1992 : “Angel Dust”- Faith No More


1992 was a kind of overlap year for me musically. A transitional period from the world of chart pop into the unchartered territory of the rock and indie world. It was very gradual. At the beginning of the year I was still thoroughly surrounded by a pop bubble. Still a weekly Smash Hits reader and tape recorder of the Top 40 countdown on a Sunday night. However i was becoming more aware of other types of music that were available for my ears. More rock sounding things were creeping their way into the singles chart and certainly into the playground talk among the cooler kids at school. “In Bloom” by Nirvana was released in November 1992 and Smash Hits printed the lyrics over a photo of the band. I finally had a picture to put to the band I was hearing all the talk about.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned it in a couple of previous posts (I’m not going to scroll back and reread everything so apologies if i repeat myself!), but on my 15th birthday in November 1992, I had my 4 best mates over to watch a rental copy of Wayne’s World on video. My friend Dan brought round a cassette with “Blood Sugar Sex Magik” by Red Hot Chili Peppers on one side and Side A of “Bleach” and Side A of “Nevermind” on the other.I have no idea why only Side A’s were recorded. Neither did Dan. Anyway upon hearing these bands, I realised that this was the kind of music I wanted to be listening to. I was going to have to change my information sources to find out more. Smash Hits was no longer going to cut it.

Faith No More were going to have to wait their turn to receive my attention in the resulting tornado of bands heading towards me after the initial storm of Nirvana. They didn’t seem like something I would be too interested in. I imagined they were part of the hair metal brigade that the grunge behemoth was trying to destroy.

I had first seen Faith no More back in April 1990, when they performed “From Out of Nowhere” on Top of the Pops. I had no idea what i was watching. I was a Michael Jackson and New Kids on the Block fan at the time! But when I first heard Angel Dust I remembered that night at my Gran’s house where I stared at the T.V in utter bewilderment at the hairy bunch of misfits and wondered how it was the same band. It’s funny what a bit of perspective can do.

“Angel Dust” changed my opinion of the band immediately. “Everything’s Ruined” performed live on late night pop culture show The Word was my entry point. It was incredibly catchy but also different to everything I had heard. And the band members all looked like they should be in different bands. The album is all over the place really but Mike Patton’s voice holds it all together. That’s not to say that every member isn’t vital to the overall sound of the band. Roddy Bottum’s keyboards (what other alt-rock back had such a prominent keyboard sound?),Bill Gould’s bass, Mike Bordin’s drums and then Jim Martin’s metal throwback guitar on top. It’s as if all the band members are fighting to be the most important part of the songs and somehow ending up finding the sweet spot where everything slots perfectly into place. Having said that it’s not a perfect album. It gets a bit flabby round the middle. I would argue that Malpractice and Kindergarten could easily be dropped to make a better album. The songs that are left still stand the test of time though. “A Small Victory”, “Caffeine” and “Everything’s Ruined” are my favourite songs. They really show the range of the album: A melodic chugger, a metallic gruntfest and a funky honky tonk pop blast. As an aside, I always thought the “It! Shouldn’t! Bother Me!” section of “A Small Victory” was “Eat! Shit! Bolognese!” It wouldn’t surprise me if Mike Patton had sampled that particular dish at some point.