Sunday, November 29, 2009

Underrated: Faith No More's "King For A Day, Fool For A Lifetime"

So, since it's raining here, and the powers that be apparently do not want me to run (thanks big guys), here's a little bit about this horrifically underrated album.
Everyone knows Faith No More for their giant radio hit "Epic" from 1989's "The Real Thing." By 1992, the boys released "Angel Dust," which while it didn't hit the glammy rap-rock peaks of their hit, progressed into unforeseen territories due to Mike Patton's growing involvement in the song writing process. Rumor has it that guitarist Jim Martin was phoning in his parts, not wanting to be in the same room as Patton. "Angel Dust" went on to be a highly tauted influence on a lot of emerging bands (unfortunately, a lot of those bands came from the nu-metal movement, but i'll forgive Faith No More for that).
1995. Cobain is in the ground, and the musical landscape he unintentionally created has become a cultural wasteland of Goo Goo Dolls and Collective Souls. Enter "King For A Day, Fool For A Lifetime." Jim Martin is gone, and guitar duties are now in the hands of John Zorn contributor Trey Spruance. Gone are the rap-rock posturings and day-glo clothing. The record consists of 14 tracks that run the gauntlet of musical tastes and styles. It feels more radio friendly, yet more experimental at the same time. It's a mix of prog rock, metal, lounge, punk, noise, and then closes gloriously on "Just A Man" with a gospel choir.
With Mike Patton now behind the wheel, the band were able to take on the much more experimental path they had begun to forge with "Angel Dust." And that's a good thing. Of course the album bombed. No one bought it. Radio play was menial. Critics turned their noses up. And long time fans of the band cried "shenanigans!" And that's bullshit. It's the perfect companion piece to "Angel Dust." People criticized the lyrics, especially on "The Gentle Art of Making Enemies." Look at the title. If your expecting James Joyce, you're an idiot. Faith No More's lyrics have always been stupid. How is "Don't you look so surprised, happy birthday fucker," any crappier than "It's it, what is it? It's is, what is it," or "Surprise, you're dead?" The answer, it's not. You don't listen to a Faith No More album (or anything by Mike Patton for that matter) for the lyrics. You listen to it for awesome prog rock inspired madness.
So, if you gave up on Faith No More after "King For A Day, Fool For A Lifetime," go back and listen to it again, unbiased. Or if you know nothing about the band except for "Epic," now's the time to check the record out...and "Angel Dust" too. Who knows, maybe you'll dig it and move on to Mr. Bungle or Patton's collaborations with avant saxophonist John Zorn, or maybe you'll just listen Lady GaGa like usual. I'm not judging.

1 comment:

  1. I've always thought of Angel Dust and KFADFFALT as companions as well. Both are my favorite FNM records, just depends on what day as far as which one I lean to. That said, I only partially agree with the statement that their lyrics aren't great - sometimes they most definitely are not, other times, they're brilliant. I offer most of Angel Dust as my evidence (no pun intended, really) counter argument. I've always thought Kindergarten, Malpractice, Everything's Ruined, and of course RV are fantastic lyrically. Also, on King, we have Just a Man, which is every bit as grand as you posit, but partially because of the lyrics. Even some of The Real Thing's lyrics are great, although most of those are probably not Patton's. Also, while I'm thinking of lyrics that probably aren't Patton's but that are awesome not just for their exposition of an idea but also for his delivery, see Be Aggressive.
    Great piece. I'm going to have to travel back in time on Your blog more often sir. Good readin'!