Now I know that in reality fire is pretty frightening, and I don’t take the current fire warnings lightly, but for songwriters, flames represent love, dancing and, above all, passion. And that just can’t be a bad thing.
In reggae and punk, however, fire has a moral – almost purging – quality to it. Recorded as riots swept Britain in 1979, the Ruts incredibly tense BABYLON’S BURNING foresees the demise of western civilisation. Extra points, too, for starting the song with a fire alarm and siren. Excellent.
DISCO INFERNO from the Trammps, would normally be a scary newspaper headline but when you’re grooving away to very this funky track, you know that it’s more about burning up the dance floor, rather than burning down the building. Here’s a clip from the song that is probably best remembered from the film Saturday Night Fever :
The Pointer Sisters know all about passion. Cause when they kiss, its oooooh FIRE. Dido, on the other hand is way more restrained in her rendition of FEELS LIKE FIRE, her contribution to Carlos Santana’s album Shaman. This is a very interesting album and worth a listen with its mix of hip-hop, rap and pop artists.
Last week in our Covers show, Patricia Barber did a great version of the Doors’ LIGHT MY FIRE. I wasn’t beyond playing the tune again, as it suits the theme, but this time it was the very sexy version by the beautiful Julie London. In complete contrast, M.I.A. came out fighting with FIRE, FIRE as she reckons relationships are more like a battlefield. Fair enough.
Country fans weren’t ignored. First it was a classic from Johnny Cash – RING OF FIRE – that I teamed with BABY I’M BURNIN’ from the wonderful Dolly Parton. To round out the set, who else but, Bruce Springsteen burning up the airwaves with I’M ON FIRE.
Time: 1983. Place: Any Disco in Town. Talking Heads creepy dance track, BURNING DOWN THE HOUSE, was inspired by the crowd at a Funkadelic concert shouting ‘Burn Down the House’ but David Byrnes’ penetrating delivery suggests that he may have taken it way too literally. At the same time Madonna was emerging as the next big thing and she exhibits the combination of erotic heat and disco fever that would keep her in good stead for the rest of her career. The song, of course, was BURNING UP. Here’s a clip of Talking Heads with BURNING DOWN THE HOUSE, a great example of art-school punks of the 80’s.
In a show about FIRE we can’t leave out Deep Purple’s SMOKE ON THE WATER. So, we didn’t. Here’s a clip of the original Mark II lineup in New York, 1973. One of the final performances, this is one of the only videos of the band performing it in the 70’s with Ian Gillan and Roger Glover.
The second hour of the show was suitably launched with the Lord of Hellfire himself, Arthur Brown with FIRE. That was followed by Brian Eno’s strange little song, BABY’S ON FIRE. It started Eno’s post-Roxy Music solo career and owes as much to Robert Fripp’s guitar solo as it does to Eno’s sinister vocals. Then it was time for some lovin’ music and Teddy Pendergrass & Stephanie Mills were definitely burning with desire with their song FEEL THE FIRE.
Last week on our Covers show I played some Elvis, (Presley that is, not Costello), and Mel from BayFM’s Rollin’ program told me that she was sorry that we didn’t hear more of the King on local radio, so who am I disappoint the gorgeous Mel, especially when it fits so beautifully with this week’s theme? So it was one of Elvis’ best: BURNING LOVE.
Here’s a great triple play: Jimi Hendrix with FIRE, Prodigy with their first UK number one single, the controversial FIRESTARTER and then it was the Stones with PLAY WITH FIRE. This track was the B side to ‘The Last Time’. Released in 1965, it was recorded the night before they left to tour Australia. The video for this track is quite pedestrian, so I’d rather show you something wild – and so, the Prodigy’s official video for FIRESTARTER it is. Enjoy.
There was still time for Nirvana’s LAKE OF FIRE and Natalie Merchant’s THIS HOUSE IS ON FIRE. I really liked the combination in this set. And then it was time to finish up with Aussie made good Daniel Merriweather supported by Adele, with WATER AND FLAME. The final song was a guilty pleasure (as if I didn’t include enough of them already!) – a song that I probably should have included in the program on FAMOUS PEOPLE – Billy Joel’s WE DIDN’T START THE FIRE. Check it out and you’ll understand why:
Here’s the complete playlist: