Faith No More Mixtape: Weird, crazy and awesome

(Kneeling from left) Billy Gould, Mike Bordin, (standing from left) Jim Martin, Mike Patton and Roddy Bottom were the line up that played from the album The Real Thing to the Easy EP.

So, this is the first feature I’m essentially doing for the fun of it, which I call the “Mixtape.” And yes, I know that nobody has used tape in a while. Anyway, with “Monthly Mixtape,” I’m going to pick a certain number of songs which are personal favorites and which I feel encompass a band’s output. This month, I’ll be focusing on Faith No More.

As most people who knew me as a teenager could verify, one of my favorite bands, if not the favorite was Faith No More. Of course, I wasn’t alone. When the single “Epic” hit MTV in 1990, millions of us were hooked on its blend of heavy metal and rap. That single would launch Faith No More’s third album, The Real Thing, into the Billboard Top 200, eventually topping out an No. 11.

The band would go on to have less commercial success in its following, but more experimental, albums. The Real Thing’s successor, 1992’s Angel Dust is considered one of the most influential albums of all time now. Following two more albums, 1995’s King For a Day, Fool For a Lifetime and 1997’s Album of the Year, the band parted ways.

Faith No More’s Album of the Year lineup reunited in 2009 and put out the band’s seventh album, and first one in 18 years, 2015’s Sol Invictus. Now, the band is still active and possibly working on new songs, but that hasn’t been verified.

That was a really brief history of the band, sans the Chuck Mosley era. I will probably revisit that one, choosing four or five songs, because that time of in the band’s history sticks out on its own.
So here it is, my Faith No More Mixtape. The songs are in order from where I would put them if I were putting together an album instead of going by release date or album name.

  1. The World is Yours

With the samples of elephants and a firing squad, this song is for me a perfect opening. Perfect because it lets you know you’re in for an experience, encompassing a roller coaster of sound, diving into dark depths and flying into weird highs. The album truly kicks into gear when the keyboards start, giving the impression of opening Pandora’s Box, which kind of sums up Faith No More’s output well.

This song is from the Angel Dust sessions, but was not included on the album.

  1. Epic

The song that made them famous and introduced Faith No More to a the generation of kids born from the mid-70s to mid-80s who’d go on to form their own rap-metal fusion bands. Even though members of the band tried to escape this song for years, not even bothering to play it at their “final” show prior to their first breakup in 1998.

I’m pretty sure they’ve added it to their set list since they reunited and hopefully they’ve started running away from the song. It’s easy to see why it was the perfect late-80s, early-90s hit. It mixed to rising genres, heavy metal and rap, and made them both accessible to millions. If it weren’t for this song, it’s possible none of us would have heard of this band today.

  1. Ashes To Ashes

Album of the Year was an enjoyable album, far better than a lot of the others that were being released at the time. But like KFAD-FFAL, there was just something missing. For me, the fault of both albums is that many songs never seemed to have any sort of real climax, with repeating the song’s intro or relying on Patton’s vocal stylings, to bridge the beginning and the end.

“Ashes to Ashes” is one of the exceptions as the song is tied together by one of Hudson’s few guitar solos for the band. The song is all about mood, a particularly dark one. Even though Patton writes his lyrics to be ambiguous in meaning, one gets the feeling that that they’re with a lonely person looking out the window from a dark room that they can’t leave.

  1. Midlife Crisis

Probably the band’s most unusual and by far most experimental song. Even after 24 years, I can’t think of any other song that sounds like it. This song embodies why Angel Dust is often considered the band’s best and most influential work. Patton sounds like he is singing in the style of an early-voice synthesizing computer (Remember the Tandys?) and Bordin adds a near drone like quality to his drumming, which tie this song together.

  1. Roddy Bottum, Mike Patton, Mike Bordin, Dean Menta and Billy Gould. Menta replaced Trey Spruance, who played on the album King for a Day, Fool For a Lifetime. Mental appeared in the music videos for the album but did not stay long enough to take part in the album’s follow up recording.

    Absolute Zero

A track that was left of the KFAD-FFAL album, it’s considered by many to be the best song from that session, which left those same people scratching their heads as to why it wasn’t included on the album. It’s aggressive like “The Gentle Art of Making Enemies,” which made it onto the Album, but it’s also more solid than that song. It’s about as straightforward as a rock song as you can get from Faith No More with an intro-riff that’s sure to get that head a banging.

  1. Motherfucker

Admittedly, I haven’t heard much from Sol Invictus, so it’s really hard for me to pick out one from it. Maybe it’s because I haven’t listened enough times, but not much has really stood out to me yet. This is typical of FNM, whose albums always seem to require a few listens before you can get into them. Price of being experimental I suppose.

If I were to go with one that really stands out to me right now, it’s “Motherfucker,” the first single. Yeah, the title is a bit juvenile, but at the same time, it’s a really catchy song. The band sent a message choosing to release this one: We’re back, we’re together and we’re doing what we want.

  1. The Real Thing

Probably the largest sounding song by Faith No More. By large sounding I mean that you could easily picture this song blasting throughout an arena stuffed with people. It’s also the longest song on this list, clocking in at 8:13. I chose it because it sounds like all the elements that you hear spread throughout The Real Thing album cumulates here, bringing them together on a climactic high.

  1. Billy Gould, Mike Patton, Roddy Bottum, Mike Bordin and Trey Spruance were the lineup that recorded King for a Day, Fool for a Lifetime. Spruance would leave shortly after the recording because of the touring schedule, according to other members.

    Last to Know

I never hear this one mentioned in lists when people are talking about the best FNM songs. It’s kind of surprising to me because I consider it the best on the KFAD-FFAL album. It’s a slow rocker and also a moving one, giving one the feeling of being on the outside trying to look in. Trey Spruance, whom Mike Patton brought into FNM from Mr. Bungle to fill in the void left by Jim Martin, shines in his solo here on an album which he is largely overshadowed. Great capper for a night of drinking alone.

  1. Cowboy Song

You know, it seems like FNM’s best material was often left off their albums. Case and point, the Cowboy Song. Musically, this pretty much dwarfs everything on The Real Thing, the time period in which this song was recorded. From its keyboard intro to Patton’s early Falsetto singing to Jim Martin’s shredding, this is everything during the Epic era turned up to 11. It’s great, it hits like a wall of sound.

  1. Jizzlober

Faith No More has wrote some pretty dark songs, but “Jizzlober” may be the darkest. Starting with a sampling of what sounds like someone wading through a swamp at night, the song turns into what could be the band’s heaviest song. The subject matter is dark, apparently about Patton’s fear of going to prison, and the music does its best to dig an even darker hole. The music is akin to taking an aural beating, it’s relentless and unforgiving, dragging you along with Patton into his nightmare, eventually ending in organ music, something one could interpret as finally waking up in the morning.

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