Various Artists - 1985 Fire In Harmony

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ARTIST: Various Artists
ALBUM: Fire In Harmony
LABEL: Elusive Records
SERIAL: ARRLP 100
YEAR: 1985

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: image

LINEUP: Refer band lineup below.

TRACK LISTING: 01 Pendragon - Fly High, Fall Far * 02 Haze - Shadows * 03 Liaison - A Tale Of You * 04 Trilogy - Hidden Mysteries * 05 Solstice - Peace * 06 Citizen Cain - Unspoken Words * 07 La Host - Blood And Roses * 08 Quasar - Fire In The Sky

Background

At the height of the NWOBPR or the New Wave of British Progressive Rock movement there were two stellar compilations pressed to vinyl that represented the cream of the crop of what was happening in the UK progressively beyond media darlings Marillion, Pallas and IQ.

'Exposure' was a 1986 compilation put together by future Porcupine Tree and current prog superstar Steven Wilson, and was released in micro-quantities and featured the hopelessly obscure Aletsesoida, Pharaon and Christian neophytes Borag Thungg among the better known Abel Ganz and Comedy Of Errors.

Released in micro-quantities, 'Exposure' sold-out quickly but 'Fire in Harmony' which appeared a year earlier on Elusive Records was a tad easier to find due to both its association with Marillion's then manager who set up the label and solid distribution through EMI.

The Songs

Pendragon - Fly High, Fall Far Pendragon's debut EP was released on Elusive so it's appropriate they're first up with a song very reminiscent of '..And Then There Were Three' era-Genesis. They went on to become one of the biggest progressive bands of the 1980s and this is an early indicator of their brilliance to come.

Haze - Shadows
These guys had been around since 1978 and flirted with both hard rock and prog which was fairly typical of much of the neo scene but Haze did it better than most with an underground attitude and on their own terms. As far as I can tell 'Shadows' has never appeared on any other LP or CD but it's a solid tune with a dark classical feel, moving between the serviceable Camel and Genesis sound effortlessly.

Liaison - A Tale Of You
Perennial opening act at the temple of neo prog - The Marquee; Liaison released a couple of cassettes and singles and yet with accolades from Sounds and Kerrang! they never broke out in a big way despite major label attention. 'A Tale Of You' was their last appearance anywhere and for my money, the comps best track.

Trilogy - Hidden Mysteries
I heard an earlier cassette from Trilogy and remember it was very influenced by Rush. That vibe is here as well with a guitarist that clearly worshiped at the altar of Alex Lifeson.

Solstice - Peace
One of the first tapes I bought by mail from Lotus Records (an early supporter of the UK scene) was 1983's 'The Peace Tape' from this band. It featured a different vocalist than this version which appeared on the band's vinyl debut 'Silent Dance' and I'm not sure I like it as much as the original. Still, there was always a hippie 'flowers in our hair' angle to the music of Solstice and Renaissance as well as British folk rock fans will find much to like.

Citizen Cain - Unspoken Words
No question Citizen Cain was influenced by Genesis and Fish-era Marillion. They went on to release several respectable CD's if you can't get enough of this sound.

La Host - Blood And Roses
Formed out of the remnants of Airbridge, drummer Fudge Smith eventually went on to join Pendragon. La Host shared management with Marillion but never went beyond one or two cassettes. The weakest cut here, 'Blood And Roses' later made an appearance in 1994 on the band's long out of print French compilation disc 'Erotic Antiques'.

Quasar - Fire in the Sky
We've already covered the Quasar debut elsewhere on these pages and nothing more to add to that other than to say buy it but avoid their 1989 follow-up 'The Loreli'. A different band and nothing close to the magic found in their early work.

In Summary

I know I wax nostalgic over the early 80's UK scene, probably too often (!) but it was such an exciting time and so much of what was released has yet to be reissued.

While the majority of progressive labels are mired in current prog which is agonizingly melancholic or metalized beyond recognition not to mention endlessly reissuing 'Golden Age' releases whether they be good or bad; the formative years of UK neo progressive rock is still vastly untapped.

Appletwig Cutter, Chou Pahrot, Gothique and Twice Bitten are just a few of the names unknown to most but played an important role in helping to define a musical moment we will never see the likes of again.

'Fire In Harmony' is still easily available and an excellent starting point for the uninitiated.


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