1981: “Signals, Calls And Marches” – Mission Of Burma


About 10 years ago I read the Michael Azzerad book, “Our Band Could Be Your Life” about the American Indie underground scenes of the 80’s. Quite a few of the bands covered were already staples of my record collection but there were a few that although i’d heard about, I’d not really heard much music by. The kind of bands which I’d always thought i should know far more about and definitely have at least heard albums by due to them being so highly regarded and considered influential to so many bands i did like. So after reading the book I went out and bought albums by Black Flag, The Minutemen, Mission of Burma, Husker Du and The Replacements (more on them later).

Despite trying my best, I just could not get into Black Flag. I just found them average. I guess if I was there at the time I would’ve probably felt differently. Sadly in 1981 my main concern was getting bitten by my newly toothed little brother.

The Minutemen didn’t have enough hooks for me and I just found them a curiosity more than anything. Husker Du fared better but “Zen Arcade” just sounded like it was recorded in a shed. “Signals, Calls And Marches” by Mission of Burma, I immediately liked. The band have said that it’s not very representative of how they actually sounded in that it’s cleaned up and quite a lot more polished than their live sound. But they admit that probably did them favours in attracting more of an audience. Well it definitely stood out to my ears from the pile of recently obtained CD’s. I realise I’m cheating slightly because its more of an E.P than an album but my copy has the two tracks of the “Academy Fight Song” single on it so I’m getting by on a technicality.

The record has a lot of variety across it’s 6 tracks which i like. It’s pretty obvious that there were two different songwriters. It’s got it’s catchy songs “That’s When I Reach For My Revolver”, “This is Not A Photograph” and “Academy Fight Song”, its clangy post punk “Outlaw”, “Fame And Fortune” “Red”. And closing instrumental “All World Cowboy Romance”, which almost sounds like “Daydream Nation” era Sonic Youth.

I never checked out any of Mission Of Burma’s post 2007 reunion stuff. Maybe I should.

Just another note about 1981, I went on a kick ass trip to London Zoo with my family. I can remember looking at a kinkajou. Beat that 3 year olds of today!


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