Thor's Hammer (band)

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Thor's Hammer, or Hljómar, was an Icelandic rock band primarily active in the 1960s. Outside of Iceland, they are known among music collectors for their rare releases on Parlophone, sung in English and recorded in London for export. The most famous of these is the 1966 EP Umbarumbamba, regarded as one of the rarest released records in the world[ citation needed ] and known to fetch prices into the thousands of dollars when a copy surfaces. Their style can be described as garage rock, fuzz rock, and freakbeat, with noticeable influences from both The Who and The Beatles.



Formed in Keflavik in 1963 under the name Hljómar (literally "Chords"), they soon became popular in Iceland at a time when local rock music was a rarity. By the mid-1960s they were recording in London on Parlophone Records for the international market, including the EP Umbarumbamba, now a valuable collector's item. This record was recorded as a tie-in with a movie starring the band also entitled Umbarumbamba, but the film was not a success. [1] From these sessions also came the singles "Once" and "If You Knew". The band even attempted a single entitled "Stay" in the United States on Columbia Records, which was produced by John Simon, known for his work with The Band and Big Brother and the Holding Company's album Cheap Thrills with Janis Joplin.

In 1969 a number of Thor's Hammer members went on to form the prog-flavored band Trúbrot, which recorded four albums until itself splitting in 1973.

Continual interest in the band among collectors of 1960s rock music lead to the 2001 Ace Records compilation album From Keflavik With Love, which collects all of the band's English-language output, including the tracks from Umbarumbamba, "Once", "If You Knew", and "Stay", as well as a number of their Icelandic tracks.

Rúnar Júlíusson died on 5 December 2008 at the age of 63 after going into cardiac arrest.

The group's collected work is featured on the anthology, From Keflavík, With Love , released in 2001 on Big Beat Records.

Band members


Studio albums
Compilation albums
Singles and EPs

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From Keflavík, With Love is a retrospective anthology issued in 2001 by Big Beat Records consisting of twenty songs by Thor's Hammer (Hljómar), a 1960s garage rock and beat group from Iceland who were one of the best-known Icelandic groups during the era. Though they worked with different producers on various labels, Thor's Hammer sound is best-typified by the tough, aggressive fuzz-drenched rockers they recorded in London for Parlophone Records in 1966, such as "I Don't Care," "My Life," "Better Days," and "The Big Beat Country Dance", and "If You Knew". While the lyrics to most of their songs were sung in English, several tracks were recorded in their native Icelandic, such as "Fyrsti Kossinn", "Ef Hún Er Nálægt Mér", and "Ertu Med", which was covered by the Savages on their Live 'n Wild album. Some of the tracks from Thor's Hammer's final period in the late 1960s, such as "Stay", show the group stretching their sound stylistically, augmenting certain arrangements with keyboards and horns. At his time, Thor's Hammer moved into a more eclectic direction, but they broke up in 1969, with several of their members going on to join the progressive rock group, Trubrot.