An English power trio who teetered on the brink between bubbly psych-pop and prog-rock ambition, Fire are probably best known for their endearing 1968 nugget "Father's Name Is Dad," a single that, despite being released twice and having the promotional backing of the Beatles' Apple Publishing, somehow failed to chart. Over the decades that followed, the song's riffy appeal and quirky title helped turn it into a cult classic and a staple of many late-'60s psych-pop compilations. Likewise, the group's only full-length release, a 1970 concept album called The Magic Shoemaker, also became a highly sought-after prize for ardent crate diggers and, prior to its reissue, could fetch a hefty price tag. Compiled and richly summarized here by Grapefruit Records is every known Fire recording from their early demos as Friday's Chyld to their unexpected 2006 reunion concert. Fire enthusiasts will already know that the band's driving force was Dave Lambert, a singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist who, after disbanding Fire in 1970, joined up with the Strawbs, with whom he has remained intermittently for a half-century. Joining Lambert were bassist Dick DuFall and drummer Bob Voice, forming a rather solid combo who could sing, write, and do nearly everything but land a hit. Underneath loony late-'60s offerings like "Treacle Toffee World" and "Man in a Teapot" are an able and sometimes muscular outfit who, despite their disappointing commercial results, were able to channel their ambitions into an entertaining 1970 full-length about a magical shoemaker. In spirit, Fire's lone album somewhat resembles Mark Wirtz' deeply charming A Teenage Opera from the same era, though it's quite a bit heavier and a little hairier at times. When Lambert convinced his two bandmates to reunite and perform The Magic Shoemaker complete with live narration in 2006, they dusted the piece off pretty well, even if the orchestral synth presets on "Overture (To a Shoemaker)" sound a bit too much like Christopher Guest's fictional Red, White, and Blaine overture from his brilliant 1997 community theater comedy Waiting for Guffman. The fact that such a cult act pulled off such an ambitious reunion at all is impressive, and of course it too is included here in its entirety. Fire may not be one of their era's (or even their genre's) essential bands, but there is plenty here to enjoy on what is clearly their definitive statement.
Father's Name Is Dad: The Complete Fire Review
by Timothy Monger
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2
Track Listing - Disc 3