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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!

Cases of terminal earnestness pop up now and then, and this could be one. A folk-rock band that doesn't seem to know such a thing as irony exists is theoretically capable, at this late date, of being good, I suppose, but it is a lot more likely to be taken as camp. Rick Roberts, the most familiar name here, has had at least one song ("Colorado") pushed by people with big names, but you can't help comparing the ones he wrote here to "It Doesn't Matter," which Stephen Stills and Chris Hillman helped him write. That one, the album's best, has a snap to it the others don't have. Larry Burnett's songs (except for "Cinderella," which dares to be different, at least in a gimmicky sort of way) are generally a little more determinedly mundane than Roberts' are. Mostly, the material doesn't seem to want to be noticed -- which of course means you'll find yourself thinking of nothing else. The band's way of playing is clean and flexible, and the vocals are good enough; you'd swear these chaps have more music in them than went into the making of these songs

- Noel Coppage, Stereo Review, 9/76.

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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