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Hammer - 1979 Hammer

ARTIST: Hammer (USA)
ALBUM: Hammer
LABEL: Asylum
SERIAL: 6E 232
YEAR: 1979
CD REISSUE: 2005, Wounded Bird (USA), 2 on 1 with 'Black Sheep'.


LINEUP: Jan Hammer - Keyboards, lead & rhythm, synthesizers, vocals * Glenn Burtnick - vocals, acoustic & rhythm guitars, tambourine * Colin Hodgkinson - bass, twelve string guitar, vocals * Gregg Carter - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Goodbye * 02 I Got You * 03 Oh Pretty Woman * 04 One Day * 05 Vaporize Me * 06 Nowhere To Go * 07 Forever Tonight * 08 Highway Made Of Glass * 09 Rainbow Day * 10 Sister Louisiana

With an album cover more suitable for a band like UFO, than the pop music found herein, Hammer's only album has been described as everything from hard rock, to progressive and jazz rock by people that obviously had never heard the record. Hammer were a 'supergroup' in some ways, lead and produced by Jan Hammer, a Mahavishnu Orchestra alum who would go on to work with Neal Schon on a couple albums as well as the 'Miami Vice' soundtrack. The remaining line-up includes Colin Hodgkinson, a bassist whose work with the groundbreaking progressive band Back Door lent even more prog credibility to this decidedly non-prog album. Former 'Beatlemania' star and future Helmet Boy, in-and-out of Styx man Glenn Burtnick should need no introduction here, and although drummer Gregg Carter was something of an unknown, it seems he continued to work with Jan Hammer in the following years.

The Songs
The opening track 'Goodbye' sounds like both The Knack and Styx at the same time. An unlikely combination although 'I Got You' is more what I would expect from a project like this. Kind of a bluesy ballad that gradually builds, yet it really goes nowhere in the end. The cover of Roy Orbison's 'Oh Pretty Woman' is useless, although 'One Day' does have a nice airy vibe, reminding me of Prism circa 'Young & Restless' and is one of the records better tunes. Side Two's 'Nowhere To Go' allows Jan Hammer to stretch out a bit with some nice keyboard work. Unfortunately the record slides even further down crap mountain with a disco song - 'Forever Tonight' and a couple forgettable ballads, closing with the Sea Level - like 'Sister Louisiana' which sticks out like a sore thumb, although at least they had the good sense to save it for the end of the album.

In Summary
Not a great record and really a waste of time saved only by a couple decent tracks. According to Glenn Burtnick's web site, Hammer toured, but it's not clear with whom, or for how long, since my guess is the record label never put much promotion behind it. As it happens Wounded Bird have released the record on a 2 on 1 disc backed with Jan Hammer's solo album 'Black Sheep' from the same period. I have never heard that album, but if it's anything like Hammer, my best advice is to skip it and save your money.

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