Live at the Brixton Academy - FAITH NO MORE

Yet another killer Rhino DVD reissue (PANTERA's "3 Vulgar Videos from Hell" being the other one of note). The two previously out of print FAITH NO MORE VHS releases have been remastered in 5.1 Surround Sound and crammed into one two-disc DVD set. The 60-minute London live set on Disc 1 captures the band at an enormously popular phase of its career, touring in support of its 1989 breakthrough release, "The Real Thing", the first album with the inimitable Mike Patton. Disc 2 features no less than 18 videos (120 minutes) that are as historically informative as they are fun.

Mike Patton and FAITH NO MORE have meant so much to so many. It is hard to believe this concert was filmed 16 years ago! And yet the tricky combination of creativity and oddly accessibly songwriting makes the set sound anything but dated. Though not up to today's standards (obviously) the sound and video quality is more than satisfactory. Borrowing heavily from "The Real Thing", the live renditions of "From Out of Nowhere", "Falling to Pieces", and "Epic" not only sound as good as the album versions, but also are made more captivating thanks in part to Patton's endearingly psychotic stage mannerisms. This lineup was about more than just Patton though. The fluid bass lines of Billy Gould, the stone-cold metallic riffery of Jim Martin, the rhythmic prowess of Mike Bordin, and the versatile and '80s flavored X-factor keyboards of Roddy Bottum together create a musical experience that has been imitated but never matched. Though I got the feeling that Patton was a little bored singing "We Care A Lot", his connection with "The Real Thing" material was cosmic. "War Pigs" worked as an amazing closer, the vibe one of British heavy metal nostalgia and FAITH NO MORE's keen ability to make damn near any song its own. Watching this one was a friggin' blast.

The idea of watching 18 music videos in a row didn't have me jumping for joy, and yet running through this career retrospective in one sitting was surprisingly easy. The creativity factor is high in many of them and the journey through the various stages of the band's career is fascinating. By now, pretty much anyone who hasn't been living in a cave for the past 20 years has seen the videos for "Epic" and "Falling to Pieces" (that fish out of water thing still fucks with my head for some reason), but even those two are riveting. The videos from albums prior to "The Real Thing" era, such as "We Care A Lot", are pretty much over-the-top color-splash '80s and vocalist Chuck Mosely is more than a little goofy, but all are at the very least amusing.

Things begin to get more interesting with the "Angel Dust" (fantastic album) material, including "Midlife Crisis", "Caffeine", "Everything's Ruined", and "A Small Victory". The "Angel Dust" collection as whole represents the sound of a band pushing itself creatively, but not quite yet alienating the fair weather fans that jumped on the bandwagon when "The Real Thing" came out. And then things get a little weird. Because I stopped paying much attention to the band after "Angel Dust", I found the videos from the "King for a Day, Fool for a Life Time" and "Album of the Year" discs especially intriguing. Now Martin-less, the aggression is taken down a notch and the songs become more atmospheric and moody. And yet videos like the haunting "Last Cup of Sorrow" and "Ashes to Ashes" leave a big damn impression, whether you're a fan of the "out there" years or not.

This double feature is about a groundbreaking band, a budding counter-culture superstar in Patton, and a far away musical place. If you want a FAITH NO MORE history lesson, this is a good place to start.

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