If’n I list’n to critics, it’s with a fucking pound of salt. Actually, more like a mound of salt and I got one up the street from me where the Parks Department keeps all its street salt for the Bronx. I think the expression needs grain because it implies it’s meaningless, but fuck, even that 2-story mound of salt doesn’t mean shit to me. Alright, brevity! The crickets say this is the fIREHOSE album where they came into their own, became “more cohesive and focused,” (Greg Prato from Allmusic.com) “their own thing,” and a blog I like (From Here To Obscurity) says “more personal, a little less political, but still funny and insightful.” I disagree with all that bull. I don’t think you can top how personal Watt gets on Ragin’ Full On. It’s uncomfortable how personal some of it is. If I had to describe it quickly, I’d say If’n, yes, shows a band that has figured out their sound, but its more about having fun (Which Obscurity says partly).
Now this is unfounded, but I get the feeling they made this album when they consciously or unconsciously decided this was going to be a band that would stick around. It wasn’t just something to do or an escape or for two of ’em walkin into a band as a band member zombies ‘cus that’s what they had been doin hardcore for 5 years and they got used to it. Because of this decision, I think they took a deep deep breath and thought, really fuckin thought about how to mix up the whole rock roll drum/guitar/bass/vox thing, something I fear most bands don’t do because they are organic and run with the flow etc. etc. but Watt, as much as he is a dude who does go with the flow, in music he’s going against. Fuck with yer brain, get you thinkin, that’s the Watt way from my perspective.
Fun. If’n reeks of fun. Seeing the band tour these songs must have been awesome. From the Crawford penned “Sometimes” the happy way of singing the upbeat “Anger,” this is an album for good moods. While Ragin’ might be used if you are dealin with some shit and need to let loose, If’n is more for hangin’ out in the summer. Driving music? Maybe. This goes along with the album art. As opposed to the Ragin’ cover of a house burnin (which you could say it how Watt and Hurley must have felt like after D.’s death- the Minutemen house burnt to the ground), If’n’s got a cover of a bedroom wall(?) with some weird ass statue and a poster of Husker Du with Bob Mould smiling ear to ear. Instead of smeltin metal for chemical wires, we’re windmilling!
Less uniform than Ragin, but Watt’s never been about uniforms so why should I expect one here. What I mean is Ragin’ doesn’t have as many curveballs as If’n tho it’s still hits high and low peaks most bands above or under ground would not dare touch. Here’s what I mean: after the trippy “Me and you remembering” Watt-spiel, we get a folk Ed tribute to Elizabeth Cotton then a more traditional power trio rock song with Ed singin called “Soon.” When that wraps up the last song churns on and its “Thunder Child,” obviously a bass/tom heavy song and it’s got Watt growlin his best Beefheart growl. Man, forget the uniform, this album’s made of clothes from the 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s and even the goddam future. There ain’t the rhyme and reason you got on Ragin’ and even that was a little hard to swallow. In it’s categorizing ability, I’d call this the Trout Mask to Ragin’s Safe as Milk. Now, we’re all friends here so don’t take that the wrong way, fire or beef fans. It’s not insulting to either, rather it enhances each. Meaning through comparisons, like on the SATs because you all know how much I value standardized tests. Just fill in C and fill it in good. You’ll get a 20%, but at least yer consistent.
So say you were really into R.E.M. and you picked up a tape of Document and saw fIREHOSE and saw there was even a song for the singer of R.E.M. and you heard “Sometimes” played by the one good DJ at the college radio station so you buy it. I say you went home and put that on and checked out completely at “Making the Freeway” on side A. So turn it over to get the REM song and it sounds good. Then “Operation Solitaire” comes on and its a slow song with a good bass and some cool echoing guitar sounds. Watt talks about the weather and some other crazy shit. You hang on and it’s worth it because the best fucking happy song on the album is next, Windmilling. You aren’t sure what the hell the lyrics are about, but it sounds good. When Me and You Remembering comes on, you shrug. Elizabeth Cotton comes on and you make a nasty face. What the fuck are these dudes doing? Where did this song come from? And that’s why I like it. Pure fucko rock.
Now, I can’t verify this either tho I’ve been trying since yesterday and can’t get anything other than the Wikipedia fact which ain’t a fact at all cus some jerkoff in Australia could have written it, but here it is: the title If’n comes from from a song Samantha sings in Bewitched. Here’s the video.