CD Review: Rychard Carrington reviews A Flame From The Fen - The Complete Fire Dept.

Fire Dept. CD cover
Local Cambridgeshire Artist


The Fire Dept. carried with them the dirty teen spirit of rock'n'roll that flamed up in 1956, 1976 but especially in the USA in 1966 (The Standells, The Sonics, The Seeds). That spirit was in short supply in 1986, when the fire came alight in Cambridge (you may remember them as The Killdares), prior to a relocation to Brighton and the patronage of mighty kindred soul Wild Billy Childish. Childish produced The Fire Dept., signed them to his record company and wrote a long essay describing them as "the best unknown British band of the 90s". Childish now plays in The Vermin Poets, the new band of The Fire Dept.'s chief visionary, Neil Palmer. The small scene that Childish and The Fire Dept. inhabited - based in The Wild Western Rooms in Archway, London - was an underground inferno, for those with heads correctly adjusted.


This collection, released by Childish's Damaged Goods label, the Fire Dept.'s complete works. The energy in the playing is 24-carat garage rock. The angel of Beat gave them wings, but it was timeless teenage hot rod kicks that truly propelled them. Sample titles: ‘Golden Egg', ‘Magick Supermarket', ‘Dolly Clackett'. "Life's a gass and life's a grabber" Neil Palmer taught me, and I haven't looked forward since.


This review previously appeared in Vol. 2 No. 23 (p. 63) of the splendid national music magazine R2 (aka Rock'n'Reel). Reproduced by kind permission of the editor, Sean McGhee.


Writer: Rychard Carrington