Fire Engines - Hungry Beat
Much-feted by the likes of Franz Ferdinand, Edinburgh's Fire Engines were nominally part of the late 70s 'Sound of Young Scotland', a brief flourishing of avant-pop from north of the border that included other luminaries such as Orange Juice and Josef K. Inspired by the off-kilter offerings of punk's diaspora (Subway Sect, Television Personalities etc.), Davey Henderson's crew took their name from a 13th Floor Elevators track and blended the Texan outfit's fuzzy noodlings with an itchy take on Beefheartian funk that reverberated far beyond their curtailed career. With only three singles and a mini-album to their name, their sound - and ethos - continued to echo throughout the 80s with the likes of The Pastels and many of the 'C86' bands embracing the economy and desire to capture the moment instead of fretting over the recording process.
Lead track "Candyskin" somehow manages to meld a trademark scratchiness with incongruous strings that seem to have stumbled in from a John Wayne western. Elsewhere, Henderson's yelps and vocal ticks suggest he was dividing his own listening between James' Brown and Chance: a pale white funk from the pale white folk who live under the grey-lidded skies of eastern Scotland.
Much of this compilation is pleasingly ramshackle (it was a time when it really didn't matter if the drummer didn't nail absolutely every cymbal crash or paradiddle) although modern audiences may be distracted by the number of instrumentals (or near-instrumentals) that make up the running time.
A comprehensive round-up of an important influence on the Scottish music scene, yet one which has perhaps missed the sales window it would've had a couple of years ago.