Rushes was the second album credited to The Fireman, the collaboration between Paul McCartney and producer Youth.
After the release of 1993’s Strawberries Oceans Ships Forest in 1993, McCartney was asked by his fan club magazine, Club Sandwich why he chose the name The Fireman. “For various reasons it just seemed appropriate,” was his only response.
The title Rushes had various potential meanings. Firstly, there was a ‘Penny Lane’ reference (“The fireman rushes in”). Then there was the film term ‘rushes’, or ‘dailies’ – raw footage shot during television or film making. Finally, a potential drugs reference: users of ecstasy sometimes refer to ‘rushing’, the feeling of euphoria at the drug’s peak.
Containing more than 70 minutes of ambient electronica, Rushes was more musically expansive and varied than its predecessor. Whereas Strawberries Oceans Ships Forest had essentially been nine remixes of the same track, the new album contained eight new compositions.
Two unreleased McCartney songs from October 1995 were sampled for the album. ‘Palo Verde’ contained a line from ‘Let Me Love You Always’, while ‘Bison’, ‘Auraveda’ and ‘7 am’ all contained elements from ‘Hey Now (What Are You Looking at Me For?)’.
The Spring 1988 issue of Club Sandwich, McCartney’s fan club publication, contained a freewheeling interview with his publicist Geoff Baker, in which two additional Rushes songs – ‘Plum Jam’ and ‘Through The Marshes’ – were mentioned but not released.
Rushes was released by the Hydra label on 21 September 1998, and by Capitol Records in the US on 20 October 1998, on compact disc and double vinyl. It did not chart.
Unlike Strawberries Oceans Ships Forest, McCartney’s involvement in The Fireman was well known by the time Rushes was released in 1998.
A press release was sent out with promotional copies, although it shed little light on the background or creative process of the record.
The Fireman brings bison for trancing in the streets.
The Fireman gives a watercolour rush, fluid.
The Fireman understands darsh walls and emerdeen sky. Do you?
The Fireman knows a lemon’s peal.
And the power of the equinox
The Fireman heard a girl’s snatch-talk of a saucer, flying.
The Fireman likes the sound of mud.
The Fireman plays it all; Bass. Watercolour Guitar. Keyboards. Cymbals.
And the fool.
The Fireman looped a shadow’s clipclop. And made auraveda.
The Fireman taped the talk of sex.
The Moon is right. So the Fireman comes.
The Moon is right. So The Fireman comes.
Two limited edition 12″ singles were also released from Rushes.
The first was released on the same day as the album, and was also titled Rushes. It contained the tracks ‘Fluid’, ‘Appletree Cinnabar Amber’, and an extended version of ‘Bison’ titled ‘Bison (Long One)’.
The single came with a huge fold-out poster of a naked woman – model Julie Lewis photographed by Bunny Yeager. The image also appeared in the inner sleeve and CD tray of the album.
The second 12″ single was released in 1999, and was titled ‘Fluid (Nitin Sawhney Remixes)’. It came in a yellow sleeve with blank white labels. Just 3,000 copies were pressed, all of which were numbered.
The single contained three Nitin Sawhney remixes of ‘Fluid’ subtitled Out Of Body And Mind Mix, Out Of Body Mix, and Out Of Body With Sitar Mix, as well as the album version of ‘Bison’.
McCartney also took part in a bizarre live webcast from Abbey Road Studio 2 on 29 September 1998.
Invitations to the webcast were sent from “a fireman’s friend”, and read as follows:
As you probably know, there have been persistent rumors of late that an occasionally-erotic CD of ambient chill-out music, called “Rushes” by The Fireman, is not the work of The Fireman at all, but is rumored in fact to be the music of Paul McCartney – collaborating with that renowned producer of ambience, Youth.
This rumor is, of course, quite untrue. The documented fact that some years back (1993) Sir P. McC and Youth released another album (“strawberries, oceans ships forest“) under the nom de guerre The Fireman has nothing whatsoever to do with it.
Of equal untruth is the claim that Rushes is being promoted by the inclusion of a totally naked woman on the inner sleeve of the CD, and that lifesized posters of said naked lady are going up around clubland soon.
Similarly, it would be massively incorrect to assert that Sir P. McC has anything whatsoever to do with the fact one track on the Rushes album (called “Fluid”) features the quite obvious sounds of a woman engaged in what the late & great Derek Taylor called “charvering.”
On the same (wildly speculative) fact, Sir P. McC’s publicist could not, of course, possibly comment on documented affidavits form DJs all over Europe whom – when asked ot fill in the record company’s DJ Reaction forms – voted The Fireman’s “Rushes” to be great music to charver to.
ALSO the muted publicist is completely unable to confirm talk that The Fireman will be going on the internet this Friday from 7pm to 8pm GMT (2pm to 3pm ET) on:
to explain (a) himself and (b) his complete and utter lack of association with Sir P. McC.
During the webcast, McCartney wore sunglasses, a black ski mask, and headphones over a yellow rain hat. He played keyboards and his Epiphone Casino guitar over pre-recorded backing tracks, which were remixed during the event by Youth.
The event also contained a non-interactive Q&A session in which a woman asked questions, and read aloud the answers handed to her on pieces of paper. McCartney did not speak during the event, but his gestures and mannerisms gave little doubt that it was him.
Following the Q&A, McCartney began playing the guitar for around 30 minutes. Towards the end letters appeared on the screen saying “The Fireman Loves You”, and McCartney could be heard in the background saying “Than you for coming”.
The webcast was McCartney’s first public appearance since the death of his wife Linda in April 1998.