fire town

When I was a teenager, just starting to hone my musical taste into something respectable, I wanted to believe in a local music scene. As I read through my biweekly subscription copies of Rolling Stone with the sort of intense scrutiny others save for the Bible, I became enamored with any write-up about a town that was exploding with an influx of great new bands that were garnering national attention. The mixture of civic pride and being ahead of the curve was potently appealing to me for reasons I still can’t quite identify. Of course, I couldn’t truly take advantage of a local music scene, since that tends to play out in bars (especially in Wisconsin, where practically everything plays out in bars). So I needed local bands that I could somehow access without an ID that declared my age to be above twenty-one.

What I sought arrived, somewhat anyway, in 1987, when a band named Fire Town issued their debut LP on Atlantic Records. An offshoot of the local band Spooner (who were somewhat familiar to me because their terrific single “Mean Old World” got some local radio play), I’m not sure how much they actually played across Madison under the new iteration before the album came out, but that didn’t matter all that much to me. It was enough that they were on one of the most major of the major labels and getting the name of my native state typed up with a certain amount of admiration in various music publications, including the one name-checked above. I waited eagerly for the crossover success that could have allowed me to adopt the condescending attitude of one who’d discovered a popular band a split-second or two before everyone else. It never really arrived. Even in Madison, the various radio stations gave the album only the most cursory attention, upending my belief that broadcasters loved nothing better than championing the hometown guys.

By the time Fire Town’s sophomore release arrived, in 1989, I had access to my own radio transmitter. While my college radio station hadn’t committed as fully to celebrating Wisconsin bands as they would a few years later, I and my cohorts made sure The Good Life received a respectable amount of airplay. I think we played just about every track from the record, without ever really settling on one “hit.” Whatever sounded just right that particular day became the selection. Today, as I think about the pending opportunity to reacquaint myself with the Madison music scene (and now I can go into all those bars and clubs, though many that became my favorites are sadly long gone), “Turn To Me” sounds just right. And even though Fire Town never quite took off, a lot of the band members eventually did all right for themselves.

Listen or Download –> Fire Town, “Turn To Me”

(Disclaimer: I usually opt for tracks that are out of print for this feature, but I sometimes make an exception. Today is an exception. While I doubt many local, independently-owned records stores have copies of Fire Town’s two albums there on the shelf, ready to catch the eyes of browsers, it does seem it’s something that can be ordered and then purchased in a way that compensates the proprietor of said shop and the artist, the latter depending on what sort of shenanigans the label may be playing with the books these days. So take the sharing of this track as encouragement to go out and buy both of those Fire Town albums. They’re both top-notch. I adamantly believe that sharing the song in this manner qualifies as fair use, but I will gladly and promptly remove it from my humble little corner of the interweb if asked to do so by any individual or entity with due authority to make such a request.)

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