2015 October – A couple years ago Sesu brought up the possibility of Dr. Scott’s Moonshine Band doing a version of Fire and Brimstone by Link Wray. I had owned that album for many years.
I never knew exactly what to make of it though. Link Wray was a pioneering Rockabilly guitarist. His raw guitar sound was full of energy. Rumble and Rawhide and his other songs set standards for Rockabilly guitar and influenced all the Rock guitar that followed. His short collaboration with Robert Gordon resulted in 2 essential albums (my opinion). Interestingly, Link Wray was probably the first Native American Rock Star so Sesu has that connection with him as well. Now, the album that Sesu was drawing on wasn’t Rockabilly at all. It was really more of a backwoods country album. No hint of Nashville really, not commercial but authentic (whatever that means). Fire and Brimstone is certainly the standout track on the album. The rhythm is predominant and makes it a good choice for our band.
So I started working it up and really couldn’t get the right feel. Aidan and I tried it a couple of times and it was bad. Sesu and I jammed on it and I just wasn’t feeling it. So off it went to the back of my mind to ferment or distill or something and it was back in there for maybe a couple of years. Then Sesu revived it, “How about Fire and Brimstone for the Halloween album?” I heard myself saying “yup” even as I was thinking that I’d never really got the necessary feeling figured out. So, back to Link’s vinyl, over and over and then the ideas came.
I never did try to play along with the record. I made up some weird chord changes which eventually got thrown out. Planting it firmly in the key of “E” with kind of a Bo Diddley beat, I thought about morphing it into Sympathy For the Devil, so I used the chord changes and feel from the Stones’ Get Your Ya Ya’s Out version for Aidan’s solo near the end. Then I thought about a little guitar lick that Alvin Lee used in the Ten Years After song Love Like A Man (from the LP Cricklewood Green) and had Aidan use that to transition into Sympathy. But would anyone even know it was Sympathy? So I thought I’d add the phrase about Lucifer. (Kelly mixed it down and turned it into a growl – perfect. Get the headphones out.) The ideas flowed and we never really rehearsed the song. We just started recording and it came out.
The other big decision was to let electric guitar in. Second time for everything (the first time was the Dr. Scott version of Mental Rover) and it worked out great with all those elements coming together. So, now you can hear it on A Whiplash Halloween III alongside a lot of other great bands. We’ll let you hear it on SoundCloud too if you follow this link – Fire and Brimstone.
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