Sir Lord Baltimore


Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1968-71)

- Louis Dambra (aka Louis Caine) -- lead guitar

- John Garner -- vocals, drums, percussion 

- Gary Justin -- bass 

 

  line up 2 (1971)

NEW - Joey Dambra -- lead guitar

- Louis Dambra (aka Louis Caine) -- lead guitar

- John Garner -- vocals, drums, percussion 

- Gary Justin -- bass 

 

  line up 3 (2006)

- Louis Dambra (aka Louis Caine) -- lead guitar

NEW - Tony Franklin -- bass 

- John Garner -- vocals, drums, percussion 

NEW - Anthony Guido -- lead guitar (2006)

NEW - Sam Powell -- bass (2006)

 

 

 

- The Lizards (John Garner)

- The Koala (Louis Caine)

 

 

 


 

Genre: rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Kingdom Come

Company: Mercury

Catalog: SR-61328

Year: 1970

Country/State: Brooklyn, New York

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: gatefold sleeve

Available: SOLD

Catalog ID: SOLD 5338

Price: SOLD $75.00

 

 

Yeah, in spite of the name, these guys were actually from Brooklyn and in spite of the hype surrounding their debut, they should be recognized as one of the country's first true hard rock bands.  Depending on how you feel about the genre, you'll want to either check their brief discography out, or curse their collective souls for opening up Pandora's box to generations of imitative sludge rockers.

 

Lead guitarist Louis Dambra (aka Louis Caine), singer/drummer John Garner, and bassist Gary Justin became friends in high school, deciding to form a band in 1968.  (Under the name Louis Caine, Dambra had already enjoyed some success recording an album as a member of The Koala.)  Their initial break came when Garner saw an ad in the Village Voice looking for a band to audition for a recording session.  Responding to the ad they ended up auditioned for A&R man Mike Appel who decided to take them on.  Appel reportedly came up with the Sir Lord Baltimore nameplate and helped the band sign with Mercury.

 

 

Co-produced by Appel, Jim Cretecos, and Edwin Kramer (Dee Anthony credited as executive producer), 1970's "Kingdom Come" offered up a pretty wild set of  rockers.  Labeled 'heavy metal' in a Creem review by Mike Saunders, that was actually a pretty good description for the bulk of the ten tracks.  Powered by Garner's thundering voice and Dambra's heavily distorted guitar, tracks such as 'Master Heartache', 'Hard Rain Fallin'' and 'Pumped Up' weren't going to have a great deal of appeal for anyone looking for a fix of melodic pop-rock. In fact, the combination of their cheesy medieval lyrics ('Kingdom Come') and Garner's occasionally grating voice literally made them one of those bands you either loved, or couldn't stand.   The initial impression hearing something like 'Lady Of Fire' was actually akin to hearing a heavily amphetamine fueled Jimi Hendrix being multi-tracked.  That made a track like the harpsichord-powered power ballad 'Lake Isle Of Innersfree' (with weird medieval lyrics) all the stranger.  Heard for the first time in this day and age the results simply weren't all that impressive.  Given today's technology there are probably lots of garage bands that could muster up a similar sound.  What's forgotten, or simply hard to get a handle on is how different this must have sounded in 1970.  Put this next to a Simon and Garfunkel track and you were liable to kill an unsuspecting listener.  On the other hand, playing devil's advocate, this didn't strike me as being all that different than early-1970s Dust, or even Leslie West and Mountain ...  Regardless, in spite of opening for Black Sabbath on a number of dates including a pair of February 1971 Fillmore East dates, commercially the album did little, quickly vanishing into cutout bins.

 

Mercury tapped the LP for a single in the form of 'Master Heartache' b/w '' (Mercury catalog number 73181).

   

'Kingdom Come" track listing:
(side 1)
1.) Master Heartache   (Louis Dambra - Mike Appel - Jim Cretecos) – 4:37

2.) Hard Rain Fallin'   (Louis Dambra - Mike Appel - Jim Cretecos) – 2:56

3.) Lady Of Fire   (Louis Dambra - Mike Appel - Jim Cretecos) – 2:53

4.) Lake Isle Of Innersfree   (Louis Dambra - Mike Appel - Jim Cretecos) – 4:03

5.) Pumped Up    (Louis Dambra - Mike Appel - Jim Cretecos)– 4:07

 

(side 2)

1.) Kingdom Come   (Louis Dambra - Mike Appel - Jim Cretecos) – 6:35

2.) I Got A Woman   (Louis Dambra - Mike Appel - Jim Cretecos) – 3:03

3.) Hell Hound   (Louis Dambra - Mike Appel - Jim Cretecos) – 3:20

4.) Helium Head (I Got A Love)   (Louis Dambra - Mike Appel - Jim Cretecos) – 4:02

5.) Ain't Got Hung On You   (Louis Dambra - Mike Appel - Jim Cretecos) – 2:24

 

Yes, Garner runs an 'official' Sir Lord Baltimore website: http://www.sirlordbaltimore.com/

 

 

 


Genre: rock

Rating: ** (2 stars)

Title:  Sir Lord Baltimore

Company: Mercury

Catalog: SR 61328

Year: 1971

Country/State: Brooklyn, New York

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: gatefold sleeve; small punch out hole bottom left corner

Available: SOLD

Catalog ID: SOLD 5361

Price: SOLD $75.00

Cost: $1.00

 

With the addition of Joey Dambra (Louis' younger brother), on second lead guitar, the group's sophomore release "Sir Lord Baltimore" marked a noticeable change in musical direction.  Produced by John Linda (he was also credited with writing all of the material), side one found the band turning in a non-too-subtle conceptual piece (Garner once described the plotline as being something along the lines of what would happen to Jesus Christ if he returned to New York City in 1971).  Stretching out over fifteen minutes, it wasn't the most cohesive composition you've ever heard, but there were a couple of nice segments, including the atypically laidback 'Act IV Raca (People They Do Bad Things)'.  While much of the debut's amphetamine-fueled fervor was missing, probably due to the fact they featured shorter, more focused efforts, side two  tracks like the twin lead guitar powered 'Chicago Lives' and 'Lo and Behold' were far more enjoyable.  Yeah, it occasionally degenerated into a heavy metal parody - check out the hideously excessive 'Woman Tamer' which managed to make Ozzy and company sound like thoughtful representatives of classical music. Speaking of Ozzy - check out the closer 'Caesar LXXI ' which bore more than a passing resemblance to the bat munching prince of darkness.  Elsewhere 'Where Are We Going' was a live track that indicated these guys might have been a pretty decent in-concert act.  Propelled by Garner's snarling vocals it certainly displayed more energy than the side one concept piece (though I've always wondered where did the strained sax solo come from?).  I've also always wondered if there were more live tapes out there ...  Nowhere near as impressive as the debut, but still worth checking out.

 

Like the debut, the second LP did little commercially and Mercury quickly dropped the band.  Five years later the band began recording sessions for a projected third LP but the material was shelved.  Louis Dambra moved to Los Angeles and found his calling in the church running a ministry for the city's homeless.  Garner went back to the local club scene, playing and recording with groups like The Lizards.  Justin dropped out of music and turned his attention to Wall Street.   

 

'Sir Lord Baltimore" track listing:
(side 1)
1.) Man from Manhattan

     Man from Manhattan Act I   (John Linde)  - 1:00

     Superior One Intro   (John Linde) - 1:00

     Theme : 45   (John Linde) - 3:00

     Man from Manhattan Act II   (John Linde) - 2:00

     Theme : 45   (John Linde) - 2:00

     Act III MMCXI New Earth    (John Linde)- 4:00

     Act IV Raca (People They Do Bad Things)   (John Linde) - 1:40

2.) Where Are We Going   (John Linde - Mickey Lane) - 3:20

 

(side 2)

1.) Chicago Lives   (John Linde) - 3:46

2.) Lo and Behold   (John Linde) - 3:45

3.) Woman Tamer   (John Linde) - 5:10

4.) Caesar LXXI   (John Linde) - 5:17

 

 

For true SLB fanatics, you're already aware of the fact the second LP was released with a different (and equally non-descript) cover for the European market:

 

 

 

 


Genre: rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Sir Lord Baltimore III Raw

Company: JG

Catalog: --

Year: 2006

Country/State: Brooklyn, New York

Grade (cover/record): --

Comments: 1,000 copy run

Available: --

Catalog ID: --

Price: --

 

I don't have a copy of this CD for sale, but in the interest of completeness, I've included some material on the band's 2006 reunion.

Over the next thirty five years Sir Lord Baltimore remained fallow, activity limited to a series of reissue packages that garnered the band members zilch in the way of remediation.  Dambra moved on with his life finding his calling in the church working as a pastor with Los Angeles poor.  Regardless, in 2006 Dambra and Garner decided to reunite.  Bassist Gary Justin (shown on the '70s era cover art) was replaced by sessions players Tony Franklin and Sam Powell.  

Produced by Garner and released on their own JG label (1,000 copies were reportedly pressed), "Sir Lord Baltimore III Raw" resurrected the 1976 tapes as a base with Dambra and Gardner re-recording most or the tracks, re-working the original lyrics to material like '(Gonna) Fill the World With Fire', 'Love Slave' and 'Mission'' in order to underscore their Christian beliefs. Judging by material like "Blazing eyes of fire, time is at the wire, only hope is Jesus Chris tApocalypse won’t wait, don’t ya hesitate, receive power from on high" it wasn't the most subtle religious album you'll ever hear, but given the band's basic sound remained intact, the combination of Garner's manic drums and vocals and Dambra's guitar served to bury much of the message.  Garner's vocals seemed to have mellowed a little over the thirty year period, but he remained a frenetic drummer and his voice remained in good overall form.  Dambra's guitar chops remained killer in spite of the prolonged layoff.  Clocking in at just over 28 minutes, the CD was relatively short for this day and age, but five of the six tracks were conventional rockers (the lone exception being the ballad 'Wild White Horses).

Self-distributed, you can order copies directly from John Garner at: JGARNERSLB@yahoo.com

'Sir Lord Baltimore III Raw" track listing:
(side 1)
1.) (Gonna) Fill the World with Fire - 3:39

2.) Low Slave - 3:42

3.) Wild White Horses - 7:00

 

(side 2)

1.) Rising Son - 4:44

2.) Cosmic Voices - 3:58

3.) Mission - 4:57

 

 

 

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