HSAS - THROUGH THE FIRE (1983, GEFFEN)
Sammy Hagar - vocals
Neal Schon - guitars
Kenny Aaronson - bass
Michael Shrieve - drums
This one off supergroup project was masterminded by Schon and Hagar who had wanted to collaborate for some period of time. To assist them they enlisted fellow Bay area bretheren Kenny Aaronson and Michael Shrieve. Aaronson had played with early 70's hard rock heroes Dust
, before moving on to Rick Derringer
's band, while Shrieve had played with Santana
, Automatic Man
and more recently Novo Combo
. All four men shared the same management which made things convenient recording wise. The songs were recorded live at a series of concerts in San Francisco, with most of the crowd noise edited out for fear of buyers being turned off by a live album. With Schon at the peak of his success with Journey
and Hagar coming off 'Three Lock Box', anything was possible stylistically. Inevitably, and thankfully, it was an extension of their regular projects.
For the most part 'Through The Fire' is pummeling hard rock with vague shades of metal. In many ways it could be a Hagar solo album with exceptional backing musicians. Like Sammy's solo albums there's always a bit of AOR thrown in. 'Missing You' is the AOR cut here, and along with a boring cover of 'Whiter Shade Of Pale' sounds remarkably out of place. The heavier numbers are what defines HSAS, largely because of it's live setting. 'Top Of The Rock' is a defiant anthem with Schon laying down solid riffs, with memorable lyrics like 'I'm not a business man, I ain't no fast slick talker, but you ask any kid on the street, he'll tell you, I'm a rocker'. 'Animation, 'Valley Of The Kings' and 'Giza' are drawn out epics, basically a chance for Schon to unleash his dexterity. His unmistakable style runs free with some vintage melodic guitar runs. 'Hot And Dirty' and 'He Will Understand' are basic, by the numbers hard rock, perhaps falling short of their own standards. There doesn't seem to be enough of a hook in both to make them stand out numbers. The ferocity of 'My Hometown' makes up for it, this is Schon on fire and a man at the peak of his powers. The riffing is gut level intensity and the solo Schon nails, pushes the boundaries of just how heavy he - and Hagar - were capable of being. This as the final track caps off a mixed album, but an undoubted success. Schon has rarely played with as much grit since.
Strangely two songs that never made the final album were better than almost all the ones selected. At Sammy Hagar's website video clips exist of four live video's taken from one of the gigs. 'Since You Came' and in particular 'In For The Kill' are yet more rampaging classics. 'In For The Kill' would have been a good companion piece to 'My Hometown' with it's hard as nails heavy metal attitude. Why this was not chosen when pointless fluff like 'Whiter Shade Of Pale' was, is open to question. 'Through The Fire' did hit the top fifty and has remained a favourite since. Hagar and Schon allegedly will be teaming up again soon, but it's unlikely to match an 80's piece of class like this. Just watching them on stage back then, still young, energetic and cool, makes one want to turn the clock back.
01 Top Of The Rock
02 Missing You
04 Valley Of The Kings
06 Whiter Shade Of Pale
07 Hot And Dirty
08 He Will Understand
09 My Home Town
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