It’s time to run through the albums of another of my favourite bands and waffle on about them a bit in a vague way of saying whether I reckon they’re any good or not. This time I’m doing Faith No More, one of the first bands I got into, after hearing Epic on a strange compilation CD that I’m sure was something to do with the Marquee Club…
We Care A Lot (1985)
Faith No More’s debut album is a roughly-produced collection of songs featuring the vocals of Chuck Moseley rather than Mike Patton. In many ways it sounds very different to the kind of music that would make them famous, and it’s certainly ‘of its time’, with Roddy Bottum’s keyboards more prominent than Jim Martin’s guitar a lot of the time. It has the anthemic title track, but not the version that everyone knows (that would appear on the next album), and there are some great moments on here, like As The Worm Turns and Mark Bowen, but Moseley’s vocals are an acquired taste and the music doesn’t quite set the world on fire.
Introduce Yourself (1987)
Much, MUCH better, as demonstrated by the re-recorded We Care A Lot, which is a lot punchier and more memorable. Moseley’s singing is still ragged and only occasionally gets close to being in tune, but there’s character there and he pulls it off much more successfully. One of the best things about Introduce Yourself is that it doesn’t really sound like anything else, and flies along at a heck of a pace with songs like Anne’s Song, the title track and Chinese Arithmetic. The brooding The Crab Song is another of my favourites, and even though Chuck’s days were numbered and the band were about to hit the stratosphere, he left behind a great album.
The Real Thing (1989)
After Moseley’s departure from the band he was replaced by Mike Patton, and this development changed everything for them, with vocals going from being the weakest weapon in their arsenal to the most impressive thing about them. Patton’s ability to shift vocal styles from crooning to screaming helped define the music, and The Real Thing saw FNM’s eclectic sound taking on a more focused and MTV-friendly edge. Hits like Epic, From Out Of Nowhere and Falling To Pieces established them in the big time, but weird instrumental Woodpeckers From Mars, psycho baby song Zombie Eaters and the cover of War Pigs demonstrate the wide selection of great music on offer. It’s one of the first albums I ever bought and I still absolutely love it.
Angel Dust (1992)
Patton’s second FNM album managed to be even better than his first and is probably my favourite album of the 90s. Both darker and lighter than The Real Thing, Angel Dust mixes Faith No More’s heaviest tracks with the smooth cheesiness of the Easy (on the re-release) and Midnight Cowboy covers, and this contrast was a bit too much for Big Jim Martin, who was sacked a year later after having little to do with the recording of the album. There’s actually no weak tracks at all on Angel Dust, though my favourites are probably the insane Jizzlobber and Crack Hitler. Faith No More were a unique band and this is why they were so special.
King For A Day… Fool For A Lifetime (1995)
Three years later and they were back with another stone-cold classic, just as crazy, unique and impressive as before. Somehow they ended up playing the heavy Digging The Grave on Top Of The Pops, while the other main single was the jazzy, atmospheric Evidence, which was just as good. With Mr Bungle guitarist Trey Spruance replacing Martin, there was a license to go even more off-the-wall, and songs like Cuckoo For Caca, Star A.D. and Just A Man see them spreading their wings. It wasn’t as well received as its predecessors, but the mix of genres and styles makes it always entertaining listening.
Album Of The Year (1997)
Apparently its title was a sarcastic comment by the band on how happy they were with it, and there’s no doubt that Album Of The Year was a slightly underwhelming way for FNM to bow out, but it’s far from a bad album at all. Singles Ashes To Ashes, Stripsearch and particularly Last Cup Of Sorrow are all great, and their sense of humour was intact on Naked In Front Of The Computer. Musically, it’s a little more straightforward than their previous work, but there’s still Middle Eastern influences on Mouth To Mouth and lounge music in She Loves Me Not, and I’m a big fan of closer Pristina. Album Of The Year it might not have been, but even at a low ebb, Faith No More were too good to make mediocre music.