘live’.
1972 album ‘Speech’ was mainly instrumental as singer Kieran White had left. By now the group had advanced into progressive rock and were leaving their old blues supporters behind. While working on ‘Speech’ Mick Bradley died quite suddenly. The shock led to the band splitting up in 1975 after changing its name to Axis.
Martin Pugh moved to America as did Kieran White, who left the music business for a while to work as a truck driver. Before his death in 1995 he had begun writing and recording again.