- Isle Of Jura Records
Escape From New York began as a post-punk four piece (John Falleti, Mike Whitford, Nigel Swanston and Tim Cox) called Airstrip One, George Orwell's fictional synonym for the British Isles in1984. A handful of their early '80s singles cycled through the sounds of groove-minded bands like Gang Of Four and The Pop Group—the music was solid but compromised by a reverence to a small set of ideas that had gone stale. (By the time of their '81 debut, bands like ABC, Heaven 17 and Orange Juice had become the UK's fashionable vanguard.) Airstrip One re-emerged two years later as Escape From New York, a similarly short-lived project with a crucial difference. In exchanging a grim dystopian reference for a lighter one, John Carpenter and Kurt Russell's post-apocalypse film, the quartet's music took on a sense of fun and adventure.
Fire In My Heart, now reissued by Isle Of Jura, was the band's remarkable transformation in 1984, where New York electro, Roger Troutman-style funk and dub-infused disco were fashioned into clean curves. A ballad set over squelchy synths and slap bass, "Won't Be Your Fool" oozes a traditional take on '80s East Coast funk. Pitch-bent synths and zesty arpeggios crisscross in neat melodic lines, and their orderliness gives discipline to the record's jubilant spirit. There's an even neater geometry to "Fire In My Heart," whose glistening bells and chimes are sewn to the drums in micro-embroidered patterns. It's not the fine details that get you, though. Shadowed by Nigel Swanston's more untrained, boyish tone, Jaki Graham's gutsy mezzo-soprano is like an action hero's catchphrase—memorable, fearless and delivered with a wink. But Graham's vocal doesn't steal the show entirely. Feeding the synth notes through a North African scale, "Fire In My Heart"'s prancing melody shimmers like chain mail catching sunlight. (RA)
A-side plays at 45 RPM, B-side at 33 ⅓ RPM.