Faith No More’s return with last year’s excellent Sol Invictus showed that the band’s creative juices were still plentiful and flowing, making it a more than welcome comeback. Now fans can enjoy these re-releases of their first, pre-Patton album, and their last two records before they split in 1998. The new editions find them digging into the archives to unearth lost B-sides, live tracks, interviews and covers from a consistently innovative band.
The snarky opening title track on We Care A Lot (Koolarrow, 6⁄10) sounded completely fresh and unique back in 1985, and even now, after years of rock-club ubiquity, it’s still a rough-around-the-edges gem. Here the record is remastered from bassist Billy Gould’s original reels, and while no technical tinkering on earth could improve Chuck Mosely’s vocals (replacing him with Mike Patton was the best move they ever made), it’s reason enough to retrace their baby steps. A selection of demos and live tracks round out the package, but there’s no doubt that the best was to come.
King For A Day… Fool For A Lifetime (Rhino, 8⁄10) was panned on release because of its innate weirdness and the band’s bloody-minded refusal to pick a genre and stick to it. They hop madly from creepy jazz sleaze (Evidence) to eye-popping punk (Gentle Art Of Making Enemies) to discombobulating lounge (Star AD) to gibbering metal (Cuckoo For Caca). Not only that, but they do all this via country power ballads (Take This Bottle) and gospel musical theatre (Just A Man).
However, this brilliant unpredictability is their charm, and that’s why extras including Evidence in Portuguese, a karaoke-sincere take on Elvis/Andy Williams/Englebert Humperdink/Al Martino standard Spanish Eyes and the clanking Greenfields fit in so comfortably with their more famous siblings.
Mike Patton once said that 1997’s Album Of The Year (Rhino, 7⁄10) was the point where Faith No More were “starting to make bad music”, but while it’s no match for the big-hitting The Real Thing or the stunning creative peak of Angel Dust, it’s still got a couple of stone-cold singalong classics in the shape of Last Cup Of Sorrow and the irresistible Ashes To Ashes.
Alternative mixes of Pristina and She Loves Me Not are trippy and different enough from the originals to be interesting, while combative B-sides Light Up And Let Go and The Big Kahuna demonstrate plenty of fire in their bellies, even at what seemed like the end.