I was 14 when The Almighty released their debut album Blood, Fire & Love. They were from Glasgow (like me), played melodic rock music and came along at exactly the right time for this 14-year-old to proclaim them “The best band ever!”
Now first things first, they are not the best band ever, but they were damned good, and coming from the same city and getting into them at the very beginning meant I could see them in small venues, follow their career, and even get down when they eventually split in 1996. I owned everything they ever released, every single, every album, every VHS (!), and even many of their promo releases. Simply put I was a big fan and it all started with this album.
Ironically I didn’t like the opening track ‘Resurrection Mutha’, and I still think it is nothing greater than “OK”. It has a strong sound to it, a real weight that foretells the style of the upcoming songs which means I am probably being unfair to it. In truth though I have a dislike for opening tracks on albums which have a slow building start and this song has one of those; a long church organ intro which in the heady days of owning my first CD player meant I could just skip to Track 2 easily. Track 2 you see was their debut single, ‘Destroyed’ and I loved that song. Fast pace, fist in the air rock lyrics and just so catchy. It was the last year of the decade and I was convinced the future sounded like this. Actually I had discovered a new band who played what today would be classed as “Classic Rock”, but it was new and exciting to these ears.
The next track was ‘Wild & Wonderful’. The song starts out slow and acoustic before the full band kicks in and bring the song up to speed. The lyrics are slightly risqué, though not outlandish and just try to prevent yourself from singing along to this song. It remains a standout of their career to this day and for many it is the song The Almighty are remembered for.
‘Blood, Fire & Love’ is a beautiful mid-tempo ballad replete with orchestral strings, heartfelt lyrics and a great chorus. It’s not a Bon Jovi-esque love song-type ballad, more just a big sounding track which still sounds excellent 22 years later. The album dips a little with the next track ‘Gift Horse’. The guitar riff is a standard rock riff and the lyrics and chorus are perfectly acceptable. It’s just that, well, after the last three brilliant songs it just isn’t as good. It’s a fine song, but it would never make it onto a Greatest Hits album.
Thankfully it was a temporary blip, as up next is the single ‘Power’; the song which alerted me to this band’s existence. The opening riff just grabbed me and in truth the lyrics were full of rock clichés but it was impossible to get the song out of my head. Without this song it may have been that this boy never ever checked out this album or listened to The Almighty.
Balls out rock and roll song ‘Full Force Lovin’ Machine’ juggernauts along next. The lyrics are frankly laughable, but it’s another punch the air sing along 4 minutes of fun which is harmless yet impossible to ignore. Like ‘Gift Horse’ before it, I never really raved much about the next track ‘Detroit’. The guitar riff is what can only be described as fine, and musically it’s a fair track but the repetitive chorus of “Take ’em, Come on and take ’em, take ’em to Detroit” just annoyed me. The invention of CD meant that more often than not the button was employed bringing me to ‘New Love Sensation’. This was another full steam ahead rock song much better than ‘Detroit’, but a bit repetitive in the lyrics department.
My taste for songs have always been about the music and not the lyrics. I love a song based on how it sounds, how it makes me feel, and never on the lyrics. In truth I can’t tell you the lyrics of most of the songs I love, and am often surprised when after easily 10 or 15 years of listening I hear a new lyric in a song I’ve known all that time. Perhaps it is for this reason that if a lyric just repeats or seems to go on and on, it will put me off a song for good.
The second-last song is ‘You’ve Gone Wild’ which is a little slower, a little bluesy, and bounces along with great aplomb. It is the best song since ‘Power’ by far. The last song on the album is ‘Lay Down The Law’ which has a catchy chorus and a lovely little running riff throughout that as soon as it finishes makes you want to put the album back on immediately.
The Almighty got more “hard rock” as they carried on their career, and to some this debut is a bit “light” and a bit “all the same”, but it is a blueprint for all that came after it. Indeed Blood, Fire, & Love is not the band’s best album but it was their first. Although there is nothing clever or new in what The Almighty brought to songwriting – highbrow lyrics do not exist in this album – the power, atmosphere and energy which arose when played loudly in my bedroom (or cassette Walkman!) epitomised every piece of angst a teenager needed as he fell in love with not just The Almighty, but rock music and going to concerts.
Add to Playlist: Destroyed, Wild & Wonderful, Blood, Fire & Love, Power