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Faith No More
We Care A Lot (Reissue) Jeremy Allen , August 23rd, 2016 15:32

Rock ‘n’ roll is going through a phase we might call the things we never thought we’d see again period. It started with the Sex Pistols’ Filthy Lucre reformation - or maybe the Pixies getting back together - and may yet conclude with The Smiths burying the hatchet, or The Beatles taking a whistle-stop tour of Britain’s remaining music halls with two sentient holograms in tow.

Another of those amazing spectacles took place in San Francisco on 18th August to celebrate the rerelease of an album made in 1985. Astonishingly, Faith No More played a show to promote the We Care A Lot reissue with Chuck Mosley, a singer they ejected in the late 80’s before giving his job to a young Mike Patton. FNM followed up the recent show with another in Los Angeles two days later. Astonishing, because there was a lot of bad blood between the singer and the band before Chuck went off to join Bad Brains; rumours of substance abuse abounded, and the final straw apparently involved Mosley falling asleep at the launch party for Introduce Yourself. Legal action regarding publishing rights followed his dismissal, the stuff of hurt feelings and hysterical headlines. Thankfully everybody has kissed and made up, and Mosley and Patton (who sings with the reformed Faith No More) were photographed hugging and hanging out together in LA after the second show, which is a bit like two Doctors meeting. This all is of course heartwarming and satisfactorily grown up.

Broadly speaking, Faith No More’s time as an entity can be divided up into four distinct phases. The pre-Chuck Mosley era when they didn’t really release anything and had dalliances with various singers, including a young Courtney Love. The Chuck Mosley era from 1983 to 89. The all-conquering Mike Patton era, from 89 to 98, when they became a world straddling, MTV-sanctioned, unit-shifting rock behemoth. And the recent glorious comeback - also led by Patton - crowned with the excellent Sol Invictus album.

Because the Patton years were so successful, it’s become a bit of a received wisdom that they must therefore be the best. Off the back of Faith No More, Patton has been able to consistently release some seriously recondite and envelope-pushing music into the world over the last 20 years, and find an audience only too happy to lap it up. His career has been a triumph of perversity, vicissitude and above all, innovation, and his forays into what can only be described as avant garde metal, have made him one of the most compelling artists around, while his label Ipecac keeps dropping thrillingly off the wall new music.

That all said, there’s a vitality to the Chuck Mosley period of Faith No More that actually feels more alive and contemporary than with Patton at the helm. One of the reasons could be the ubiquity of the band after ‘Epic’ went, well, epic, meaning memories are forever tied up with specific times and places for many listeners, me included. Angel Dust will always be more tied to the 90s than Introduce Yourself is to the 80s, just because of the persistence of association.

We Care A Lot is even less tethered to its own past because of a lack of availability. The original 10-song album hasn’t been commercially available for 20 years, and has only come to light again because de facto leader Billy Gould was having a clear out and stumbled upon the original reels (which have now been remastered by Maor Appelbaum). The record, which came out on indie label Mordam Records, is now out on the bass player’s own label, KoolArrow. Stick it on and marvel at just how fresh it sounds, in the way that Talking Heads still sounds fresh, or Infected by The The still sounds fresh.

The title track might be slightly slower with slightly different lyrics and fewer whoo’s to the one you’re used to, but it’s still a sardonic masterpiece. ‘The Jungle’ perfectly exemplifies why Faith No More works but shouldn’t, a song with a new wave heart swathed in Roddy Bottum’s fluorescent keyboard and Jim Martin’s crunching metal riffs. ‘Mark Bowen’ makes you wonder how a band this good had been ignored by record companies and was in the studio recording off their own bat at their own expense.

‘Why Do You Bother?’ with Gould’s lurching bass and Bottom’s minor chords is like a dystopian John Carpenter soundtrack, before Mike Borden arrives with the most attacking drum rhythm you’ve heard in your life. And the twisty-turny labyrinth of ‘As The Worm Turns’ is surely the sexiest song ever about being unemployed, with Chuck spitting the lyrics forth in such a strange but deliberate way that it’s tempting to leap up and shout “genius” at the stereo.

It probably shouldn’t surprise us anymore when bands get back together, even if for a couple of nights (it might surprise us if Jim Martin left his pumpkin farm and joined in again, but that’s never gonna happen). Rock ‘n’ roll has no place left to go, so repackaging and remastering or the only Rs that matter anymore. But just sometimes an album gets the reissue treatment that gives you goosebumps because it’s so crisp and firm and tangible. Chuck lives!