Ishmael – It’s Amazin’ What Praisin’ Can Do – 1978

This album has been floating around the internet claiming that this album was recorded with After The Fire (ATF). I decided I wanted to get to the bottom of the story and talked with Peter Banks about this album. Here is the true story. John Pantry was producing the album and had booked Peter Banks to do some keyboard work for the album. Ishmael consequently asked if ATF could come into the studio as session players. John Pantry asked Peter if this was possible and Peter and ATF agreed to step in to help with the album. The version of ATF at the time was Andy Piercy, Ian Adamson, Robin Childs, and Peter Banks. So the internet story is relatively correct. Okay now that we’ve set the record straight (see what I did there?) lets talk about the album. To be clear this album is the amalgamation of 2 of my top 5 favourite Christian artists and I was excited to give it a listen and I wasn’t disappointed. It is done in Ishmael’s style but you can get a feel of ATF in the background. Peter’s keyboards are very distinctive and you can tell a mile away it is him. Unfortunately in the 80’s we simply didn’t know anything about ATF except Der Kommissar or Ishmael other that Ishmael United due to where we lived. I simply wish I could go back and enjoy those days when their music was fresh but I’m delighted to hear it now.

1 – When Revival Hits Our Town – 3:57
2 – Praise Away – 4:10
3 – It’s Amazin’ What Praisin’ Can Do – 2:28
4 – Soul Man – 2:24
5 – I Will Sing A Song Unto The Lord – 1:07
6 – Martyr’s Praise Song – 2:26
7 – Who Is He In Yonder Stall – 8:30
8 – Benedictus – 4:33
9 – Lord Army/Prayer Force – 4:55
10 – Song Of Emmanuel – 3:09
11 – Jesus Christ Is Risen Today – 3:01
12 – Kiss The Hand Of Jesus – 7:10
13 – We Are Coming To His House – 3:51

Ishmael – Vocals, Acoustic Guitar
Andy Piercy – Acoustic Guitar
Ian Adamson – Drums
Robin Childs – Bass
Peter Banks – Keyboards, Electric Guitar
John Pantry – Producer

Companies, etc.
Published By – Thankyou Music
Published By – Word

After The Fire – Batteries Not Included – 1982

While this album always lifts my spirits while I listen to it then I remember that this was it from the 80’s version of After The Fire. I’m not going on a long diatribe about why the band broke up as quite frankly I don’t think those types of reviews are fair as we weren’t in the band and we don’t know. In the end when these things happen I just prefer to say, “That’s Rock & Roll folks.” I spoke briefly with Peter about this album and he refereed to it saying “Batteries was our favourite album, despite it being short lived!”. There is some wrong information out there on this album so I will clarify. The singles were Rich Boys and Frozen Rivers and a music video was produced for Rich Boys. There is some info out there that Dancing In The Shadows was a single but it actually wasn’t, at least not in relation to this album. It was released as a single for the American release of the album Der Kommissar. The album did not do that well which is entirely baffling to me but again I just don’t agree with the choice of singles. To my 80’s DJ ears “Sometimes” is the obvious single. What do you think? Anyway love the band, love the album and luckily for us this would not be the last we heard from them, but it would take quite a few years. Album trivia…. there were versions of this album that used the album cover that would actually later be used on the U.S. release of Der Kommissar.

1 – Short Change – 3:19
2 – Frozen Rivers – 3:36
3 – Sometimes – 3:08
4 – Sailing Ship – 3:57
5 – I Don´t Understand Your Love – 2:53
6 – The Stranger – 2:50
7 – Rich Boys – 3:02
8 – Carry Me Home – 4:14
9 – Dancing In The Shadows – 3:02
10 – Space Walking – 3:17
11 – Gina – 1:39
12 – Stuck In Paris (Nowhere To Go) – 2:45
13 – Bright Lights – 3:36

Bass – Andy Piercy
Design [Cover] – Carlos Sapochnik
Drums – Pete King
Guitar – John Russell
Keyboards – Peter Memory Banks
Management – AMP Management
Mastered By – Reinhold Mack, Nick Webb
Mixed By [Assisted], Engineer [Assisted], Programmed By [Extra Synthesizers] – Stefan Wissnet
Photography By [Back Cover Photo] – Peter Hince
Producer, Mixed By, Engineer – Reinhold Mack

Companies, etc.
Phonographic Copyright ℗ – CBS Records
Copyright © – CBS Records
Published By – Heath Levy Music Co. Ltd.
Produced At – Musicland Studios
Mixed At – Musicland Studios
Engineered At – Musicland Studios
Mastered At – Abbey Road Studios
Pressed By – CBS, Haarlem – 01-85135

Andy Piercy – Free Heat – 1983

After the official breakup of After The Fire Andy Piercy hit the studio for a solo album with Producer John Eden. They had some material left over from the final days of ATF so that’s where they started. The album was to be called Free Heat which was an anagram of After The Fire, with the missing letters creating the word “rift”. Musicians who worked on the album with Piercy and Mal Pope included Roger Taylor (Queen), Henry Spinetti & Bob Jenkins – drums, John Giblin & Andy – bass, Alan Murphy & John Russell – guitar, Adrian Lee – keys. Mal Pope and John Russell both did some backing vocals. CBS released “8 Ball in the Top Pocket” (b-side “Deep Waters Still Run”) as a single and it did not get any airplay. They also pressed an extended version of the single but they ditched it before the release though some copies did sneak out. Work on the album had begun to get difficult as the demos were not turning into the tracks Piercy wished for. Then towards the end of recording, the producer, John Eden, told Piercy that he “didn’t like” any of the styles, bands or writers he was aspiring to. The whole project was dropped by CBS and was never released. Piercy recalls “I think they could have been good but I now realize I didn’t get the production help and direction I needed at the time.” Okay that’s enough of the history lesson so now my opinion. The choice of “8 Ball In The Top Pocket” was absolutely the wrong choice. Then they put “Deep Waters Still Run” on the B side which was even a worse decision. Everyone involved in the project knew the single was “Stop Go” followed up by “We Gotta Get Out Of This Place” but CBS didn’t care what all the talent thought. Now as for the album as a whole I actually think I agree with Andy that there were production problems. Normally this is where I would scream and yell about the mix but in this case it’s not the mix that is the problem. Actually I think the production is fantastic BUT the problem is that the tracks were mixed in different styles. I feel that there is 3 distinctly different sounds here. I think they’re all good but the album doesn’t have that continuity that great albums have. That said I believe producer John Eden did a good job but it just didn’t work out. One last gripe was the choice of the album name being a negative attitude towards After The Fire. In my opinion that just wasn’t called for or appropriate and knowing that Andy and Peter Banks were still trying to be friends it was in poor taste.

1 – Stop Go – 4:36
2 – We Gotta Get Out Of This Place – 4:44
3 – Terry – 6:20
4 – Young Love – 4:32
5 – Deep Waters Still Run – 4:13
6 – 8 Ball In The Top Pocket – 5:04
7 – Break Out – 4:53
8 – One Down For The Highway – 4:12
9 – Jewel In The Night – 4:52
10 – 4th Street Room 101 – 4:23

Artwork By [Design] – Roslav
Backing Vocals – Mal Pope, John Russell
Bass – John Giblin, Andy Piercy
Drums – Roger Taylor, Heny Spinetti, Bob Jenkins
Guitar – Alan Murphy, John Russell
Keyboards – Adrian Lee
Photography By – Eric Watson
Producer – Andy Piercy, John Eden
Vocals – Andy Piercy

After the Fire – 80f – Original Mix Version – Acetate – 1980

I’ll start off by explaining what this is. It is taken from the original acetate recording/mix for the 80-f album. This is the version that was produced by Tony Mansfield (no relation) and ultimately rejected by CBS records. CBS had the band go to Germany with ex-Fly’s drummer Peter King, to re-record the album. It was remixed and reproduced by Reinhold Mack. Three songs were killed (Another World / Operator / Satellite In Orbit) and three new songs were added (Wild West Show / Why Can’t We Be Friends / Joanne). I am guessing that some of you are intentionally reading this review just to hear me lose my mind and I will not disappoint. Exactly what the suits at CBS were thinking completely mystifies me. I mean had they even listened to the 2 Cars albums that had come out at this point and were dominating the charts. ATF were exactly as good if not better than The Cars and this mix was exactly that sound that was dominating the charts. Furthermore what was wrong with Nick Brotherwood’s drumming? The drum track on this album is dead on and absolutely perfect. Tony nailed this mix and we had a 3 or 4 single album here. In the end we are blessed that this version leaked and we want to thank friend of the channel Randy Layton (Alternative Records) for getting us a copy of what was probably going to be one of the top albums of 1980. Instead CBS dumbed it down and destroyed it. SIGH

1 – Starlight – 4:24
2 – High Fashion – 3:18
3 – Another World – 3:36
4 – Can You face It? – 3:20
5 – Operator – 3:45
6 – Love Will Always Make You Cry – 4:00
7 – 1980-F – 2:37
8 – Satellite In Orbit – 3:18
9 – Who’s Gonna Love You – 4:21
10 – Billy, Billy – 4:30

Bass, Lead Vocals – Andy Piercy
Drums – Nick Brotherwood
Keyboards – Peter Memory Banks
Lead Guitar – John Russell
Producer, Engineer – Tony Mansfield

Companies, etc.
Lacquer Cut At – Tape One

After The Fire – 80-f – 1980

This album has a bit of an interesting backstory. Before this album Ivor Twidell left the band to work on a solo project and the band had Nick Brotherwood (Alwyn Wall Band) step in on drums. They recorded it at Utopia Studios and Tony Mansfield mixed and produced the album. It was presented and subsequently rejected by CBS records. CBS sent them back to a studio in Germany with ex-Fly’s drummer Peter King and producer Reinhold Mack. They reworked the album dropping 4 tracks and added 3, Wild West Show, Why Can’t We Be Friends, and Joanne. Somehow in all this confusion Epic Records ended up releasing the newly recorded album. Now here’s where it gets really interesting. In 1982 after the band had split Epic released a compilation album but used the Nick Brotherwood versions of Love Will Always Make You Cry, Starflight, and 1980-F. Anyway now I’ll give my opinion of the album. Bottom line CBS wrecked it. The 3 tracks they added are the 3 weakest tracks on the album. I have heard bits and pieces of Tony Mansfield’s production it was far superior. Tony knew the sound the band was trying to achieve and was able to mix it to that sound. Instead this album is poorly mixed and produced by Reinhold Mack and completely misses what the band was trying to record. Unfortunately I can only assume this didn’t help the morale of the band and probably contributed to the band splitting in 1982. ON a high note the album has one of the greatest songs of all time “Who’s Gonna Love You When You’re Old And Fat And Ugly?”

1 – 1980-F – 2:32
2 – Love Will Always Make You Cry – 3:30
3 – Can You Face It? – 3:15
4 – Who’s Gonna Love You (When You’re Old And Fat And Ugly?) – 4:05
5 – Starflight – 4:13
6 – Wild West Show – 3:30
7 – Billy, Billy – 4:40
8 – It’s High Fashion – 3:07
9 – Why Can’t We Be Friends? – 2:46
10 – Joanne – 4:10

Bass, Vocals – Andy Piercy
Drums – Pete King
Engineer – Pete Hammond
Guitar, Backing Vocals – John Russell
Mastered By – Kevin Metcalf
Producer [Backing Track] – Tony Mansfield
Producer, Mixed By, Engineer – Reinhold Mack
Synthesizer, Backing Vocals – Peter “Memory” Banks

Companies, etc.
Phonographic Copyright ℗ – CBS Records
Produced At – Utopia Studios
Mixed At – Utopia Studios
Engineered At – Utopia Studios
Published By – Heath Levy Music Co. Ltd.

After The Fire – Radio Sessions 1979 – 1981 – 2009

Apparently After The Fire played 3 years in a row at the BBC Paris Theatre, London, England. Luckily these appearances were recorded but they stayed on a shelf somewhere until Angel Air Records released them in 2009. You can buy the CD on their website below. ATF were an excellent live band and this is a great release. Thank you Angel Air Records.

1 – Joy – 3:17
2 – A Little Sun, A Little Rain – 3:11
3 – Laser Love – 3:05
4 – Time To Think – 3:31
5 – One Rule For You – 3:15
6 – Suspended Animation – 4:52
7 – Check It Out – 3:06
8 – Like The Power Of A Jet – 2:50
1980 In Concert
9 – Laser Love – 3:26
10 – Life In The City – 4:04
11 – Can You Face It? – 3:50
12 – Who’s Gonna Love You? – 4:14
13 – Billy Billy – 6:07
1981 In Concert
14 – Frozen Rivers – 4:06
15 – Dancing In The Shadows – 2:53
16 – Sailing Ship – 3:39
17 – Bright Lights – 4:09
18 – Take Me Higher – 7:06
19 – Starlight – 5:03

Iva Twydell – Duel – 1982

If you were like me and was yearning for more from After The Fire then this album could be one for you. Iva Twydell is actually Ivor Twidell, the drummer of After The Fire. He was joined by fellow ATF member Nick Battle who played bass and produced the album. The album was financed by Redsky music who released it in The UK and New Zealand. It was also released in Canada on license by Tunesmith Records. The album is very Synth heavy and those duties were handeled by Anthony Phillips who was actually the original guitarist for Geneses. This is rather odd as I can’t find that Anthony was ever involved in any other Christian project. Anyway this is a great album and if you like ATF then you will likely enjoy this album even if it doesn’t have Peter Banks on vocals.

1 – The Man Inside – 3:37
2 – The Warning – 3:20
3 – Teaching Me The Hard Way – 3:43
4 – See No, Hear No, Speak No Evil – 3:58
5 – Final Fuse – 4:27
6 – Decline And Fall – 4:17
7 – Hear Me – 3:36
8 – Addicted – 3:03
9 – Get It Right – 2:58
10 – Abdication Day – 4:06

Backing Vocals – Annie McCaig, Colin Blunstone, Mo Turner
Drum Machine Programming – Richard Scott
Electric Guitar, Bass Guitar – Nick Battle
Synthesiser, Keyboards, Acoustic & Electric Guitars, Bass Guitar – Anthony Phillips
Vocals, Synthesiser, Electric Guitar, Percussion – Iva Twydell

Ishmael – The Charge Of The Light Brigade – 1975

I know you’ve always said I wish Ishmael United did an album with After The Fire. OK no one ever actually said that but here it is anyway. This is a fantastic album. It has that quirky Ishmael sound a lot of us would grow to love. You probably never heard of this album but there’s a reason. As explained by Ken Scott (The Archivist by Ken Scott, 4th Edition)…

“Probably one of the most controversial Ishmael albums and banned from a large chain of Christian bookshops due to the song content. The lyrics graphically announced of the dangers of occult, the stupidity of preaching to seagulls and the problems of Church unity. Oh yes, and the first and last album that is likely to contain a song called ‘I am just a Charismatic’. The Ishmael ‘dry humour’ which was added to help lighten some of the subject matter proved to be very unfunny to the less jovial Christians of the day.”

Well that explains that. Low and behold it has a Rock & Roll song., “Sixth Virgin” which id a style we never heard from Ishmael or ATF for that matter. Personally my favourite track is the ballad “Spiritual Stagnation” which was years ahead in it’s styling, remember it was 1975.

1 – Charge Of The Light Brigade – 3:40
2 – Spiritual Stagnation – 4:21
3 – Mission To Seagulls – 3:21
4 – Simon And The Gypsy – 3:12
5 – I Am Just A Charismatic – 2:50
6 – Laodecean Church – 3:18
7 – Christian Straitjacket – 3:18
8 – Sixth Virgin – 3:32
9 – King Of Glory – 5:10
10 – Amen And Praise De Lord – 5:20

Design – Dave Gillard (2), Geoff Gillard
Songwriter – Ian (alias Ishmael)
Band – After The Fire

Companies, etc.
Published By – Thankyou Music – 1975
Published By – Word (Uk) Ltd. – 1975
Pressed By – Tranco Limited
Designed At – Gillard Bros Graphics

After the Fire – Signs of Change – 1978

After Peter “Memory” Banks Narnia project he changed gears and headed to secular music. This 1978 project was self produced and distributed and the original 2000 copies sold out in 2 weeks despite no distribution. The only band members that didn’t survived this version of After The Fire to the next version was bass player Nick Battle who was replaced with Narnia Bassist John Russell. When I refer to “This Version” it is because this album has a sound that did not continue on in their future very successful albums. It has a progressive rock sound that is actually very well done but I think they were catching the tail end of this sound so their subsequent switch to a New Wave/Pop sound for their next album was well timed. This album was re-released in 2004 by Roughmix Records with 4 Bonus Tracks.

1 – Dance Of The Marionette – 7:00
2 – Back To The Light – 4:00
3 – Now That I’ve Found – 8:10
4 – Signs Of Change – 8:04
5 – Jigs – 2:58
6 – Pilgrim – 11:22

Bass Guitar – Nick Battle
Design – Steve Bamford
Drums – Ivor Twidell
Guitar – Andy Piercy
Keyboards – “Memory” Banks
Mastered By – BilBo (3)
Vocals – Andy Piercy

Companies, etc.
Made By – Garrod & Lofthouse Ltd.
Printed By – Garrod & Lofthouse Ltd.

Narnia – Aslan Is Not A Tame Lion – 1974

Before there was “After The Fire” there was Narnia. Tim Hatwell, Peter Memory Banks, and John Russell all seem to have started here. Lead singing duties were handed over to Pauline Filby who had released a solo album in 1969. Now don’t think you are going to hear a version of ATF here because you’re not going to. This is a straight out Jesus Music album and Pauline’s singing in no way resembles anything ATF ever did. This album has very strong vocals and though sometimes they seem a little strangely performed it all works well after a few listenings. It’s always nice to go back to the roots of 80’s bands but sometimes those roots will leave you a little confused.

1 – You’d Better Believe It – 3:12
2 – Muddy Ground – 3:52
3 – The Juggler – 3:51
4 – Agape – 5:49
5 – To A Fountain – 3:19
6 – Miracle Of Birth – 4:08
7 – In The Forest – 3:03
8 – Boogie For Narnia – 2:37
9 – Living Water – 5:41

Bass Guitar, Acoustic Guitar – Tim Hatwell
Design [Sleeve Design] – Bernard A. Cope
Drums, Percussion, Vocals – Kenneth ‘Ginger’ Dixon
Engineer – Nick Sykes, Robin Thompson
Keyboards, Acoustic Guitar – Peter Banks
Lead Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Recorder, Vocals – John Russell (7)
Producer – Tony Hooper
Vocals – Pauline Filby
Written-By – Welch (tracks: A1), Tom Paxton (tracks: A1)
Written-By, Arranged By – Narnia (2) (tracks: A2 to B5), Pauline Filby (tracks: A2 to B5)

Companies, etc.
Copyright (c) – United Artists Music Ltd.
Copyright (c) – World Music (UK)