FIREBIRD
"Hot Wings"

(Candlelight)

01. Carousel
02. Good Times
03. Misty Morning
04. Play the Fool
05. Horse Drawn Man
06. Overnight
07. Bow Bells
08. Flying Blind
09. I Wish You Well
10. Needle In the Groove

RATING: 7/10

Quick and dirty fourth album from the U.K. retro rockers led by ex-CARCASS man Bill Steer. It's really a shame FIREBIRD don't have other, less metal, friends in the music industry, too, because this is the sort of record destined to get lost in the cracks without the aid of someone in a more appropriate scene to champion it. I mean, put these guys in front of a BLACK CROWES crowd and they'd go over huge! As it is, their flared-denim rockin' seems destined to fall upon the ears of a few errant stoner rockers and whatever bemused former death metallers have tagged along on Steer's journey of self-reinvention.

It's easy to play spot the influence when you listen to FIREBIRD, their lithe power-trio rock making no bones about where its heart lies. A little CREAM here, some ROBIN TROWER there, a pinch of HUMBLE PIE or SAVOY BROWN, and — what the hell — a lot more CREAM — and you've got yourself a good groovin' time. Things seem a little less hooky and joyous than 2004's career-topping "No. 3" (the song "Stoned Believer" alone exuding more warmth and funk than most bands' entire discographies), but if this is a slightly more low-watt effort, it's still a genteel good time that plays the "vintage" card without blatantly overdoing the Seventies schmaltz and getting campy.

Highlights include rousing opener "Carousel", the slinky back-alley groove of "Horse Drawn Man", and the contemplative "I Wish You Well". The rest kinda drifts by in a friendly, indistinct haze (except for "Misty Morning", the only bad song on the album, sounding like an ill-advised FIVE HORSE JOHNSON knockoff with rudimentary harmonica and clumsy treated vocals). It's a reluctant 7 I'm giving to "Hot Wings", because it seems to lack that indefinable something special that made "No. 3" so good — but even when coasting, FIREBIRD have a smoky, groovy charisma that makes them well worth a listen.

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