Welcome to “Hot Wings”, the new Firebird album. This is the band’s first release in almost three years, but let’s not get into that – it’s too long a story. What matters is that they’ve put together their strongest collection of songs to date. Recorded and mixed in eight days, “Hot Wings” is probably the rawest, least processed rock LP you’ll hear this year.
Musically, long-term Firebird admirers will have much to smile about. The emphasis is very much on loud, rootsy, guitar-driven riff-rock of the old school. Guitarist/singer Bill Steer’s songs are delivered in a spontaneous, one-take vibe that gives the tunes room to breathe. As always, basic tracks were laid live and unnecessary studio trickery was shunned. No click tracks or auto-tuning here. It’s a set-up that was ideal for the return of original Firebird sticksman Ludwig Witt, a monster percussionist who really shines throughout this recording.
Previous Firebird releases have attracted comparisons with certain classic rock acts of the late sixties and early seventies, none of whom really need to be named here. However, this time around the band have also paid tribute to some slightly more obscure influences. On “Misty Morning” blasts amplified blues harp through his vintage Marshall, evoking ’50s legends like Little Walter and George Harmonica Smith in a new, cranked-up form. “Play The Fool” is an up-tempo shuffle that owes more than a little to early Johnny Winter. Then on “Bow Bells” you hear the rich, resonant tones of a 1930s Hawaiian lap steel.
For the duration, the Firebird ethic remains firmly in place – soulful rock & roll with an awareness of both its past and its future.