"Great Chicago Fire" officially brings together the legendary Chicago insurgent-country band with an equally legendary left-of-center Nashville songwriter, Paul Burch. The Wacos and Burch are hardly strangers to each other's music, but on paper the union shouldn't work. The former is best known for their politically-charged, rocked-up twang that dances on the grave of country music, while Burch is best known for writing pitch-perfect country and pop melodies that swing with grand and witty grace.
"Great Chicago Fire," then, comes as a bit of shock. The Wacos rock and twang with full fury and Burch keeps right up with them. He gets in touch with his inner Rockpile on the chunky, twangy power pop of "Wrong Side of Love" and "Monterey," rides the full-on, Dylanesque electric charge of "Transfusion Blues" and still makes time to luxuriate in the lonely release of "Flight to Spain." Across the whole album, his supple voice stands up to all the firepower the Wacos can throw at him -- and they throw a lot.
Of course the album also makes room for Deano, Tracey Dear and Jon Langford to take their turns at the front of the hard-core honky tonk stage, dodging beer bottles on the catchy "Give In" and just blasting away on the title cut as well as a stomping version of Dylan's "Hard Rain's Gonna Fall." Like all 11 of the album's tracks, the sound is loose, loud and live -- just like the spirits of these old friends having a blast making brand new music.