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Firefall
Atlantic SD 18174
Released: April 1976
Chart Peak: #28
Weeks Charted: 67
Certified Gold: 11/3/76

Formed in Boulder, Colorado, this aspiring "supergroup" unites ex-Burrito Brothers singer/guitarist Rick Roberts and ace drummer Michael Clarke of the original Byrds with bassist Mark Andes (from Spirit and Jo Jo Gunne), lead guitarist Jock Bartley (from Gram Parson's first post-Burrito Brothers band) and newcomer Larry Burnett.

Writers and lead vocalists Roberts and Burnett limn Firefall's style -- a pleasant, less sophisticated variant of Crosby, Stills and Nash. Acoustically based, with tasteful electric guitar fills and precise multiple vocals, their sound unfortunately lacks the fiery steel guitar that most groups of this type rely on for textural color. While Firefall's playing is impeccable, its expressive value is limited. As on his solo albums, Roberts's voice is too blandly pretty and his phrasing too meticulous to convey much emotion. Not surprisingly, Burnett, a Roberts protégé, exhibits the same tendencies.

Firefall - Firefall
Original album advertising art.
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Firefall makes the mistake common to many bands of its ilk by producing material that is merely functional. Their songs are hackneyed clichés, occasionally interrupted by gaffes in diction, as in Burnett's "Cinderella": "With a tear in her eye and a sigh on her breath lord she said, 'hon I'm heavy with child.'" A revival of Stills-Hillman-Roberts's "It Doesn't Matter" is the album's only better-than-passable composition.

- Stephen Holden, Rolling Stone, 7/1/76.




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Bonus Reviews!

Another group with members that are not technically first timers, but this is its first in this incarnation. Rick Roberts (vocals, guitar) and drummer Michael Clarke are both veterans of the Byrds, the Flying Burrito Brothers, and they bring a country/rock sound to this project. Generally midtempo material here, with easy to listen to harmony vocals and mild instrumental tracks. Production could have used a bit more punch in spots, as could the vocals. Still, a collection of pretty songs in this genre seems to be a marketable commodity these days, particularly when two of the five group members have "names." Best cuts: "It Doesn't Matter," "Cinderella." "You Are The Woman," "Do What You Want."

- Billboard, 1976.

This debut effort, their best album, includes the hits "You Are the Woman" and "Cinderella." * * * *

- Rick Clark, The All-Music Guide to Rock, 1995.

Firefall is the best of Firefall's albums, although it's nearly fatally flawed by some really dumb songs such as "Cinderella," "No Way Out" and "Sad Ol' Love Song" (all written by the machismo-stricken Larry Burnett). * *

- Gil Asakawa, Musichound Rock: The Essential Album Guide, 1996.

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