Jon Hudson

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.

scotty

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 – 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.

IMG_20150530_075830

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 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