Chuck Mosely

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 – 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 – 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 – Angel Dust (2 LP and 2 CD editions)

FAITH NO MORE – Angel Dust (1992/1993, Slash Records 2 LP and 2 CD editions)

This is my favourite Faith No More record.  I’m not sure why, but after a couple struggled listens, I suddenly fell for its intricate, bizarre arrangements.  The story goes that Faith No More, the ultimate antithesis to a commercial band, were sick of playing The Real Thing‘s songs live for the past 2 years.  They were eager to stray as far away from that sound as possible.  In addition, Mike Patton had just completed the cult classic debut Mr. Bungle album.  I speculate that this helped spark the sometimes unhinged creative moments on this album, particularly the vocals.

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 the guitar.

Angel Dust commences 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.  His voice knows no limits on Angel Dust and I consider this the peak album for his vocals.

The first single “MidLife Crisis” was about as close as it gets 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.

Then perhaps the most bizarre song, “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 telll me if I was gettin’…stupider?”  Once the novelty value wears off, it’s still a cool tune due to the powerful choruses.  Patton nails another awesome lead vocal on the chorus.

“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 “Everything’s Ruined”, which also became a single.  I’m sure it was chosen because it is a solid mix of aggressive rapping with a memorable soul-influence 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 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!” I’m already clapping.  I think I read somewhere that this song was a Patton baby, which might explain it.  Certainly, the lullaby after the 2 minute mark is designed to lull you in before they hammer you with more guitars, samples and screams.  This closed Side One.

IMG_00000360Side Two was introduced by “Kindergarten”, Patton barking thoughts about the schoolyard.  There’s no guitar solo, but Mike Patton provides something shouted through a megaphone that amounts to a solo.  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, “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.  I don’t know what the hell he’s singing without the lyric sheet, but it doesn’t sound like I wanna know either.  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 ends 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.

I stumbled upon an LP in 1993 that came with a bonus 12″.  This 12″ contained the exclusive “Scream Mix” of “MidLife Crisis”.  On the B-side are “Crack Hitler” and “Midnight Cowboy”, which didn’t fit on the first record.   The drum intro on “MidLife” is slightly extended, and the mix sounds possibly a little more bass heavy.

FNM AD_0005The Australian 2 CD version that I also have contains the Commodores’ “Easy” as its bonus track.  This is the same version that came out here domestically on the Songs to Make Love To EP.  It’s rendered remarkably straight, and its a performance like this that truly demonstrates Mike Patton’s vocal mastery.

The 2 CD edition comes (obviously) with a second CD!  This is a live EP entitled Free Concert in the Park, recorded in Munich.  It contains live renditions of three songs from disc 1, and one song from the first Faith No More LP, We Care A Lot.  Mike Patton dedicates “Easy” to “everyone with hemorrhoids this evening!”  And I am sure they appreciated his dedication, as they are an oft-ignored group at concerts, aren’t they?  The guitar solo in “Easy” remains one of my Jim Martin favourites.  Even heavier and more chaotic versions of “Be Aggressive” and “Kindergarten” follow, replete with surprises.  These live versions really hit the spot, as they are really cranked up.  The early obscurity “Mark Bowen” closes the disc.  This is the only version of the song that I have with Patton.  I like his take on it, which takes advantage of his vocal power.

It was astounding to me that three albums in a row, Faith No More had turned in inventive, new, exciting and potent music that was unlike the previous.  Angel Dust is definitely a peak of some kind.  80% of nu-metal bands owe their careers to this album.  I consider this to be “my favourite” FNM disc, although to be perfectly honest, I consider Introduce Yourself, The Real Thing, and King For A Day…Fool For A Lifetime to all be worth…

5/5 stars