lowFLOWs: the Columbia Anthology (’91-’93)
Once upon a time, a hardcore band out of San Pedro, CA turned the punk rock scene on its ear. Minutemen were a force to be reckoned with, releasing four full length albums and eight EPs in just five years. They toured incessantly and then in December 1985 it was over, cut short when co-founder and guitarist D. Boon was killed in an auto accident.
Surviving members – George Hurley (drums) and Mike Watt (bass) – were distraught. Watt gave up music altogether. That is until a young upstart from Ohio was given a false tip that Hurley and Watt were auditioning guitarists for a new band. Ed Crawford hounded Watt until he got that phantom audition and, dubbed “Ed fROMOHIO”, a new band was formed.
The band took their name from a Bob Dylan promotional video for “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” the one where Dylan holds up a series of cue cards. One simply read “firehose” and it struck a funny chord within the band.
Between June 1986 and February 1994, fIREHOSE released five full length albums and numerous singles, EPs and played nearly 1,000 gigs. They were what many consider the sound of the 90s, blending punk, funk, jazz and rock into its own identity, one that was a departure from Minutemen.
Their final two albums were released on Columbia Records. lowFLOWs: the Columbia anthology (’91-’93) is a re-master and re-release of those two albums with a bunch of goodies thrown in … previously unreleased material, live stuff Watt did with J. Mascis and Murph (both of Dinosaur Jr.) and some soundtrack work.
While many consider the first three albums (all on SST Records) quintessential fIREHOSE, time has shown that there’s a lot to be said for these later albums. Cohesive and fresh, both work well in 2012 with the bonus tracks intact.
Newbies will be impressed at the musicality that is expressed in the songs. Diehards should welcome the return.