Faith No More: 20th Anniversary Of ‘Live At The Brixton Academy’

Faith No More
Live At The Brixton Academy
UK | U.S.
Recorded April 1990
Released February 4, 1991 (UK)

With the help of MTV and its heavy rotation of the video for “Epic,” Faith No More rose to prominence in the late 1980s. The band’s third album, and first with its new lead singer Mike Patton, Real Thing was an instant classic and made heroes of its makers. Duly, the band took the album on tour into the early nineties and chose one show to record for a live album. February 4th marks the 20th anniversary of the Faith No More album Live At The Brixton Academy. Recorded at the famous venue in London, England, it is Faith No More’s only official live album. And what an album it is.

Lead singer Mike Patton is a brilliant performer. At first he seems as if he is not taking it seriously by putting on silly voices at times, but as always his delivery is stunning. He may throw in a quick riff on New Kids On The Block’s “The Right Stuff” during “We Care A Lot,” but he has a voice very, very few rock/metal performers can match (or whatever the hell genre Faith No More fits into, such is the band’s mixture of influences and styles). On the track “The Real Thing” alone he exhibits such vulnerability, rage, and silliness, and easily switches between every type.

The band, consisting of bass player Billy Gould, keyboard player Roddy Bottum, guitarist Jim Martin, and drummer Mike Bordin, along with Patton, is faultless. Bottum’s keyboards provide a constant eerie chill that acts like a musical score for the performance. “Falling To Pieces” would not sound half as brilliantly unique to Faith No More without Bottum’s striking atmospherics. It is performances like this that Ozzy Osbourne must have heard and offered Bordin the chance to drum with his band. It’s tight, equally frenetic and measured drumming and uniquely his sound. I would certainly name Mike Bordin in my top three rock/metal (here we go again) drummers.

Faith No More is not a guitar-driven band. It does not usually follow a traditional rock sound of guitar riff-chorus-riff-chorus-solo. But when Jim Martin’s guitar comes to the fore it somehow manages to sound so crushingly heavy and yet so subtle as to not distract. And when a guitar solo comes along, Martin absolutely rocks it. Billy Gould all but invented the metal bass sound which drives much of Faith No More’s sound, especially on tracks “From Out Of Nowhere” and “Edge Of The World.”

“Zombie Eaters” best showcases the madness and brilliance that is Faith No More and the depths of talent within the band. The song switches styles from thrash to ballad and back again without the band missing a beat, all making an incredible, sweeping track. Including “Zombie Eaters,” Live At The Brixton Academy features seven tracks from Real Thing, Patton’s first album with the band. Jim Martin’s drunken answer phone messages to the lead singer of Mr. Bungle begging him to join Faith No More paid off hugely.

The two final tracks were recorded during the Real Thing sessions. Bluesy acoustic instrumental “Grade” and “The Cowboy Song” were not available on the original vinyl release and were added to the later CD version. Although not live tracks it is still a nice way to round the album off for Faith No More completists.

Live At The Brixton Academy is one of my favourite live albums. The energy from the band and the crowd spills out from the speakers and documents one of the most inventive bands at the top of its game. The album Real Thing turned me on to them, but it was Live At The Brixton Academy which really cemented my love of Faith No More. At 20 years old, it still sounds epic.

CD track listing:

1 – Falling To Pieces
2 – The Real Thing
3 – Epic
4 – War Pigs
5 – From Out Of Nowhere
6 – We Care A lot
7 – Zombie Eaters
8 – Edge Of The World
9 – The Grade
10 – The Cowboy Song

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