Montrose – I Got the Fire: Complete Recordings (1973-1976)

I Got the Fire Complete Recordings (1973-1976) Album Cover Art

Montrose – I Got the Fire: Complete Recordings (1973-1976)
Cherry Red Records
Release Date: 29/07/22
Review by Paul Hutchings
8/10

For many of us born in the 70s but not finding our musical roots until the 1980s, Montrose were one of those bands who were heard on rock stations thanks to covers of their music by other bands. Tunes like ‘I Got the Fire’ and ‘Space Station #5’ as well as the classic ‘Bad Motor Scooter’, which is still a favourite on the likes of Planet Rock. But now, this comprehensive collection of the band’s music allows a much deeper dive into the Montrose catalogue, and its an interesting voyage from start to finish. 

Formed in 1973, the original Montrose comprised of guitarist Ronnie Montrose and singer Sammy Hagar, bassist Bill Church and drummer Denny Carmassi. Montrose had formerly been a member of the Edgar Winter Group, playing on the hit ‘Frankenstein’ as well a being a successful session musician with credits for Van Morrison amongst others. The band’s self-titled debut is a genuine classic, and whilst it didn’t set the world alight on release in 1973, one listen to it in this collection demonstrates exactly why it has now sold over a million copies. Tracks such as ‘Rock Candy’, ‘Rock the Nation’ and of course, ‘Space Station #5’ and ‘Bad Motor Scooter’, are hard rock classics. It’s worth a listen just to hear the fluidity of the band, with Hagar bringing a defining vocal performance that would later land him the role in Van Halen, as well as huge success as a solo artist. Accompanying “Montrose” we have a selection of demo tracks as well as their debut performance for KSAN radio recorded at the Record Plant in Sausalito, California on 21st April 1973. 

The second album, “Paper Money”, saw Alan Fitzgerald replace Church, with producer Ted Templeman again at the helm. The album features similar hard rocking songs such as the riff heavy ‘The Dreamer,’ the sci-fi edge of ‘Starliner’ and of course ‘I Got the Fire,’ whilst ‘Connection’ demonstrated the softer side of the band, and echoes of Led Zeppelin. Interestingly, Montrose were sometimes called the US answer to Zeppelin, and you can see why with some flashes of musical genius and variety that match the UK behemoths at times. With additional stereo and mono singles of the title track and ‘Connection’, this is another excellent copy for the collection. Disc four sees another KSAN radio recording session with some of the debut classics featured alongside newer tracks.

1975 saw Hagar depart, due to building acrimony, and singer Bob James replaced him. Keyboardist Jim Alcivar also joined the band, bringing a wider and broader sound. “Warner Bros. Presents Montrose!” saw Ronnie Montrose taking over production duties. Whilst it may not have the instancy of the first two albums, there’s plenty of rock ‘n’ roll in evidence with the ‘Twenty Flight Rock’ bringing the jive, and James proving to be a more than capable replacement for Hagar. 

The final disc sees album number four, “Jump on It” which boasts one of the most appalling covers of all time (I’ll leave you to search for it). Alcivar brings the bottom end on the album, but only three songs feature an actual bassist with Randy Jo Hobbs filling in. It’s another solid if unspectacular release, but the guitar work is especially pleasing with some sparkling play on opener ‘Let’s Go’ as your starter for ten. ‘Music Man’ may be one of the more recognisable songs here, a slower, melodic piece which verges on ballad at times. 

This is a lovely package which showcases what a superb musician Ronnie Montrose was. He sadly took his own life a decade ago. It’s a worthy tribute to a fine guitarist and if you are curious about this influential US rock band, then this is the ideal place to start your journey. 

‘Bad Motor Scooter’ Video

TRACKLISTING:

Disc One: Montrose (1973) 
01. Rock the Nation
02. Bad Motor Scooter 
03. Space Station #5 
04. I Don’t Want It 
05. Good Rockin’ Tonight 
06. Rock Candy 
07. One Thing on My Mind 
08. Make It Last 

Bonus Tracks: 
09. Rock the Nation (mono) 
10. Rock the Nation (stereo) 
11. Space Station #5 (mono edit) 
12. Space Station #5 (stereo edit) 

Disc Two: Demos (1973) 
01. One Thing on My Mind (Demo) 
02. Shoot Us Down (Demo) 
03. Rock Candy (Demo) 
04. Good Rockin’ Tonight (Demo) 
05. I Don’t Want It (Demo) 
06. Make It Last (Demo) Live KSAN Radio Session. Record Plant, Sausalito, CA, USA 21st April 1973 
07. Intro 8 Good Rockin’ Tonight 
09. Rock Candy 
10. Bad Motor Scooter 1
11. Shoot Us Down 
12. One Thing on My Mind 
13. Rock the Nation 
14. Make It Last 
15. You’re Out of Time 
16. Roll Over Beethoven 
17. I Don’t Want It 

Disc Three: Paper Money (1974) 
01. Underground 
02. Connection 
03. The Dreamer 
04. Starliner 
05. I Got the Fire 
06. Spaceage Sacrifice 
07. We’re Going Home 
08. Paper Money 

Bonus Tracks: 
09. Paper Money (stereo edit) 
10. Paper Money (mono edit) 
11. Connection (mono edit

Disc Four: Live KSAN Radio Session, Record Plant, Sausalito, CA, USA 26th December 1974
01. Intro 
02. I Got the Fire 
03. Rock Candy
04. Bad Motor Scooter
05. Spaceage Sacrifice 
06. One and A Half 
07. Roll Over Beethoven 
08. Trouble
09. Space Station #5 

Disc Five: Warner Bros. Presents Montrose! (1975) 
01. Matriarch 
02. All I Need 
03. Twenty Flight Rock 
04. Whaler 
05. Dancin’ Feet 
06. O Lucky Man 
07. One and A Half 
08. Clown Woman 
09. Black Train 

Bonus Track: 
10. Matriarch (mono edit) 

Disc Six: Jump On It (1976) 
01. Let’s Go 
02. What Are You Waiting For? 
03. Tuft-Sedge 
04. Music Man 
05. Jump On It
06. Rich Man 
07. Crazy For You 
08. Merry Go-Round

Bonus Tracks: 
09. Music Man (stereo edit)
10. Music Man (mono edit) 
11. Let’s Go (stereo edit) 
12. Let’s Go (mono edit

LINE-UP:

Montrose
Sammy Hagar – vocals
Ronnie Montrose – Guitar
Bill Church – Bass
Denny Carmassi – Drums

Paper Money
Sammy Hagar – vocals
Ronnie Montrose – Guitar
Alan Fitzgerald – Bass
Denny Carmassi – Drums

Warner Bros. Presents Montrose!
Bob James – Vocals
Ronnie Montrose – Guitar
Alan Fitzgerald – Bass
Denny Carmassi – Drums
Jim Alcivar – Keyboards
Randy Jo Hobbs – bass

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Paul Hutchings and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.