Open Fire was the first instrumental album from Ronnie Montrose which explored jazz, rock and acoustic concepts in the vein of Blow by Blow by Jeff Beck. Ronnie dropped hints in previous Montrose albums that he was heading in this direction. Songs like "Whaler" and "One And a Half" from Warner Brothers Presents... Montrose! and "Tuft-Sedge" and "Merry-Go-Round" from Jump On It contained various acoustic, synthesizer and string elements that showed Ronnie was looking to branch out from his hard rock persona.
The album begins with "Openers," an orchestral piece very similar in style to The Planets by Gustav Holst, which blends into "Open Fire," the closest thing to a straight-ahead rocker on this disc with an unmistakable Ronnie Montrose lead guitar sound. "Mandolinia" begins with a pulsating Moog sequencer bass followed by layers of mandolin sounds and guitars. "Town Without Pity" is a slick cover that replaces Gene Pitney's vocals with a blistering lead guitar by Ronnie and backed by fine piano work by Edgar Winter and more orchestration by Bob Alcivar. "Leo Rising" is an acoustic guitar piece. "Heads Up" and "Rocky Road" are two examples of jazz fusion. "My Little Mystery" features more acoustic guitar with Edgar Winter manning the harpsichord and another excellent use of Bob Alcivar's orchestra resulting in a Baroque ending. The album ends fittingly with a song titled "No Beginning/No End." Starting off with Moogish special effects by Jim Alcivar, Ronnie coasts in with some smooth acoustic guitar work and follows this by incorporating another soaring lead and leading to a rousing finish.
On the strength of this effort, Montrose was invited to tour Japan with accomplished jazz and jazz fusion drummer Tony Williams. In July 1978, Montrose joined Tony Williams, Brian Auger (keyboards), Mario Cipollina (bass) and special guest Billy Cobham also on drums for a series of concerts touring as the "Tony Williams All Stars". "Open Fire," "Rocky Road" and "Heads Up" were part of the set list. A recording of "Open Fire" from one of the shows appears on The Joy of Flying by Tony Williams (1978).