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Mr. Machinery Operator

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Album Review

Whereas fIREHOSE's previous full-length, 1991's Flyin' the Flannel, was about succinct songwriting and contained a somewhat polished production, 1993's Mr. Machinery Operator was more raw sounding and unpredictable — almost as if the trio was going for a garage band sound. Dinosaur Jr. singer/guitarist/leader J. Mascis produced the entire album solo, which, expectedly, leads to a more rough, in-your-face sonic approach. Although fIREHOSE guitarist Ed Crawford was the trio's primary vocalist, Mascis convinced Watt to sing more often than on past albums. Like his bass playing, Watt's vocals are in the extreme low register, as evidenced by such highlights as "Formal Introduction," "Herded Into Pools," "Quicksand," "Powerful Hankerin'," and the tranquil album closer, "The Cliffs Thrown Down." Other standouts include the barely containable rage of "Rocket Sled/Fuel Tank" and the instrumental "4.29.92" (the latter featuring sound effects from the L.A./Rodney King riots), and perhaps the album's best track, Crawford's "Blaze." After the ensuing tour for Mr. Machinery Operator was completed in 1994, Watt broke up the band, citing that they had become "used to each other in a bad way."


Formed: 1986 in San Pedro, CA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s

In 1985, after D Boon's tragic death at age 27 signalled the end of the Minutemen, bassist Mike Watt and drummer George Hurley threw in their lot with then-22-year-old former Ohio State University student, guitar player, and Minutemen fanatic Ed Crawford to form fIREHOSE. Taking their group name from a line in Bob Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues," fIREHOSE continued in the Minutemen tradition of breathtaking musicianship combined with caustic lyrical fusillades inspired by the writing of the...
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