Their earliest days were way back in 1979 when they formed as Sharp Young Men, later adopting Faith No Man as their moniker along the way. But it was in 1985 when this dynamic ensemble released their initial full-length, We Care a Lot, which was reissued last year with additional demo tracks, live recordings and updated mixes.
When the release initially surfaced, Faith No More was surrounded by the explosion of thrash in one of the genre’s hotbeds: San Francisco, the storied hub of counterculture and art, a fitting birthplace for the eventual trailblazers.
At this point, Jim Martin’s defining metallic guitar crunch hadn’t been properly brought into the fold. That key element started taking hold on their sophomore effort, 1987’s Introduce Yourself, which, like their debut, only hinted at the jaw-dropping future that was to come with the 1989 juggernaut The Real Thing, the point at which virtuoso Mike Patton replaced Chuck Mosley on vocals. Sadly, Mosley died Thursday, November 9, 2017, at the age of 57.
Faith No More’s debut was far from perfect. “Pills for Breakfast” sounds like a high school garage band attempting to conjure the future spirit of the epic, boundless instrumental “Woodpeckers From Mars” from The Real Thing. Yet their youthful curiosity and pursuit of identity is charming in its own right. Roddy Bottum’s keyboards and Billy Gould’s bass introduce “Why Do You Bother” with an eerie and surreal atmosphere crafted in their idiosyncratic way, leading up to Mosley’s melodic barking and moaning that unquestionably set the stage and influenced his iconic, eventual replacement. The hook laden title track proved Faith No More’s worth as a pop band from the get-go, while “Jungle” sounds like darkwave without pretense, certainly considering Mosley’s far-from-perfect singing which he would fine-tune down the road. And throughout, the songs regularly entail a building sense of tension followed by a dramatic sense of release via drummer Mike “Puffy” Bordin’s characteristic tribal stomp.
There is an enjoyable and exploratory sense of adventure and hummable nature on tracks like “Mark Bowen” and “As the Worm Turns,” yet the jam-room vibe doesn’t seem nurtured. The ideas are underdeveloped and meandering at best. A trio of 2016 remixes, including the latter track as well as “We Care a Lot” and “Pills For Breakfast,” complement the re-issue for completists and newbies alike, while the demo cuts of “Green” and “Mark Bowen” are distinctly more raw and energetic takes than the original album versions. The 1986 live recordings of “New Beginnings” and “Jungle,” however, simply sound sloppy and chaotic.
Considered with no context, We Care a Lot is an adventurous yet awkward attempt to create something new. Keeping in mind how mesmerizing and influential Faith No More eventually became, however, it’s a more interesting voyage largely because of it’s warts, not in spite of them. The dreamers had not yet found their identity.
(Koolarrow Records | We Care A Lot (Deluxe Band Edition))