11 Jan 2012

Ten Great Underground 70s Hard Rock Albums.

Stumped for something to listen to now that you've worn out your Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Black Sabbath LPs?

Check out this selection of lost gems from the seventies.

Flower Travellin' Band - Satori ( 1971 )
Their first album draws a lot of attention due to it's eye-catching, naked, Easy Rider referencing cover, but is made up primarily of covers. This, their second album is where it's at. This could well be the heaviest album to come out of Japan in the seventies. Superb doom-laden stoner rock with awesome fuzzy guitar riffs and screechy Robert Plant style vocals. Often compared to Black Sabbath. Some nice psychedelic moments later on too. BUY IT HERE

Leaf Hound - Growers of Mushroom ( 1971 )
Formed from the ashes of hard blues rock outfit Black Cat Bones, this retains the blues side and adds a whole lot more rock. Coming across as a much more roughly hewn Led Zeppelin on the excellent lead off track Freelance Fiend and Stray, they also show a pop sensibility on the quirky title track. Fans of Led Zep, Free and Stray will find much to enjoy here. BUY IT HERE

Captain Beyond ( 1972 )
Featuring members of the Deep Purple Mark 1 and Iron Butterfly, Captain Beyond manage to best both of them with their great debut. Hard rock with some progressive elements, this features lots of excellent guitar work, complex time signature changes and outstanding drumming from Bobby Caldwell. Mesmerization Eclipse in particular deserves to be worshipped in the same hushed tones as Smoke on the Water. BUY IT HERE

Blackwater Park - Dirt Box ( 1972 )
Most well known for inspiring an Opeth album title, this German band's only album is well worth tracking down for it's own merits. It's hard to believe these guys are German - there's not a trace of Krautrock, it sounds more typical of early seventies U.K hard rock. Lots of very solid rock on standouts Rock Song, Mental Block and Roundabout, but they also show a surprising degree of subtlety on an inspired reinterpretation of the Beatle's For No One.

Ginhouse ( 1971 ) 
A personal favorite, Ginhouse's only album was recorded on the cheap and sounds it, but is still an excellent slice of  pastoral English hard rock, inspired by Jethro Tull and possibly an inspiration on Wolf People with whom they share a very English, obviously folk rock inspired hard rock sound. Includes an interesting jazzy cover of the Beatle's And I Love Her, and some pretty atmospheric originals, especially opening track The Tyne God.

Warhorse ( 1970 )
With Deep Purple Mk 1's Nick Simper on bass here, it's no surprise that this has moments that sound like Purple. What is surprising is how heavy a lot of this sounds. If you can imagine the first Black Sabbath album, with added hammond organ, or classic Uriah Heep slowed down to stoner rock pace you've got a pretty good idea of what this sounds like. Woman of the Devil, in particular is an occult doom rock classic. BUY IT HERE

Pentagram - First Daze Here ( Released 2002, Recorded Early To Mid Seventies )
One of the originators of Doom Metal, these guys never managed to release an album until reforming in the mid eighties, but the fine folk at Relapse Records have managed to scrounge up enough singles and studio outtakes to put this amazing collection of recordings from the early to mid seventies together. As important as Black Sabbath and a major influence on so many. BUY IT HERE

Sir Lord Baltimore - Kingdom Come ( 1970 )
Whoa, this is some heavy, heavy stuff. Like Blue Cheer stepped up a gear, this is all pounding drums ( by a singing drummer - would have loved to see him trying to play this stuff live! ), massive screechy guitar riffs and vocal histrionics that would do David Lee Roth proud. I imagine Van Halen would have sounded a lot like this early on, practicing in their garages while they were learning their instruments. There's little in the way of sophistication but It's all done with such punkish abandon and enthusiasm that you'd have to have a heart of stone to not enjoy it.

Trapeze - Medusa ( 1970 )
With future members of Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and Whitesnake in their ranks, it's a wonder these guys aren't more well known. Seafull shows that Jimmy Page didn't have a monopoly on heavy English blues, while the title track is a fantastic riff rocker which starts out with quiet acoustic atmospherics. Elsewhere they inject more of a funk and soul influence ( very unusual for this type of music ) and vocalist / bassist Glenn Hughes is in fine form throughout. BUY IT HERE

Patto - Hold Your Fire ( 1971 )
An interesting hard rock troupe with significant jazz tendencies, this is mainly of interest for the absolutely astonishing guitar playing of Ollie Halsall - without doubt one of the great unsung guitar heroes. His dexterous solos on the title track in particular are flashy but never less than tasteful. The rest of the band get to show their chops too, especially on the jazzy Air Raid Shelter, while Magic Door lets them flex their pop muscles. BUY IT HERE


  1. Ha, what a great list, I love most of these and would put them on such a list myself. Warhorse & Captain Beyond are two pieces I've listened to but didn't manage to click with, at least yet, and Trapeze & Pentagram, I haven't yet listened to. Satori, Ginhouse, Leaf Hound, Patto, Sir Lord Baltimore, Blackwater Park, all great stuff!!!! :D

      DAY OF RECKONING. Listen in that order its crazy to hear the evolution of that band.

  2. Incredible list , I would add Tygers of Pan Tang , perhaps Budgie but Metallica made them known ...

    1. Those bands you named are MUCH later, not really what the blogster was aiming to represent here.

    2. Tygers was later, but Budgie's first record is from 1971...

    3. Sending you 3 great groups of the early 70ties. Bang: English band, heavy sounding rockers. Toe Fat: Ken Hensleys first band before Uria Heep. And Bloody Mary a little later band I think their only record came 1974.

    4. Maybe for you Metallica "made them known", but not for those of us who were clued in before you ...

    5. what about Bangor Flying Circus Kak Kak Ola and Bakerloo

    6. I knew Budgie before Metallica and I'm merely a 49 year old American but I was adventurous enough to hang around the import section (where the real good stuff lurked!) Metallic never clicked with me anyway. This list is fabulous...I own all but the Ginhouse but that'll be soon rectified. Might add Groundhogs, Lucifer's Friend, Virus, Gun, Three Man Army, Atomic Rooster, Steel Mill, Buffalo, Speed,Glue & Shinki...

  3. Bang was from Florida and don't forget Cactus.

  4. Bang was from Florida.What about Armageddon.

  5. Andromeda and Arzachel are two late 1969 albums but also recommended.

  6. Dont forget farm, Duck, tin House and fifty foot hose

  7. I just checked out Alkana Phantoms divine comedy and Legend, lots out there to explore Thanks for all the suggestions! Nothing beats 70 hardrock.

  8. Hold Your Fire by Patto has always been one of my favourite albums. As you note it is totally worth checking out for Ollie Halsall's guitar work. It is also worth checking out some of the work Halsall did with Kevin Ayers (where he is occasionally credited as Ollie Haircut).

  9. Jerusalem's 1972 self-titled album is worth checking out. Note: NOT the Swedish Christian rock band. Has a crusader on the cover...

  10. Thundermug, a Canadian 70s band was amazing. I had the vinyl of "Ta Daa" which held the track "Hard Luck".
    I highly recommend that band....IF you can find them.