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Fire of Love

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Album Review

The Gun Club's debut is the watermark for all post-punk roots music. This features the late Jeffrey Lee Pierce's swamped-out brand of roiling rock, swaggerific hell-bound blues, and gothic country. With Pierce's wailing high lonesome slide guitar twinned with Ward Dotson's spine-shaking riffs and the solid yet off-the-rails rhythm section of bassist Rob Ritter and drummer Terry Graham, the Gun Club burst out of L.A. in the early '80s with a bone to pick and a mountain to move — and they accomplished both on their debut album. With awesome, stripped to the frame production by the Flesh Eaters' Chris D., Fire of Love blew away all expectations — and with good reason. Nobody has heard music like this before or since. Pierce's songs were rooted in his land of Texas. On "Sex Beat," a razor-sharp country one-two shuffle becomes a howling wind as Pierce's wasted, half-sung half-howled vocals relate a tale of voodoo, sex, dope, and death. The song choogles like a freight train coming undone in a twister. Here Black Flag, the Sex Pistols, Son House, and the coughing, hacking rambling ghost of Hank Williams all converge in a reckless mass of seething energy and nearly evil intent. As if the opener weren't enough of a jolt, the Gun Club follow this with a careening version of House's "Preachin the Blues," full of staccato phrasing and blazing slide. But it isn't until the anthemic, opiate-addled country of "She's Like Heroin to Me" and the truly frightening punk-blues of "Ghost on the Highway" that the listener comes to grip with the awesome terror that is the Gun Club. The songs become rock & roll ciphers, erasing themselves as soon as they speak, heading off into the whirlwind of a storm that is so big, so black, and so awful one cannot meditate on anything but its power. Fire of Love may be just what the doctor ordered, but to cure or kill is anybody's guess.

Customer Reviews

Lo-fi, dirty, essential 80s blues sludge rock

Buy it for "Sex Beat" alone, which is quite possibly the greatest 80s post-punk tune ever made by an American band. You can play that track on repeat at least a hundred times, no joke. And then listen to the rest of this awesome album and see how they destroy and re-build the blues with "Preaching the Blues" and "She's Like Heroin to Me". Second best track on the album is for sure "Fire Spirit". Criminally under-appreciated album. Maybe due to limited distribution I don't know, but it is soooo good. Maybe wait a bit on that new [insert Pitchfork-approved band here] and give this one a go.

Biography

Formed: 1980 in Los Angeles, CA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s

Tribal psychobilly blues is the best way to describe the Gun Club's energetic death rock, but the band's career seemed doomed from the get-go due to leader Jeffrey Lee Pierce's reputation as an unreliable wildman, and well-publicized bouts of drunkenness dogged him throughout his career. Formed in Los Angeles in the early '80s, the band was vaguely aligned with similarly roots-inspired groups like X and the Blasters, but later picked up and relocated to the Lower East Side, resting more comfortably...
Full bio