Raging Fire’s initial recording effort, A Family Thing takes an important step towards establishing an artistic identity for both the band and a rapidly stagnating local scene. In the constant evolution of the “Nashville” rock scene (with the emphasis on ‘rock’), it seems as if the talented and the ballsy are reaching out beyond the limiting confines of the “Music City” and making a name for themselves in the world at large (i.e. the Scorchers, White Animals, precious few others…). All too often, though, promising artists fall prey to despair and throw in the towel, turn to playing the same tired re-tread riffs or worse, following bargain-bin trends already obsolete by the time we get them.
Raging Fire are among those handful of bands possessing the vision and the desire to break-out of Nashville…and it shows in the four songs that they present here. “A Family Thing” begins with a simple guitar line and a slight, quivering voice, suddenly exploding into a fury of instruments. It serves not only as an introduction to the power of the band but as a surefire attention-getter. “You Should Read More Books” utilizes a funkier opening, with Michael Godsey’s guitar and Les Shields’ bass thumping and throbbing like a tell-tale heart into Melora Zaner’s vocals. Side two’s twin numbers also rely on strong, subtle intros, an oft-overlooked method of beginning a successful rocker…deceive the naïve listener into believing that he’s only listening to an exceptionally tasteful beginning to an unexceptional example of Top Forty fodder, then reach up and grab that sucker’s ears by the tender lobes with an all-out rock ‘n’ roll attack; the four numbers here all sink in that aural meathook.
Speaking of that second side, it begins with a sparse, instrumental background which acts as counterpoint for the almost-seductive pouting sound of “4 Tears (Chuch Street).” This all-too-brief EP ends with an energetic rave-up, “Beware of a Man With Manners” a number that must be just hellfire and brimstone to witness live in concert. A Family Thing contains few flaws, and no major ones. Lyrically, if you read the enclosed sheet, the words seem a bit overwrought and self-indulgent…too seemingly smug and symbolistic for the author’s own good. With the musical accompaniment, though, the lyrics take on a new life. Zaner’s passionate vocals dance around and caress the words, creating a sort of poetry in the rhythm. Musically, the band is a lot tighter than three instrumentalists and few months should be, certain to inspire a healthy jealousy in lesser-motivated area artists.
Drawing their influences from a number of well-respected sources (which include, I might add, a dash of X and the spirit of Buddy Holly), Raging Fire have created, in A Family Thing, an interesting and important showcase for four young talents, a rare work emerging from an almost-buried “Music City” rock world, a work that is both exciting and original! Other bands may talk a lot…Raging Fire are doing a lot. (Pristine Records, released 1985)
Album review originally appeared in the Nashville Intelligence Report – thanks to Andy Anderson for publishing the zine and Allen Sullivant for his invaluable online archive…