Great Rock Albums of 1986: The Firm- Mean Business


Before I start, I would like to bring up one amusing point I forgot to mention when I wrote about Van Halen’s “5150” album. It wasn’t about the band nor the album but about Eddie Van Halen’s marriage to Valerie Bertinelli. If you read People Magazine back then, it seemed that every other week, there was some comment in the mag that their marriage was ending. There were also stories in People stating that Val was going through a personal hell for not having had a child yet. These stories got so frequent to the point of being tedious. Besides, history proved People wrong because Eddie and Val did have a child and their marriage lasted for another 20 years or so.

Now onto the second album from The Firm, “Mean Business.” Unfortunately, this album was commercially doomed from the start. That was on account of the first album where many metalheads rejected it because it wasn’t the Led Zeppelin/Bad Company hybrid they were expecting. As a result and in spite of the debut being a great album, many weren’t prepared to give the second album a chance. I was one of those at the time, partly because the first album didn’t match up to my expectations, partly because the single from “Mean Business,” “All the Kings Horses,” didn’t move me and partly because a friend of mine bought the album and said he wasn’t impressed.

Fortunately, as you all know by now, the post millennium 80smetalman is more open minded and culturally aware than the one from 1986. Let me begin by stating that there is some Led Zeppelin influence on this album, definitely on the first  two tracks, “Fortune Hunter” and “Cadillac.” The guitar solo on the opener screams Jimmy Page all over it and the second track has Led Zeppelin all over it. In fact, “Cadillac” is my favourite track on the album.

On the other hand, Paul Rogers brings his Bad Company influence on the fourth track, “Live in Peace.” He had previously recorded it on his 1983 solo album but I am completely impressed by what The Firm did to it here. Especially another killer guitar solo a la Page. Chris Slade’s drumming is pretty intense on the song too. But if you want a song which highlights the efforts of the entire band, then the winner is “Tear Down the Walls.” The album has some cool Page licks, a quirky but solid bass line from Tony Franklin and the same solid drumming from Slade and do I need to mention Paul’s vocals? I don’t think I need to, they’re great as always.

While I mentioned that “All the King’s Horses” didn’t bowl me over back in 1986, in no way is it a bad song. Probably a good choice for a single but unfortunately, in 1986, metal and mainstream music were becoming two separate entities. A better choice for a single would have been the Franklin penned, “Dreaming.” It’s sort of a ballad which opens with a cool Page guitar solo and there’s more of those to be had in the song. On the downside, the song is six minutes long which would have made it too radio unfriendly. Anyway, “Spirit of Love” is a very good closer indeed.

Track Listing:

  1. Fortune Hunter
  2. Cadillac
  3. All the King’s Horses
  4. Live in Peace
  5. Tear Down the Walls
  6. Dreaming
  7. Free to Live
  8. Spirit of Love


Paul Rogers- vocals, guitars, piano

Jimmy Page- lead guitar

Tony Franklin- bass/keyboards

Chris Slade- drums

The Firm is the prime example of how a band was demolished by misplaced expectations. People, and I was partially guilty of this, pooh-poohed them because they didn’t sound much like the bands they came from. In fact, The Firm disbanded a few months after this album was released. With the benefit of hindsight, I think this was a tragedy because who knows what they could have been if given a fair chance.

Next post: Clarence Clemons- Hero

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4 Responses to “Great Rock Albums of 1986: The Firm- Mean Business”

  1. Great write-up (as always). I love this album but I agree with you that its success was kind of doomed from the start for various reasons. I was supposed to see them on their first tour but my girlfriend at the time had some kind of recital that night so I had to sell my tickets. Fortunately I caught them on their second & final tour, and they were fantastic. Page was in fine form, although he was even better when I saw him at a club in NYC for the Outrider tour a couple of years later.

    The song “Fortune Hunter” was based on a riff that Page contributed to the aborted XYZ project with former Yes men Chris Squire and Alan White. Between that and Rodgers revisiting his first solo album for “Live In Peace” (which I agree is even better by The Firm), I’m guessing they didn’t have a lot of new ideas when the record company was breathing down their necks for a follow-up to their debut. Considering that, I think they did a wonderful job on album #2.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, I prefer this album to their debut. At least you got to see them, something I never did. Page and Rogers took those ideas from past projects and did a fine job of putting them together on the album. It’s just a shame that no one seemed to notice.


  2. I never picked up this album. I have the first one on vinyl, so if I see this cheap (and I remember your writeup) I’ll pick it up. I think with that first Firm album, I really expected too much.

    Liked by 1 person

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