Danko Jones

I'm Alive and on Fire (A Collection of Songs: 1996-1999)

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This self-released collection sheds light on the formative years of Canadian hard rockers Danko Jones between 1996 and 1999, as they sought to reconcile what can only be described as punk rock aggression with a more considered '70s funk and hard rock aesthetic. Make that a lot of the former and not much of the latter, as earliest efforts like the self-aggrandizing "Rock Shit Hot," the lasciviously silly "Sugar Chocolate," and the simply ecstatic title song rarely exceed the two-minute mark, and have much of their latent promise (never mind any sign of songwriting finesse) pretty much obscured by a throbbing bass and very raw production. Subsequent offerings such as "Cadillac" and "Dr. Evening" finally show a less frenzied side to Danko's songwriting, but it wasn't until 1999's familiarly boastful "Mango Kid" and the testosterone-fueled "Sex Change Shake" that a cleaner hard rock production helped focus the band's churning mayhem into a suitably focused razor's edge. That focus, in turn, provided the power source igniting this set's most recent and mature material: "Samuel Sin," may have been something of a throwback to the trio's raucous past, but both "Bounce" and "My Love Is Bold" (all three originating in the mini-album named for the last track) introduced a knack for conjuring monster grooves, and thus served as clear harbingers of Danko Jones' direction on ensuing albums. These later efforts would easily eclipse this collection's contents in terms of staying power, if not lustful abandon. And since I'm Alive and on Fire tops out at barely half an hour and leaves numerous other songs and loose ends unaccounted for, none but must-have Danko Jones collectors will need to venture here.

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