The fact that fIREHOSE was even a band, let alone one with a strong enough catalog to justify a two-disc special re-release treatment, is surprising.
When D. Boon accidentally died in the mid-80’s abruptly ending punk heroes The Minutemen, the last thing bassist Mike Watt wanted to do was start another band, still morning his band mate and one of his closest friends. As fIREHOSE legend has it, Ed Crawford, a 21-year old Ohio college student at the time, was partying with the band Camber Van Beethoven who told him, jokingly, that Watt was auditioning guitar players for a new band. He looked up Watt and somehow managed to convince him to listen to him play. Not long after, the recently retired Watt was in a new band fronted by Chambers and Minutemen drummer George Hurley.
Though they were around for eight years, they were always unfairly being compared to Watt and Hurley’s former group. The comparisons were ridiculous (but expected) as fIREHOSE was more CCR and Dylan influenced then the harder, rawer Minutemen sound. As lowFLOWS shows, the band was not afraid of melody, but don’t confuse that with selling out. fIREHOSE still exercised brilliant musicianship and plenty of lyrical righteous indignation. Funny and provocative as ever, Watt and the boys skirted through the 90’s as one of college rock’s best kept secrets.
The songs still sound just as strong as they did in the early 90’s, especially tracks like “Down With the Boss” and “Toolin’.” Though their early SST records didn’t make the cut, this collection includes remastered versions of 1991’s Flyin’ The Flannel and 1994’s Mr. Machinery Operator, the hard-to-find live EP Live Totem Pole and a slew of other rare and out-of-print singles.
Its little coincidence that lowFLOW is coming out just as the band is reuniting for a series of shows this spring and summer, including Coachella. Fly the flannel high this summer.
Top tracks: “Flyin’ The Flannel and Blaze
fIREHOSE – lowFLOWs: The Columbia Anthology (’91 – ’93)/2 CDs/45 tracks/Columbia and Legacy/2012