Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Sanford-Townsend Band: Smoke From A Distant Fire

Having played in a band by the name of Heart (no – not that Heart) while living in Alabama, keyboardists Ed Sanford and Johnny Townsend reunited in 1974 under a contract with Chappell Music in Los Angeles. In 1976, the Sanford-Townsend Band released their self-titled album. By 1977, the LP’s single “Smoke from a Distant Fire.”

Recorded at the famed Muscle Shoals Studios, the single charted at #9 in 1977 and Warner Brothers Records rush re-issued the album with a new cover and a new title – “Smoke from a Distant Fire.” Their goal was to capitalize on the recent success of the single.

According to Johnny Townsend, the song started out as a fluke. Steven Stewart, a coauthor of the tune, was joking with Sanford and Townsend about writing music. Stewart, who was studying classical guitar at the time, played a riff and made the statement, “Anybody can write that crap.” With that, Townsend and Sanford embellished upon the riff and the rest is, as they say, musical history.

Live Version from the Midnight Special

I had a chance to see the band when they opened for Heart (yes that Heart) at the Huntington Civic Center in 1977. They put on a great show; however, it is unfortunate that they never could recapture their success of their debut single.

1 comment:

  1. I would think that having such an unfortunate looking album cover didn't help much.

    I am tempted to track down the album, but worry it won't be nearly as good as the single. It seems there are a number of bands/artists who create a killer single, and the remainder of their career is filler. 707 comes to mind, as does Missouri.