Leaf Hound – Growers of Mushroom (1971)

January 20, 2011

Leaf Hound grew out of the London-based band Black Cat Bones, one of the many groups that dipped into hard rock, blues, and proto-metal in the late 1960 and early 70s. They are a curious band that sounds like everyone else and no one all at once. Much of the 1971 LP, “Growers of Mushroom” draws on Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, but the aggressive playing and raw production give the album an edge that those two groups lacked.

The comparisons to Zeppelin and others are obvious. Guitarist Derek Brooks does his best Jimmy Page, but doesn’t have the same pedigree, chops or inventive phrasing of Page. Vocalist Peter French’s style sounds like an amalgamation of Robert Plant and Terry Reid, and listeners will likely conjure those two singers within the first few minutes of “Freelance Fiend,” the album’s opening track. To French’s credit, he does have an idiosyncratic delivery and uncommon confidence which make his performance intensely listenable. Leaf Hound is rounded out by rhythm guitarist Mick Halls, bassist Stuart Brooks, and drummer Keith George-Young, all of whom are serviceable and keep the tunes moving.

“Growers of Mushroom,” originally released on Decca, is a quick listen with 11 tracks, only one of which is longer than 5 minutes. In the end, all the comparisons to other heavy rock bands don’t mean much — this is the kind of record that ought to be played loud and late at night.

Highlights: Freeland Fiend, Drowned My Life In Fear, Work My Body, With A Minute To Go

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