Review: FireHouse – Full Circle
Glam Metal/Melodic Hard Rock
Tracklisting: Overnight Sensation, Shake and Tumble, Hold The Dream, All She Wrote, Love Of A Lifetime, Don’t Treat Me Bad, Reach For The Sky, When I Look Into Your Eyes, You Are My Religion, I Live My Life For You, Christmas With You
Compilation albums have become so commonplace that if you were to go on Amazon.com or iTunes and look at all the various ultimate/definitive collections, super hits, or the very best of’s many would find out record companies have little remorse cashing in on an artist’s back catalog. Very rarely will labels reach out to the musicians themselves to get their blessing or will have them submit some liner notes about what the songs have meant decades after they ruled the airwaves. It can be a very difficult task for music fans in general trying to find a greatest hits album that encompasses every avenue a musician explored in their initial 15 minutes of fame and I can’t tell everyone how many times I’ve stood in music stores trying to decide on which compilation had the perfect selection of hits mixed in with other little gems that should have had their moment in the spotlight as well.
A band can tell how well their hits hold up by the energy they put into their live performances night in and night out and with a group the likes of FireHouse recently celebrating the 20th anniversary of their self-titled debut to see them go back to the very beginning (just like album title suggests going Full Circle) definitely makes for an ambitious little project. For the most part these guys have evolved flawlessly even when the musical climate has changed ten times over FireHouse have always managed to remain true to themselves and more importantly to the fans that continue to go out and see them on tour. At first glance it might be somewhat disappointing for die hard fans who wanted new material but there are a couple reasons that CJ, Bill, Mike, and Allen decided to go this route. Reason one being is they can finally get the rights to their classic material back and the second (and probably the most important reason) is fans were coming up to the guys at meet & greets and frequently asking them – ‘Where can I buy your greatest hits?’
I’m sure many will call Full Circle a throwaway effort with none of the rerecords living up to the originals but I’ve got news for anyone who will try and find a reason to pick Full Circle apart nearly every one of these recordings end up putting the classic versions to shame. I know that is a little bold of me to say but FireHouse have always treated all their material with the greatest respect. They didn’t go into the studio to try and recreate the same production values instead FireHouse took every song and used the best of modern technology to make them shine in a new light. CJ Snare is one of those rare voices from that era who hasn’t burned out and hearing him belt out classic lyrics in practically same manner he did some 20 years ago is downright jaw dropping (what can I say, I didn’t give him enough praise in my Rubicon Cross review). Granted voices do change over the years and even though Snare doesn’t quite have that high pitch he had when he was in his 20s he is still able to keep everyone in the palm of his hand. Listening to the guitars on this album how Bill Leverty was able to retain some of that sound that David Prater was able to capture back in 1990 all the while expanding on it with several contemporary elements will most likely remain one of the biggest mysteries about Full Circle.
Ok, now comes the 1 million dollar question – Is FireHouse’s Full Circle recommended? When I first found out that Full Circle was going to be a greatest hits compilation I’ll admit I was somewhat disappointed but after hearing the finished product I can say confidently FireHouse made the right decision with this release. I don’t think any other band that’s been around this long could pull this off with the same determination that CJ and the rest of the guys had. There is nothing boring or repetitive about hearing all 11 tracks on this compilation simply because FireHouse isn’t playing these tracks note for note like when a majority of fans first heard them in the early 90s. At the end of the day I don’t really know if any of FireHouse’s peers could rerecord their own greatest hits with the same enthusiasm but truthfully I wouldn’t object to such a challenge.
Stand out tracks – Shake and Tumble, Hold The Dream, All She Wrote, Reach For The Sky, When I Look Into Your Eyes, I Live My Life For You
Full Circle is available through FireHouse’s official website (firehousemusic.com), CDBaby, and iTunes. Pick up your copy today!