The Fire Engines were a Scottish art-punk band from Edinburgh that released the album Lubricate Your Living Room on Bob Last’s Pop:Aural Music small-press in 1980. Just prior to the band, vocalist Davy Henderson cut an EP with Leicester combo the Disco Zombies. During the late 1980s, he recorded two albums with electro-posters Win alongside ex-Happy Family drummer Ian Stoddart.
Members: Davy Henderson (vocals, guitar), Graham Main (bass), Russell Burn (drums), Murray Slade (guitar)
Lubricate Your Living Room (1980)
Lubricate Your Living Room was recorded on Oct. 5, 1980 and produced by Fast Product/Pop:Aural founder Bob Last, who also oversaw recordings by Gang of Four, The Mekons, and Drinking Electricity. The album consists of nine originals with a total running time of 29:30. The numbers are semi-improvisational and mostly instrumental.
“Hungry Beat” (4:31): Trebly, scratchy guitars entangle in B♭: one snaky and direct, the other scribbly and diffuse. The two overlay a loopy beat that accents two’s and double-fours. During the bridge, a throbbing bassline comes to the fore amid distant noises akin to subway sounds. The climax is hinted with rising guitar shards.
“Sympathetic Anaesthetic” (3:12): A crawling bassline entwines with a ringing, rupturous guitar tone that hoverers in A amid constant tonal overspills. A one-man tribal precision marks the beat. The guitar takes a wiggly, vibrato tone as the fadeout nears.
“Discord” (6:51): Contoured guitar interlocks with bobbing bass in B. The two are beset with discordant, secondary guitar amid a clickety drum pattern. Guitar-wise, the structure alternates between twin-lead verses and fractious chordal bridges, all in the same key. A dropout at 2:30 highlights the persistent, galloping bassline, which is soon flanked by alternately fractious/snaky guitar interjections. At around 4:00, the rupturous guitar interplay breaks for a duel of mirroring mono-notes that drone to the fadeout.
By forgoing vocals, Fire Engines maximized the instrumental experimentation of the 1980 UK small-press scene. Their knack for piercing leads, chordal dissonance, and alternately snappy/stumbling rhythmic components places them at the sonic midway between Manchester/Leeds post-punk (In Camera, A Certain Ratio, Gang of Four, Delta 5) and New York No Wave (James White/Contortions, Decoding Society).
- Lubricate Your Living Room (1980)
- “Get Up and Use Me” / “Everything’s Roses” (1980)
- “Big Gold Dream” (1981)
- “Candyskin” / “Meat Whiplash” (1981)