Firewater – Reissued Catalog

January 01, 1970



Inland Empire band Kaleidoscope is renowned as
the first rock band that played what would be later called ‘World Music,”
performing a mashup of musical genres and mixing in exotic international music
as well. They commonly explored Middle Eastern, Turkish, African, Gypsy,
Eastern European, Balkan, Spanish and other cultures regularly. Years later
artists like David Byrnes and Paul Simon would tap similar ethnic veins for


1996, Tod Ashley, late of industrial grunge-head band, Cop Shoot Cop, took home
a box of old records from a Russian thrift store and had his mind blown forever
by the Balkan, Klezmer and Gypsy music he found therein. This was the igniter
to his passion for Klez-rock, Gypsy and Eastern European music and the concept
incubator of Firewater. The resolute rocker used the cultural influences as
inspirations to experiment with these regional folkish colorings and flavors.
What developed was his critically praised Get
Off the Cross…We Need the Wood For the Fire.
Later travels to the Middle
East exposed him to other musical traditions in far-flung locales like India
and Pakistan and getting bombed with the locals on drinks like the
cannabis-enriched milk, spices and almond drink called bhang.


On that and the albums that followed, it’s
almost like an eclectic college radio show on every album, the styles changing
fast and furiously, fitting in with eccentric, exotic college radio fodder by
the likes of Rufus Harley, Martin Denny and Esquivel!  In other words, possibly challenging
listening for the less open-minded listener, but that said, it should be
pointed out the songs are not all ethnically derived, and he rocks out
American-style plenty. Tod A is no slacker when it comes to cranking out
endlessly creative songs, similarly to songwriting

machines like Cotton Mather’s Robert Harrison,
Guided By Voice’s Robert Pollard and the late Mark Linkous of Sparklehorse, all
endlessly creative founts for new and exciting music. Of course, musical style
dabbling and


experimentation doesn’t always produce gold,
and a few songs here and there on the albums come across as lightweight,
over-the-top, or simply under or over-cooked. But, for the most part, this is a
solid catalog deserving of being reissued and kept in the public eye and


And now, for something completely different.
In 2004, Ashley released a stunning album of covers, Songs We Should Have Written. Included were numbers such as “The
Beat Goes On,” “This Town,” “Storm Warning,” “Hey Bulldog,” “Paint It Black,”
and the song he was born to cover, “Some Velvet Morning.” This may seem a
release that would be easy to dismiss, but the contents are pure dynamite,
they’re so lovingly and amazingly reproduced. “Folsom Prison Blues” starts off
a bit creaky, but halfway through it also shines, half true to the original,
half sounding like the illustrious version by The Charlatans.


Recently released is his first effort in four
years, the most-excellent International
which further explores Balkan-beat and Klez-rock, as well as a
plethora of other musical influences.

the Blurt review of that here… Blurt reviews International






Off the Cross…We Need the Wood For the Fire. – 1996

Ponzi Scheme – 1998

– 2001

Man On the Burning Tightrope – 2003

We Should Have Written – 2004

Golden Hour – 2008

Orange – 2012




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