Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Faith No More

OK - I'm not an expert on the enigmatic Mike Patton's career.... there are many who are better qualified to sell you on him and on FNM.
I've read the reviews, but never actually heard his avant garde solo albums, which are apparently little more than long sequences of bizarre screams and sound effects.
I like Mr. Bungle (the song "Vanity Fair" has held the #1 spot in my iTunes "Top 25 Most Played" for months); I haven't heard any of his other projects - - my favorite Mike Patton moments are mostly on the Faith No More album, "Angel Dust".
Like you - I first heard Faith No More when "The Real Thing" came out. The Metallica guys were raving about them - I picked up the casette and knew I'd found a unique masterpiece. Saw them at the Fastlane in Asbury Park right at the peak of their "Epic" popularity. The club was too small for us all.... It was sweltering inside of the little club. I was only 16, and if the bouncers hadn't been overrun with MTV latecomers on the street outside, they probably wouldn't have let me in. As it was, I got in, got soaked with my sweat and the sweat of everyone close by in the cramped floor before the stage, and experienced enlightenment (it was that or heatstroke). Mike Patton was a dynamo of energy, hanging at times from the pipes on the low ceiling, belting out the songs off of the first two albums. I've never experienced a show to match that one....
"Angel Dust" was the next album, which for me, was their peak. They'd said facetiously that they were set to bring back Soft Rock with that album... the tune "A Small Victory" seems to almost back up that statement, repeating a cheesy poppy riff over a heavy, driving, compelling background groove (hut, hut, hut hut hut). Every song on this CD makes a case for greatness, though all are a bit too bizarre, a bit too Faith No More, to ever repeat the mainstream success of "Epic". (check out the way "Everything's Ruined" builds to an awesome climactic finish, same for "Jizzlobber". The album itself anti-climaxes perfectly with an hypnotic version of the "Midnight Cowboy" theme as the last track.)
Their following albums all have their moments, but if you don't know the band, I'd recommend you get started with "The Real Thing". Not their very best, but their most accessible. Follow that up with "Angel Dust".
At their best, they were five virtuosos coming together, fusing their talents to create brilliant songs that were atmospheric, often heavy, often catchy, often dark, often tongue-in-cheek. A shame they broke up.... There will never be another Faith No More. I have no idea why I never saw them live again.


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