Fire And Gasoline
MCA Records, 1989
REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 01/13/1997
When you were a member of the Sex Pistols, how do you put your past behind you?
If your name was Sid Vicious, you created an even worse future by allegedly murdering your girlfriend and dying of a drug overdose before your trial could begin. If your name was Paul Cook, you formed a series of bands that failed to go anywhere your former band did. If your name was Johnny Rotten, you began using your real last name of Lydon again and formed the band Public Image, Ltd., whose work sometimes was more brilliant than the Pistols.
And then there is Steve Jones. He tried to make a name for himself by taking an anti-drug stance after cleaning up his act, and he recorded two solo albums, neither of which sold particularly well. (When not touring with the reunited Pistols last year, Jones was also a member of the Neurotic Outsiders.)
This is truly a shame in the case of the second album, Fire And Gasoline, which showed that Jones was not only a competent guitar player, but a decent singer in his own right.
Backed by a good portion of the Cult (who were on their way to their best work with their album Sonic Temple), Jones kicks off strong with "Freedom Fighter," demonstrating his powerful (if just a touch hoarse) vocals and smooth rhythm and lead guitar work. Sure, this may seem like formula hard rock from that time period these days, but it still maintains an air of freshness now.
The best song is the title track, which combines crunching, catchy guitar riffs with a decent lyric and solid rhythm performance from bassist Terry Nails and drummer Mickey Curry. Cult lead throat Ian Astbury contributes tambourine and backing vocals throughout the album, but it is this track that shows that Jones could have been a star at that time. (It's also worthy to note that Cult guitarist Billy Duffy takes over lead guitar on "Get Ready.")
Other songs that stand out are "God In Louisiana" and "We're Not Saints," both of which sound as far apart from what the Pistols were spewing out in their heyday as the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
There are a few weak moments on Fire And Gasoline, namely "I Did U No Wrong," featuring the guest vocals of one Axl Rose. Rose's vocals, even hoarser than Jones's, sound incredibly out of place on this one. Were it not for the cover of David Bowie's "Suffragate City" to close out the CD (the track is not on the cassette), the second half of the album would be pretty much forgettable.
But the first half of Fire And Gasoline is enough to carry the whole album, and demonstrate that Jones was not a one-dimensional guitarist or musician. In fact, contrary to popular belief, he was quite good at what he did. Pity this album didn't reach more people to show off his talent. It doesn't appear this one is in print anymore, but is worth looking for at your local used record shop. (If you can find it, also look for a promo-only release, Steve Jones Live, featuring five live cuts from Fire And Gasoline.)