Streets On Fire – This Is Fancy

January 01, 1970



The Streets on Fire missed the dance-punk revival by some
five or six years, about the ideal span to forget how tired everyone had become
of the manic, pounding beats, the epileptic arm flailing, the hip-jutting, the
tortured yelping, the relentless onslaught of hi-hat and bass.  It’s good timing on the part of this Chicago four-piece,
because there was never anything wrong with this sound, not when it was done
with conviction. The Streets on Fire have that in spades. It sounds like their
hair really is on fire here on this debut, and that is always, always a good


There are two killer songs on This Is Fancy. The opener,
“No One’s Fucking to the Radio,” fuses new wave synths and scratchy guitars to
rapid, ragged drumming.  The distinctive
element, here and elsewhere, is singer Chadwick’s voice. There’s an electric
shock running through it, a desperate, nearly painful energy, as he urges us to
“just toss those records out” repeatedly, at ever higher, more hysterical tones.
It’s an impressive, physically discomforting performance, something like Davey
Henderson in the Fire Engines.  “Astronaut Love Triangle,” later on, is cut
from the same manic cloth, riding a buzzing, subliminal bassline and a mess of
clattery drums. The subject seems to be lust in space, a silly topic pursued
with gleaming-eyed obsessiveness with a bit of foot fetish. “I can see your
feet through your space boots/That means that all of you is mine” yelps
Chadwick, and if he sees the humor in the line, you can’t tell from his


 Chadwick is the
flashiest, most entertaining factor in This Is Fancy, but he’s certainly
not working alone. “Chadwick Shut Up!” allows a long, pedal-altered guitar solo
to erupt out of its hard, rhythmic foundations, a bit of space rock wedged in a
post-punk carryall.  Things get even
trippier in the long, psychedelic closer “Color/Stereo” and heavy, sludgy
“Hello, From Eastern Europe.” There’s a blues influence, too, that brings to
mind the UK’s
Archie Bronson Outfit, and comes out best in the complicatedly clapped, 12/8
circling of “Fancy,” one of the disc’s few unambiguous ballads.


Yet for the most part, Streets on Fire succeeds best when
they rampage heedlessly over boxy, late-1970s beats, leaving just enough space
for Chadwick to preen and pout and shock. There are not too many frontmen who
can get away with lines like, “I told you once, I told you twice, I shake my
finger, tell you nice…If not, I don’t care, I’ll pull down your underwear”
(from “Chadwick Shut Up”) and when they come along, you have to make the most
of them.


DOWNLOAD: “No One’s Fucking to the Radio” “Astronaut



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