REVIEW: Mr. Bungle – Mr. Bungle (1991)

MR. BUNGLE – Mr. Bungle (1991 Warner)

For the uninitiated, get ready. You’ve never heard anything in your life like Mr. Bungle. Featuring the powerful pipes of Mike Patton, Bungle was his pre-Faith No More band which he admirably kept going through the 90’s before finally calling it a day. This album, produced by John Zorn and completely different than anything Bungle did after, is a challenging first listen for the musically timid.  It is also acutely rewarding, and can only do good in expanding your musical vocabulary. If that ain’t your cup o’ tea, it also has lots of X-rated, adult only lyrics; words that will keep you laughing, disgusted or titillated all the way through. See: “Squeeze Me Macaroni” (sex with food) or “The Girls of Porn”.

Mr. Bungle squeezes multiple genres into single songs, often switching gears multiple times within a minute. Careening joyfully from breakneck-speed horn-laden funk, to death metal guitar with doo-wop vocals, to circus music and beyond, this is not for the meek. This is for the open minded. This is for the bored, those who can no longer handle the same damn songs on the radio all the time, the same keys, chords, time changes and instrumentation. And if you’re a Mike Patton fan already, but somehow missed this, prepare to have your mind blown.The production by John Zorn is perfect. How he managed to arrange all these instruments, samples, and voices together into coherent songs is nothing short of genius. The sound is gloriously crisp. This is Mr. Bungle’s magnum opus.

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Highlights:
  • “Travolta” – Changed to “Quote Unquote” on later pressings for obvious legal reasons.
  • “Squeeze Me Macaroni” – “Hostess Ding Dong wrapped an eggroll around my wong / While Dolly Madison proceded to ping my pong”
  • “The Girls Of Porn” – “The urge is too much to take / All I can think about is playing with myself / It’s time to masturbate / I got my Hustler and I don’t need nothing else”
  • “My Ass Is On Fire” – A memorable shocker ending with Patton chanting “Redundant, redundant, reeeedundant, reDUNdant…”
  • “Stubb (A Dub)” – A song that questions, among other things, if a pet dog believes they will grow up into a human being.

 

Regardless of the contrasting styles and lightning fast changes, after a fashion the album flows, and cannot really be broken down into singles, or put on a mix CD. It needs to be listened to in its entirety, in sequence. And be careful, when turning up the volume during the quiet moments.  You might want it louder to hear some bit of dialogue that’s mixed in too quietly.  That’s just when they blast you with more guitar and horns!

If you don’t like this on first listen, don’t fret. You’ll love it by the 21st. Guaranteed*.

5/5 stars

* I don’t actually honour any guarantees.

21 comments

  1. When I lived in your town, I was in a band. Who wasn’t in a band? Anyway. The bass player was WAY into this record, and these guys in general. I probably heard this (because of him) several tmes. But I only have vague memories of it all. Excellent review though, man!

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        1. The Real Thing is the gateway! I don’t know how much “free” listening time you get, with the 1001 list and all, but their catalog is very much worth checking out. The whole thing.

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        2. The Olympics have pretty much eliminated any free listening time over the last couple weeks! I definitely like to listen to non-list albums every so often, otherwise I fear it would feel like work. How does the original vocalist compare to Patton?

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  2. stephen1001 :
    How does the original vocalist compare to Patton?

    He doesn’t. Its not even close.
    You can hear Chuck Mosely on the original (both of them) versions of We Care A Lot. Once you hear the Patton version and then the work that he did with FNM its like a different band completely. That being said, I like his voice, but Patton is miles ahead of him contextually as well as vocally.

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    1. Little known fact — Mosely is also not the original singer. I think they had something like six (?) singers before him? One of which is Courtney Love who only lasted a few shows.

      Agreed with all your comments Craig. I think Introduce Yourself is an incredible album but it’s a different band entirely.

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  3. I tried…and I tried etc. Couldn’t do it. Just a tad too outrageous for its own sake imho. I love a lot of out there music, even like a lot of Zorn’s music. Bungle never did it for me. That was a long time ago though, maybe I should give it another shot.

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  4. When i’m going to practice or to a gig to sing, by the 3rd song I can hit any note when singing along to this CD. I have a few covers on YouTube. “Stub A Dub”, “My Ass Is On Fire”, “Quote Unquote”, and probably a few more. Check them out. Search Justin Harrell Mr bungle

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