Monday, January 30, 2012

Sanford-Townsend Band Smoke From A Distant Fire 1976

This record was first released as The Sanford-Townsend Band and later re-released as Smoke From A Distant Fire by Sanford and Townsend when that title song hit the Top 40. While it is quintessentially a 70s record, it is also a hook-filled dancing dream, and finely crafted product that fits perfectly between Hall and Oates and Loggins and Messina. No irony there.

Smoke From A Distant Fire is pure classic white soul with an ever-so-slightly country feel. Along with Smoke..., the record boasts Shake It To The Right (funky in a very friendly way), Oriental Gate (an effective slow-building Southern rock ballad), Squire James (Burn Down The Mission by Elton John, in a good way), Lou (a lovely ballad),  and In For The Night (southern funk with another marvelous vocal). I'm not sure if its Johnny Townsend or Ed Sanford with the Daryl Hall tenor, but they're impressive pipes either way. 

There are some weaker moments, and the whole thing has that super-clean, note-perfect gloss that feels almost just a little too right. But give in to your inner pop voice: this is well-written, intricately arranged, beautifully sung, perfectly played pop-rock. Guilty pleasure? Absolutely. Too slick? Certainly a possibility.

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