Don’t call it a comeback - well, actually, go ahead, as long as you don’t mean it in the traditional sense of a band hanging onto to the last desperate dregs of any semblance of a career. Faith No More seem more charged than ever. Despite myriad lineup changes and the passing of decades since their inception, in the last two years the band have made ardent strides in revamping their namesake and platform, a fact witnessed by the release of Sol Invictus last year, their first studio album in 18 years. In 2015 Faith No More also essentially supplemented that glittery feat by reissuing two of their antecedent projects, The Real Thing and Angel Dust collectively. Now just a year later the band has decided to take it all the way back to their origins with the reissue of their debut album, 1985’s We Care A Lot.
Although often clumsily lumped into the vague, all-encompassing 'hard rock' category, Faith No More have always been a musical outlier, entwining a horde of elements into their forceful packages with the result being their own carved out creative niche. Consequently, We Care a Lot is as appropriate a title for a debut album as any. In the process of appeasing inbred followers while manoeuvring in the internet age, the band is clearly intent on educating possible newcomers on their decades long resume, even if that means publicising the work of an incarnation that featured the lended talents of since departed members like lead guitarist Jim Martin and of course vocalist Chuck Mosley (Courtney Love’s tenure unfortunately did not make the cut off).
Like most debut albums, especially hailing from musically ancient musical worlds and served with a hot plate of 'enough-fucks-given' for a reissue, We Care a Lot is accentuated by a raw, youthful energy that also spews as much confidence as it does a desire to distinguish itself. From their inception, it’s clear even in Faith No More’s adolescent experimental rocking Bay Area veins that they had a fondness for the tidier pop music of the day. 'We Care a Lot', the title and commencement track, takes its roots in the same sort of intriguingly stripped, slapdash resources that would eventually find their way into the grunge movement years later. The barebones punk edge never wears off throughout the rest of the material, with the band making mincemeat out of songs like 'Mark Bowen' all the while aiming for a catchy propensity.
'Pills For Breakfast' has long been one of the band’s most underrated offerings - a near three minute instrumental that manages to capture the spontaneity of a rollicking jam session and the cautious architecture of a band successfully arranging chords that will father a melodic feel. But even this spirited venture is outfoxed by 'Arabian Nights', one of FNM’s most successful early rendezvous in articulating via song what the band’s true complexion really is. Melding elements of new wave, funk metal, and punk, Mosley takes centre stage in one of his most animated performances.
The only positive thing to say about the three included 2016 filler mixes is that they highlight the canny nature of the originals by contrast. On the 2016 mix of 'We Care A Lot', that spirit of haphazard vitality, crucial to the lust of the original, is lost, relegating it to an utterly too polished ordinary pop record. The 2016 mix of 'As The World Turns' is just as unnecessary, sounding like a Ramones tribute band without any organic fiber. The momentum resurfaces with the repackaged demo versions, particularly with the gritty nature of 'Greed' - one of the band’s immortal standouts. Always buttering their bread with experimentalism, witnessing Faith No More in their primal state is one of the real delicacies of experiencing the reissue.
Live 1986 performances of 'The Jungle' and 'New Beginnings' at the I-Beam in San Francisco are also welcome additions to the fold. Although precisely 100% of Faith No More’s music reaches its full potential in a live setting, these recordings cast special lighting on purely energetic music being played in a time (or nightclub for that matter) that doesn’t exist anymore. But Faith No More, even in all their mutations, does still exist, a fact they are clearly trying to jam down our throats. But given the band’s resilient and laudatory career, this circumstance manages to escape vexation altogether. Legendary bands deserve to have the complete panorama of their art in full focus, and the reissue of We Care a Lot is sure to more than placate longtime admirers and cajole newbies into experiencing the masterpiece that started it all.
9Kellan Miller's Score