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Fire Engines

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Biography

While a product of the same Scottish post-punk movement that also gave rise to Orange Juice and Josef K, Fire Engines were far more abrasive and discordant than their pop revivalist brethren, forsaking melodies and hooks in favor of noise and fury. Fire Engines formed in Edinburgh in 1979; three of its founders — singer/guitarist Davey Henderson, bassist Graham Main, and drummer Russel Burn — were previously in the Dirty Reds. Rounded out by guitarist Murray Slade, the quartet took its name from a 13th Floor Elevators song and debuted in late 1980 with the primal "Get Up and Use Me," issued on the Codex Communications label.

Packaged in a plastic carrier bag, Fire Engines' manic debut LP, Lubricate Your Living Room (Background Music for Action People!), appeared in early 1981. A subsequent move to the Pop: Aural label resulted in the single "Candyskin," an about-face that pushed Henderson's long-buried nasal vocals to the fore and even introduced a string section. The record was a major indie hit, but when the follow-up, "Big Gold Dream," failed to match its success, Fire Engines disbanded in late 1981. Henderson and Burn soon reunited in Win; Henderson also resurfaced in the 1990s with Nectarine No. 9. The Fond compilation, released in 1992, issued most of Fire Engines' official releases on CD. Codex Teenage Premonition, released 13 years later, compiled demos and live material.