Tuesday, 22 July 2014


There was a serious musical masterpiece I've neglected to mention that definitely deserves it's own post. In January of 1992 on my 19th birthday, I received a few gifts from Derek in the form of compact discs. One was "LIE" the album Charles Manson recorded before he ended up going to prison. I had heard a dub of it before that Derek had, but I was absolutely stoked he had found me an actually cd copy. The recordings mainly consisted of very bizarre folk music, which generally isn't my thing, but this was Charlie Manson!!! Anyone who knows me should understand my excitement. I've always had a fascination with horror, the macabre, and serial killers, Chuck being at the top of my list.

However it was the other cd Derek got me that really had me stoked, and would change my opinions and perspectives on the structure of music and song writing forever, the cd in question was "Mr.Bungle" The self titled cd had been released in 1991, and I had my eyes on it for months, which Derek clearly paid attention too. Mr.Bungle was the high school band of new Faith No More frontman Mike Patton. They had released four demos in the late 80s, which caught the attention of FNM guitarist Jim Martin, who recruited Patton as the bands new vocalist.

was so pumped to finally hear this album after months of anticipation. I popped the disc in my stereo, slapped on the headphones, and busted out the lyric sheet. Right from the get go I was taken back. I really didn't know how I felt about it. The musical structure was all over the place, rarely ever returning to parts you heard previously in the song. They also covered many musical genres within the confines of one song, and there were tons of samples from movies and old video games. 

The album was produced by John Zorn, an infamous experimental jazz legend, who better than to be the lead engineer on such a wacky project. The vocals were also all over the map, ranging from singing to screaming to growling to rapping to whispering and so on. I was completely baffled at how these guys had pulled this off. I couldn't quite fathom how they even learned to play their songs considering they were intensely structured and really had no rhyme or reason to them.

The more I listened to it, the more it grew on me, and my two favorite songs ended up being "The Girls of Porn" and "Love is a Fist" It was clearly impossible to categorize these guys. One could easily cop out and say it's "Funk Metal" but it was truly so much more. They literally covered almost every genre of music, most times within one song. As I got more familiar with their music, the songs started to make sense to me. I started learning where the changes were, and after awhile they just played out to me like any other normal song would. But they were far from normal. Anytime I played it for a friend, you could instantly see the look of confusions come over their faces.

The bottom line was these guys had some serious talent, and they had put out a truly unique one of a kind album here. Vocalist Mike Patton had beef with Red Hot Chili Peppers front man Anthony Kiedis, who claimed Patton bit his style. Mr.Bungle were making waves and had been asked to play numerous musical festivals that the Chilis were on, but Kiedis pulled some strings and had Bungle removed from said festivals.

Mike used Mr.Bungle as another outlet to lash back at Kiedis. The band played a live festival on Halloween in Detroit and announced themselves as RHCP, they even introduced the band members using names of Chili Peppers members. They went as far as to cover some of their songs too, with Patton purposely sabotaging the lyrics. They also poked fun at heroin use, which took the life of the Chili's first guitarist Hillel Slovak. Some might see this as a low blow, but the fact Kiedis' personal vendetta caused him to use schoolyard antics (we won't play your show if they play your show) was really a childish and vulgar display of power, since they could draw huge crowds and promoters wanted to cash in on that. It's almost as if he was threatened by the band, who I personally think were much more talented then RHCP.

Mr.Bungle were also infamous for their live performances, each member dressed in various costumes to conceal their identities. I believe the mystique of them made the band that much more enjoyable. They even went as far as to use aliases as opposed to their actual names. Years later a band called SlipKnot would emerge, who in my opinion blatantly ripped of Mr.Bungle, but they were definitely a second rate imitation at best.

The first image I saw of the band captivated me, the fact they didn't care if anyone know their identities impressed me. Clearly they were all about the music and not the fame, an admirable quality to say the least. The artwork in the cd book also fascinated me, images of what appeared to be an alcoholic clown struck by tragedy every which way he turned. I never did have the pleasure of seeing them live, but a few of my friends did and they collectively agreed it was an incredible experience.

The band really opened my mind musically, especially to the world of jazz, which they dabbled quite a bit into. Mr.Bungle had earned a spot in my top ten most important bands of all time list. They were truly a one of a kind and brought something to the table no one else had prior to them. 

My anticipation for a follow up album was off the charts, I just didn't know how long I'd be waiting...

No comments:

Post a Comment