STYLE: Rock RATING OUR PRODUCT CODE: 12434-1824 LABEL: Independent FORMAT: CD Album ITEMS: 1
Reviewed by Mike Rimmer
The first time I ever heard this album I was at a ceilidh run by the Methodist Society at Newcastle Uni in the summer of 1978 a few weeks after I'd become a Christian. It was played during the break for food. I remember asking someone whether it was Genesis or Yes or something of that ilk and discovered it was something called After The Fire! There was also excitement amongst this bunch of Methodists that the band had been booked to play Reading Festival. Now more than 25 years later the album has finally seen its way onto CD! There will be tears shed amongst 40 and 50 somethings at the news. In fact my mate Martin had just forked out £30 for a vinyl copy of this on Ebay and DID cry when I told him it had come out on CD! Ho hum! It's recognised as a classic and I hadn't listened to it for years so hearing these tunes took me straight back to being a teenager and were at once familiar and nostalgic. This was an independent recording in 1977 at ICC studios in an attempt to get the band a mainstream record detail. The band had never really gone for the Christian labels. However they found themselves recording seven and eight minute epic pieces with superb musicianship and songwriting at the time that punk was sweeping aside dinosaur rock like this and the band found themselves deeply unfashionable even though both John Peel and Alan Freeman gave this play on Radio 1. It was an immediate fan favourite though and shows off Andy Piercy when he was guitarist with the band and the amazing talents of keyboardist Pete Banks. Tracks like "Back To The Light", "Dance Of The Marionette" and the title cut are propelled along by Ivor Twydell's drums (that bass drum does sound a little like a cardboard box at times!) and Nick Battle's bass (soon to exit the band after recording this to join Writz). But it's the epic "Pilgrim" which is the highlight here based on Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress. Years after the band had changed styles shortened the length of their songs to a more fashionable three minutes and signed to CBS, diehard fans would shout for "Pilgrim" during quiet moments in their live shows! It is a fine piece of prog rock though! Sadly it's doubtful that the reformed ATF will play any of this at their gigs. However with three bonus cuts of earlier material of variable sound quality and a demo of "Back To The Light", this is a must for any ATF fan and it's great to have it on CD! Now bring on the double CD of their CBS material!
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