by Simon Reynolds
The obvious template for the jags and splinters of the Fire Engines sound is Captain Beefheart. But their most thrilling songs remind me even more of James Brown. Perhaps they never listened to him, but I’ll bet they were inspired by an idea of Brown’s music, as mediated by James Chance: funk as frenzy and possession. Just listen to “Get Up & Use Me” (either of the two versions on this compilation of unreleased material will do). From the subfunk bassline through the two guitars’ frictional mesh of screeching slide and itchy rhythm, to Davy Henderson’s parched yelp, it’s obvious that Fire Engines listened closely to No New York and Buy The Contortions. Even the title constitutes homage in two parts, the first half echoing the pride and dignity of JB’s “Get Up, Get Into It and Get Involved,” the second nodding to JC’s masochistic self-abasement.