Fireballet – Night On Bald Mountain (1975)

Begun in North Jersey as The Fireball Kids, Fireballet marked the American emergence of bands that would at least attempt to contend with the classical vocabulary of European counterparts like Emerson Lake and Palmer and Gentle Giant.

r-2082730-1376244837-3349_jpegRecorded in the short-lived “stereo-quad” format — which, fortunately, is still quite playable on stereo turntables — Fireballet puts in a credible and often ambitious performance in their debut. Producer Ian McDonald comes out from behind the board to add his talents on flute and sax on a few numbers, too. As one might expect, the use of two keyboardists gives this album a heavy flavoring of Mellotron and especially Moog, and it works to great effect in conveying the sweep of the title piece. At the other extreme is “Atmospheres,” a succinct and pleasant piece with arpeggiated guitar and gentle flute, and it effectively summons up the ghosts of Genesis past. Not every experiment works: a narrator nattering on about the “crown’s treasury” in “Les Cathedrales” is a bit precious for guys from New Jersey. But still, it’s hard not to give credit to a band with the stones to take on a full-fledged, side-long reworking of “Night on Bald Mountain” on their debut.

This album was produced by Ian McDonald, ex-King Crimson and soon-to-be member of Foreigner. Group consisted of vocalist/percussionist Jim Cuomo, Brian Hough and Frank Petto on keyboards (ARP 2600 synth, Hammond organ, RMI electric piano/harpsichord, Mellotron, etc.), Martin Biglin on bass, 12-string acoustic guitar and backing vocals, and Ryche Chlanda on guitars and backing vocals. From listening to this album it’s not exactly the most original prog you’re going to hear as the Yes and Genesis influences are rather obvious. “Les Cathedrales” is the opening cut and it is essentially a cover of George Martin’s “Theme One” but with vocals (I’m certain the group was more aware of Van der Graaf Generator’s version of it, as it was included on the American LP of Pawn Hearts). The Yes influence can be found on “The Fireballet” with the vocal harmonies. “Atmospheres” is a rather mellow piece reminding one of Genesis during their mellow phase, this is the only piece the Mellotron is used, so if you hear this album referred to as “loaded with Mellotron”, it isn’t, it’s only used on that song. Throughout the album can be found classical influences, the title track is a full-on prog take on Mussorgsky’s famous work by the same name, although I hear some Debussy slip in, although there’s tons of the band’s own creative twists to go with it, it’s not unlike the Spanish group Los Canarios tackling Vivaldi’s Four Seasons on their 1974 album Ciclos (although you won’t get reminded of Yes or Genesis when listening to Ciclos).

Tracklist

A1.  “Les Cathedrales”  (Como)  – 10:16
A2.  “Centurion (Tales Of Fireball Kids)”  (Como)  – 4:46
A3.  “The Fireballet”  (Como)  – 5:15

B1.  “Atmospheres”  (Chlanda)  – 3:40
B2.  “Night On Bald Mountain (Suite)”
(a).  “Night On Bald Mountain”  (Mussorgsky) – 2:20
(b).  “Night-Tale”  (Howe, Petto, Como, Chlanda, Biglin) – 6:28
(c).  “The Engulfed”  (Cathedral Debussy) – 4:38
(d).  “Night-Tale (Reprise)”  (Howe, Petto, Como, Chlanda, Biglin) – 2:34
(e).  “Night On Bald Mountain (Finale)”  (Mussorgsky) – 2:50

Companies, etc.

Credits

Notes

Release Date:  1975
Recording Date:  February, 1975 – April, 1975
Genre:  Rock
Style:  Hard Rock, Prog Rock
Duration:  58:52
This recording was mixed in the Sansui QS Stereo-Quad compatible format.
It will provide excellent stereo results and when played through a QS decoder, will provide true four-channel sound

Label – Passport Records

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