Melody Maker | Live | 4 June 1988 | Photo: David Willis
FAITH NO MORE
Town & Country Club, London
Faith No More are the ash flicked into pop's already murky watering hole. Partially processed cochineal in the most superficially scrumptious cake. A horrible, hairy, 10-legged monster lying in wait in one of your socks.
Drink, eat, put your goddammed foot in it. There is no choice because they are below and above, inside and outside. They are the personification of every impressionable phobia going and one of them is bound to be for you. Hell, they've made some of them up specially.
It's a far, far bigger problem than you might imagine. It's compounded by the fact that they are so carelessly clever. I really, really want to express how massive a mountain of steaming crap Faith No More are, how they are utterly devoid of the merest smidgen of worth, how they deserve contempt shovelled upon contempt. But to do that would be to play exactly to their unwritten rules. That reaction would satisfy them as much as a slobbering eulogy. There seems to be no way through this mess.
"We Care A Lot" is the only song that makes any concessions to structure, recognises the necessity for something akin to climaxes and troughs to incite interest. The bass booms, dropping like a paving slab from the top of a tower block, shattering, spreading the circumfluent surges of the guitar and keyboards to areas of half-baked excitement. It's no wonder that song is their anthem. Chuck's mumbled words are lost in the centre of it all, a playful pang at the very heart, a lacerated gibberish. As weak as it is, it reveals the scale of the predicament elsewhere, the barely co-ordinated ordinariness of their humdrum scum rock, their nod to a jagged metal-rap-a-roller coasting.
Mayhem? Yes, I'll allow that. But this chaotic cacophony, the inconsistencies and contradictions, are a liquefaction rather than a stretching of the state of the art we've been promised. This is a band who should not, even under the most absurd circumstances, be perceived as the last lovely dregs, as the final drag, as some sort of scurrilous saviours. They are not what a band who ought to be called Pop Will Eat Itself – why didn't they think of that? – should sound or look like. Not even if Chuck begins in a loose-fitting, garish clown costume and later changes into a safari suit, with a chequered jacket on top and a blonde wig to complete the idiotic vision. Especially not if there's a bastardised version of "Life's A Drag" to fill the gap.
To return to the essential problem. There are headbanging antics, long locks cast back and forth, a bald one bobbing frantically, a left arm pumping like it's working the bellows of the underworld. But it amounts to a fat, greasy zero, a big bluff. It is not even bold.
Faith No More are not crap. No. Because for all of the strain and in spite of the enemas, there is, quite simply, no shit to show.