Butch Hancock's discography is somewhat difficult to piece together. Many of his albums originally appeared on the small Rainlight label, and while a number of these albums have been reissued on CD, some have not. Firewater is Hancock's fourth album, a thrown-together live set recorded at the Alamo Lounge in Austin in 1980 (and released the following year). Although recorded live, only "The Wind's Dominion" had shown up on his earlier solo albums. "If You Were a Bluebird" would become a Hancock standard, but the standout tune here is the title track. The unpolished band chugs along on all cylinders for "Firewater" while Hancock sings, "You got drunk last nite/You swear you saw the devil/Don't you know firewater seeks its own level?" There's a good version of A.P. Carter's "No Hidin' Place," and Jimmie Dale Gilmore sings a verse or two on "I Keep Wishing for You" and "If You Were a Bluebird." There are other good songs on Firewater -- "Like the Light at Dawn" and "One More Road" -- and they're filled with Hancock's usual clever wordplay and off-the-cuff delivery. The problem, however, is that it all sounds like it was recorded in a barn and just for the fun of it. For those accustomed to Hancock's loose performing style, though, the album will be worth picking up if for no other reason than the title track.
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AllMusic Review by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.