STYLE: Pop RATING OUR PRODUCT CODE: 28816-13143 LABEL: Myrrh MYRR6878 FORMAT: 12 inch vinyl Album
Reviewed by Mike Rimmer
When The Imperials were formed they were one of the hundreds of groups of harmonisers singing southern gospel. But, down the years numerous personnel changes and the chance to replace the Jordanaires in backing Elvis Presley in the late '60s saw The Imperials music evolve until, by the time of this album in 1987, they were one of the leading acts in the emergent contemporary Christian music. Their previous album had taken them in a rockier direction and they'd lost fans so for 'Free The Fire' they returned to a poppier sound, although it was still infused with plenty of slick, '80s production from Bill Schnee and several of the tracks here sounded more than a bit like a black R&B group. The line up of this particular Imperials included Jimmie Lee Sloas and not surprisingly, considering his reputation as a top Nashville bass player, his slap bass work here is exemplary. From "One" which is dripping with cool sax riffs to the opening title track with its robust pop rock sounds and catchy chorus and the groovy "Higher Things" with the Nashville '80s pop sound, this album proves that there was life left in the old dog yet, even after 25 years! The standout track for me is their version of the prayerful ballad "Better Than I Know Myself" (yes, the Cliff oldie) where they really let the harmonies float beautifully.
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