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Under Fire: Under Fire (expanded/remaster)

Through the likes of Blackthorne, Murderer’s Row, Alcatrazz and the Warrior/Vinnie Vincent demos, Cherry Red/HNE have in recent times been thoroughly investigating the discography of respected melodic rock keyboard stalwart Jimmy Waldo (possibly best loved for being in New England) and with this Under Fire reissue, they continue to dig ever deeper. Released in 1989, this self-titled album was the brain-child of Waldo and Carl Sharaf, the guitar-force on Tale Of The Tape and Don’t Say No breakout albums by Billy Squier. Initially the pair had come together more just to write some songs and jam out ideas, but with Sharaf ‘having the offer’ to make a record, he and Waldo decided to form a band; quickly recruiting singer Moki Demarco, drummer Steve Schwartz and bassist Greg Wise to thrash out their very ‘of the time’ melodic rock ideas. Under Fire eventually signed to the small and, according to Waldo in the Malcolm Dome penned liner notes, ‘a little on the shady side’, record label Encore, which went a long way to burying the results when they were released.

Waldo also details in the liner notes the inner band negotiations regarding song writing credits he and Sharaf carried out and it has to be said it makes for candid, compassionate reading and is a side to things not often covered in a CD booklet. What is, however, missing from the interesting notes/interview is much detail about the music itself. Admittedly Under Fire only played one live show - and even that was financed by themselves because they couldn’t let the band pass without hitting the stage at least once - but there’s little background beyond that. Something that proves all the more frustrating when it comes to the bonus disc.

The album itself is exactly what you’d expect from a late 80s melodic rocker, with flecks of Journey evident in what is a keyboard heavy mix - so much so that it is, as Waldo also puts into question, hard to believe that the songs came mainly from guitar man Sharaf. However,“Love You One More Time” does contain an urgent biting riff that makes it hard not to like, while “Heart In Pain” is a soaring heart tugger that could have, with the right push, been a minor hit back in the day. In truth however, there’s little here that truly suggests that Under Fire had what it took to stand out from the crowd and while Demarco’s presence behind the mic is seriously strong in a Joe Lynn Turner meets Clyde Holly (Biloxi) kind of way, the cliched lyrics and slightly undercooked songs meant he was swimming against the tide. Although there’s also no denying that there are many albums that were far less inspiring than this that propelled bands into super stardom.

Sadly Under Fire quickly disintegrated, something not too surprising when Waldo also explains that he was burning his candle at both ends by writing, recording and performing with Quiet Riot at the same time as this album was being put together - often stripping down and rebuilding his entire keyboard rig twice a day as he flitted between sessions. The Quiet Riot album in question was QR, the sole, underrated, Paul Shortino fronted release from the band, which maybe goes a long way to explaining why it is he who sings on two of the songs on this reissues’ bonus disc of demos; “Strangers” and “Where Were You” given a completely different slant by the rich, gritty voice of Shortino. And it’s difficult not to wonder firstly, how the singer came to be involved and secondly what might have happened if the collaboration had become more permanent. The other six tracks feature Demarco, and again he too is excellent, if less hard hitting, as “Get It Right”, “Long & Lonely Nights” and “I Can’t Tell You Why” come dangerously close to outshining what was contained on the main album.

In essence that would seem to be the Under Fire story - one full, slightly under achieving album that never really had a chance and a set of unexplained demos. Acolytes of Waldo and New England (of which there are many) will be delighted to finally get a good sounding, legitimate copy of this release, and there’s no doubt that there will also be a strong appeal for 80s melodic rock aficionados. Although I’d suggest that even they will be more appreciative than they are blown away by what’s been lying in the Under Fire vaults all this time.


Track Listing
DISC ONE: UNDER FIRE
1. NO MORE HEARTACHES
2. CRAZY FOR LOVE
3. HEART IN PAIN
4. ROLLING DOWN THAT ROAD
5. LOVE YOU ONE MORE TIME
6. HOLD OUT
7. BURNING DESIRE
8. CROSSFIRE
9. ALWAYS ON THE RUN 10.WHEN YOU FEEL LONELY


DISC TWO: BONUS TRACKS
1. I WANT OUR LOVE TO BE STRONG
2. MIRACLE
3. LONG & LONELY NIGHTS
4. LOVE FOR THE MOMENT
5. STRANGERS (PAUL SHORTINO VOCALS)
6. WHERE WERE YOU (PAUL SHORTINO VOCALS)
7. GET IT RIGHT
8. I CAN’T TELL YOU WHY

Added: March 25th 2019
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Score:
Related Link: Under Fire @ Cherry Red
Hits: 595
Language: english

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