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Wildfire (USA) - 1977 Flamethrower



ARTIST: Wildfire (USA)
ALBUM: Flamethrower
LABEL: Casablanca
SERIAL: NBLP-7074
YEAR: 1977

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

LINEUP: Scott Shannon * Jack 'Stack-A-Track' Grochmal

TRACK LISTING: 01 Heartbreaker * 02 Highway Of Love * 03 Lonely Nights * 04 Back To The Beach * 05 Weekend Love * 06 Feeling Love * 07 Sarah * 08 Breakaway * 09 Here Comes Summer * 10 Big Brown Eyes * 11 It's Too Late


Background
Anyone who hasn't picked up the 2009 book 'And Party Everyday- The Inside Story of Casablanca Records' has not only missed out on one of the more entertaining tomes of the last decade, but a bittersweet nostril-full movie ready tale of the cocaine fueled and glittery decadence that was the 1970's. Writer Larry Harris and of course his partner in crime, the late Neil Bogart were in the thick of it, releasing music that helped define the decade while perpetually living on the edge both financially and personally. While Kiss and the label's full frontal domination of the disco market put Casablanca on the map, there were plenty of other albums released by the imprint that went pear-shaped faster than the Peter Criss and Paul Stanley solos, including this odd one-off from Wildfire. Unfortunately, this project other than a discography listing, is not mentioned in Harris' book, but was the brainchild of Scott Shannon - renowned DJ and at the time Casablanca promotion man. With cohort and engineer extraordinaire Jack 'stack-a-track' Grochmal in tow, 'Flamethrower' was released in late 1977 and outside the albums only single that nearly placed in the Top 40, the album tanked with nary a notice.


The Songs
In hindsight, the breasty disco babe on the cover turned off more than a few rockers at the time, not because of her obvious physical attributes, but with a lack of band credits on the back sleeve 'Flamethrower' looked and smelled like a dance record. Hard to understand Casablanca's strategy or who they were trying to fool since Wildfire played an innocuous pop rock that that will truly delight fans of 'Attention Shoppers!' Starz, Euclid Beach Band, Starbuck, The Bay City Rollers and Shaun Cassidy with a nice blend of good-time groovy poppers including the vaguely Foreigner-styled riff rocker 'Highway Of Love' and 'Lonely Nights' which sounds like a lift from the first Network LP and the Starbuck school of top forty southern funk. 'Feeling Love' pre-dates Rex Smith with a ballad in the same style sexy Rexy's teen beat minions would wet themselves over a couple years in the future while side two offers up some of the albums best albeit softly padded rockers with the lost AOR jewel 'Sarah', the charming Eric Carmen-ish 'Breakaway' as well as the aforementioned single 'Here Comes Summer' which was originally recorded in 1959 by Jerry Keller although here its rocked up a bit and shoulda-woulda-coulda been one of the biggest hits of the year.


In Summary
Accessible, harmless and a lot of fun, the Wildfire sound is warm and carefree conjuring up images of teenage love and an innocence we've lost in the digital age. Yes, 'Flamethrower' and its bubblegummy pop might have been a few years too late even in the '77, but it's gooey sweetness is irresistible and if I had known of its charms, instead of passing over the album on the racks and a zillion times later in cut-out bins, I would have played the LP until the grooves wore out.


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Comments
#1 | super80boy on July 04 2015 17:16:10
Flame Thrower is an uneven platter, but there's some interesting nuggets to be heard. 'Heartbreaker' is a good tune and gets things off to a fast rousing start, as well as the follow on 'Highway Of Love' and 'Lonely Night'. Side 2 brings in some filler, but is does have some good moments with 'Sarah', the Beach Boys pop moves in 'Breakaway' and the feel good trucking 'Here Comes Summer'.
 
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