Fire were a late 60’s/70’s three piece band, The Magic Shoemaker (“a fairytale opera”) was released on the Pye label in 1970 and was recorded in January 1970 at the label’s studios in London. This reissue is re-mastered from the original master tapes by Ben Wiseman at the Audio Archiving Company and released on Esoteric Recordings.

Dave Lambert (guitars, percussion, piano and vocals), Bob Voice (drums, percussion and vocals) and Didck Dufall (bass guitar and vocals) made up the band with all tracks being written by Lambert. Dave Lambert later joined The Strawbs.

Throughout the record there’s the story of The Magic Shoemaker (Mark) being told (by Lambert) to a group of young children who are clearly enthralled by the story. Now all this telling fairytales to kids may seem very whimsical and it is a little, but the music is powerful blues-psychedelia for the main part and the musicianship is very accomplished indeed. Lyrical content is a little contrived, as it would be given the subject matter but don’t let that put you off. There’s some very nice piano on the song Shoemaker but the vocal “He’s a Shoemaker…” will no doubt raise a smirk or two I’m sure. Bass guitar is authoritive throughout and lead guitar is superb. Drums are used sparingly where needed to create atmosphere and pounding elsewhere to create a huge wall of sound.

I suppose The Magic Shoemaker very much in the “concept album” tradition but it does stand up very well indeed and sounds remarkably fresh and vibrant for a record that’s 44 years old. The record nosedived on its release and original copies change hands for huge sums so this re-release is very welcome.

You get a few extra tracks on the CD too Father’s Name is Dad, Treacle Toffee, Round the Gum Tree and Toothie Ruthie – the A and B sides from a couple of single releases from ’68. Both singles are much more commercially minded than the album and Round the Gum Tree with its Surf vocal is a novelty too far in my opinion…perhaps the drugs were stronger then!

If you’re a fan of late 60s and 70s blues-rock then this album will really appeal I’m sure. I really enjoyed it and played it a few times back to back – which has to be a good sign.

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