REVIEW: Psycho Circus – Scarred (1993)

This was one of the first, if not the first, discs I bought with my staff discount at the record store!  I wonder if Deke remembers these guys?

SCARRED

PSYCHO CIRCUS – Scarred (Anthem 1993)

20 years ago, Psycho Circus were one of the bands hyped as the “next big thing” out of Canada. They originated in Mississauga, Ontario, just west of Toronto.  They signed with SRO management (Rush, Van Halen, King’s X, Extreme) and producer Terry Brown (also Rush) and released a trendy but still unique goth-rap-funk-metal album called Scarred.  They also released a music video for the excellent “Pulsate”.

These guys were hanging out with old dudes way before Our Lady Peace.

The problem with Psycho Circus is their split personality.  On one hand (roughly half the album) they inhabit this cool, dark land I call Diet Faith No More.  Singer Vince Franchi has the lungs and range to emulate Patton’s style on The Real Thing.  Their cool use of keyboards also reminds me of that band, but without the dementia.  On the other hand, there’s a goofy rap-funk side, which does not appeal to me in the least.  I think funk metal got stale very quickly, and the juvenile lyrics render the rapping limp.  “Acid Monkey Junk”, a song about the testing of cosmetics on animals, is painful at time.  “Monkeys in the ocean and fishes in the trees?”

A M.E.A.T Magazine interview by Karen Bliss, from 1993, reveals that the band had already dropped even more irritating material from their live set.  They name a discarded song called “Picky Purple People” as being particularly notable for its silliness.  Glad I didn’t have to hear that one.

 

I prefer the Diet Faith No More side of the band: hard, melodic and dark songs like “Thru the Backbone” (which also features rapping in a non-annoying way).  “Pulsate” is easily the best song on the album, demonstrating Franchi’s impressive vocal range and power.  I’m also fond of the angry “I Know”, the haunting “Leave Me Alone”, and the closer “Goodbye”.  The rest of the album is unfortunately skip-worthy and occasionally irritating to me.

There was also a CD single made for “I Know” featuring an exclusive “Psylicone Mix”.  Although I don’t enjoy the remix as much as the album version, it’s notable for being remixed by Brown and the band, not some outsider.  I happened upon this single within my first year at the record store, and it surely must be one of the rarest discs I have.

For half a good album:

2.5/5 stars

M.E.A.T Magazine

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23 comments

  1. For sure Mike I do remember as well as being a MEAT subscriber reading and buying everything that they would promote usually …..I did buy this but for me one Faith No More was enough and I’m not knocking FNM but the whole half rock/rap thing was not my cup of tea. 93 was a yr in change I mean look at the three major bands that changed vocalists at around that time(Maiden,Priest,Crüe) so I was always on the hunt for something new and if it was Canadian as well I would give it a fair shake. But at the time I was listening to Sven Gali more as it was more inline with my taste just straight ahead rock but of course Gali went off the rails with there second release……
    I was waiting to see what u were gonna post with regards to your comment to me about finding something that was Canadian and from yrs past….I actually thought it was gonna be Saints and Sinners..hahahaha……I was wrong!

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    1. Deke I am missing Saints & Sinners. Although I do have both Sword albums. I’m sure you remember those guys — they evolved into S&S when everyone but the singer quit.

      I agree with all your comments here. I too was looking for anything cool in absence of our favourite bands. And even on a second level of fame, bands like Poison and Warrant had also had major lineup changes and sound changes. A lot of bands just disappeared for years, like Europe.

      Sven Gali…I’m sure you heard Dee Cernile died. Very sad.

      I mentioned one of my old customers, Peter the Rocker. Peter says that he knew Sven’s bassist TT Mahar, and gave him shit for that second album. “You fucking sold out man!”

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  2. I had read a yr ago that Dee had passed…too young to go….
    Saints and Sinners was a pretty good album but they had a goofy tune called Frankenstein that went on about 8 minutes to long..other than that it was pretty good…than they fizzled out…

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    1. Was that an Edgar Winter cover Deke?

      I’ll buy the album should I find it used at a good price. I like buying obscure rock discs from ages ago. Bad 4 Good for example…

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  3. Not sure if Frankenstein was the Edgar tune though but the album itself,was,produced by aldo nova. For sure it’s worth picking up for cheap …..

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  4. Mike u can sample Saints and Sinners on youtube as someone posted some tracks there.
    Check out Two songs one being Shake and the other being Rip it Up…gives u a good idea ..good songs also…

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  5. Yeah the keyboard player Jesse Bradman( think that’s what his name was) played keys in Nightranger before this and Poison after …..if this would have came out in 88-91 it would have been huge….sept of 92 when it did ,it was to late…..

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  6. For sure at the time I thought the Crüe would save us all with the great Mötley Corabi album,and we all know what happened there…

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    1. I remember Bob Rock said in MEAT Magazine that “the new Motley Crue album will change music” or something like that.

      I do like the album though. Listened to Corabi Crue on Thursday actually.

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  7. Too Fast and the Corabi album are my fav 2 albums by the Crüe….I guess we were in the minority Mike…..I think the Corabi album has grown more into a cult classic now and a fav more now than back at the time….Sixx should pay attention to that!

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  8. I remember hearing OF them at the time, but I don’t know if I ever HEARD them. Maybe I did, and don’t remember. That was a long time ago.

    Funk metal got old quickly? Dude! What about Extreme! ;)

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