After the Fire

  • After the Fire
  • Signs of Change (UK Rapid) 1978 
  • Laser Love (UK CBS) 1979 
  • 80-F (UK Epic) 1980 
  • ATF (Epic) 1982 
  • Batteries Not Included (UK CBS) 1982 
  • Der Kommissar (UK CBS) 1982 

This smart foursome from East London and Essex update traditional Anglo-rock values. Think of the sonic characteristics of Queen, Supertramp, Yes, 10cc and then (before you puke) imagine a composite that’s too young, irreverent and modest to get bogged down in excessive soloing and flash for flash’s sake, too full of beans to sit still for ponderous epics or pompous pronunciations. That’s After the Fire.

Unfortunately, after perking up A&R ears with a do-it-yourself debut LP, the band was shunted from one producer to another, despite chart action on its first UK CBS 45, “One Rule for You.” Laser Love and 80-F display a moderately talented, promising band trying its hand at a number of approaches (even ’80s Ventures-cum-guitar’n’synth) with results never less — but rarely more — than decent.

By Batteries Not Included, though, the group’s obvious melodic capabilities, effervescent playing and frequently tongue-in-cheek attitude were most profitably harnessed by Queen/Sparks producer Mack. Instruments mesh cleverly over a snappy drum line while the harmonies (even football shouts) nicely complete the picture on consistently strong songs.

The last two LPs are compilations. The band’s sole domestic issue, ATF, stresses more commercial programming and chunky stop-star rhythms (this is a band that has no use for 4/4 backbeats); Der Kommissar ranges further afield to better results, save the omission of “One Rule for You.” Both contain the English-language version of Falco’s funky “Der Kommissar,” which was a hit for the group in 1983.

[Jim Green]