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Faith No More
by Keavin Wiggins

Faith No More were a band before their time. They were true pioneers of a hybrid of musical styles that would impact into the mainstream in a big way a few years after they made their first big splash. Although the band likes to distance themselves from the rap-rock trend that rules the airwaves over the past few years, they were one of the first groups to successfully mix the worlds of rock with elements of hip-hop. The biggest difference is they were far better at the job than those who came after them and they didn’t let the formula limit their music either. In fact, they went far beyond the confines of rock meets hip-hop, adding elements of metal, funk and progressive rock to the mix. It was this culmination of musical worlds in a cohesive way that gave them a strong cult following. 

Greatest hits packages make the most sense when you are dealing with a band that’s songwriting lends itself to the hit single format. You know the type, they put out a record and the cool songs you heard on the radio are only decent tracks on the CD. Give the band a few CD’s like this and you have the makings of one strong greatest hits CD. On the other hand, there are groups that should be taken as a whole, their entire albums heard and experienced to gain the full measure of what they are about. Faith No More falls into the ladder category.  In fact, you really have to listen to their entire catalog to gain an appreciation for their progression as a band. 

During the early days of Faith No More they went through a string of lead vocalists, including a short stint with Courtney Love out front, before they found their man, Chuck Mosley. While Mosley was a strong vocalist and the group’s first two albums gave us a glimpse into the musical genius that was at work here, it wasn’t until Mike Patton signed on as lead vocalist that Faith No More’s musical vision seemed to crystallize. 

Patton seemed more adapt at walking the tightrope between rock, funk, hip-hop and progressive rock and his strong and eclectic vocals were a perfect match for the guitar styling of Jim Martin. Patton could effortlessly go from a rock scream into a full on rap without missing a beat and that translated well into the group’s third album, “The Real Thing”. On that album the group’s United Nations approach to music seem to come together perfectly and the world soon caught on to what Faith No More was trying to accomplish when the single “Epic” became a monster hit and propelled the group into the spotlight. 

But success came with a price and a rift soon appeared between Patton and Martin. Their follow up album, “Angel Dust,” was adored by critics and hard-core fans but Faith No More seemed to get lost in the shuffle that followed the onslaught of grunge in late 1991. And while the album showcased the group’s eclectic nature, it was just a little too bizarre for the mainstream.  The group did end up scoring a hit with a cover of the Commodores “Easy” when they released it as a single in 1993. 

During the supporting tour for Angel Dust the rift between Jim Martin and the band widened and when they returned to the studio to begin work on their next album, Martin had been replaced by Trey Spruance, the guitarist from Patton’s group Mr. Bungle. Trey stuck with the group long enough to record, “King for a Day, Fool for a Lifetime,” but when the band went out on the road to support the effort they were joined by Dean Mentia.  

With Martin gone, the groups musical identify seemed to shift a bit. While the music was still eclectic, it had more of a focus to it and while that is a good thing for most bands, it was a liability for Faith No More. It’s true that “King for a Day, Fool for a Lifetime,” and the group's final album “Album of the Year” can go head to toe with almost any release of the 90’s and still stand tall, but when compared to the raw genius of “Angel Dust” and “The Real Thing,” something seemed to be missing.  Perhaps Patton needed Martin’s McCartney to counter his Lennon to fuel his creative fires and to challenge him to take something great and make it greater?

Nontheless, when Faith No More lost their faith in April of 1998 and officially disbanded they left behind a strong legacy of music for generations to come. 

Where does this compilation fit into the mix? Well, let’s start out by stating that in 1998 Warner Bros released “Who Cares a Lot: Greatest Hits”, a “best of” collection. While that album showcased the group’s more commercial elements by focusing primarily on the singles, it also fell a bit short in showcasing what the band was really about.  

Does this compilation do a better job?  The short answer is yes and no! The task of pulling a dozen or so songs from the Faith No More catalog and putting them together to make a definitive “best of” collection is next to impossible. But I will say that the folks at Rhino did manage to come close to the mark if the intention was to provide a primer for potential fans and remind old school fans why they fell in love with this band to begin with.  

Let’s be honest, we live in a different musical world today than we did even five years ago and listening to this collection in hindsight really shines a light on just how innovative this band was. For those who are not familiar with Faith No More’s body of work, this is indeed a great introduction that takes a wide-angle view of their career from start to finish. If you like what you hear, chances are you’ll want to check out the full length albums these songs came from.  For those who got into this band when “Epic” was on high rotation on MTV, it would be a good way to reintroduce yourself to them now that your ears are more seasoned and may be more receptive to their more experimental moments. 

The bottom line is that it is next to impossible to come up with a definitive “best of” package for this group unless you stuck all of the CD’s in a box and called it a boxset. But I will give Rhino credit for taking some of the highlights of the catalog and putting them together in a cohesive package and let’s not forget the bio included in the liner notes written by Paul Gargano. I know what Faith No More fans are saying, “What in the hell does Paul Gargano know about FNM? Bon Jovi and Warrant I can see but Faith No More?” In Paul’s defense, I will say that while Paul will never be Cameron Crowe he did a great job of telling the Faith No More story in the limited amount of space he had to work with. Plus his is a name that kids into harder rock today know since he turned Metal Edge into a showcase for mallcore to go along with the hair-band focus of the Geri Miller era (He’s still appears to be a hair-metaler at heart). So in that context, it makes sense that Rhino asked him to pen the liner notes, and again, he did a great job.   

It’s actually quite simple really; if you are debating on whether to check this CD out, especially if you are not familiar with Faith No More, all you need to do is to go to your record store and look at the top 40 CD’s for the week. Judge for yourself, do you want to spend you money on the “real thing” or the third generation copy?  The choice is up to you! 

CD Info 

This Is The Best of Faith No More
Label: Rhino
Arabian Disco 
We Care A Lot - (Slash version) 
Anne's Song 
Introduce Yourself 
From Out Of Nowhere 
Falling To Pieces 
War Pigs 
The Cowboy Song
As The Worm Turns - (live, 1990) 
MidLife Crisis 
A Small Victory
Be Aggressive 
Digging The Grave 
Last Cup Of Sorrow 
Ashes To Ashes 
The Perfect Crime
Listen to samples and Purchase this CD online

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