By JAY ROBERTS
The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.
FIREHOUSE – HOLD YOUR FIRE (1992)
In another example of it being true confession time I have to admit that I’ve never really cared for Firehouse. However, I will say that it is pretty much down to the fact that on their self-titled debut album the band had that overly syrupy sweet diabetic coma inducing ballad “Love Of A Lifetime”. I know that the song is probably their biggest hit but for me, who lacks an overabundance of romantic sensibilities, the song made me want to just hurl. It was such a musical turnoff for me that I never bothered to listen to anything else the band ever did. Truth be told, it took me a few weeks after pulling Hold Your Fire out of the “Big Box of Cassettes” to work up the desire to finally pop the cassette in my player. I just was fearful of having to suffer through an overabundance of lovey-dovey songs.
Thankfully however, I have to say that aside from the two ballads (“When I Look Into Your Eyes” and “Hold The Dream”), songs that had me rolling my eyes, the band’s second album is actually rather entertaining. Seriously, I really enjoyed most of the album’s twelve tracks. With the majority of the songs written by singer C.J. Snare and guitarist Bill Leverty, there was a quite pleasing rocking vibe with a lot of musically aggressive melodic hooks to really catch your ear.
I know this won’t be any kind of a surprise to people who have been fans of the band for the last three decades but bear with me for this new-to-me musical discovery.
The gold certified album opens with the single “Reach For The Sky”, a musically upbeat rocker that really set the tone for my overall enjoyment of the release. “Sleeping With You” had a nice swinging hook to it and “Get In Touch” was rather strong too. My favorite song on the first side of the album however would have to have been “You’re Too Bad”. The song is a knockout rocker and I think it has a slightly gritter sound to it which made it just that much more appealing to me.
When you flip the cassette over to side two, the rock just about never stops. The album’s title track and songs like “Talk Of The Town” and “Mama Didn’t Raise No Fool” get the energy turned up high.
I think the track “Life In The Real World” serves as the most musically intense track for the entire album. The song had such a killer bent to it musically that I just found myself humming along and rocking out a bit to it.
As for the song “The Meaning Of Love”, if you hadn’t heard it before you’d think the song title itself would mean “here comes another ballad”. You’d be wrong, at least in part. While listening to the lyrics, they are clearly written with a more ballad driven tone to it. But since the song was another of the album’s over the top fast tracks, I found that the song worked far better than it would’ve as a straight up pedestrian power ballad. And maybe that’s part of why I seem to hate a lot of ballads from when metal ruled the world. The slow pacing of the songs just never seem to work all that well. Or maybe they just don’t hold up that well with the passage of time.
Whatever the reasoning on that account, I have to take it back to my generalized opinion on this album. After FINALLY listening to a Firehouse album, I am surprised to find myself writing the following words. I really liked this album. Hold Your Fire, with my aforementioned reservations about the ballads, holds up quite well some 26 years after its initial release.
It does its job so well that I’m actually a bit miffed at myself for not listening to this one sooner (or way back then) because the band played in my area a few months back and I didn’t go. After hearing this album, I think I would’ve had myself a great time at the show. So yes, this is a vastly entertaining album and perhaps I need to re-evaluate my overall opinion of the band as a whole.
NOTE OF INTEREST: Hold Your Fire was the last Firehouse album to have any kind of sales success in the US, but the band remained popular in Asia, Europe and South America for a far longer period of time.
Bassist Perry Richardson was out of the band as of 2000. He went on to play bass for country singers Trace Adkins and Craig Morgan. He joined Stryper, replacing Tim Gaines, in 2017.