Glass Hammer produced one of the albums of the year in 2016 with the excellent Valkyrie (see review). Nothing was expected of them in 2017 until this album of outtakes, covers and a live track appeared at the end of the year. There is always a little trepidation when albums of this mixture appear as there is always a reason why a track never made it to a completed album. In this case there is nothing to worry about as Glass Hammers leftovers would be a banquet for many bands I could think of. Yes, there are a couple of little instrumental noodlings here but there are some spectacular full blown songs and a couple of cover versions that match if not exceed the originals.
The first two tracks Shadows Of The Past (2008) and Infusion are instrumentals but we don't have to wait long for our first epic. Identity Priciple could have been lifted from The Inconsolable Secret (2013/2005, see review) Hold Your Head Up is a cover of the Argent song from the seventies. With the added distorted guitar behind the vocals it takes the song to another level. Babb's Bach is Steve Babb sounding like Bach. Nothing wonderful. The two minute And Then She Sighed is a lovely folky song sung and arranged very simply. Beautiful. Eiger Dreams has us skiing down the mountain before our second cover of Its All Too Much. A tune penned by George Harrison and covered by many including Steve Hillage. This might be my favourite track. The vocals of Susie Bogdanowicz are blended perfectly with the instruments and creates a wonderful soundscape.
Troll could have been a Black Sabbath song , so strong is the riffing with its distorted bass.
After A Grain Of Sand we have the second epic. This is a tale of the super natural with a twist at the end that I won't give away. This tracks comes from the period of time when Jon Davidson was in the band before Yes enticed him away because he sounds so much like Jon Anderson. This is a good song but I prefer my Glass Hammer without the constant high pitched vocals. Finally we come to the final epic, the live version of No Man's Land taken from the afore mentioned Valkyrie. One of the best tracks on that album and a fitting finale to this one.
Glass Hammer have produced a coherent and creditable album that is a pleasure to listen to from outtakes and covers. If you have never heard them before this is an OK place to start but I would recommend Shadowlands (2004), Lex Rex (2002), or The Inconsolable Secret. They really should be more well known than they are and they have the best female voice in rock music in the earlier mentioned Susie Bogdanowicz.
**** Dave Smith
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