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Fire On the Mountain

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Album Review

Four albums in, Charlie Daniels — now fronting the Charlie Daniels Band — finally found a way to not just synthesize his various influences, he found a way to streamline them and polish them, turning them into something proudly Southern and redneck yet commercial with Fire on the Mountain. This means that he's toned down the wild, messy eclecticism that he displayed on his ignored debut in favor of a bluesy, jam-oriented country-rock owing a great deal to the Allman Brothers. The change is brought into sharp relief because he revives two of the best songs from Charlie Daniels — the rampaging rocker "Trudy" and the sweet ballad "Georgia," both given more direct arrangements here; the originals were ragged and right, but these have more of a rock feel, even if they're not as loose as those on the debut. And that pretty much sums up the difference with Fire on the Mountain — here, Charlie Daniels and his band have fused their Southern-fried country to a rollicking, jam-intensive blues-rock, where it plays like rock but feels like redneck country. It's a rather brilliant move, because it's every bit as jam-oriented as Capricorn bands like the Alllmans or the Marshall Tucker Band (the latter are thanked in the liner notes, while Dickey Betts of the former cameos on this record), but the CDB have yet to give themselves over to playing for the sake of playing (which they soon would with Saddle Tramp). Instead, they focus that energy into the songs, which are all top-notch, and the result is probably the best balance of songs and performances that the Charlie Daniels Band ever did. They would wander into longer jams and Daniels would become unapologetically redneck later, but here the mix is just right, which is why this is the quintessential Charlie Daniels Band album.

Biography

Born: 28 October 1936 in Wilmington, NC

Genre: Country

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

A talented and showy fiddler, Charlie Daniels and his band fuse hardcore country with a hard-edged Southern rock, boogie, and blues. The group — which has had a rotating cast of musicians over the years — has always been known for its instrumental dexterity, but Daniels and company were also notorious for their down-home, good-old-boy attitude; in the early '80s, they became a virtual symbol of conservative country values. Daniels and his band...
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Fire On the Mountain, The Charlie Daniels Band
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