Faith No More – Angel Dust

It’s been one of those weeks when a quiet moment of inactivity has been hard to come by, and last night was no exception.  I headed up to Santa Monica to support my friend Sean’s big show at the Temple Bar.

I like the Temple Bar.  It’s dark, well appointed, and they usually have a lot of great music. It’s a shame they’re closing down after ten years of success, but that’s how the scene goes.  Start with a bang, do a decent business and close it down when it starts to get stale…so you can remodel and open as an entirely new space!

Such is the life cycle of the LA Club.

But I digress.  I was over at the bar taking pictures, because having my camera gives me something to do, when this Asian girl walked up to me.

“What are taking pictures of?”

I explained I was trying to take a picture of the TV.  She started talking cameras with me and laughing at my jokes.  Suddenly I thought to myself:  “Is she hitting on me?”  I already have a girlfriend, and I really didn’t find her attractive, but I was flattered and was mentally patting myself on the back thinking:

“Oh yeah…you still got it!”

Then (as if on que) she stopped laughing, handed me a flyer for a band she was promoting and walked off to the next guy.

So, I guess I don’t still have it.  And that’s the news…humbling isn’t it.

Anyways, such happenings often leave me wistful for the glorious past. And the glorious past makes me think of the nineties, and the nineties make me think of Faith No More.  It should come as no surprise that someone who likes Mr Bungle also likes FNM, they practically go arm and arm…although FNM was the more mainstream of the two bands.  And in 1992 they reached their peak with their fourth studio album “Angel Dust.”

Personally, I like to think of it as their second album since the band never really took off until Mike Patton joined the band, and this was his second album with them. Their pre-Patton days were not very pretty.

Originally formed in 1982 as Faith No Man (gag) with Mike “The Man” Morris as singer, but by all accounts he was a bit to much of an asshole, so they dumped him and became Faith No More.  The band tried out a number of singers, including a young Courtney Love, before finally going with Chuck Mosely on lead vocals.  They released their first album “We Care Alot” in 12985 on the small Mordam label before getting picked up by Slash records and putting out their first full length album “Introduce Yourself” in 1987.  The only hit was a revamped version of their single from the first record ‘We Care Alot,’ which wasn’t too bad and got some time on the MTV video rotation.

But the band was not doing well, despite their modest success. Plagued by friction and fighting, the band had descended into sheer collective hatred.  Mosely was fired for his crappy behavior and guitarist Jim Martin suggested a young kid named Mike Patton to replace him.  Patton was still playing with Mr Bungle at the time, but soon dropped out of college to join the band.  All the music was already recorded, but in two weeks Patton had written all the lyrics for what would become the bands biggest album to date, “The Real Thing.”  Soon the band was a household name, and now the hated nemesis of The Red Hot Chili Peppers who felt that FNM has stolen their sound…to which I say “In your dreams RHCP!”

But it was their next effort that really hit me on a hard gut level that “The Real Thing” didn’t.  As “The Real Thing” was dominated by Patton’s singing and songwriting, 1992’s “Angel Dust” would find the whole band becoming more involved in the recording process and Patton experimenting with new sounds and direction for the group.  Where most bands would have followed the success of their previous album by sticking to the same formula, FNM decided to take a risk…and it paid off.  Mirroring the album artwork (a snowy white egret on the front and a butcher shop window on the back) the sound would run the gamut between beauty and barbarism. It would be the known as the final album before Jim Martin left the band.

The new found cohesion in the band made for great listening with songs like ‘Midlife Crisis,’ ‘Be Aggressive’ and ‘Land of Sunshine’…but the album also does a great job with their cover of ‘Midnight Cowboy’ as well as super heavy tracks like ‘Crack Hitler.’ Not only was the music heavy and raw, but also made use of samples from such a varied array of artists as Simon and Garfunkle to the Kronos Quartet.

“Angel Dust” finds a sonic balance that few artists or their albums could ever hope to achieve and it does so extremely well.  The group would make two more albums after this…each more experimental than commercial, before they called it quits, but the influence of the album can still be heard in music today though the likes of Korn and Linkin Park to name a few.

Pulling it off my shelf the other day, I was surprised how well the music had stood the test of time, especially when so much from that era has now been tossed in the novelty music bin.  But the part of me that knows better, knows that it won’t be long before college kids are hosting 90’s parties, and music like this will be heard once again.

If I didn’t like it so much, I’d shudder at the thought.


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