After finally seeing the Olympic Torch Relay last week – amongst the enormous crowds in the City of London on Thursday morning – as well as the spectacular finale to the opening ceremony with a seriously clever way to light the Olympic Flame in the stadium, not to mention the sad news of a colleague suffering a fire at his flat (happily he and his partner are ok) and the arrival of summer heat at last in the past week, I guess the choice of Fire as a Tuesday Ten subject is apt. Although I’m kinda wondering how it has taken 158 Tuesday Tens to think about doing it.
This is a Doors and Arthur Brown-free zone, by the way.
So, where else could I start than with the band that are one of the greatest live bands on earth, but more importantly for this list, use so much in the way of pyrotechnics that lead singer Till Lindemann at least is licensed to a high level with pyrotechnics. And seeing them live, it isn’t hard to see why. Over the six times I’ve seen them live, this track (which translates as “Fire at will!“, or “Open Fire“) has traditionally been the point where all hell breaks loose on stage, with gigantic jets of flame, and face-mounted flamethrowers on the band. Or in other words, the point where you start to get rather warm in the crowd, and start grinning at the fabulous absurdity of it all.
In Case You Didn’t Feel Like Showing Up
Talking of spectacular live visuals, watching In Case You Didn’t Feel Like Showing Up on VHS the first time felt like an epiphany, realising at last just why Ministry had the reputation that they did. I knew that the music was awesome, but not that they could put on shows like this. Of course, they could never keep up this intensity and by the time I finally saw them on the C U L8TOUR a few years back, they were shit. But this video in particular…a song probably about a drug-fueled nightmare, in this live vision it had added fire-breathers, the fence (to protect the crowd from the band, frankly), and a dude on fire climbing said fence. While Al and the band blitz through the two-drummer attack. Oh yes.
Keeping up the positive mood…here’s Steve Albini, with the ultimate ode to small town boredom, casual sex and firestarting. Six minutes of rumbling hate. Need I say more?
Natural Born Killers OST
Umm, this gets happier at some point, honest. Anyway, this was the new track Trent Reznor added to his exceptional compilation that became the Natural Born Killers soundtrack – and nevermind being a Downward Spiral offcut, it contained similar levels of utter fury to that which characterised Broken. Worth it alone for the moment when the track finally explodes (as Trent roars “I’m going to burn this. Whole. Place. Down“), for me when I finally did see it live, it never quite had the brutal kick that the legendary Woodstock version had.
Danger! High Voltage
Their short period of mainstream success long gone, this band have continued plugging away in the US, and to be honest have released a number of whip-smart, quite great singles since this. But this was the track that got them attention in the first place, which was actually a duet between the marvellously-named Dick Valentine (!) and Jack White, makes loads of references to fires and flames, and has a really quite bloody odd video. Fire In The Disco! (And yes, the album was called Fire too)
Dig For Fire
Apparently a tribute to Talking Heads, like most Pixies songs I’ve never quite worked out what the fuck Black Francis was on about. But perhaps, here it is a metaphor for living life and enjoying it, rather than grinding out a life. Still, amidst an album full of aliens, UFOs and other crazy shit, perhaps this was the one moment approaching sanity.
Burning Down The House
Speaking in Tongues
And of course, onto the song that influenced the list. Talking Heads were never exactly a band to be categorised easily, and here they went down a glorious funk route with spectacular results. And despite the song being inspired by amazing live shows by Parliament/Funkadelic, apparently this was on the list of songs not to be played post-9/11. But then, I never expected censors to look beyond song titles to the utter joy within, eh?
House Of GVSB
Yeah, so any excuse to include one of my favourite bands ever, this bruising single (and searingly bright video!) was the first track from probably the greatest album the band put out. The Super-Fire of the title is suggested by the cryptic-as-usual lyrics to possibly be about burning, searing desire, the type that takes over every sense and stops you from concentrating on anything. Even if not, the song itself fucking rules.
A Norwegian Black Metal band so kvlt that they named themselves after the year the Black Death swept Norway, the album that caught me was this, the blistering Hellfire. Eight tracks of old-school Black Metal, but with a production that gave it an awesome, rampaging sound, it closed with the thirteen minute and forty-nine second (yep, I see what they did there) epic title track, which rises from the flames and eventually descends back into them. Most black metal bands only try and look like they come from hell, few actually make it sound like they really do.
The sound of flames continues into this song, the intensely personal track that closed the bleak, but brilliant, debut by Doves. Doves were formed after the band’s previous incarnation, Sub Sub, was ended by a fire that destroyed their studio, and this short, acoustic lament details the sad tale in heartbreaking detail – before offering a sliver of positivity at the end, before that too descends into the flames.