Revisiting my extensive music collection, one artist at a time
Excitement was high when the guitarist from my favorite band had joined forces with one of my favorite singers (whose band, Bad Company, was previously featured in this series) and formed a new group called The Firm. Their eponymous debut was one of my most-played albums of 1985 and, although it is sonically date-stamped to that era, the songs & performances hold up all these years later. I already highlighted the two albums they released during their brief existence in the Two And Through post, and you can read my comments about their debut below.
For more information on this series, please read the opening paragraph of the first post, which featured the debut album from Led Zeppelin.
From TWO AND THROUGH – My Favorite Two-Album Artists:
Led Zeppelin has been my favorite band since around 1979, and after the death of drummer John Bonham in 1980 I have closely followed the careers of the three surviving band members. I’ve also liked Bad Company for nearly as long, but never as passionately as with Zeppelin. When Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page partnered with longtime Bad Company (and future Queen) vocalist Paul Rodgers at the ARMS Benefit Concert in 1983 at Madison Square Garden (which also included the talents of Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Joe Cocker, Charlie Watts, Bill Wyman, Simon Phillips and many more brilliant musicians), I was fortunate to witness the seeds of The Firm that would bear fruit two years later. The lineup was completed by drummer Chris Slade (the chrome-domed skin beater for Manfred Mann’s Earth Band and, later, AC/DC among many others) and bassist Tony Franklin (best known for his work with Roy Harper and as a member of Blue Murder). I’m not sure how their two albums would sound to someone hearing them for the first time nearly 30 years later, but when they were released my excitement about new music from Jimmy Page allowed me to overlook some of the inconsistencies in the songwriting and production. On the self-titled debut album, “Radioactive” was an excellent choice for leadoff single, a then-modern rock track with a quirky lead guitar figure that only Page could have summoned. It reached #1 on the Album Rock Tracks chart. The rest of the album features seemingly straightforward songs, although most of them have little rhythmic or melodic twists that make them unique. Favorites include “Closer,” “Satisfaction Guaranteed,” their version of The Righteous Brothers’ “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” (showcasing Rodgers’ soulful vocals) and the 9-minute epic “Midnight Moonlight.”
Who else was listening to this album back in ’85? If you’ve played it recently, do you think it’s held up after 35 years? If this is your first exposure to them, please let me know what you think.
I’ll be back with another classic debut from the mid-’80s in two weeks.