FRANK IFIELD THE CREATOR
THE FIRE STILL BURNS
A lot has been written about Frank Ifield. Almost as much as has been heard of Frank's music, his own unique chart-topping mix of country and pop that launched him into Number One in the UK in the early 60's and has kept him on the concert circuit and playlists ever since.
ABC Music has the greatest of pleasure in releasing Frank Ifield's album, The Fire Still Burns, fourteen songs delivered as only Frank can.
"The title came to me in a dream. It was of a little bird with crippled wings trying to fly. Suddenly a flame rose from beneath it and it rose up like the Phoenix out of the ashes and flew off singing!", explains Frank Ifield, now in Australia. "Then a voice from nowhere whispered 'The Fire Still Burns'. Over breakfast I related the dream to my wife Carole and together we decided it would be the right title for my album."
Nobody is better equipped to talk about the path taken bringing this album to fruition than Frank himself.
"The search was on to find our favourite songs to record but we took time over the final choice of material as I enjoy a wide variety of musical styles and insisted on the combination of meaningful lyrics as well as strong melodic lines", begins the always pleasant natured and relaxed Ifield.
"Impromptu rehearsals with my backing band 'Barbary Coast' took place in dressing rooms while on tour, to be honed into readiness before venturing into a back street studio in Wellingborough."
"Here, the rhythm section and guide vocals were first recorded. I recognised the potential, despite the tracks needing harmonies and ballads that cried out for string arrangements - but we were limited by a 12 track desk, so the project was shelved while we considered what to do next."
"EMI's Abbey Road studios were chosen to expand the original masters to 24 tracks thus enabling me to add my lead vocals and harmonies provided by the talented vocal trio Anne and Ray Brett with Roly Wolstenholme, plus acoustic guitar played by my Australian musical director at the time, Bob Howe. The violins and cello were beautifully arranged and conducted by Mike Townsend."
"In Australia, I met Roy Cooper who was once a member of Lonnie Donnegan's band and now owns Soundlab Studios in Sydney. With Roy's expertise as sound engineer, we made further updates by the addition of trumpets, saxophones, fiddle and banjo, keyboards, guitars and also extra harmonies."
"The final results can be heard on this newly re-mixed album. I hope it provides as much listening pleasure as I have enjoyed in presenting it for you."
TRACK BY TRACK
TRACK 1 - HEARTS ON FIRE
"...Going down in flames - somewhere in the night..."
I had performed this on many of my shows where it has always received an enthusiastic response. I'd heard it originally sung by Eddie Rabbit as a simple country song and I felt it had a provocative atmosphere about it. Our version features the former member of Lonnie Donnegan's band, Roy Cooper, on electric lead guitar, and my own former musical director Bob Howe on acoustic guitar and John Husejko on keyboards.
TRACK 2 - LET ME LAY IN YOUR ARMS
"... I just want to be the lovelight in your arms..."
This was written by my friend Ray Brett. He, his wife Anne and Roly Wolstenholme are featured here as the main backing vocals - I have used their talent for many years on my live stage shows in Britain, and his writing talent speaks for itself. He is a great tune-smith and always writes singable songs with fine lyrics. We have applied a Tex-Mex treatment to this with a Tijuana Brass feel played by Paul Thorne and Ralph Pyl on trumpets, both members of the brass section of Channel Nine 'Midday Show' band.
TRACK 3 - CLOSE THE DOOR
"...How can I be sure you're being honest with me - Can I take your love for truth?..."
I cannot recall where I first heard this song only that it made a big impression on me with all the right ingredients lyrically and melodically. I feel it lent itself to its present styling very well.
TRACK 4 - A LITTLE BIT OF PUSH
"...it takes a whole lot of loving to make a dream come true..."
A good story song this was written by Don Shultz in the John Laws tradition of keeping the dream alive. It should appeal to Aussie battlers who struggle to achieve a goal and its moral code follows closely to my beliefs.
TRACK 5 - FORGETTIN' ABOUT YOU
"...I maybe slow letting go but I'll make it I know..."
This formed part of an 'unplugged' session made in Nashville, Tennessee with Jack Clement. Jack himself played dobro while the writer Alan Reynolds with Roger Cook joined in on the harmony choruses. I discovered it to be an ideal vehicle to introduce my yodelling trademark.
TRACK 6 - IF LOVE MUST GO
"...How can I face the world I built around you..."
I first heard this magnificent soulful lyric sung by one of my all time favourite singers Dobie Grey. For this powerful ballad I employed Britain's Mike Townsend who excelled with his imaginative scoring for strings and added a sax solo of the talented Australian, Graham Jesse. I thoroughly enjoyed performing it, as it utilises such a wide vocal range.
TRACK 7 - WHO AM I TO SAY
"...if l had been more open and understood her ways..."
I am an admirer of the Statler brothers - they take me back to when my brothers and I would sing together in four part harmony as the Ifield Brothers. The Statlers wrote and performed this song and I was impressed by its fine lyric and lilting chorus. I called in Marcus Holden to play the country fiddle while my old mate Peewee Wilson of The Delltones laid down the deep bass voice.
TRACK 8 - STUCK BETWEEN THE LOVING AND THE LEAVING
"...Caught inside a memory of nights we shared our passion..."
This is a heartfelt ballad written by Australian star, the late Digby Richards and first came to my attention via a demo recording played to me whilst touring Down Under.
TRACK 9 - LET YOUR LOVE FALL BACK ON ME
"...You put your happiness in the hands of someone else..."
Good sentiment in this 'boy loses girl' song. We presented it trying to capture an atmosphere of a sing-along in a pub complete with the Delltones and the Bretts singing in the choruses while John Husejko plays honky-tonk piano and the banjo playing of Roy Cooper.
TRACK 10 - BEFORE I'M FOOL ENOUGH
"...I may leave in the wee small hours if I'm not brave enough to kiss you goodbye..."
Another of the Jack Clement session featuring members of Crystal Gayle's band and Jack himself on dobro guitar plus some great mandolin picking and fiddle by Nashville's own Mark Howard
TRACK 11 - (I'LL BE YOUR) HOLD ME TIGHT
"...I will shine on you, like your diamonds do..."
Another one drawn to my attention by Dobie Grey. I heard his interpretation of this song while in America and just couldn't resist including it on this album.
TRACK 12 - ISN'T IT ALWAYS LOVE
"...I swore I'd never play it to lose again..."
Written by Karla Bonoff. I liked the mood of the song and its lyric and our version has a reggae influence.
TRACK 13 - (I'VE BEEN) TOO LONG WITHOUT YOU
"...I can't sleep with memories running through me..."
My association with The Seekers brought this song by Keith Potger to light via a demo recording - we added part of the Midday Show's brass section to give it a feeling of a live stage performance.
TRACK 14 - PRAISED BE
"...Praised be the children that play in my garden..."
At the end of the session when it was found we were left with time over, we laid this song down with just bass guitar and drum - I put the tune to its lyric which was written just the night before by our recording manager Richard De Sylva. It remained as an overlooked track until embellished to its present state by choir and organ.
THE FIRE STILL BURNS REVIEWS & QUOTES
Country Update - April 1998
A young Country Music fan named Meryl once wrote away for an autographed picture of Australian singing sensation Frank Ifield. Sadly, no reply was received. This year she finally got that autograph. Now 'Head of Contemporary Music' for ABC Music, Meryl Gross obtained Frank's signature on a recording contract, and here is the result. "The Fire Still Burns" is the new CD release from Frank Ifield on the ABC Country label, and a superb package it is. Before you even listen to the album, check out the booklet. Frank tells the story of how the album began in England, was continued in America, and the final touches were added here in Australia. He continues with a 'track by track' run-down of the songs, and renowned British writer Paul Hazell contributes an excellent short biography of Frank's rise from Australian touring shows to the London Palladium and chart-topping success. A number of archive photos are also included of Frank at pivotal points in his career.
Now for the music.... The album kicks off with the single Hearts On Fire which has attracted quite a bit of airplay. I can't be totally unbiased here, as I had the pleasure of playing acoustic guitar on the London sessions that produced this track, but I will say Frank does a great interpretation of this underrated Eddie Rabbitt song. Other stand-out tracks are If Love Must Go which features strings recorded at Abbey Road, and two songs by Allen Reynolds and Don Williams recorded in Nashville at Jack Clements' studio, with Jack himself on dobro. Other writers include top British songsmith Ray Brett, Australia's Keith Potger and the late Digby Richards.
Throughout the album Frank delivers the lyrics with heart-felt emotion and even his yodelling trademark makes a cameo appearance. A long awaited return to the recording scene. The Fire Still Burns indeed. - Bob Howe
Sydney Morning Herald - May 18th 1998
"Certainly one of the finest voices in Australian country music...the articulate voice is fresh and dramatic...the style is one that almost transcends time." - Terry Reilly
Capital News - August 1998
"The Fire Still Burns certainly proves that Frank's voice is as strong and clear as ever." - Garry Coxhead
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