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After The Fire - 1978 Signs Of Change



ARTIST: After The Fire
ALBUM: Signs Of Change
LABEL: Rapid Records
SERIAL: RR01
YEAR: 1978
CD REISSUE: 2011, Angel Air, SJPCD361 (with bonus tracks)

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

LINEUP: Peter Banks - keyboards, piano, vocals * Nick Battle - bass, vocals * Andy Piercy - vocals, acoustic & electric guitar, tambourine * Ivor Twidell - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Dance Of The Marionette * 02 Back To The Light * 03 Now That I've Found * 04 Signs Of Change * 05 Jigs * 06 Pilgrim

WEBLINKS: www.afterthefire.co.uk


Background
A few years ago I reviewed drummer Iva TwydelI's 1982 album 'Duel' and wrote After The Fire's 1983 cover of Falco's 'Der Kommissar' was 'one of the most obnoxious and disturbingly memorable singles of the 1980's. Hmm? harsh words perhaps, but I'm still of that opinion. As I see it After The Fire in their early days were an accomplished progressive rock band and hard to fathom why ATF would do a complete one-eighty and go the new wave pop route but no doubt a big label contract and money played a role as did their belief a Christian rock band in a secular world might make a difference. MTV and America loomed large on their horizon and After The Fire never looked back.


The Songs
Pressing a few thousand copies of their debut, 'Signs Of Change' sold-out within a matter of weeks, becoming a sought after collectable and for good reason. The only other Christian progressive albums that come close to its quality in a not exactly crowded field are Ark Angel and Jimmy Hotz 'Beyond The CryPilgrimstal Sea'. Lyrically, this is the most overtly Evangelical ATF album with the keyboards of Peter Banks (no relation to the late Yes/Flash guitarist) dominating the set. Banks was more Dave Greenslade than Emerson or Wakeman; in fact Greenslade is probably the best point of reference with the challenging vocals of Andy Piercy reminiscent of Dave Lawson and the 'Beside Manners Are Extra' opus. Drummer Iva Twydell (spelled Ivor Twidell here) is the other standout and is extraordinary at times and with just six diverse tracks, After The Fire covers all the prog bases. Like their later hi-tech ordinarie albums these guys were never afraid of a catchy hook throwing in a bit of pubby pop in the title track's chorus while 'Jigs' sounds like rustic 'Songs From The Wood' period Jethro Tull featuring fiddles and pennywhistle.


In Summary
Angel Air's reissue features a bevy of bonus tracks including a demo version of 'Back To The Light' although the weird sandpaper-ish glitches do not make for an easy listen and I'm not sure if it's the CD pressing or the original tape? The booklet features detailed essays from both Peter Banks and Andy Piercy and are filled with interesting and fun tidbits.


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