(We care a lot) about the gamblers and the pushers and the geeks
(We care a lot) about the smack and crack and whack that hits the street
(We care a lot) about the welfare of all the boys and girls
(We care a lot) about you people cause we’re out to save the world
Ahh, the sweet smell of sarcasm. I only picked Faith No More Introduce Yourself up in 2007, twenty years after it had been released – sometimes dates like that just make me boggle, can you really believe it’s now 27-ish years old? – but, anyway, I’d known and loved the track ‘We Care a Lot’ for ever and a day and figured a cheap second-hand version of the LP was too good an opportunity to be missed. It’s not one I play a lot but it really is just an excellent album.
Like the whole of the UK I fell for The Real Thing hard when it came out, the band seemed to be over here all the time and everywhere, I guess trying to get big here to parley that back into more success at home. I never saw them at the time which I bitterly regret. It’s a story for another time but ‘Epic’ just blew all the walls down in terms of who liked their music, much to the disgruntlement of several of us more insular metal types. I never made the trip back into their murky pre-history before Mike Patton at the time, but I should have.
Chuck Mosely the vocalist on Introduce Yourself, successor to (yup, her again!) Courtney Love, I remember as a great big, acrobatic guy with some serious dreads that I saw fronting Bad Brains in about 1992. He was ousted after this LP in a haze of recriminations and hotly-denied allegations of substance abuse. The first thing I really notice here is how similarly he sings to Mike Patton in places, although he doesn’t have his elastic larynx, with more rough edges which I like. Take a track like the sweetheart melody of ‘Anne’s Song’ he just sells that vocal brilliantly, out-of-tune bits and all.
The predominant sound of Introduce Yourself for me is the bass of Billy Gould, I mean it’s hardly a secret that all of FNM are excellent musicians but that loose-stringed TWANG, as modelled perfectly at the beginning of ‘Anne’s Song’ and ‘We Care a Lot’, is what the whole LP is built on here. Somehow the band got dragged into the whole abominable funk-metal label, which I think misses the point totally – Faith No More come across far more as a band influenced by early hip-hop and electro than funk, let’s face it this was a gang of scummy, filthy street dudes looking for a formula that hit hard and they found it.
The real highlights for me are the jaw-busting ‘Introduce Yourself’, it’s just there being brash and loud, and I’m a real sucker for songs that name check band members. By the end of the track Chuck Moseley is just singing sounds before he finishes on an ‘eyeeee-ohhhh’ that Perry Farrell purloined and turned platinum years later. This is just perfection as far as I am concerned, I once listened to it 14 times in a row on a treadmill (it’s only 1:33 long). On a similar tip ‘Chinese Arithmetic’ although a more-mannered song, hits hard swathed in layers of Roddy Bottum’s keys, hits as hard as ‘Chinese Arithmetic’ in fact and features a brilliant ragged rap a la early Sugarhill Gang at one point before galloping off into the future.
Another favourite moment for me is the spoken word and bongos intro to ‘Death March’ which recalls The Last Poets and the aforementioned ‘Anne’s Song’, the most melodic cut here by far where Big Sick Ugly Jim Martin* manages to sound a little like Brian May. ‘Faster Disco’ also gets bonus points for some interesting animal yelps in the background towards the end, you can’t beat a good bit of yelping in a song.
But it all pales before the mighty ‘We Care A Lot’ which basically has everything I love about heavy music in one big shiny, sarcastic package. Building slowly, replete with ‘whoa-oh-uh-oh’ s and a perfect drum, bass, guitar riffing, this pricking of all that mid-late 1980’s earnestness is just dynamite, call it a hunch but I’m guessing they don’t really care a lot about the ‘N.Y, S.F. and L.A.P.D’, or at least not as much as ‘(We care a lot) about Transformers cause there’s more than meets the eye’.
But you know, it’s all good here. Every last inch of it, right to the end of last track ‘Spirit’, with its strange Nick Cave-style intro and heavy climax,
So lets pack it up and take it somewhere special…
From a quintessential, existential nightmare
To a sanctuary waiting in the sun.
*my favourite name in rock, even though he only started using it a bit later on than this LP.