Themes From Great Cities

It might have come to your attention that I'm not a regular poster of love and understanding, which you will just have to get used to. I will however, have bursts of creativity where I move completely randomly from post to post with no rhyme or reason. I have recently posted a few singles (7 & 12”) and the odd bootleg which have been received very well by all who visit. More of the same will continue as you, dear readers, seem to be enjoying them.

Some of the rips are my own, but many more are from other blogs and I’m just sharing the wealth. If other bloggers out there wish to share the rips from my posts, please as I do, host them yourself. To combat this, the FLAC files that are over 6 months old will be replaced with MP3 files.

Finally I am happy to re-up old posts where the link has expired. Please comment in the relevant posts comments box.


Hungry Beat

One of Scotland's forgotten post-punk pioneers, the Fire Engines are compiled to make a case for the hip company they keept alongside Orange Juice and Josef K.

The Fire Engines were barely a blip on the music radar, but for those in the right place at the right time, that small speck was like a bull's-eye. By 1980, Scotland's post-punk explosion was already in full bloom, having birthed Orange Juice and Josef K. Right in there with them were the Fire Engines, but unlike their erstwhile peers, the short-lived group existed to burn bright and fast and, inevitably, to burn out. It's music of the primitive "we-can-do-it-too" school, and as such some 35 years or so later it's easy to understand the impact it had on other aspiring bands.

Indeed, Hungry Beat, a collection of the groups’ formative releases, arrives with testimonials from Primal Scream's Bobby Gillespie and Franz Ferdinand front man Alex Kapranos, whose band recently coaxed the Fire Engines into the studio and back onto the stage. While Primal Scream and Franz Ferdinand are quite different from one another, one can see the respective appeal of the Fire Engines' sound. In the case of the former and fellow fans the Jesus and Mary Chain, its ragged chaos certainly resonated. In the case of the latter, it was the high-strung naff funk undercurrent that probably connected first.
But even taken on its own terms, Hungry Beat is a shambling blast, as exciting as its members were clearly excitable. The disc collects the group's entire first and sole album (the perfectly named Lubricate Your Living Room), the A's and B's from the Fire Engines' three singles, and a handful of alternate takes. The last are perhaps a funny inclusion, considering how little the Fire Engines sound like the kind of band that bothered with such niceties as "takes." At any given second, each song sounds like it's either about to fall apart or explode, and you can practically hear the band smiling at the prospect.
"Candyskin" and "New Thing in Cartons" sound like the Fall having a happy day, the massed vocals and strings of the former a novel method of overcoming the song's lo-fi environment. "Meat Whiplash" goes absolutely nowhere and does a great job doing it. "Get Up and Use Me" (covered by Franz Ferdinand on the split they later shared with the Fire Engines) is all adenoidal no wave cowbell skronk, replete with unembarrassed false start (mysteriously, the song's alternate take runs longer, faster, and doesn't include the fuck-up).
It's "Big Gold Dream" that plays up the jittery dance elements that you can hear in half of indiedom (even if most of indiedom has never heard these guys before), but the apex of Hungry Beat is a seven-minute ditty called "Discord" that offers a relentless one-chord funk fix. The song fades out with a few drums fills and screams, but you can just as easily imagine another 10, 20, 30 minutes of music not captured on tape. At seven minutes it's long enough to lock into a groove, but one can only imagine the dance floor possibilities had the thing got longer.

Ripped from a long lost CD to the usual MP3 @ 320kbps

The Fire Engines; Hungry Beat

1.     Candyskin
2.     Meat Whiplash
3.     Get Up And Use Me
4.     Everything’s Roses
5.     Big Gold Dream
6.     Plastic Gift
7.     Sympathetic Anaesthetic
8.     Discord
9.     New Thing In Cartons
10.Hungry Beat
11.Lubricate Your Living Room Part One
12.Lubricate Your Living Room Part Two
13.Get Up And Use Me (Version)
14.Sympathetic Anaesthetic (Version)
15.New Thing In Cartons (Version)
16.Plastic Gift (Reprise)



  1. Brilliant! Thanks. I love the Fire Engines. In the early eighties I was in a band called Apple Fun in Cartons. Guess who we were inspired by? :-)