KamerTunesBlog

Revisiting my extensive music collection, one artist at a time

Thirty Year Thursday – Introduction / THE FIRM “MEAN BUSINESS”

Welcome to the first KamerTunesBlog weekly series. A few years ago on my Facebook page I wrote a paragraph about my favorite albums from 1983 each week in a series I called “Thirty Year Thursday.” 1983 had been a pivotal year for me, musically & otherwise, so it was fun to start conversations about albums that had a lot of meaning to me and, for the most part, held up extremely well over the course of three decades. Between those posts & my blog activity I was pretty exhausted by the end of 2013, so I decided to put the series on the back-burner. 2016 seems like the perfect time to resurrect Thirty Year Thursday, only now it’ll be featured here each week. Just like its TYT predecessor, 1986 was an extremely memorable year for me: I turned 20, watched my two favorite sports teams (the Mets and the Giants) finally win the World Series and Super Bowl, formed the first incarnation of my college cover band which resulted in several lifelong friendships, went through my first break-up, started working my third record store job during school breaks and enjoyed great records from my favorite bands as well as many new discoveries. 

The mid-‘80s aren’t generally regarded as the peak years for rock music, which is understandable when you consider the questionable production choices and synthetic sounds of that era. However, many artists transcended those limitations and, in spite of the frequently “dated” sound, some of my all-time favorite albums hit record store shelves in 1986. For the first half of the year I will focus on the albums I owned & played multiple times in ‘86, and then I will discuss the records from ’86 that I discovered in later years. Hopefully I’ll remind you about some long-forgotten gems and maybe even convince the doubters that the ‘80s were pretty good after all. Most importantly, I look forward to chatting with my fellow music lovers who lived through that period…and those who wish they had. This will be a fun little project for me as I practice the verbal brevity I hope to bring to my regular blog posts (which will continue throughout 2016 in addition to Thirty Year Thursday). I hope you like my first choice. See you next Thursday.

 

Artist: THE FIRM
Album: MEAN BUSINESS
The Firm - Mean Business
I already wrote about the brief discography of The Firm in my Two And Through post so I won’t rehash that here. I’ll just say that this second & final album by Jimmy Page, Paul Rodgers and the outstanding rhythm section of Tony Franklin & Chris Slade was one of my most-played albums of 1986. It’s not as cohesive as their debut and the songwriting isn’t quite as strong, but the musicianship is unsurprisingly great and Rodgers’ voice is as powerful as it’s ever been. The strongest tracks are “Live In Peace” (which was originally featured on Rodgers’ debut solo album), album opener “Fortune Hunter” (which was based on a riff Page first attempted in 1981 for the aborted XYZ project with the Yes rhythm section of Chris Squire & Alan White), the #1 Mainstream Rock hit “All The Kings Horses” and the gospel-flavored “Spirit Of Love.” I was also fortunate to see them on this tour, having missed their first tour the previous year. I’m not sure how Mean Business would sound to someone hearing it for the first time now, but I still love it and I’m immediately transported back in time whenever I play it.

“All The King’s Horses”:

“Fortune Hunter”:

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27 comments on “Thirty Year Thursday – Introduction / THE FIRM “MEAN BUSINESS”

  1. Hagar-era Van Halen ripped off ‘Fortune Hunter’ big time… Or was it the other way round? ‘5150’ definitely has a similar vibe.

    Like

    • Never made that connection but will make a note of it next time I play “5150.” It should come as no surprise that it will make an appearance in a future TYT post.

      Like

  2. Vinyl Connection
    January 7, 2016

    Nice idea for a theme. I’ve dabbled a few times with anniversaries (who hasn’t?) but a weekly spot is quite a regimen! Fifty-two from 1986, eh? We await with baited breath…

    Like

    • Glad you like the concept, Bruce. I needed a project to keep me focused on listening & writing and this fits the bill perfectly. I hope you agree with at least some of my choices.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Phillip Helbig
      January 8, 2016

      Call me a curmudgeon, but it is “bated breath”. It’s a contraction of “abated”. “Baited breath” might be useful in catching fish, or repelling vampires.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Vinyl Connection
        January 8, 2016

        Thank you moochly, Philip.

        Like

      • Oh Phillip, you spell-checking curmudgeon. Haha. I hadn’t noticed the extra “i” in Bruce’s comment but I like the idea of catching fish with “baited breath.”

        Like

  3. deKE
    January 7, 2016

    Nice Post Rich.
    Too be honest I was into the debut a lot more why? I have no idea but perhaps it may be because by the time I got into Zep (1982) with the release of Coda Zep was done so I latched onto the debut quick.
    Radioactive was a stand out track…
    Nice to school me on the followup,may have to check this one out….30 years later!

    Like

    • I felt the same way about the debut, Derek, but I still really enjoyed this follow-up. It does feel a little rushed, like the record company needed product before they were ready, but I’ll always love hearing Page on guitar and Rodgers singing.

      Like

  4. J.
    January 8, 2016

    I’ve never heard this lot! The name is familiar, but the band and material are not (Page and Rogers, though! How did I not know this!?) … I’ll be one of those hearing for the first time, so we’ll see if the production pits me off!

    Like

    • Please let me know if/when you check out The Firm, since I’d like to know how they sound to someone hearing them for the first time all these years later.

      Like

      • J.
        January 8, 2016

        Will do, Rich! Hopefully get a chance to have a wee listen on Spotify this weekend …

        Liked by 1 person

  5. wardo68
    January 8, 2016

    I graduated from high school in ’86, so a lot of that music makes me nostalgic. I’m just glad I’m not the only one who defends this album!

    http://everybodysdummy.blogspot.com/2009/05/firm-2-mean-business.html

    Like

    • I often agree with that blog so I’m not surprised he’s another fan of The Firm. He wrote a great review of “Mean Business.” Thanks for linking it here.

      Like

      • wardo68
        January 12, 2016

        Of course I linked it. I wrote it!

        Like

      • Oh man, how did I forget that Wardo68 and the marvelous Everybody’s Dummy blog are one & the same? Sorry about that. I haven’t said it in a while but you do great work, and wehave very similar musical sensibilities.

        Like

  6. 80smetalman
    January 8, 2016

    The problem with The Firm back in the 80s was that because the band had Jimmy Page and Paul Rodgers in it, people expected them to be some sort of Zeppelin/Bad Company hybrid, which they weren’t. Therefore, a lot of people were disappointed. I was at first but when you listen to them with an open mind, they’re quite good.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s an excellent point about the expectations that came with The Firm. For me they completely lived up to (or even exceeded) them and both records still sound really good.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Kevin
    October 28, 2016

    I’ve been going back and reading some of these TYT posts I missed. You’re introduction to 1986 brings back a most painful memory…the ball going through Bill Buckner’s legs!!!

    Like

    • Sorry for the painful reminder, Kevin. Other than ’86, I think Mets & Red Sox fans have a lot in common…most of it revolving around hating the Yankees. 😀 For what it’s worth, I was thrilled when the Sox finally won the World Series.

      Like

  8. Kevin
    October 30, 2016

    One of the best parts about winning the Series in ’04 was beating the Yankees in the ALCS after being down 0-3. Epic! I assume you enjoyed a few Super Bowls at my Patriots expense also. 😦

    Like

    • I was so excited when the Sox came back in that series, and I love that the Yankees are the only team to ever blow a 3-0 lead in a championship series. Sorry about those two Giants Super Bowl victories, but you can’t complain with all the success the Patriots have had the last 2 decades.

      Like

      • Kevin
        October 31, 2016

        It has been a good century so far for Boston sports. To us older fans, it was a long time coming (the only championships I saw growing up were The Celtics, but basketball is a distant 4th on my sports list). Some of the younger fans are spoiled and arrogant.

        Like

      • The irony is that those spoiled and arrogant Sox fans have become just like the Yankee fans they despise.

        Like

  9. Kevin
    October 31, 2016

    Exactly. And Patriots fans can be even worse. It’s embarrassing. I love my Patriots, though. I expect them to make the SB, and I hope they don’t play your Giants. 🙂

    Like

    • The Pats look great. I wouldn’t worry too much about the Giants, who seem too inconsistent to make a Super Bowl run this year. I’m sure New England would love a rematch, though.

      Like

      • Kevin
        November 1, 2016

        A rematch would be fun, but, honestly, the Pats could go 15-1 and the Giants could go 8-8 and we (the fans) still would be scared. Those two SB’s have left an emotional scar on this region.

        Liked by 1 person

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