Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Firm - The Firm

In the early 80's, a British rock super-group called the Firm formed. It included singer Paul Rodgers (of Bad Company), guitarist Jimmy Page (of Led Zeppelin) drummer Chris Slade (from Uriah Heep) and bass player Tony Franklin. Today (February 11th) marks the thirtieth anniversary of the release of their self-titled debut album The Firm, which peaked at number 17 on the US Billboard Album chart and number 15 in the UK. It spent thirty-three weeks total on the US Billboard Album chart.

Side one opens with "Closer", a mid-tempo rocker punctuated by a rousing horn section that included Steve Dawson, Paul Weimar, Willie Garnett and Don Weller.

"Make or Break", a song about the struggles of commitment, features a slow, smoldering guitar riff by Page.

The bouncy "Someone to Love", meanwhile, celebrates the positives of a good relationship.

The B-side to the lead single was "Together", a slow ballad.

"Radioactive" was the lead single and the album's standout cut. It peaked at number 76 in the UK, number 75 in Canada, number 28 on the US Billboard Hot 100, and number 1 on the US Billboard Mainstream Rock chart. This one was a big hit on campus parties back in the day. While not something designed specifically for dancing, it was a good tune for early in the party when folks were standing around and getting their drink on.

Side two begins with a cover of the Righteous Brothers' hit "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling". The guys here slow it down even more so than the original, going for more of a steamy and smoldering rendition. When I hear it, I am quickly reminded of the missing vocal harmonies of the original.

"Money Can't Buy" goes down a blues-rock road with a hard luck tale of love and loss. This is easily my favorite of the deep cuts on the album; it packs a lot into three and a half minutes.

"Satisfaction Guaranteed", the second single, stalled at number 73 on the US Billboard Hot 100 though the rock stations did play it quite a bit more.

The album closes out with "Midnight Moonlight", a nine minute long epic prog rock ballad. It finishes up big and bold.

I was certainly familiar with tracks from The Firm back in the mid-80's when it debuted. The album-oriented rock stations were all over it, especially given the roots of the band in classic rock sounds. The iconic logo also appeared on lots of college campus party posters (either directly or in homage to it). Some of my gaming friends in the late 80's even named their super-hero team after the band. The first time I heard the whole album straight through was a few years back, when I scooped up the CD in a Best Buy bargain bin for five dollars. It is a solidly made recording that stands, ahem, firm even after three decades.

1 comment:

HERC said...

First, welcome back. Missed ya. Don't ever leave again.

Second, I was genuinely excited about the musical possibilities of The Firm and the fact that I still have that original vinyl album and accompanying twelve inch single of "Radioactive" is no accident. (Nor is it due to the pack rat syndrome my wife diagnosed upon me.)

In addition to "Radioactive", my favorite song on the album is the serpentine groove of "Satisfaction Guaranteed", which made it to #4 on the Mainstream Rock chart. I bought it!

The remix of "Radioactive" is uncredited but starts off as a deconstruction of the song's elements
before reconstituting around the danceable, bass driven rhythm. I bought it!

"Closer", the flipside of "Satisfaction Guaranteed" 45, also made the Rock chart, peaking at #19.