This was one of the first, if not the first, discs I bought with my staff discount at the record store! I wonder if Deke remembers these guys?
PSYCHO CIRCUS – Scarred (Anthem 1993)
20 years ago, Psycho Circus were one of the bands hyped as the “next big thing” out of Canada. They originated in Mississauga, Ontario, just west of Toronto. They signed with SRO management (Rush, Van Halen, King’s X, Extreme) and producer Terry Brown (also Rush) and released a trendy but still unique goth-rap-funk-metal album called Scarred. They also released a music video for the excellent “Pulsate”.
These guys were hanging out with old dudes way before Our Lady Peace.
The problem with Psycho Circus is their split personality. On one hand (roughly half the album) they inhabit this cool, dark land I call Diet Faith No More. Singer Vince Franchi has the lungs and range to emulate Patton’s style on The Real Thing. Their cool use of keyboards also reminds me of that band, but without the dementia. On the other hand, there’s a goofy rap-funk side, which does not appeal to me in the least. I think funk metal got stale very quickly, and the juvenile lyrics render the rapping limp. “Acid Monkey Junk”, a song about the testing of cosmetics on animals, is painful at time. “Monkeys in the ocean and fishes in the trees?”
A M.E.A.T Magazine interview by Karen Bliss, from 1993, reveals that the band had already dropped even more irritating material from their live set. They name a discarded song called “Picky Purple People” as being particularly notable for its silliness. Glad I didn’t have to hear that one.
I prefer the Diet Faith No More side of the band: hard, melodic and dark songs like “Thru the Backbone” (which also features rapping in a non-annoying way). “Pulsate” is easily the best song on the album, demonstrating Franchi’s impressive vocal range and power. I’m also fond of the angry “I Know”, the haunting “Leave Me Alone”, and the closer “Goodbye”. The rest of the album is unfortunately skip-worthy and occasionally irritating to me.
There was also a CD single made for “I Know” featuring an exclusive “Psylicone Mix”. Although I don’t enjoy the remix as much as the album version, it’s notable for being remixed by Brown and the band, not some outsider. I happened upon this single within my first year at the record store, and it surely must be one of the rarest discs I have.
For half a good album: