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After The Fire - Der Kommissar CD (album) cover


After The Fire


Symphonic Prog

2.95 | 4 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars Although Der Kommissar is technically a compilation album, it was marked to US consumers as After the Fire's stateside debut album. The lead single, a cover of Falco's "Der Kommissar," hit #5 in the US. The follow-up, "Dancing in the Shadows," stalled at #85. The album itself made a respectable #25 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums chart. But the band had broken up and that was that.

As has been discussed at length, After the Fire began as a Christian prog-rock band, but when that didn't work out, headed for AOR territory in the late 1970s. In their native UK, they had three hit singles, the most successful hitting #40, and three LPs which peaked in the second division of the top 100.

Falco's German-language "Der Kommissar" was a worldwide smash, hitting #1 in Japan and five European countries. It was successful in many other territories, including Australia (#7) and Canada (#11). In the US it was a minor pop hit, although it received a fair amount of airplay on modern-rock stations and hit #10 on Billboard's disco club-play chart. At some point, it appears, the race was on to put together an English-language version. After the Fire's Andy Piercy wrote new lyrics and the band recorded it, beating Laura Branigan to the punch, so to speak.

Beyond the hit single, Der Kommissar is surprisingly good. The other twelve songs are written by the band (nearly all are credited to bassist-guitarist Piercy and keyboardist Peter "Memory" Banks) and most have an early new-wave, skinny-tie sound. Although the group was based in London, there's no hint of the impending Second British Invasion of Culture Club, Eurythmics, Human League, and so on. In fact, After the Fire sounds just as American as British, reminding me of power-pop groups like Cheap Trick, the Romantics, and the Knack, as well as the (Australian) Men at Work.

Along with the title track, the strongest tunes here are "Dancing in the Shadows," "Billy Billy," and "Love Will Always Make You Cry," while "Sailing Ship," "Laser Love," and the two instrumental cuts ("1980-F" and "Joy") are b-side material. There are no clunkers here, although CBS had three UK albums from which to select material to compliment "Der Kommissar."

If you aren't fond of 1980s pop-rock music, don't turn around; stay far away from Der Kommissar. But if you are, and have already heard everything on the beaten path, give it a try.

patrickq | 3/5 |


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