Song: “Sweet and Sour”
Album: Elan (1978)
Not only did the 1978 Elan studio album serve as a third, moody-bluesy succession to the Boulder, CO soft rock band’s prior installments, but it followed a key Firefall golden rule: laying all seething scorn–inflicted by the witchiest of women–on the line.
Stylized by embittered tracks like “Cinderella” and “Piece of Paper”, the same kind of estrangement seeped throughout the sulky, succinct acoustic matter of Elan—a ten-track, mixed narrative of sourly spun tales of detachment (“Strange Way”, “Sweet and Sour”), wooing pop balladry (“Count Your Blessings”), and all the token, down-South rock trappings (“Wrong Side of Town”, “Get You Back”). Praised for their harmonic edge, above-average instrumentalism, and ability to cover a trifecta of rock sound—from soft to country to pop—Firefall’s solid rep has managed to hold up on vinyl and radio since their 1974 start.
“Sweet and Sour” is the album’s second track: a bongo-ridden jam laden with the band’s honeyed harmonies: the crystal-clear vocals of Rick Roberts and Larry Burnett layered with twangy arpeggios. It’s bluegrass meets pop-rock, energizing and steady. Each preceding verse revved-up and snappy, the hook—a torn-up confession penned by Roberts and lead guitarist Jock Bartley—feels new every time.
Though it’s more about the bad taste in Robert’s mouth, (“And it’s such a thin line, lyin’ in between our love and hate”…), the track feels just as destined for road-trippin’ as it does sulking around.