Fire

Fire was an English psych-rock trio responsible for the freakbeat classic “Father’s Name Is Dad” (b/w “Treacle Toffee World”), released in 1968 on Decca. In 1970, they released The Magic Shoemaker, a folk-rock concept album on Pye.

In 1972, frontman Dave Lambert joined Strawbs for a six-year, seven-album run. His solo album, Framed, appeared in 1978 on Polydor.

Fire’s singles and unearthed demos appear on the compilations Underground And Overhead: The Alternate Fire (1997, Tenth Planet) and Father’s Name Is Dad The Complete (2021, Grapefruit Records).

Members: Dave Lambert (vocals, keyboards, guitar), Dick Dufall (bass, vocals), Bob Voice (drums, vocals)


Background

Fire ignited from Friday’s Chyld, a Hounslow freakbeat trio formed in 1966 by guitarist–singer Dave Lambert with drummer Bob Voice and bassist Dick Dufall.

Lambert (b. March 8, 1949) played in a sequence of beat-era school bands, including The Chains and The Syndicate. He took up songwriting as a teenager and summoned classmate Voice for an impromptu guitar–drums school performance. Afterwards, they teamed with Dufall in Friday’s Chyld. Their act impressed Ray Hammond, a local reporter and music entrepreneur who financed the band.


Friday’s Chyld

In 1967, Friday’s Chyld entered R. G. Jones Studios, a facility in Morden, Surrey, where numerous psych-rock hopefuls (Tinsel Arcade, The Phaze, The Velvet Frogs) cut 7″ acetates for Oak Records. For their first session, Friday’s Chyld recorded the Lambert originals “It’s Not Easy Falling Out of Love” and “Boys and Girls Together.” Their second visit produced “I Didn’t Know You” and “I Just Can’t Wait.”

“It’s Not Easy Falling Out of Love”
“Boys and Girls Together”
“I Didn’t Know You”
“I Just Can’t Wait.”

The Friday’s Chyld demos impressed a pair of new backers, John Turner and Derek Savage, who suggested they rename their act Fire, a more succinct and graphic representation of their music style. Turner and Savage secured Fire a contract with Decca Records and a deal with the publishing branch of Apple Corps Ltd., The Beatles‘ holding company.


“Father’s Name Is Dad”

On March 15, 1968, Fire debuted with “Father’s Name Is Dad,” a churning freakbeat rocker backed with the upbeat “Treacle Toffee World,” both Lambert originals produced by Decca soundman Tony Clarke (The Bats, The Cedars, The Lemon Line, The Moody Blues).

A. “Father’s Name Is Dad” ()
B. “Treacle Toffee World” ()

Days after the single’s release, a radio airing of “Father’s Name Is Dad” perturbed Apple’s Paul McCartney, who thought the single needed more punch. He asked Decca to recall the single and urged Fire to re-record the song. In September, Decca re-released the single with the newly recorded a-side.


1968 Sessions

Meanwhile, Fire recorded more Lambert originals, including “Happy Sound,” “Spare a Copper,” and “Will I Find Love?” They also covered the Moby Grape song “Can’t Be So Bad.”

“Happy Sound”
“Spare a Copper”
“Will I Find Love?”
“Man In The Teapot”

Despite Fire’s body of material, Apple Head of Publishing Mike Berry insisted they record one of his songs, “Round the Gum Tree.” Lambert reluctantly sang on the recording, but Dufall and Voice refused to participate. Apple staff recorded vocals for the b-side, the Turner–Savage number “Toothy Ruthie.”

Decca issued “Round the Gum Tree” in late November 1968 as a Fire single in name only. After this debacle, Fire left Decca, Apple, and the Turner–Savage team and re-linked with Hammond, who established Hooray Productions with Pye soundman Ray Hendriksen.


1969 Sessions

In 1969, Fire demoed new songs that were ultimately set aside as the band worked on a concept album. Later compilations unearthed seven songs from this period.

“It’s Just Love”
“I’ve Still Got Time”
“I Know You Inside Out”
“Alison Wonderland”
“Green-Legged Auntie Sally”
“Oh Johnny”
“Mama When Will I Understand”

Meanwhile, Lambert developed a song cycle with input by Velvet Opera guitarist Paul Brett (ex-Tintern Abbey).


The Magic Shoemaker

Fire released their singular album, The Magic Shoemaker, in September 1970 on Pye. It features ten thematic originals by singer–guitarist and narrator Dave Lambert, who also plays organ and piano.

A1. “Children of Imagination”
A2. “Tell You a Story”
A3. “Magic Shoes”
A4. “Reason for Everything”
A5. “Only a Dream”
B1. “Flies Like a Bird”
B2. “Like to Help You if I Can”
B3. “I Can See The Sky”
B4. “Shoemaker”
B5. “Happy Man am I”
B6. “Children of Imagination”

Sessions occurred in January 1970 at Pye Studios, London, where Ray Hammond co-produced the album with engineer Ray Hendriksen. The Magic Shoemaker features a cover painting by Dutch Golden Age artist Jan Victors (1619–1679). Hammond wrote the liner notes, which appear on the back with a children’s castle illustration.


Final Songs

After work wrapped on The Magic Shoemaker, Dufall and Voice departed for Paul Brett’s Sage. Lambert reconstituted Fire with bassist Pete Sully, drummer Dennis Taylor, and pianist Graham Keedy (ex-Five and a Penny). This lineup visited the site of the Friday’s Chyld demos, R. G. Jones Studios, and cut two new songs.

“Live to Love”
“Back There Again”

After this session, Lambert extinguished Fire. In 1972, he joined the King-Earl Boogie Band, a Mungo Jerry spinoff, which cut an album (Trouble at Mill) produced by Strawbs frontman Dave Cousins. Lambert played on Cousins’ concurrent solo album, Two Weeks Last Summer, and joined Strawbs for a seven-album run, starting with their 1973 release Bursting at the Seams.

In 2021, Grapefruit Records released Father’s Name Is Dad The Complete, a three-disc set that gathers the 1967–69 Friday’s Chyld and Fire recordings (disc 1), the 1970 album and final recordings (disc 2), and a 2008 live reunion where Fire performed The Magic Shoemaker in its entirety (disc 3).


Discography:

  • “Father’s Name is Dad” / “Treacle Toffee World” (1968)
  • “Round the Gum Tree” / “Toothie Ruthie” (1968)
  • The Magic Shoemaker (1970)
  • Underground and Overhead (1997 — recorded 1968/69)

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