Band members Related acts
line up 1 (1969)
- Ronnie Barclay -- lead guitar
- Chuck Bennett (aka Charles Wayne Avery) (RIP 2009) --
vocals, bass, keyboards (1969)
- G.C. Coleman (aka Gregory Sylvester Coleman) (RIP 2006) --
drums, percussion (1969)
- Mike Previty -- percussion (1969)
- Jack Register -- bass (1969)
- Steve Spencer -- keyboards (1969)
- Pete 'Peaches' Williams -- guitar (1969)
- GC Coleman and the Soul Twisters
- The Georgia Power Band (G.C. Coleman)
- Link Wray and the Raymen (Charles Wayne Avery)
- The Winstons (G.C. Coleman)
Rating: 4 stars ****
Company: House of the Fox
Country/State: Oxon Hill, Maryland
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Comments: promo copy
Catalog ID: 5679
Having seen this one occasionally pop up on high priced dealer lists with the usual hyperbole descriptions ('mind altering psych' ... 'buckets of fuzz') I'd always been curious to hear it. The fact they were from the Washington, D.C. area was also of interest to me.
Led by singer/bass player Chuck Bennett who under his given name Charles Wayne Avery had previously been a member of Link Wray's Raymen, these guys were apparently based in Oxon Hill, Maryland but recorded their 1969 debut in Memphis at the Sounds of Memphis Studio. Signed by LeLan Rogers' House of the Fox label, 1969's "Hammer" found the band teamed with producer Guy Cameron (Rogers was also credited as the supervisory producer). Powered by the combination of Ronnie Barclay's stinging lead guitar, Bennett's molten rock voice (which frequently put the likes of Paul Rodgers and Robert Plant to shame), and Jack Register's pounding bass, these guys literally had all the finesse of a flying mallet. Forget those write ups going on about this one's psych-influences. There weren't any. Exemplified by tracks like 'Slip Away', the slinky 'Trouble', 'Home', and 'Brown-Eyed Woman' this was hardcore, blues-oriented bar rock - classic American hard rock easily as good as anything in the Bad Company, Faces, Free, Zeppelin catalog, Great melodies, killer guitar, a dynamite rhythm section in the form of drummer G.C. Coleman and bassist Register, and above all Bennett's fantastic voice. The only real disappointment was the band's cover of Edwin Hawkins' 'Oh Happy Day'. Mind you there wasn't anything wrong with their version; it served to showcased Bennett's amazing soul licks, but by the same token their version (complete with gospel chorus) did nothing to improve on the original. To my ears some thirty years after its release this one's still heads above virtually every hard rock album that's come along since. Washington, D.C. dj Charlie Brown's liner notes were humorous - he suggested the band be named 'D.C. Sanitation Department'.
Hammer" track listing:
1.) Slip Away - 5:34
2.) Trouble - 5:45
3.) Fever - 3:45
4.) Home - 4:11
5.) Brown-Eyed Woman - 4:32
2.) Come with Me - 3:36
3.) We Want to Be Free - 5:24
4.) Oh, Happy Day - 7:06
There have been a couple of reissues. Released in 1978, by the tax Scam Album World label (under the L&BJ imprint), "Hillow Hammit" (note the slight variation in spelling) reissued the original album with new cover art (that was actually quite cool) and a slightly different track listing - one song was dropped from the original release. In 2002 the Italian Comet/Dodo Records reissued the collection in CD format (Dodo catalog number DDR 510).
After the band called it quits Bennett played in a number of local bands () and then found work as a touring musician. By the 1980s he'd dropped out of music and spent the rest of his years working as a Washington, D.C. cabbie. He died of emphysema and cancer in January 2008.
Talk about a strange connection - drummer Coleman recorded with The Winston and was responsible for the famous drum pattern on the track 'Amen Brother'), The Georgia Power Band, and other outfits. He died in September 2006.
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