Billy Gould

RE-REVIEW: KISS My Ass – Classic Kiss Regrooved (1994)

The KISS RE-REVIEW SERIES Part 45

 My Ass – Classic Kiss Regrooved (1994 Polygram)

When reports surfaced that Kiss were in the studio working on a song with country star Garth Brooks, some assumed this was to be a bonus track for the forthcoming Kiss Alive III.  Little did we realize that Kiss were actually working on their own tribute album.

In the early 1990s, tribute albums were all the rage.  Common Thread: the Songs of the EaglesStone Free: a Tribute to Jimi HendrixOut of the Blue and Borrowed Tunes:  tributes to Neil Young.  There were many more, and Kiss were not on the trailing edge of this trend.  They beat Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin to the market.

Kiss My Ass was the clever title, but it was not the first.  1990’s Hard to Believe: A Kiss Covers Compilation featured soon-to-be-famous bands like Melvins and Nirvana.  The ever-enterprising Kiss decided to corner the market with their own official tribute to themselves.

To toot their own horn, Kiss included a list of not only the musicians who appeared on Kiss My Ass, but even the ones that didn’t.  Nirvana is on the list.  According to the Melvins though, the truth is that they only dropped Kurt’s name as a guest on their track, because Gene didn’t seem too interested otherwise.  Nine Inch Nails were going to do “Love Gun”.  Both Ugly Kid Joe and Megadeth wanted to tackle “Detroit Rock City”.  It’s hard to imagine what songs Run D.M.C. and Bell Biv Devoe were supposed to record, or Tears for Fears for that matter.  Take this list with a grain of salt!

Kiss My Ass (or A** if you bought it from Walmart) is a weird album.  It’s scattershot and not immediately likeable.  It collected 11 (12 if you include the bonus track) covers by a diverse assortment of 90s artists.  The cover art sucks and lacks the Kiss logo and Ace’s real makeup (which Kiss did not have the rights to in 1994).  The only cool gimmick the cover had was the background flag was unique to the country of release.  A Kiss album with a Canadian flag is neat to own.

The album hits the ground running with some 70s cred, as Lenny Kravitz and Stevie Wonder do “Deuce”.  Lenny funks it up while Stevie brings the harmonica.  This is an example of a simply terrific cover.  The artists put their own spin on it, changing its style but not its drive.

“Hard Luck Woman” was already up Garth Brooks’ alley.  His version doesn’t stray from the Kiss original, and even features Kiss (uncredited) as his backing band!  That makes it an official Kiss recording, just with a guest singer of sorts.  Arguably the biggest country singer of all time, and a closet Kiss fan.  The Garth Brooks track threw a lot of people for a loop, though it’s an easy song to digest.

Kiss only participated in two songs:  the Garth track, and Anthrax’s “She”.  Anthrax insisted that Paul and Gene produce it, and they did a great job of it.  Anthrax are brilliant at doing covers anyway.  John Bush-era Anthrax was truly something special, and “She” slams hard.  Heavy Kiss songs made heavier are such a delight.

The Gin Blossoms turned in a very mainstream, very mid-90s version of “Christine Sixteen”.  It kicks about as hard as the original, but something about it is very tame.  After all, singer Robin Wilson is not Gene Simmons (which is probably a good thing), and guitarist Scotty Johnson is not Ace Frehley.  Far worse through is Toad the Wet Sprocket’s soggy “Rock and Roll all Nite”, a buzzkilling country fart.  “Calling Dr. Love” by Shandi’s Addiction (a collection of assorted big names) is also a hard pill to swallow.  This quartet consists of (are you ready for it?):  Maynard James Keenan – lead vocals.  Tom Morello & Brad Wilk – guitar and drums.  Billy Gould – bass.  So, it’s Rage Against the Machine with the singer from Tool and a bass rumble right out of Faith No More.  And the track is just as schizophrenic as you’d expect.  It’s both brilliant and annoying as fuck.

J. Mascis of Dinosaur Jr. used his unique vision on “Goin’ Blind”, turning Gene’s murky song into something even darker.  Then bright shimmers of a string section break through the clouds, shadowing everything dramatically.  It’s a brilliant track.  Much like Kravitz, J. Mascis took the song and changed the style but not direction.  You could say the same for Extreme who do a brilliant spin on “Strutter”.  Though by 1994 Extreme were well over in the public eye, they continued to push their own boundaries.  “Strutter” became something slower and funkier, with Nuno Bettencourt slipping all over the fretboard and Gary Cherone pouring it all on.  This is primo Punchline-era Extreme (Paul Geary still on drums).  And listen for a segue into “Shout it Out Loud”!

The Lemonheads chose “Plaster Caster” from Love Gun, a sloppy garage rock version, and score a passing grade.  It’s an admirable effort, but they are quickly overshadowed by their fellow Bostonians, the Mighty Mighty Bosstones.  The Bosstones had the balls to open their track with a phone message from Gene Simmons advising them to pick another song.  “Dicky, about Detroit Rock City…”  Ugly Kid Joe had dibs.  Any other song would be fine…and then WHAM!  The opening chords to “Detroit Rock City”.  Gene was gracious enough to appear in the video.  Their disciplined ska-punk horn ensemble lays waste to the town.  Dicky Barrett’s gravelly throat is like a sniper taking out anyone left standing.  The Bosstones win the whole CD, hands down.  There is little doubt that Dicky Barrett would have shaken unfortunate Kiss fans unfamiliar with the Bosstones.  Today it’s clear that they stole the show with their mighty, mighty cover.

The closest match to the Bosstones in terms of excellence, is a polar opposite.  It’s Yoshiki (from X-Japan) and his orchestra version of “Black Diamond”.  This is performed instrumentally with piano in the starring role.  In this form, “Black Diamond” would make a brilliant movie theme.  Yoshiki closes the album in style, unless you choose to go further and get the LP.  Proceed with caution.

The vinyl bonus track by Die Ärzte is the only non-makeup Kiss track included: “Unholy”. This is a garbage version (in German no less) that you don’t need to spend your money finding. It’s only interesting when it briefly transitions into “I Was Made For Loving You”.  Want a good version of “Unholy”? Check out the 2013 tribute A World With Heroes.

By 1994, Kiss needed a boost.  Grunge was omnipresent and Kiss looked silly and outdated, even with their beards and scruffier appearance.  Kiss My Ass was clearly a transparent attempt to try and latch onto some fans of the newer breed.  Maybe some Lenny Kravitz fans would like it.   If a few Garth Brooks followers bought a copy too, then bonus!  But Garth Brooks fans didn’t buy the album, turned off by the cover art and tracklist.  Likewise, fans of Lenny Kravitz, Tool and Rage Against the Machine didn’t run out en-masse either.

Fortunately Kiss had plenty of cards left in their deck.  There was a Kiss My Ass spinoff video, a tour, and a coffee table book all in the works.  This seemed to distract from the oft-rumoured next Kiss studio album.  More next time.

Today’s rating:

3.75/5 stars

 

Original mikeladano.com review:  2012/08/13

 

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REVIEW: Faith No More – Introduce Yourself (1987)

FAITH NO MORE – Introduce Yourself (1987 Slash)

Faith No More’s second LP (and major label debut) is their only so far not to have received a deluxe or expanded edition.  The bizarre thing about that is that Introduce Yourself is one of their best, totally deserving the honour.  Faith No More have several 5/5 star albums in their catalogue, and Introduce Yourself is [spoiler] one of them [end spoiler].

Chuck Mosley was the singer, a bizarre frontman with a totally unique style and a penchant for putting stuff in his dreadlocks.  One of his lyrics says it best.  On the first Faith No More album, he wrote “They say that when I’m supposed to be singing, all I’m really doing is yelling, oh well…”  Mosley’s stuffy-nose stylings are an acquired taste, especially if you have only heard Mike Patton.  In Faith No More, it worked and set up what Mike Patton was able to do later on.  Mosley is melodic in a bizarre, off key way.

“Faster Disco” isn’t that at all.  It’s mid-tempo Faith No More, in the style they created and mastered.  There is a chunky guitar riff (or two).  There is an underscore of keyboards holding down the melodic foundation.  There is a solid beat, and a strangely catchy multi-tracked vocal.

Faith No More are also known for funky Billy Gould bass beats, and that’s “Anne’s Song”.  Chuck has a conversational vocal, sorta-rapped, sorta-spoken.  It too is strangely memorable, and it was one of two singles.

The title track “Introduce Yourself” is fast and fun, and also lives up to its name!  Chuck introduces the band in the lyrics, but the song is so incredibly fast that it’s over in 1:30.  Too bad, because it’s awesome.  Another style Faith No More are known for is the “dark and ominous” song.  “Chinese Arithmetic” is one of those, a weighty track with keyboards providing glimmers of light.  One of the strangest tracks is the staggering “Death March”, which is also hilarious.  “How much for a transfer, man?  95 cents?  Fuck you, I’ll skate to the beach!  And look better getting there!”

The most famed track is “We Care a Lot”, the most well known single from this album and also the title track from the prior album.  The lyrics were updated and the music re-recorded.  This version is the best one, what with that line about “We care a lot / about Transformers, cuz there’s more than meets the eye!”

“R n’ R” is caffeinated Faith No More, blowing down the doors with hard rapping and riffing.  Then is “The Crab Song”, which Mike Patton once described as a “sad song”.  It has that, and it also has the split personality thing going on.  Halfway in, it abruptly changes into a riffy, bass-slappy stomp.  At almost six minutes long, it’s one of the earliest examples of Faith No More creating mini-epics by assembling seemingly mismatched components.

Introduce Yourself concludes with a pair of fast, impacting song.  “Blood” is carried by a lofty keyboard part, and hammered forth by a relentless Chuck Mosley.  Then “Spirit” is the finishing touch, a heavy-as-fuck Jim Martin guitar riff.   In the back, drummer Mike Bordin is physically assaulting his kit.  Mosley puts his throat to full intensity as the band rips all the way to the end.

Introduce Yourself is brilliant, and it’s easy to overlook it because Mike Patton has since become a dominant presence.  Introduce Yourself is every bit as challenging, intense, unorthodox, melodic and heavy as any of their later albums.  Do not dismiss it; instead make it a priority.

5/5 stars

 

REVIEW: Faith No More – “Cone of Shame” (2016 RSD single)

scan_20170303-3FAITH NO MORE – “Cone of Shame” (2016 Reclamation Recordings 7″ single for Record Store Day, gold vinyl)

All hail the mighty JHUBNER, decorated hard-core hunter…of records.  Raise your Romulan ale (or what have you)!  Somewhere somehow, the subject of limited edition Faith No More singles for Record Store Day came up.  Mr. Hubner kindly took note that he had seen some at his local establishment.  With great care and expense, he packed it well, armored in a shell of cardboard that could withstand any wayward bombardments.  Thusly, I have acquired “Cone of Shame” on limited edition clear gold vinyl.  Had I thought this through, I would have asked for green, to compliment this burning green alcoholic beverage that Scotty below is hoisting to Mr. Hubner.

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This is a gorgeous 45.  The cover art is quite funny: a pug (with eyes blacked out for anonymity) wearing a doggie “cone of shame”.  Would have been better with a miniature schnauzer, but pugs are fine.   The vintage style label is starkly awesome in black & white.  The pristine yellow disc is a piece of beauty indeed, clean and clear and rich with awesome music carved into its grooves.

The A-side is the standard album version of “Cone of Shame” from Sol Invictus.  This is a song I have strongly warmed up to in the last year.  I didn’t care for it at first, but I have since fallen for its weirdness and Patton’s vocal heroics.  Flip over to the B-side and you will find J.G. Thirwell’s “Calcitron Mix” of “Motherfucker”.  I love what he did with it.  Most of Patton’s voice has been wiped leaving only Roddy Bottum’s hypnotic verses.  The word “motherfucker” is chopped and looped to become the main hook.  There is very little of the original song left.  Essentially a new song has been created with Roddy’s “get the motherfucker on the phone, on the phone” hook, chopped up and given the Max Headroom treatment.  The techno backing feels like a bunch of idiots at a rave, but that’s not my thing.  I’m easily amused so the rearrangement and repetition of the word “motherfucker” keeps me entertained.

Remixes are what they are.  You either like them or you don’t.  I usually lean towards the opinion that an original is better than a remix, 99% of the time.  There are the odd exceptions.  I think you need to use a different measuring stick when talking about remixes.  Instead of “did it make the song better”, perhaps the question should be “did it make the song different?”  In this case “Motherfucker” has been reimagined as something new, and that’s pretty cool.

3.5/5 stars

REVIEW: Faith No More – Angel Dust (deluxe edition)

Previously on mikeladano.com….

Faith No More’s deluxe edition reissue program began in 2015.  Two years prior to that, we reviewed two editions of Angel Dust:  An Australian 2 CD set with a bonus EP called Free Concert in the Park, and the 2 LP version with a “MidLife Crisis” remix.  For this Angel Dust deluxe edition review, we will be incorporating old text from that review into this new one.  We also reviewed the 2 CD single for “Everything’s Ruined”.  Those tracks are also on this deluxe, and we will borrow text from that review as well.

scan_20170205FAITH NO MORE – Angel Dust (originally 1992, 2015 Slash deluxe edition)

Incredibly anticipated, and massively misunderstood:  Angel Dust separated the fans from the wannabes.  Reviews were mixed.  M.E.A.T Magazine’s Drew Masters awarded it 2/5 M’s and failed to grasp the genius that is the chaos within.  It certainly is an ugly duckling and will take more than a listen to reel in anyone.  Faith No More wearied of the “funk metal” tag and sought to distance themselves from it.  Importantly, Mike Patton dropped the nasal tone he utilized on The Real Thing.  Instead he unleashed his full voice in all its extremes.  With enviable range and power, Patton pushed his capabilities to their furthest limits.  Meanwhile, guitarist Jim Martin and the band were butting heads, and most of the songs were written without him.  Mike Bordin, Roddy Bottom and Billy Gould would send him virtually complete songs, which he then “grafted” guitar parts onto.  In a guitar magazine interview, Martin stated that he thought some of the songs were better before he added his own parts.

Angel Dust commenced with double shot of weirdness:  “Land of Sunshine” and “Caffeine”.  Patton pieced together the lyrics to “Land of Sunshine” from a collection of fortune cookies.  Musically it is dramatic, keyboard heavy and foreboding.  “Caffeine” is dark and aggressive, but is Patton’s first bonafide knockout vocal on the album.  From the ominous, gravelly lows to off the wall screams, Patton delivers it.  His voice knew no limits on Angel Dust.  A year prior, he released the debut album by Mr. Bungle.  There is little question that this must have demolished any vocal inhibitions he had with Faith No More.

The first single “MidLife Crisis” was about as close as it got to a commercial track.  You can certainly hear every nu-metal band in the world (Korn! I’m looking at you Jonathan Davis!) ripping off Patton’s gutteral vocal stylings.  But he lets it soar in the choruses.  The bizarre pseudo-rapped  verses, the samples, and the anthemic, layered choruses all pointed to new directions for Faith No More.  The ingredients had never really combined like “MidLife Crisis” before, although 1991’s “The Perfect Crime” hinted at some of these elements.

Perhaps the most bizarre song (there are many more coming) is “R.V.”  The lullaby-like piano backs a grizzly soliloquy from Patton, via Tom Waits, playing a trailer park trash character.  “Somebody taps me on the shoulder every five minutes.  Nobody speaks English anymore!  Would anybody tell me if I was gettin’…stupider?”  Once the novelty value wears off, it’s still a memorable tune due to the powerful choruses.  Patton nails another awesome lead vocal.  “Smaller and Smaller” returns somewhat to more conventional song arrangements.  A repetitive piano hook backs a hypnotic Patton vocal.  The choruses are a bit on the insane side, and then the song deviates into a sample-laden section of challenging rhythms.  Yet somehow the song remains memorable and catchy.  This is followed by the single “Everything’s Ruined”.  It must have been chosen because it is a solid mix of aggressive rapping with a memorable soul-influenced chorus.  While it doesn’t sound like it would have been on The Real Thing, it’s about as close as Angel Dust gets.

“Malpractice” is one of the most delightfully messed-up tunes on the album, a mixture of disjointed sections, noisy guitars, smooth keyboards, feedback, all simmered to perfection.  By the time Patton’s screaming, “Applause, applause, applause, APPLAAAAAUUUUUUSSSSE!” we’re already clapping.  This song was a Patton baby, which explains it.  Certainly, the lullaby after the two minute mark is designed to lull you in before they hammer you with more guitars, samples and screams.  This closed side one.

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“Kindergarten” introduced side two with the sound of Patton barking thoughts about the ol’ schoolyard.  There’s no guitar solo, but Mike Patton muttering musically into a megaphone fills the void where the solo would go.  This is followed by Billy Gould throwing down a bass solo, and into the final verse.  The weak-willed will shudder before “Be Aggressive”, a graphic series of metaphors about swallowing.  This discourse is accompanied by a cheerleader chorus.  Jim Martin turns in a sloppy, Pagey guitar solo, the only one on the album.

After assaulting the listener with a song like that, “A Small Victory” is a welcome respite.  Its simple but bountiful melodies are perfect to soothe the ear canal.  This is also to prepare you for “Crack Hitler”, another bizarre sensory overload.  Funky bass meets distorted rapping, until it swerves into this weird, evil march.  Patton’s vocals run the gamut from light, to dark and monstrous. Even so, Jim Martin’s contribution “Jizzlobber” is the most extreme song of them all.  It has those creepy Friday the 13th keyboards, heavy guitar riffs and pounding drums, and Patton’s most aggressive lead vocal yet.  You don’t know what the hell he’s singing without the lyric sheet, so just be enveloped.  It’s just a pummeling assault, and unprepared listeners may find themselves overwhelmed and perhaps turned off from the album by this point.

The standard album ended with “Midnight Cowboy” supposedly because of some obsession that Billy Gould had with its storyline.  It’s a perfectly appropriate ending given the rollercoaster ride that preceded it.  It’s you, wandering off into the sunset, too wasted to really know if you’re headed in the right direction.  Just keep walking.  Some editions of the album (including this deluxe) added the cover of The Commodores’ “Easy” as the final track.  There are a couple different mixes of “Easy” out there, and this is one is from The Very Best Definitive Ultimate Greatest Hits Collection.  The horns are missing, the drums have more echo added, and Mike Patton speaks at the beginning.  The song is rendered remarkably straight, and it’s a performance like this that truly demonstrates Mike Patton’s vocal mastery.  The original version (the “Cooler Version”) with horns opens disc two, the bonus tracks.  It can also be found domestically on the EP Songs To Make Love To.

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Also from that EP is the bizarre German-language speed-polka “Das Schutzenfest”.  This is a novelty track, shits n’ giggles, nothing more.  A good laugh but unimportant.  The Dead Kennedys’ “Let’s Lynch the Landlord” was also released on the Songs To Make Love To, but it was originally on a compilation called Virus 100.  Jim Martin wasn’t there and the song is performed as a quartet.  An underwhelming acoustic performance, it sounds a little like the Faith No More of the future as Patton adopts a lower singing style.

The real treasure on disc two and rarest of the all is “As the Worm Turns”, a Japanese bonus track for that long out of print edition of Angel Dust.  “As the Worm Turns” was one of the most stunning songs on Faith No More’s debut We Care A Lot, with Chuck Mosely on lead vocals.  A full-throated Mike Patton re-recorded it for this bonus track.  Sacrilege?  It is the superior version now.

A couple included remixes are only a sampling of what is actually available on singles. The “Scream Mix” of “MidLife Crisis” is the extended, bass-heavier mix from the 2 LP edition of the album.  The “Revolution 23 (Full Moon) Mix” of “A Small Victory” is only one of four versions from a remix EP they released.  Then it is on to the live material, and there are some treasures there.  The live EP Free Concert in the Park, (recorded in Munich) is expanded from four to six tracks.  Mike Patton dedicates “Easy” to “everyone with hemorrhoids this evening!”  The guitar solo spot in “Easy” remains a Jim Martin favourite.  Even heavier and more chaotic versions of “Be Aggressive” and “Kindergarten” follow, replete with surprises.  The early obscurity “Mark Bowen” is another Mosely song given the Patton treatment live, adding his own spin and abilities.  Two tracks are added to the proceedings:  “A Small Victory” and “We Care a Lot” from the same show.  These live versions really hit the spot, as they are really cranked up, and “We Care a Lot” contains a segue into “Jump Around” by House of Pain.  It’s a shame the live recording is so tinny.   These tracks were also released on CD singles for “Easy” in Europe.

FNM RUINED_0004

Up next are the four live songs taken from the double “Everything’s Ruined” single, all recorded in September 1992.   “MidLife Crisis” is growly and impressive, and “Land of Sunshine” is amped.  “Edge of the World” is the point when the audience is asked to sing along, with Patton yelling “Fuck me harder!”  The trailer-trash-talk of “R.V.” sounds a little laid back live; something’s missing.  It would be much better with the full visuals of a Mike Patton performance.

The deluxe edition concludes with an outtake finally restored to the album it was written with:  “The World is Yours”.  It was originally made available on Who Cares A Lot? The Greatest Hits in 1998.  Like Angel Dust itself, it is sample heavy.  Marching soldiers and trumpeting elephants join Roddy Bottom’s ominous keyboards in a symphony of WTF.  It is a fully formed recording, with effects-laden vocals fully mixed and finished.  It would have fit the more experimental and anti-commercial direction of the album perfectly, but not without making the album overlong.

Angel Dust, unlike the more successful The Real Thing, has a timeless sound.  It is a once in a lifetime album, a perfect meeting of disparate elements.  Jim Martin was ejected after this, and never again would his heavy metal guitars be grafted onto the sonic experiments of Faith No More.  A pity, but they have since moved on even more expansive sounds.  Angel Dust in some respects can be considered the real debut of Mike Patton in Faith No More.  A triumphant one it is.

5/5 stars

 

REVIEW: Faith No More – The Real Thing (deluxe edition)

scan_20170128FAITH NO MORE – The Real Thing (originally 1989, 2015 Slash records deluxe edition)

Fans of discerning taste cried tears of joy when Faith No More, one of the most underappreciated bands of recent times, finally received the deluxe edition treatment.  Faith No More may have paved the way for more popular acts like as Korn, System of a Down and Incubus, but they seemed forgotten by new young rock fans.  These deluxe editions have put their classic albums back on the racks.

Though The Real Thing is the album that launched them onto MTV and contains their best known hit (“Epic”), it’s the only Faith No More album that sounds like this.  Mike Patton affected a nasal tone to his singing that he dropped by the next album.  (Producer Mike Wallace suggests that Patton sang this way on The Real Thing partially to separate Faith No More from Mr. Bungle, who he still had massive loyalties to.)  It’s the most mainstream and most “metal” of their albums, with much of their other material being more abstract, artsy and bizarre.  Though they loathed the term, you can hear how Faith No More were considered “funk metal” from 1989-92.

Opener “From Out of Nowhere” is a living embodiment of its own title.  A keyboard and guitar riff, simple and catchy, pummel the speakers as Mike Patton makes his debut.  Original singer Chuck Mosely was gone and Patton emerged, fresh from the aforementioned Mr. Bungle.  Nobody had ever heard anything like Mike Patton before.  His range and power were enviable, but he clearly liked taking the piss too.  “From Out of Nowhere” was the first single and a brilliant choice for trying to sway the uninitiated.

Of course “Epic” was the big one.  Its timely combination of rap and metal was on the cutting edge.  The lyrics were nonsense* and Patton’s goofy personality shone through.  It was close to the edge of novelty.  Jim Martin’s power chords and harmony leads kept things from falling off.  On the rhythm, Mike “Puffy” Bordin is one hard-hitting drummer, keeping things anchored solidly.  You can really hear the funk on “Falling to Pieces”.  It’s there in Billy Gould’s bass and Patton’s soulful (nasal) voice.  This too was a single, following the smash hit of “Epic”.

Faith No More also crossed over to the thrash crowd with “Surprise! You’re Dead!”.  An aggressive banger like this was custom made for Anthrax fans.  Most importantly, Mike Patton got to show off some of what he is capable of.  The guttural howls, painful shrieks, and insane laughs burrow into your ears.  They are hooks themselves, though certainly not in the traditional sense!  This is a contrast to “Zombie Eaters”, with quiet acoustic sections and intricate picking by Martin.  “Zombie Eaters” does not stay that way, and soon transitions into a rumbling, earthquake riff.  Roddy Bottum’s keyboards add tension, and Mike Patton piles anguish on top of that.  An even more powerful song follows:  “The Real Thing”, 8:01 of light/shade and dramatic performances.

Pop and funk collide on “Underwater Love”, the most accessible song on the album.  It evolved live into something very different, as you will hear on disc two.  Patton did it with more of his own style once they got it out on stage.  “The Morning After” has a haunting vibe, moving into a heavier chorus.  Jim Martin’s guitars are clearly in the metal domain, like the odd man out, but still essential.

The album begins to drift to a close with “Woodpecker From Mars”, the only instrumental.  Roddy has his keyboard set to the “violin” tone, and is the lead melodic focus of this punishing track.  Everything else is a blur of guitars, drums and bass.  Their unique cover of “War Pigs” is next, though pretty straight-laced compared to the live version on disc 2.  Finally “Edge of the World” closes the album with a slow piano waltz completely unlike anything else on the album.

The second disc has a wealth of treasure, though not all the B-sides and rarities out there.  “Sweet Emotion” was released a few years back on The Very Best Definitive Ultimate Greatest Hits Collection, but its original source is a flexi-disc from Kerrang! magazine.  It is not an Aerosmith cover; rather it is an early version of “The Perfect Crime” from the Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey soundtrack.  Two more bonus tracks, “Cowboy Song” and “The Grade” (an instrumental) are also available on the album Live at the Brixton Academy.  Both good songs; “The Grade” really shows off some very sweet Jim Martin steel guitar.  “Cowboy Song” (nothing to do with Thin Lizzy) is good enough that it could have been a single: catchy, melodic and punchy.

Remixes of “Epic” and “Falling to Pieces” are taken from an old two-song CD single, although this remix of “Falling to Pieces” is longer by 11 seconds compared to the single.  They add a bit more echo and other effects as well as some edits.  An extended remix of “From Out of Nowhere” lengthens the song by a minute, by adding more instrumental sections.  Five live songs round out the B-sides and rarities, including two that were chopped from the CD release of Brixton Academy.  (Speaking of which, that’s a deluxe edition we’d like to see.)  “As the Worm Turns” is one of these Brixton tracks, an old essential Chuck Mosely song given the Patton treatment.  Patton’s gurgling during “War Pigs” is a career highlight!   Live BBC recordings of “Epic” and “Woodpecker From Mars” are missing from this deluxe edition, but available on an old 7″ single (“From Out of Nowhere”).

The Real Thing is an essential album.  Its deluxe edition was long overdue, and fortunately most of Faith No More’s catalogue has been similarly beefed up.  It is not perfect, but few deluxes are.  There will always be more to collect.  This deluxe however will scratch quite a few tracks off your lists.

4.5/5 stars

*I recall writing “What is it?  It’s it.” on my English final exam for no particular reason.

REVIEW: Faith No More – Sol Invictus (2015 Japanese import)

We temporarily interrupt the Aerosmith series in order to bring you this…

NEW RELEASE

FNM SOL INVICTUS_0001FAITH NO MORE – Sol Invictus (2015 Reclamation, Japanese import)

When I worked at the Record Store, I used to tell the younger folks, “If you like bands such as Korn, System of a Down, or Incubus, then you need to check out Faith No More.  They were doing what those bands did way back in the early 90’s.”  I still maintain that to be true.  Faith No More have been there, done that, and moved onto Sol Invictus, their first studio album in 18 years.

Every Faith No More album requires multiple listens to “get”, usually somewhere between three and a dozen listens.  There is no shortcut to this.  The only way to appreciate Faith No More is to give each record the time and focus that it deserves.  Faith No More is not background music nor have they ever been.  Scott from Heavy Metal Overload said in his Sol Invictus review, “…On initial spins it seemed like Faith No More were playing it too safe. The material and delivery seemed lazy and half-baked.”  I had the same impression.  The songs seemed too laid-back and passive at first.  Then the album began to sink in, as I absorbed its shadowy intensity.

As a fan since 1990, I tried to keep my expectations reasonable in 2015.  In my heart, I knew that if Faith No More were to live up to their past, the new album must meet the following criteria at minimum:

1.  The album had to continue to straddle many genres of music, as they always have — preferably within the same song.  They have done this again, blending exotic moods and textures together into a contiguous whole.  Diversity is not an issue.

2. I needed Mike Patton to blow me away with his singing again.  I know his voice has changed (as voices do!) but he is such a unique, innovative vocalist that I couldn’t settle for anything less than manic intense awesomeness.  Once again, Patton has risen to the occasion.  Utilizing gutteral grunts, Tom Waits’ low grumbles, and sandpaper screams, he uses his voice as an instrument.  Just listen to that “Go! Go! Go! Go!” hook in “Superhero”.  There is no better way to describe it than vocals as a bizarre instrument.

3. A Faith No More album must be bracing, even if the songs are slower and quieter.  I found 1997’s Album of the Year (the last album, and the only other one with guitarist Jon Hudson) to be tame by comparison to their prior work.  Not Sol Invictus.  Even on slower, more melodic tracks like the excellent “Sunny Side Up”, they bristle with tension.  There’s an emotional intensity to every track.

4. Faith No More have to sound like they mean it — and they do.  I hate when a band reunites, but do not add anything to their legacy when they do it.  Sol Invictus has a purpose; you can hear the blood sweat and tears in the songs.

5. This one was a given.  The musicianship had to be top notch.  No worries there.  In addition I feel like I’m “getting to know” guitarist Jon Hudson for the first time, due to his diverse work here.  Heavy Metal Overload also laid kudos at the feet of keyboardist Roddy Bottum, and he does deserve credit for creating the textures and atmosphere.

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I have to admit I was worried about this album.  I didn’t care for the first two singles, “Superhero” and “Motherfucker”.  Because of this, I purposely did not play them again, until the album came out. I know that Faith No More are not the kind of band you can always appreciate from a single.  I was concerned that the first two singles didn’t leave an impression, but I knew that the context of a full album would do them good, and I was right.

My favourite track of the album cuts is “Rise of the Fall”.  This singular song combines elements from all eras of Faith No More into one.  At times it sounds like a Mosely-era track from Introduce Yourself.  At others, one of the more humid and tropical moments on King For A Day.  Then a track like “Matador” reminds me of how “Zombie Eaters” from The Real Thing builds, and builds, and builds.   It stands out to me for those reasons, but it is impossible for me to ignore any of these songs.  Each one has a personality of its own, and there are none I haven’t grown to like.  I look forward to listening to Sol Invictus this summer, and allowing the songs to unfold on their own, and reveal their colours.

The Japanese version of this CD has a fantastic bonus track — a remix called “Superhero Battaglia”.  Because I normally dislike remixes, you can trust me when I say this is a good’un.  The song is intensified and made more exotic.  I like it better than the original.  “Superhero Battaglia” was originally the B-side to “Superhero”, logically enough.  This leaves one B-side, a J.G. Thirwell remix of “Motherfucker”, still on my “want” list.  (It was the B-side to the Record Store Day single for “Motherfucker”.)

Sol Invictus is the first contender for album of the year.  (Pun intended.)

4.5/5 stars

REVIEW: Faith No More – Live at the Brixton Academy (1991)

FAITH NO MORE – Live at the Brixton Academy (1991 Slash UK)

My mom and dad bought this European import for me Christmas ’92.  A rarity for sure, it cost over $30 at HMV Fairview Mall.  I was thrilled to get the two rare studio tracks, although the live material already existed on the classic You Fat Bastards VHS tape.  I received that tape the previous Christmas and didn’t know a CD version existed, until I saw it at HMV myself.

For the record, here is the full tracklist from You Fat Bastards: Live at the Brixton Academy which has since been reissued on DVD:

1. “From Out of Nowhere”
2. “Falling to Pieces”
3. “The Real Thing”
4. “Underwater Love”
5. “As the Worm Turns”
6. “Edge of the World”
7. “We Care a Lot”
8. “Epic”
9. “Woodpecker from Mars” (Instrumental)
10. “Zombie Eaters”
11. “War Pigs”

The CD loses “Underwater Love”, “Woodpecker From Mars”, and “As the Worm Turns” from the first Faith No More LP. While this is unfortunate, I am glad that “As the Worm Turns” from this video showed up on a version of the “Epic” CD single. I added to the album as a “bonus track” when I ripped it to mp3. (The band actually played 18 songs that night including rarities like “Why Do You Bother” and “Crab Song”.)

For some reason the CD also shuffles up the track order, opening with “Falling to Pieces” instead of the natural opener “From Out of Nowhere”.  It’s the funkier side of Faith No More’s Real Thing era.  Although it was a single I don’t think it’s all that exceptional and certainly not as a CD opener, but whatever.  (There also seems to be some kind of weird phasing or something going on with Jim Martin’s guitar sound.)  “The Real Thing” is seven minutes of ups and downs and drama and Patton shrieks.  This is the kind of Faith No More track that is initially too fucky to digest in one sitting.  Patton’s live improvisations vocally are a joy to fans who know what the song sounded like in the studio.

“This next song…is a song…that has four letters in the title…and it starts…with an E,” introduces Patton, and we all know what song that would be.  In April 1990, they might not have.  25 years later, the song is still fresh, especially with Patton’s ad-libs.  “Ooo-woo-oo-oo!”

The Black Sabbath cover “War Pigs” is edited in next, a perplexing slot considering it was played in the encores.  This is the same version that later re-emerged on the Black Sabbath tribute album Nativity in Black.  Sabbath fans unfamiliar with Faith No More’s idiosyncratic side did not like Patton’s loose work with vocal and lyrics, although I think “Mlah mlah mlah mlah mlah mlah mlah mlaaaghaah” works just as well as “On their knees the wars pigs crawling.”  To each their own.  You either like Faith No More or you don’t.

Actual show opener “From Out of Nowhere” is slotted next, a breakneck metal-with-keys anthem showcasing the musical chops of this underrated band.  Judging by the fades, I’d say this is where Side Two would be on a cassette version. On VHS I remember an animated Patton bounding about the stage, confident and unpredictable.

“We Care a Lot”, which contains within it a hilarious nod to the New Kids on the Block, was a show highlight. “Zombie Eaters” on the other is a foreboding rollercoaster. From dark quiet guitar chords, to thrashing ones, this song has it all. In some ways it is similar to “The Real Thing”, in that it takes a few listens to get it.

“Hey it’s time to snap kids…it’s time to fuckin’ snap, goddamit” instructs Patton. “Listen!” he says, putting the microphone to his buttocks and farting. “That was real.” Like I said, you either like Faith No More or you do not. “Edge of the World” is a nice little piano slow dance, but it is totally inappropriate for ending the live portion of the album. This is one of the worst sequenced CDs I have ever owned.

Two unreleased studio tracks from The Real Thing sessions are the real treat of this CD. “The Grade” sounds like a pedal steel guitar instrumental. It sounds like Jimmy Page. Jim Martin never got enough credit as a guitar player, and this track is exhibit A. “The Cowboy Song” is not a Thin Lizzy cover, in fact it’s an original. It occupies the same space as some of the more accessible tracks on The Real Thing. Young Patton was in peak voice, singing a powerfully melodic chorus. Roddy Bottum lays down some tasty Purple organ backing the song, which truthfully is a Faith No More favourite of mine.

Since it’s from the same concert I’ll add a word about “As the Worm Turns”, an oldie from the first album with Chuck Mosely. I’ll never forget the sight of Patton coming out in a weird mask and laying waste to it. Mike was able to do the Mosely songs with no problem, and this is one of the tunes that works best. Because it was based on yelling out a vocal melody, Mike takes it to another level.

You can get “As the Worm Turns” on the 1990 UK CD single for “Epic”, on Slash records (LASCD 26).

I’d be happy to give this CD 5/5 stars based on performance alone, but since the sequencing is so illogical and random, it’s only worth:

4/5 stars

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REVIEW: Faith No More – Live In Germany 2009

Enjoy this first review from my 2014 Toronto Record Store Excursion with Aaron!

FNM GERMANY 2009_0004FAITH NO MORE – Live In Germany 2009 (Immortal)

“Faith No More 2.0.  New software; same old shit.  Enjoy!” — Mike Patton

Faith No More have long been one of those bands who never really got their due.  Without Faith No More, you’d have no Korn, Disturbed, or System of a Down.  Their influence is best measured in the numerous bands who followed in their wake.  I’m proud to have been a fan since first exposure (1990).  When Faith No More broke up in ’98, I thought they took the high road by being one of the few bands to say a reunion was not in the cards.  Then, like all the other bands, that moment came and Faith No More gradually eased themselves back on the stage.  Now they’re making a new album (a new single, the Tom Waits-ish “Motherfucker” is out November 28) and I think that’s just grand.

I was pleased to bits to find a live CD document of a European Faith No More reunion show.  It was an obvious must-buy, but I was happy that it sounds so fucking good!

The CDs only flaw is that it begins abruptly, as if a few notes of the first song “Reunited” are cut off.  This 1978 R&B hit displays a side of Faith No More that other bands fail to capture — their ability to play classic R&B and Disco perfectly.  Mike Patton has the soul chops, and just enough weirdness to throw his own style in towards the end.  They segue this perfectly into the hammering “From Out of Nowhere” from 1989’s The Real Thing.  I’ll tell you something here — I don’t miss Jim Martin at all.  At first, I was hoping (without grounds) that Martin would be a part of the reunion.  The band instead (and logically) went with their most recent guitarist Jon Hudson, a well-rounded player who can do all eras of Faith No More equally convincing.  This is apparent on the wah-wah drenched “Be Aggressive” from ’92.  This sexually explicit shocker is just as undeniably catchy as it was back in the 90’s.

FNM GERMANY 2009_0002This being Germany, Patton can’t resist dropping the odd “scheisse”, before barking like a dog, on the epic “Caffeine”.  This bizarre powerhouse has long been one of Faith No More’s most stunning trips into the void, and live it’s only more so.  Without the studio effects on his voice, Mike Patton resorts to unorthodox techniques to give his voice the distortion and flexibility required.  Vibrating his throat with his hand, for example, is one such method you can hear on “Caffeine”.

Some of the other incredible highlights included here are the slick Disco of “Evidence”, which Mike sings in Spanish!  The piano-and-beatbox of “Chariots of Fire” is hilarious and cool.  Patton’s vocal acrobatics are unearthly on “Surprise! You’re Dead!”.  Same with “MidLife Crisis”.  You either like the craziness Mike Patton injects live, or you don’t.  If you don’t, then you’re probably not a Faith No More fan anyway.  I also enjoy the funny rant about somebody throwing €1 at him during the same song.  “How would you feel, if you were a stripper or something, and somebody threw one Euro.  How would you feel?”  A valid question.

The best tune is probably the apocalyptic “Gentle Art of Making Enemies”.  I fully expected Mike Patton’s head to explode.  I don’t know how can do what he does with just lungs and a throat.  Not to be outshined is drummer Mike “Puffy” Bordin who keeps the train on the tracks for the whole show.

The band’s onstage banter is a little friendlier than it was back in the day, but still teasing.  They are not as antagonistic as I’ve heard them in the past.  But they sure are tight.  Musically, there is no question that reuniting this lineup was 100% the right move.   They are too versatile and just too damn good to stay broken up.  The set list was a well balanced representation of the Patton years, with only one Chuck Mosely classic (“We Care A Lot”, which is the closer).   There aren’t too many obvious hits missing.  “A Small Victory”, perhaps, or “Falling to Pieces”.

5/5 stars

REVIEW: Faith No More – The Very Best Definitive Ultimate Greatest Hits Collection (2009)

FAITH NO MORE – The Very Best Definitive Ultimate Greatest Hits Collection (2009 Rhino/Warner Music UK)

To coincide with their 2009 European reunion tour, some fine record executives (in the UK) decided to issue a new Faith No More hits CD — one of many since their 1998 breakup. It’s 2 CDs – one disc of “hits”, one of rarities. This one is billed the Very Best Definitive Ultimate Greatest Hits Collection, which is a heck of a title to live up to. Coming from the same band who issued a record called Album Of The Year, it’s hardly a surprise.

Much like Album Of The Year, this compilation is leaving me a little underwhelmed. Here’s why:

1. A very brief booklet lacking in information. For example I would have liked to know where each of the rare tracks came from.  There’s nothing like that.

2. No songs from the first album We Care A Lot (record label reasons?).

3. A limited selection of additional rarities.

In regards to point #3, there are 10 B-sides/rare tracks in all. As I mentioned in point #1, the booklet doesn’t tell you where they came from, only the year of release. I can tell you that tracks 1-6 on disc 2 are all Album Of The Year B-sides, which is unfortunate, because only two are really any good (“The World Is Yours” and “Hippie Jam Song”). I have no idea where two songs come from: “Sweet Emotion” (actually an early version of “Perfect Crime”) and “New Improved Song” (a pre-Patton version of “The Morning After” with Chuck Mosely on vocals).  All I know is that I didn’t own them before. The inclusion of “Das Schutzenfest” puzzles me here, as it’s not really all that rare. It’s from the easy to find Songs To Make Love To EP from 1993, the same album that “Easy” on disc 1 comes from. So why is one considered rare and one not?

Ironically, in this case it’s actually “Easy” that is a true rarity, and for surprising reasons. When I first listened to it, it sounded different, and I couldn’t put my finger on why. Then I realized, the horn section was completely absent. I am guessing this horn-less mix was included by accident (perhaps similar to how Deep Purple’s piano version of “Speed King” was included on a hits CD by accident). It’s not billed as an alternate mix, and parts definitely sound unfinished without the horns. My hunch is that someome grabbed the wrong tape box and nobody noticed.

“We Care A Lot” was re-recorded for Introduce Yourself and is included here.

As far as the actual “hits” disc goes, it’s not the one I would have put together myself. As mentioned, no songs from the first album are included, and the order of the songs is a little strange. Seven songs are included from Angel Dust (which is great) but perhaps one or two could have been chopped to make room for singles such as “Falling To Pieces” or “Anne’s Song”.  On the other hand, a song like “Evidence” from King For A Day makes up for it.

I enjoyed that a couple of oddball songs made the first CD.  “R’N’R” has always been a great album cut from Introduce Yourself.  It was one of the most aggressive, slamming tunes from a great album.  I wish there were more.   “Caffeine” from Angel Dust is another great non-single included here.   It’s absolute balls-to-the-wall insanity put to song.

For my money, I think Who Cares A Lot? Greatest Hits was actually a better compilation. It’s out of print now, but it did include songs from every album, an arguably more challenging tracklist, and some more varied rarities. If you can grab it, that would be my recommendation. If you can’t, get this, but realize there’s a lot more Faith No More out there to get into.

3.5/5 stars

REVIEW: Faith No More – “Everything’s Ruined” (double single)

FAITH NO MORE – “Everything’s Ruined” (1992 Slash, 2 discs sold separately)

A short while ago I reviewed the landmark Faith No More album, Angel Dust.  This is one of four singles (that I know of, anyway) lifted from that album.  It’s a great tune, and if I may quote my own review, I said “I’m sure it was chosen [as a single] because it is a solid mix of aggressive rapping with a memorable soul-influenced chorus.  While it doesn’t sound like it would have been on The Real Thing, it’s about as close as Angel Dust gets.”  The chorus is definitely a winner, and this is a Faith No More song more likely to appeal to non-fans.

There are live B-sides a’plenty, all recorded in September 1992.  Disc 1 (sold separately but containing room for disc 2) has “Edge of the World”, from The Real Thing, and the bizarre “R.V.”, from Angel Dust.  “Edge of the World” is where Faith No More have the audience sing along, to Patton yelling “Fuck me harder!”  The trailer-trash-talk of “R.V.”  sounds a little too laid back live, something’s missing.  I’m sure it would be much better with the full visuals of a Mike Patton performance.

Disc 2 has a couple more newbies:  “MidLife Crisis” and “Land of Sunshine” live.  These two performances stand out.  Patton’s even more unhinged on the live versions.  “MidLife Crisis” in particular is an exceptional version.  Regardless, officially released live Faith No More is rare indeed.  Collectors would be advised to put these two singles fairly high on their priority lists.

4/5 stars