This album has been playing on the works' van death decks for the last two days solid and it has niggled like hell. There is something about 'Hot Wings' that sounds so familiar and it's just clicked. Brother Kane.
If you are familiar with Brother Kane's near classic debut (and you fucking well should be) then 'Hot Wings' sounds like that but done in the style of Humble Pie. If you are into the likes of The Answer, Graveyard and Tracer then this album will tickle your ooh bone too.
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This little British outfit came about in 1999 when Bill Steer (Napalm Death and Carcass) got it on with Cathedral's bassist Leo Smee and Spiritual Beggars' drummer Ludwig Witt. Since then ol' Bill has had to operate a bit of a revolving door policy due to the day job commitments of his collaborators and so the associated band list also includes the likes of Orange Goblin, Church Of Misery and Gentleman's Pistols. For its 'Hot Wings' album, Firebird's fourth, I think the line up was Steer, Witt and Al Steer on bass (though it could be Harry Armstrong, I can't be sure).
So, with such heavy duty personnel you may be thinking 'Hot Wings' would be so extremely heavy it could form its own black hole on your cd shelf, but you'd be wrong. Harkening back to the heady days of the late sixties and early seventies when rock juggernauts like Taste and Humble Pie prowled the country's highways and byways with added touches of Hendrix and the Black Crowes, 'Hot Wings' is a fucking great album of heavy duty blues stompers.
The album is teeming with killer tracks like 'Bow Bells' with its hot, swampy, slow slide riff, the Kravitz style hip swinger 'Carousel' and the Five Horse Johnson harp driven homage of 'Misty Morning'. 'Play The Fool' has the sort of shuffle that Plant used to occasionally indulge in when he was younger and 'Horse Drawn Man' and 'I Wish You Well' sit in the Crowes/Pie funky slow and easy groove. I could jabber on but I don't think there's any need, do you?
Bill Steer proves himself to be not only a good singer, he is also a surprisingly accomplished slide and harp player; another extreme Metal head who is an adept at other styles of playing. The rhythm section, of who the same could be said, is solid as a rock and it all hangs together pretty damn well.
Better still, the production hasn't been afraid to forego the use of whizz-bang-pop studio effects, leaving the album with few obvious overdubs and sounding pretty raw; so raw in places that it narrowly side steps sounding like a good demo (as on 'Carousel' for instance).
This is a very, very good album but one you will have to persevere with. I bet it has thrown a few punters since its release in 2006 proving too bluesy for some Metal heads and way too raw and lumpy for some in the blues rock fraternity but stick with it and it will eventually sink under your skin.
Sadly, it appears Firebird is no more, having broken up in 2011. They left behind six albums of which 'Hot Wings' would make a very good first step to getting your archives up to speed on this cracking little outfit.