Essential Atlantic: The Firm, THE FIRM
For the next several weeks (or maybe just until we decide that we want to stop doing it, since normalcy seems likely to remain on hiatus for the foreseeable future), Rhino.com will be spotlighting an album from the Atlantic Records discography that qualifies as âEssential.â And what rigorous standards and/or mathematical algorithm did we use to come up with the criteria to define âEssential,â you ask? None at all. Youâll just have to trust our instincts. But theyâre really good, we swear...
The word âsupergroupâ has been bandied about in many a record review over the years, but when The Firm released their self-titled debut album in February 1985, its use was not unwarranted.
After all, the group in question featured Paul Rodgers of Free and Bad Company fame on lead vocals, Jimmy Page on guitar, Chrls Slade of Manfred Mannâs Earth Band on drums, and Tony Franklin on bass. Granted, Franklin wasnât really a big deal yet, having only worked with Roy Harper at that point, but one of the two Harper albums to which he contributed was WHATEVER HAPPENE TO JUGULA, which was a collaboration with â wait for it â Jimmy Page. So, yeah, thatâs probably how Franklin got into the mix, but since then heâs played with â among others â David Gilmour and Kate Bush, Don Dokken, Gary Hoey, Blue Murder, Gary Wright, David Coverdale... Well, anyway, the list goes on.
The Firm came about in the wake of Led Zeppelinâs dissolution following John Bonhamâs death, with Page visiting Rodgersâ home studio, hanging out, and writing some songs. In short order, Page was of a mind to take this new collaboration on the road, but with the caveat that neither Page nor Rodgers would play any songs by any of their former bands. That said, one of the songs on the bandâs self-titled debut, âMidnight Moonlight, evolved out of an unreleased Led Zeppelin song, so when The Firm played it live, Page would slip in a bit of âKashmirâ as well as a bit of The Yardbirdsâ âWhite Summer.â
THE FIRM was a relatively big hit upon its release, thanks in no small part to its lead single, âRadioactive,â which hit #28 on the Billboard Hot 100 and topped the US Rock Singles chart. In turn, the album itself climbed to #17 and ultimately went gold. Itâs worth noting that two other singles from the album did well on that Rock Singles chart: âCloser,â which hit #19, and âSatisfaction Guaranteed,â which rose to #4 (and also became a minor pop hit, although it stalled at #73).
In the end, The Firm only released two albums, with the second one â 1986âs MEAN BUSINESS â hitting #22 but failing to sell as well as its predecessor. By what is surely mere coincidence, Page reportedly revealed in later interviews that the band was never intended to last beyond two albums. Boy, that sure worked out well, didnât it? But even though there was never to be a third Firm LP, this first one was definitely a major release in its day and remains fondly remembered by many Rodgers and Page fans.
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