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Fairchild - 1978 Fairchild

ARTIST: Fairchild
ALBUM: Fairchild
LABEL: Flight
YEAR: 1978


LINEUP: Mark Enstad - keyboards, flute, vocals * Mike Ricci - lead vocals, acrobatics * Tom Riopelle - guitars, lead vocals * Mark Stellflug - drums, syn drums, percussion * Richard Wieser - Fender bass, bass vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 Breakout * 02 Do You Hear The Call * 03 A Place For Me * 04 Spin The Wheel * 05 I Ask You * 06 I've Got Love * 07 Never Give Up * 08 The Last Survivor * 09 Children Of Yesterday * 10 Time Will Come

Fairchild, like Chameleon, originated from Minnesota, and their debut has been hailed as something of a pomp rock classic amongst certain members of the AOR fraternity. Based on this recommendation, I tracked down a copy of this album and eagerly slapped it on my turntable. On eventually hearing this LP the first overwhelming emotion I experienced was not one of joy but of disappointment. A bit like turning up for a date with Elle MacPherson and finding Dame Edna Everage there instead! Perhaps I'm being a little unfair in my judgement, though it doesn't compare favourably alongside such pomp classics as the Styx evergreen 'Pieces Of Eight' or Zon's 'Astral Projector' released the same year. However one must make allowances for the fact that it's an independent release and consequently suffers from a low budget production.

The Songs
After repeated plays it's grown on me although it does all sound rather dated by today's standards. However the interesting arrangements particularly on 'Never Give Up' and 'I Ask You' do lift it above the norm. On side one you have the opening duo of 'Breakout' and 'Do You Hear The Call' (good solid pomp), followed by the haunting ballad 'A place For Me'. On 'Spin The Wheel' Tom Riopelle cranks up the guitars a notch and rocks out with a nice slide guitar solo. As a whole the guitar work on this album isn't as forceful as I would have liked, though this is probably due to production constraints. Side two opens nicely with 'I've Got Love', a majestic pomp tune driven along by Mark Enstad's organ and swirling synthesisers. 'The Last Survivor' opens to the strains of a humpback whale(!) and I assume it's an ode to 'Don't Kill The Whale' by Yes, though perhaps someone could enlighten me as to what 'the sea's proud parmacetti' is? (Collin's Concise dictionary was nonplussed!). Whilst the song indeed covers a commendable subject matter, it comes across in the hands of Fairchild as sounding rather twee and the flute solo in the midsection just serves to make them sound like Jethro Tull not an ideal concoction for a US pomp band (sounds very similar to the one-off Alexis album from the year before.. Ed). The best though, in my opinion, is saved for last with 'Children Of Yesterday' and 'Time Will Come' which ensure the album at least closes on a high note.

In Summary
Fairchild followed up this album in 1982 with 'Shadowland', though by this time they had ditched their pomp pretensions and were moving in a more commercial radio friendly direction. To summarise I would say by all means track this album down, but, only if you're a late 1970's pomp fanatic.

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#1 | Eric on January 30 2009 20:27:40
There were quite a few Fairchild gigs were they appeared with Chameleon, but I never saw these guys live for some reason. I know my Wife saw them a lot back in the 70's along with Gypsy, The Suburbs and other Twin Cities bands of renowned. There was a lot of backlash in the local press for their last album on Gold Mountain and really their time had passed in the mid-80's.
#2 | trillion1999 on October 09 2011 20:19:23
Someone uploaded the whole album to youtube.I remember liking it all.Quirky late 70s
#3 | super80boy on February 23 2014 17:21:01
Being that I'm a late 70's pomp fanatic and the fact that I have their other two albums (Shadowland 1982 and Self Titled 1985), I was eager to track this debut effort down. This would definitely be the hardest of the three albums to source in clean condition. I liked this album. It's got the pomp moves and it does throw in progressive elements in places.

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