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On Fire [Enhanced, Original recording reissued, Original recording remastered]

Galaxie 500 Audio CD
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Audio CD (28 April 1997)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Enhanced, Original recording reissued, Original recording remastered
  • Label: Rykodisc
  • ASIN: B0000009QN
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 126,284 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Blue Thunder
2. Tell Me
3. Snowstorm
4. Strange
5. When Will You Come Home?
6. Decomposing Trees
7. Another Day
8. Leave the Planet
9. Plastic Bird
10. Isn't It a Pity
11. Victory Garden
12. Ceremony
13. Cold Nights

Product Description

BBC Review

Galaxie 500 formed in 1987, when grunge was becoming a major factor in the US music scene. But the sound these three Harvard graduates produced was completely at odds with the fuzzed-up power of their peers. Even on their finest hour, On Fire, Galaxie 500’s music is subtle and slow burning. It doesn’t reveal its secrets immediately.

The group’s stripped-down sound invites inevitable comparisons with The Velvet Underground, particularly their self-titled third album. But Galaxie 500’s individual approach produced some of the most haunting and original rock music of the era.

The rhythm section of bass guitarist Naomi Yang and drummer Damon Krukowski has a peculiar chemistry in which carefully placed notes and rotating drum patterns seem to hover rather than lock into a groove. Dean Wareham provides the forward motion with his propulsive electric guitar strumming, while offering skewed insights into everyday life in a thin, alarmed-sounding wail. “Why’s everybody look so funny / Why’s everybody acting strange?” he asks on Strange.

Released in 1989, On Fire is the group’s second album. With the help of producer Kramer, the songs sound slightly distanced, which has the effect of drawing in the listener to meet them halfway. The majestic Blue Thunder acquires a cumulative power as it moves through a typical succession of verses followed by chorus sections of Wareham’s wordless falsetto. There’s a subtle surge in energy when Yang joins in on backing vocals before the song concludes with a brief, cathartic guitar solo. Krukowski’s rumbling toms and Chinese cymbal crashes vivify Snowstorm, Wareham’s tale of his TV “going wild” as the snow falls outside. He adds psychedelic wah-wah and then cuts loose with some unhinged lead guitar.

The same less-is-more atmospherics and rough-around-the-edges elegance hallmark their debut Today (1988) and their swansong This Is Our Music (1991), which are also part of this current reissue package from Domino. Each album is accompanied by a bonus disc of rare or unreleased material: Today, for example, comes a selection of Peel Sessions, with more sharply focused readings of tracks from the album and idiosyncratic cover versions, including the Sex Pistols’ Submission and Young Marble Giants’ The Final Day. If you’ve not experienced these records before, now’s the time. --Mike Barnes

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Customer Reviews

3 star
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4.9 out of 5 stars
4.9 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Its the Bassist's ear-rings I remember most! 16 May 2002
By A Customer
Format:Audio CD
This is their best, probably. Certainly with the additional tracks, the lovely Victory Garden (Red Crayola) and the incredible funeral paced Ceremony (New Order) with amazing Neil Young-esque guitar solo, it pushes past the winning post.
However, this is just a glider of record. Start to finish, you'll not notice how good it is until the flight is over. Gentle electric, gossamer-buzz, dizzy adventure. Fantastic sleeve. Unforgettable sleeve notes. You wanted to be in Galaxie 500, didn't you?
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A ragged masterpiece 12 Nov 2004
Format:Audio CD
I bought this album in 1989 when it first came out, to very little fanfare. It is the single most played album I have and will ever own.
It has a ragged but beautiful sound, and Kramer's excellent production somehow papers over the band's shortcomings and create a whole that is far greater than the sum of its parts. I love every track on here, but the version of Joy Division's Ceremony is worth the asking price alone - as is the cover of George Harrison's Isn't it a Pity.
I can't explain exactly what it is about this album that resonates so much with me, but I will never get bored of listening to it. If you love hearing music that has been overlooked but is really good you should give this unique album a chance.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars lovely 2am album 11 Jan 2006
Format:Audio CD
Get in to your chair, put on headphones, relax. Press Play. Turn off the lights. Open the curtains and stare at the night sky. The stark beauty generated by this three piece was rarely captured as well as it is here. Sparingly produced and beautifully played it becomes a close companion for those 'still awake at 2 a.m.' moments.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beyond beautiful, beyond cool, was the 500 23 May 2007
Format:Audio CD
1989 seems like a life time ago but this is as fresh to my ears now as it ever was. Dean's guitar & vocals seem to be always just on the right side of falling apart & close to off tune - taking you to places you need to be but didn't know were there. Naomi's bass and Damon's drums are the glue that holds it together, loose, rambling and so, so laid back.

This, their second album, is their best, but even their worst music is like golden honey. It has been said about their minimalistic velveteen influenced style, but for me they are so beyond that and a breed apart. Simple spacious guitar driven music with an injured soul, for those wee wee small hours and those with bruised hearts and rudderless journeys through life.

Take a listen and if you have an ounce of sensitivity in your soul too, you will need this like I have - as a strange affirmation of the frailty and fragility of the relationships in life, music that knows the human condition and keeps you warm in those cold hours before dawn.
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