A Flame from the Fen

The Complete Fire Dept.
May 2010 | Double audio CD | ??:?? / ??:??


To coincide with the release of the debut Vermin Poets album, Damaged Goods Records collected all the recorded works of Neil Palmer’s old band The Fire Dept. on a double CD retrospective, this 51 Track double CD includes their two albums from the 90’s ‘The Golden Egg’ and ‘Elpee For Another Time’ plus singles and lots of unreleased tracks.


  1. Richard Hugginson

    Hailing from the wilds of Cambridgeshire via Brighton The Fire Dept were influenced as much by booze, Bukowski and Tony Hancock as by 60s garage and 70s punk. They produced a punk garage hybrid that was cleverly naïve and heart stoppingly great.
    Taken under the wing of the inspirational Slim Chance (without whom no Dirty Water Club and no garage rock revival) they plied their trade in London Archway’s, St Johns tavern, playing to a select group of misfits, billy childish and road workers.
    This double CD from Damaged Goods is The Fire Dept from soup to nuts.
    CD1 comprises of the LPs L’Ouef D’Or and Elpee For Another Time both recorded at the nascent Toe Rag studios by Liam Watson, a time when he existed on nourishment drink and golden virginia and long before the White Stripes, but his genius with sound already abundantly clear.
    Recorded as pretty much live on the first LP, they play with a joy and passion, Richardson and Taylor providing a rock solid rhythm section for Palmer’s off kilter fuzz drenched guitar and angrily restrained vocals (imagine if Ray Davies could have played like Dave – you get the picture).
    By the second elpee, Richardson had decided that his work here was done and was replaced with Johnny Johnson from Thee Headcoats on bass. By now, Palmers was wearing afghan rugs and having his very own second summer of love, listen to the warlocks cover “Walking In The Sun” for proof and also for the most beautiful guitar solo committed to tape in the last 20 years. Elpee for another time was a quantum leap and apparently a concept album written and recorded in 2 weeks. Whatever, if this was presented as a lost freak beat classic it would have the garigistes selling their vintage Chelsea boots to get a copy.
    The second CD comprises of early demos, clearly illustrating their DIY ethic and punk roots and then singles and should a been singles. Girl on a hot rod saw Richardson handling vocals and is more psychobilly than psychedelic but there then follows probably their finest moment “where’d you keep your heart” is a frantic heartfelt bomb of a song with Taylor summoning the spirit of Moon and Palmer seemingly channelling Pete Townsend and Eddie Phillips at once.
    So what have we learned? The best music is not always measured by success and sales? Sure, but you knew that. Genius is rarely recognised in its own lifetime?
    Lets hope not because these men are still alive and kicking (Neil Palmer currently has an LP by his outfit The Vermin Poets entitled Poets Of England available on the same label). Rumours abound of a reformation so give your ears and soul a treat and get this and then go see `em live.

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