Welcome to another volume in our [ed: quite possibly endless] series, Doktor Paimon’s Leftover Meds. Once a week (or more, if I feel like it) I’m going to hit random on my phone and review the first album to come up in my not-inconsiderable collection of varied music ranging from total crap to beloved crap to things I’m a little bit pissed nobody else has listened to.
The Gun Club
Fire of Love
Lets get this out of the way up front: Jeffrey Lee Pierce needs to not use the N-word. I know, being a visionary heroin user grants a certain outlaw status, but white dudes casually tossing around racial slurs isn’t transgressive, it just makes you sound like a jagoff [ed: #chicago]. OK, now that we’re done scolding a corpse…
You’d be forgiven for not noticing that The Gun Club’s first album is special. In the almost 40 years since Fire of Love’s release, the Cowpunk idea has been done hard enough and long enough to be its own genre. The Gun Club, however, got there first and there's an argument to be made that they’re still the best. The jangling guitars and sneering darkness of early goth and manic string agitation of punk blend shockingly well with Pierce’s affected southern drawl and leads which drunkenly swerve from Delta blues to honky tonk. The entire experience is solid and fascinating, even if it doesn’t enthrall the way The Gun Club’s later work (like the incredible Miami) eventually would.
Musically, Pierce’s slide guitar and pained vocals draw the attention, though they’re only effective because of the work the rest of the band puts into making the entire affair click. Post-punk and country might sound like a natural pairing due to their outlaw overlap, but Dotson’s sharp riffs consistently have toe a tightrope between American roots melody and the distinctly English tones and textures of what was only beginning to be called goth. Similarly, Ritter and Graham (bass and drums, respectively) have the almost monumental task of driving a train off the rails while maintaining the elegance and control of American roots music. Faced with this task, lesser musicians would have been tempted to play lazy, but the music on Fire of Love never sounds lazy.
Bottom Line: Worth it for fans of post-punk or outlaw country, but maybe not the right album to introduce yourself to The Gun Club if you’re not already sold on the pitch.