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It Started With A Mix

The Quietus Digs Out Our Walkman For A Faith No More Mixtape
David McNamee , September 29th, 2008 13:29

In the first of a new Quietus series, David McNamee creates the ultimate Faith No More mix - to fit on one side of a C90 cassette

It Started With A Mix: Faith No More

FAITH NO MORE

From: San Francisco, CA.
Genres: Alternative metal, funk metal, experimental rock
Years active: 1982-1998
Key members: Billy Gould/bass (1982-1998); Mike Patton/vocals (1988-1998); Roddy Bottum/keyboards (1982-1998); Mike ‘Puffy’ Bordin/drums (1982-1998); ‘Big’ Jim Martin/guitar (1984-1993); Chuck Mosely/vocals (1984-1988)
Associated acts: Imperial Teen, Mr Bungle, Faith No Man, Brujeria, Fantomas, Tomahawk, Dillinger Escape Plan
Albums: We Care A Lot (1985); Introduce Yourself (1987); The Real Thing (1989); Angel Dust (1992); King For A Day… Fool For A Lifetime (1995); Album Of The Year (1997)

SIDE A

1. 'Epic' (from The Real Thing, 1989)

Okay you tedious bastards, let’s get The Hit out of the way first. ‘Epic’ lives up to its name in that it’s a towering technicolour pop rap, ridiculously catchy, waving a huge fuck-off guitar solo from ‘Big’ Jim Martin in the faces of proto-hipsters like a priapic meat pistol. But out of all Faith No More’s output, it’s the Mike Patton-debuting ‘The Real Thing’, and ‘Epic’ in particular, that sounds by far the most dated. What at the time sounded singular and weird and majestic, now scans a bit like an apology for Linkin Park. ‘Epic’ is still probably the first song that an FNM noob would connect with, but if a new band did a song like this in 2008 you’d be horrified.

2. 'Midlife Crisis' (from Angel Dust, 1992)

From Angel Dust, FNM’s undisputed masterpiece, ‘Midlife Crisis’ is just the catchiest thing ever. Built around a mid-tempo but nagging one-note bass pulse from bandleader Billy Gould, Patton and keyboardist Roddy Bottum stack layers of anthemic pop-vocal hooks and symphonic keyboard washes on top until it threatens to collapse, but instead somehow plateaus sublimely. ‘Midlife Crisis’ is the kind of pop music that’s impossible to imitate, precisely because it’s so unfathomable to work out where it actually comes from in the first place. Lyrics are apparently about Madonna, if you wondered where lines like "Your menstruating heart" and "I’m a perfectionist/And perfection is a skinned knee" were going.

3. 'Caffeine' (from Angel Dust, 1992)

A twitchy, erratic symphony spinning through different moods and movements, just describing the music of Angel Dust is hard. ‘Caffeine’ is one of several Angel Dust songs to be concocted while the teetotal, drug-free Patton conducted a deranging sleep deprivation experiment on himself. The squawking of birds and animals at the start of the tune sounds like a massacre waiting to happen.

4. 'Collision' (from Album Of The Year, 1997)

From FNM’s 1997 swansong, ‘Collision’, is just a big ball of mental that uses the noise of planets smashing together for a chorus. Ace.

5. 'Ashes To Ashes' (from Album Of The Year, 1997)

_Album Of The Year’ was by no means a bad album… but given the lunatic extremes that even just Patton was exploring in myriad side projects, Faith No More’s rampant experimentalism was actually starting to sound sort of tame by the time of their demise. But lead single ‘Ashes To Ashes’ is moody goth-pop tension that builds to a tighly-wound crescendo purely for Patton to cut loose in a gobsmacking, panoramic chorus.

6. 'Digging The Grave' (from King For A Day… Fool For A Lifetime, 1995)

Simultaneously their least experimental and most inaccessible longplayer, King For A Day… was cleaved clean between fairly straightforward chugging, alternative rock and sleazy soul-jazz. ‘Digging The Grave’ is firmly in the former camp, but proves that when Faith No More do ‘ordinary’ they still do it with a million more unexpected catchy twists and malevolent breakdowns than anything one-note imitators like System Of A Down could dream of.

7. 'Introduce Yourself' (from Introduce Yourself, 1987)

What really rules over those post-punkish classic first two records is Chuck Mosely, the larger than life cartoon miscreant who the band employed as a ‘singer’ in that period. Tunes like ‘We Care A Lot’ and ‘Annes Song’ proved that Mosely could do dumb anthems just as proficiently as his successor, but in ‘Introduce Yourself’ he just hurls himself into the song with the sort of childish evil glee that someone as wry as Patton could never lower himself to imitate.

8. 'A Small Victory' (from Angel Dust, 1992)

For his second album with Faith No More, former teen pin-up Patton’s writing leaped confidently from the meaning-free pop abstractions of The Real Thing into some genuinely unique and unsettling articulations of childhood and adolescence (see ‘Jizzlobber’s catastrophic masturbation guilt, or the funny-weird shame of ‘Kindergarten’). ‘A Small Victory’ bitterly/fondly reminisces the childhood trophies Patton’s coach father indoctrinated him into lusting after and musically, as one critic commented, “seems to run Madame Butterfly through Metallica and Nile Rodgers” in under five minutes of pop song.

9. 'As The Worm Turns' (b-side to Midlife Crisis, 1992)

An overlooked Chuck Moseley composition from 1985, here reworked with Patton, faster and angrier, built around a brain-swirling keyboard arpeggio that makes you feel dizzy and drunk. Should have been an A-side.

10. 'Evidence' (from King For A Day… Fool For A Lifetime, 1995)

Beautiful liquid soul, drenched in kitsch noir. More convincing than the occasional cabaret band turns that FNM were fond of around this time (see their covers of ‘Easy’, ‘This Guy’s In Love With You’, ‘Spanish Eyes’ and ‘I Started A Joke’).

11. 'Ricochet' (from King For A Day… Fool For A Lifetime, 1995)

Songmeanings.net debates that the lyrics refer either to, bizarrely, “a woman who leaves an infertile man for someone else only to find she is in fact the infertile one”, or that it obliquely references Kurt Cobain’s suicide (the song was listed as ‘Nirvana’ in band setlists) in an attack on Courtney Love – the pre-Mosely frontwoman of Faith No More.

12. 'From Out Of Nowhere' (from The Real Thing, 1989)

The best mixtapes end on unexpected upbeat stormers, and ‘From Out Of Nowhere’ is a top-down, driving-into-the-sunset, igniting-afterburners-and-blasting-into-space anthem.

SIDE B

  1. Mr Bungle – 'Sweet Charity'
  2. Peeping Tom – 'Five Seconds'
  3. Tomahawk – 'God Hates A Coward'
  4. Fantomas – 'The Godfather'
  5. The Fantomas-Melvins Big Band – 'Good Morning Slaves'
  6. Soundgarden – 'Black Hole Sun'
  7. Ministry – 'Bad Blood'
  8. Anthrax – 'Madhouse'
  9. Queens Of The Stone Age – 'No One Knows'
  10. Infectious Grooves – 'Violent & Funky'
  11. Deftones – 'Change (In The House Of Flies)'
  12. Helmet – 'Unsung'

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