After the Fire (ATF)

I think ATF were the first 'up to date' band I ever got into (there haven't been THAT many since!)  By that I mean they were still going when I became a fan.  It was all around the time I joined Blood and Fire...Alvin, Karl and (especially) Ian were always going on about this 'Christian' band making it quite big in the 'secular' world of pop.  I got to hear their songs in the cars and vans on the way to gigs and we even tried to play a couple, I seem to remember.  Ian & Alvin wrote a song, 'Way, Truth and Light' very much in the ATF style which featured on our first album, 'The Things That People Say'.

The band had had several line-up changes over the years from when they started as a sort of early-Genesis prog-rock type band on the debut LP 'Signs of Change' through to the 'major label' band of Andy Piercey (bass and lead vocals), Pete 'Memory' Banks (keyboards - NOT, as some rock history books will try to persuade you, the same Peter Banks who once played guitar with Yes!), John Russell (guitar) and Iva Twydell (drums).  Incidentally, Ivor (as he is now known) is a leading policeman (Divisional Commander, no less) in the Bedfordshire Constabulary!  When Iva left he was replaced by Pete King on drums for the last 2 studio albums.  Pete sadly died several years ago.

ATF's 'major label' debut was 'Laser Love', a catchy collection of songs that spawned three hit singles:  the title track (see my orange picture disc left) , 'One Rule For You' (the highest chart placing) and 'Life in the City'.  As a young Christian I was very encouraged to see and hear lyrics such as "They say 'believe in what you like as long as you can keep it to yourself' - I say 'if what I know is right it's WRONG if I don't tell somebody else!'" not only being played on the radio but getting high into the pop charts (lyrics, of course, from the single 'One Rule For You').

I only got to see ATF once in their 'original lifetime' - at their farewell show at the Dominion in December 1982 (one of my pics from the gig, right).  It amazed most of the audience when Andy announced that we were attending the very last ATF gig.  Yet, just a few short weeks later, ATF scored a mammoth US hit with their cover of Falco's 'Der Kommissar' - so completely unexpected that the band had to 'reform' to record a pop video to go with the single!

I could not get enough ATF!  I had all 4 albums playing constantly in rotation for what must have been months, tracked down all the 12" singles with obscure, otherwise unreleased B-sides, obtained recordings of all three BBC 'In Concert' shows and bought eight copies (from 4 different Woolworths store 'bargain bins') of the last 12" single (really just Andy) '8 Ball in the Top Pocket' not being able to believe my eyes when I saw it - I had heard it had been deleted pre-release.  One copy each for me and my mates of the ultimate ATF rarity!!!

ATF reformed for Pete Banks's 50th birthday bash a couple of years or so ago and this, together with an enthusiastic response from now middle-aged 'Friends' like myself saw the group reform without Andy (who is still working in Christian Music at HTB) and with a new vocalist and drummer.  Current news (start of 2007) is that Keith, the vocalist, has left. 

Are you open to offers for a new singer, guys???

ATF official site

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