Music Throwback Saturday: Fire

Three songs that are all in my collection called Fire, they are very different pieces of music.

October 9-14 this year is Fire Prevention Week in the US, “established to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire, the tragic 1871 conflagration that killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed more than 17,400 structures and burned more than 2,000 acres. The fire began on October 8, but continued into and did most of its damage on October 9, 1871.”

Each year has a theme. 2016’s theme is Don’t Wait – Check the Date! Replace Smoke Alarms Every 10 Years.

Watching the terrible fires in California, and elsewhere in the western United States, following the severe drought conditions, was sobering. Yet, as is often the case, it also reminded me of music. Specifically of three songs that are all in my collection called Fire, but which are very different pieces of music.

The earliest is a 1968 song, originally credited to Arthur Brown and Vincent Crane, and performed by The Crazy World of Arthur Brown. “The single reached #1 in the UK and in Canada, #2 in the US Billboard charts,” and Top 10 in Germany, France, the Netherlands, Austria, and Ireland.

Though its lack of guitars or bass guitar, relying instead on the Hammond organ, it was considered “an example of the psychedelic rock of the period… Mike Finesilver and Peter Ker successfully sued for co-credit and royalties based on melodic similarities to their song ‘Baby, You’re a Long Way Behind'”, which I’ve never heard. The song was covered on Pete Townshend’s The Iron Man collection.

Fire is ALSO “a hit song by R&B/funk band Ohio Players. The song was the opening track from the album of the same name and hit #1 on both the Billboard Hot 100 and the Hot Soul Singles chart in early 1975. It spent five weeks atop the soul chart. Fire was the Ohio Players’ only entry on the new disco/dance chart, where it peaked at #10. The tune is considered to be the band’s signature song along with Love Rollercoaster.”

Fire is ALSO a song written by Bruce Springsteen in 1977, which did not appear on his June 2, 1978 album release Darkness on the Edge of Town, because of its “inconsistency with Springsteen’s ultimate thematic vision for that album.” But it showed up in the live shows from the period, and as a live single nearly a decade later.

Robert Gordon recorded a version with Link Wray in 1978. But it is the inaugural single by the Pointer Sisters as the trio (Anita, June, and Ruth) that became the big hit: #2 on Billboard Hot 100 (February 1979), #14, and #22 on the magazine’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and Adult Contemporary charts, respectively, and #1 in Belgium, the Netherlands, South Africa, and New Zealand, #3 in Canada, #7 in Australia, and #10 in Austria, plus Top 40 in Germany and the UK.

Listen to

Fire – the Crazy World of Arthur Brown HERE or HERE
Fire – Pete Townsend HERE or HERE

Fire – Ohio Players HERE or HERE (album version, I think)

Fire – Bruce Springsteen HERE or a different take HERE
Fire – Robert Gordon and Link Wray HERE or HERE
Fire – Pointer Sisters HERE or HERE

If I had a ballot for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

What I hope will happen is that they’ll pick the great guitarist Link Wray as an early influence, as they have done in the past with people who have shown up on the ballot, deserve to be enshrined, but who most people never even heard of.

From CNN: “Grunge groundbreakers Nirvana, disco dynamos Chic and the costume-clad, Gene Simmons-led pop metal band KISS are among 16 nominees up for election in the museum’s Class of 2014. The deep selection also includes ’70s and ’80s hitmakers Hall and Oates; college radio heroes the Replacements; New Orleans funkmeisters the Meters; sweet-voiced Linda Ronstadt; and pioneering gangsta rappers N.W.A.

“Completing the list: the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Deep Purple, Peter Gabriel, LL Cool J, Cat Stevens, Link Wray, Yes and the Zombies.”

CBS News adds: “Nirvana, Linda Ronstadt, Peter Gabriel, Hall and Oates, and The Replacements are among first-time nominees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.”

All eligible nominees released their first single or album at least 25 years before the year of nomination.

Fans can vote for up to five artists at and and

I’ve already made it clear that I would vote for Linda Ronstadt. Beyond that, there are probably seven artists for the other four slots. Pretty much a coin flip, my ballot would include:
Chic, which is newly chic, its sound still relevant.
Peter Gabriel, who was not only commercially successful in the 1980s, but put out great albums before that; if for the song Biko alone, which codified understanding of apartheid to the western world, he’d be deserving. I have a LOT of PG.
Hall & Oates, who not only had massive commercial success over a lengthy period – I am an unapologetic fan – but also are great proponents of music to this day. And though it ought not to matter in this context, I really love Daryl Hall’s solo album Sacred Songs.
Yes, in part as a paean to progressive rock, in hopes that King Crimson gets a nod next time out.

What I hope will happen is that they’ll pick the great guitarist Link Wray as an early influence, as they have done in the past with people who have shown up on the ballot, deserve to be enshrined, but who most people never even heard of.

The Meters, which helped beget The Neville Brothers, was essentially the house band for Allen Toussaint and played on a lot of other people’s albums, so I’m hoping that they’ll get picked in the sidemen category, as Leon Russell did a couple of years ago.

My other pick in these fan ballots was Butterfield, whose three Bs (Butterfield, Mike Bloomfield, Elvin Bishop) were also individually important in rock

Not picking Nirvana, on their first ballot, who will get in anyway. I like them well enough; have three or four of their albums and their sound defined the early 1990s.
Hope the Replacements get in someday – it was their first year as well.
I had quite a bit of Cat Stevens in the day, and I’d pick him if there weren’t people I preferred.
Have the greatest hits of the Zombies, and I’m just not sure a few hits plus one great album warrants the band’s inclusion.
I know N.W.A. is massively influential, despite its limited output, but not feeling it yet.
Never cared for KISS.
Loved the hits of Deep Purple, but guess I don’t know the oeuvre well enough to decide if they merit inclusion.
Know LL Cool J better as an actor than a musician.

Which five artists would YOU vote for?

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