FDF Volume 2 Issue 145: Mission of Burma - Signals Calls and Marches
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Album - Signals, Calls and Marches
Artist - Mission of Burma
Key Players - Peter Prescott - drums, voice. Roger Miller - guitar, voice. Clint Conley - bass, voice, guitar. Martin Swope - tape.
Produced By - Richard W. Harte
Release Date - August 1981
What caused me to blow off the dust? - Actually heard a song from the ep on satellite radio recently, got me to thinking. Simple as that.
Overview - Released as an ep in 1981 Boston based band Mission of Burma would slowly start their climb. Formed as a punk band, the band was well known for its raucous live shows they'd garner a large fan base in the Boston area. Since being released the ep has been re mastered two times, the first in 1997 added 2 additional singles, and a second in 2009. The band would form legions of fans in the rock circles and many bands would cover their songs. Perhaps the "biggest" cover was Mobys version of "That's When I Reach for My Revolver". The band would release a full length in 1982 and then disband, only to re-form in 2002 to only be more prolific.
FDF Comments (aka the songs) - As noted this disc has been re-issued 2 times with additional tracks. Here is what made up the "original" version.
Opening with sort of a harmonic sounding bass "That's When I Reach for My Revolver" begins. The guitar runs quiet/loud and Prescott hits the drums like a jackhammer. The chorus sees the band really clicking and they all hit down. Conley is all over the bass and it is prominent in the mix punching out the back beat and then flashing some great fills. The backing vocals bark the chorus and the band is just in a frenzy as the song wraps up. A real barn burner of an opener. A kick drum opens "Outlaw" as the bass and guitar click off one another. The vocals are a little more attacked on this song, but the music has a delicate balance of urgent yet flawless in its delivery. The guitar gets a work out mid song and again the bass is more than just there to hold down the bottom. The track ends the same with the kick drum but some maracas thrown in for good measure. "Fame and Fortune" begins with the guitar and drums working in succession. The guitar loops on a series of the same notes as the bass comes over giving a strong melody. Vocals are swapped and there are some harmonies on the song, we are not talking Simon and Garfunkel but the band does show their chops. The shortest song on the ep is "This Is Not a Photograph" clocking in at under 2 minutes, and the band wastes little time getting rolling. The lyrics are sung quickly and the backing vocals are sung back with aggression. The guitar gets a work out on this track, but it is not a flashy guitar solo all the while the strong work on the bass by Conley stands out keeping things all in check. "Red" starts off a lot different than the prior track, with a single guitar opening the song before the drums and bass come up. The backing vocals fills with "oohs" as the main verse is sung and for all its post punk feel the band is really focused. There are instrumental breakdowns and some cool time changes during the track but it all seems to work, and the listener is not put off by what could come across as senseless "noodling" on their instruments. The ep wraps up with "All World Cowboy Romance" another song with simple, yet strong guitar playing at the beginning that is focal point for close to a minute of the track before the bass and drums are brought up. The band hits a groove and there are some ooohs and ahhs buried in the mix as the guitar riff repeats over it all. A bit later in the track it gets more chaotic, but still holds its place. The bass runs over the riffs on the guitar and the drums keep things tightly in check. The song is instrumental barring the "oohs and ahhs" and ends the ep on a high note.
Where are they now? - The band is still active with only Martin Swope gone from the line up. The band broke up in 1983 mostly due to Millers long suffering battle with tinnitus but they reformed in 2002. Since that time they have released 2 additional records and have another slated for the fall of 2009. Swope lives in Hawaii and declined to rejoin the band when they reformed. He was replaced by Bob Weston, whom worked with Prescott in a band called Volcano Suns.
FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) - I have never seen the band live. I really need to get my rear end if gear.
FDF Overall Take - Only in the last few years has the impact of MOB been felt to a more mainstream audience. The cover by Moby helped, but accolades in the press for avid admirers, and their resurgence has aging indie hipsters just drooling at the prospects of what is to come. The band seems to be doing things on their terms and that can only make for a finer product. This is well worth your time.
Official site is here as well as a myspace page here. This Wiki page will fill in more blanks as well.
Curious? Check out some MUSIC!
The mp3's have been removed.
That's When I Reach for My Revolver
Tracks taken from the 1997 reissued version of "Signals, Calls, and Marches" which you can buy here. (this is the 2008 version)
Disclaimer - For the most part songs listed you can find on iTunes or your local cd shop. The idea is to give you a little taste of the music. Please support the artist buy purchasing some of their work. Songs are posted for about 1 week but can and will be removed at the request of the artist, band, band management etc. If you are one of those persons contact me via the email link in the profile and they will be removed as soon as we are made aware of the request.