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Articles Home » 1980 Articles » Pure Prairie League - 1980 Firin' Up
Pure Prairie League - 1980 Firin' Up

ARTIST: Pure Prairie League
ALBUM: Firin' Up
LABEL: Casablanca
YEAR: 1980


LINEUP: Vince Gill - vocals, banjo, fiddle, guitar, violin * Jeff Wilson - guitars, vocals * Michael Reilly - bass, vocals * Micahel Connor - keyboards * Gary Mielke - synthesizer * Billy Hinds - drums

Other Musicians: Janis Oliver-Gill - background vocals * Kristine Arnold - background vocals * David Sanborn - saxophone

TRACK LISTING: 01 I'm Almost Ready * 02 Give It Up * 03 Too Many Heartaches In Paradise * 04 She's All Mine * 05 You're My True Love * 06 Let Me Love You Tonight * 07 I Can't Stop This Feelin' * 08 Lifetime Of Nighttime * 09 I'll Be Damned * 10 Janny Lou


In the Country/AOR crossover stakes of the late 70's and early 80's, the Pure Prairie League seem to lack the recognition given to fellow genre luminaries such as Firefall and Atlanta Rhythm Section. They were perhaps overshadowed by their hit staple 'Amie' from 1972, a period where the band was essentially country rock and little else. Aside from this hit, PPL failed to sell albums on a consistent basis and by 1978 were in a desperate position. Enter Vince Gill who helped turn the bands fortunes around by injecting the now routine commercial edge while never fully dispensing with the bands country past, hardly surprising given Gill's future success as a country music superstar. It's worth noting no original members of PPL remained in 1980, although Reilly, Hinds and Connor had seen service since 1972. 'Firin' Up' divided fans of the bands earlier work and those who favoured the new melodic style, but the album was a fantastic effort regardless.

The Songs
'I'm Almost Ready' is a ripe piece of driving boogie which caters to both sets of the bands fans, the keyboard work more honky tonk than AOR and coupled with a wild guitar solo make it one of the bands heavier moments. The AOR side of the band rears its wonderful head through the undisputed classic 'Give It Up', with it's knockout chorus and endless waves of exalted melody. 'You're My True Love' is a straight piano led ballad with noticeable string work, with Gill's impassioned vocals the key feature. The hit 'Let Me Love You Tonight' became the bands biggest chart entry since 'Amie', a familiar light rock classic here in the US, the unmistakable sax work and breezy melody earning it a timeless status. This direction is taken a step further with the marvellous 'I Can't Stop The Feeling', which although written by outside writers suggested the band was aiming for the marketplace inhabited by Player and Ambrosia, whom they might have surpassed with this obscure but must hear piece of AOR. The tone changes for the remainder of the album, namely 'Lifetime Or Nightime', which is equal to Henry Paul's more Southern moments of his solo career while remaining firmly commercial. Fans of the bands earliest work might have been cheered up by the jangly 'Janny Lou' which breaks out the banjo at full speed, in stark contrast to much of the album.

In Summary
Highly recommended for all melodic rock lovers, who should actively seek to add this to their collections. PPL returned a year later with 'Something In The Night' which wasn't nearly as addictive melody wise. It proved to be the end of Vince Gill's tenure with PPL, going on to become one of country's all time legends in the process. Quite a shame he chose not to go the AOR direction after the promise he displayed here! The band has existed in various guises since but this is their career highpoint easily. It represents a place in time when all bands of that ilk made a concerted effort to make inroads into the charts by adopting the 'radio' approach, no better example than 'Firin' Up'.

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