Tuesday, October 31, 2017

"Radioactive" by The Firm

Song#:  2209
Date:  02/09/1985
Debut:  86
Peak:  28
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Rock, Blues-Rock

Pop Bits:  This British band was considered a supergroup due to the participation of four highly successful musicians: Paul Rodgers (Free/Bad Company), Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin), Chris Slade (Manfred Mann), and Tony Franklin. With their sound leaning towards a more radio-friendly blues-rock sound, the band recorded their self-titled debut album. This song was chosen as the first single and it was an immediate hit at Rock reaching the #1 spot. With that result and the video for the song doing well on MTV, the single made the Pop chart and peaked just inside the Top 30. It helped sell the album, which went to #17 and was a gold seller.

ReduxReview:  I usually always dig a fretless bass (see below) and weird guitar lines and this song had them both. Although I didn't think this was a fantastic song, I did like the tune and felt it was a bit Led Zeppelin-esque with a twist of modern flare. I remember seeing an interview with Paul Rodgers and Jimmy Page when this album was coming out. A young, fresh-faced reporter (I think it was on MTV) asked them something like - "so is your song "Radioactive" a commentary on how rock and other styles of music are not getting played on mainstream radio stations which then leads to no action on the pop charts?" I completely remember both guys just giving the interviewer a weird look and I think it might have been Rodgers who then replied "Um, no man. I mean, it's just a song." It cracked me up. It was like asking Madonna if "Borderline" was about crossing war torn borders in the Middle East. I bet that reporter learned quickly about not reading too much into song lyrics...

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Although Tony Franklin was the only one in the band that had not been a member of previously successful band, he had definitely made a name for himself working with popular British folk-rock musician Roy Harper and becoming proficient playing the fretless bass. It was his work on the fretless bass that helped to define The Firm's sound. A fretless bass (or even a guitar) is just what it says - the instrument has no frets, which are the metal bars seen up and down the neck of a bass or guitar. In addition to being guides for getting the correct notes, chords, and intonation, the sound made when a string is pressed down between the frets is different from when a string is pressed down with no frets on the neck. Franklin became known for his work on the fretless bass and his expertise and fame led to Fender creating and selling the Tony Franklin Fretless Precision Bass beginning in 2006. A fretted version was also issued in 2008.



  1. There was actually a British novelty music band also called The Firm during the 80's as well. They had a No. 1 hit in 1987 on the U.K. Singles Chart called, "Star Trekkin'", which was released on their own record label, Bark Records. It was No. 1 for TWO WEEKS in June of '87!

    1. Ugh - yeah, the British certainly like their oddball tunes! Thankfully, many of these didn't catch on here!