Long out of print and demanding a high dollar amount on the secondary market, "Fire of Love" is the 1981 debut from The Gun Club. It was only last month that this smashing 11-track album was re-issued in a CD-only version by Superior Viaduct and for those of us who had long ago given up any hope of owning a physical copy of this blues-punk masterpiece that is one dream that has now become a reality! Elegantly produced by The Flesh Eaters' Chris Desjardins and The Plugz' Tito Larriva the amazing thing about "Fire Of Love" is how well it has weathered the changing times. As someone who only discovered the music of this L.A. band as an adult (and only by the good fortune of having once worked with an older gentleman whose wide-ranging taste in music reviled my own!) I'll admit that it gave me a greater perspective on the importance of this early "alternative" band. First formed in 1979 by singer, songwriter and guitarist Jeffrey Lee Pierce*, with guitarist Ward Dotson, bassist Rob Ritter and drummer Terry Graham rounding out the crew responsible for this great LP(!), the band managed to release seven full-length albums, one EP and countless singles during it's existence. Not one of the follow-up release would match the near perfection of "Fire Of Love" though and once opener "Sex Beat" rocks and rattles it's way into your nervous system you'll start to understand why this album is so hard to put down! "Sex Beat" is a tribal number that comes across as solo Lou Reed gearing up some garage rock and roll for all the crazy natives whereas the cover of Robert Johnson's "Preaching The Blues" offers up the first clue that The Gun Club were as knowledgeable about the Delta blues scene as they were about New York punk and 60's rock! The biggest clue though would be the band's choice cover of "Cool Drink Of Water" which comes much later on. This Tommy Johnson traditional is as authentic as one can get and it shows how comfortable Jeffrey Lee Pierce was no matter the environment. As far as The Gun Club's original material was concerned "Sex Beat" (as good as it is) wasn't this album's real highlight. Arguably that distinction would fall on track number four. Much ink has been spilled in regards to the haunting beauty that is "She's Like Heroin To Me". Another love-lorn track that kindles the spirit of a young, lost and lonely Lou Reed (as well as the Velvet Underground), "She's Like Heroin To Me" definite deserves it's revered place in the halls of rock and roll's greatest singles of all time. The problem with "She's Like Heroin To Me" is (at times) it overshadows other strong numbers like "For The Love Of Ivy" (a five minute plus moment of pure punk rockabilly wonderment!), the chaotic (yet strangely alluring) "Promise Me" and "Fire Spirit", a 60s/70s-infused number where the passion of Jeffrey Lee Pierce is highlighted in furious fashion! The colorful "Ghost Of The Highway" is another punk rockabilly song and if there is one thing to be said about "Fire Of Love" it's that not matter how stripped it might get the music packed within The Gun Club's debut album never falls short of brilliant! Caution is throw to the wind on "Jack On Fire" (a bare-naked rocker where primitive sex is presented raw and uncut!) and yet even during it's most twisted moments it never fails that I stare there in utter disbelief at just how far ahead of their time The Gun Club were! Long before rock music would be unclothed by the bands like The White Strips here was this L.A. outfit taking the best of what real rock and roll had to offer and, after cutting away all of it's fat and gristle, giving it back to listeners in such a simplistic manor that it was a feast for the senses! Even at 41 moments like "Sex Beat", "She's Like Heroin To Me", "Fire Spirit" and "Jack On Fire" find me standing with wide-eyed wonder while "Black Train", "Cool Drink Of Water" ( and "Goodbye Johnny" make me believe that the magic of "Fire Of Love" should be shared with our younger generation! This re-release sounds amazing and from "Sex Beat" to "Goodbye Johnny" there isn't a single moment where your ears start to wander. Even if I've had the pleasure of hearing this album before these past few days that I've spent with "Fire Of Love" have found me falling in love with this album all over again. This is one re-release I'll be sharing with family and friends young and old alike!
* A theatrical lead vocalist and guitarist, Jeffrey Lee Pierce was a founding member of The Red Lights and once served as the head honcho for Blondie's U.S. fan club!
Labels: 1981, 2014, 60's and 70's influences, blues-punk, garage rock, L.A., post-punk, re-releases, rockabilly, roots music, The Gun Club