I was prepared to write unkind things about this record, comparing it to better discs in its peer group such as Dream Syndicate’s Days of Wine and Roses. But, listening to it in my barbershop, I realized I was kinda missing it. My haircutting place in Concord, New Hampshire is like a lotta places across this ole U.S. of A. One of the guys plays upright bass in a psychobilly band and they all dress sharp, in a Mike Ness kinda way, while the radio plays some crappy XM station working the bands you’d expect (Dropkick, Social D., etc.).
So maybe Fire of Love ain’t San Francisco’s Doomed or Days of Wine and Roses, but so what? It still stands head and shoulders over days of programming on that damn station and just about every thing Jack White ever put his name to. I could nitpick, but who cares that it irks me that Jeff Pierce (R.I.P.) takes Robert Johnson’s democratic impulse and turns it boho by acting like he owns the blues, or that the vocals are too high in the mix? The guitar playing is better than I remember it, and the production is spacious in a Skip James sort of way. So buy this, play it over and over again, open some MD 20/20, drink it at room temp, and give yourself a sense of what it was like to be drunken dirtbag in Reagan’s America. Because that, my friend, is the story of the blues.
(Superior Viaduct, PO Box 193563, San Francisco, CA 94119)