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Song Of The Month January 2012: “Midlife Crisis” by Faith No More

January 31, 2012

Faith No More have had their fair share of praise and detraction over the years with plenty of line-up changes keeping fans guessing. One of the most important elements of the more renowned incarnation of the alternative metal pioneers was a man by the name of Michael Patton, born 27th January 1968.

The selected track for this month is one where his influence on the band’s proceedings was having a telling effect. Moving away from the guitar-oriented sound (much to the chagrin of sunglasses-wearing, beardy guitarist Jim Martin), it appeared that the vocals were really coming to the fore in tracks. “Midlife Crisis” serves as evidence of such a change.

“Midlife Crisis” originally started life under the name of “Madonna” and the lyrical content was in an around-and-about sort of way about the pop diva. According to Mike Patton, he became irritated by the constant public appearances of Madonna and felt that it was an act of desperation from her. Patton felt that there was a problem with her as the root cause for the constant wanting of public attention so as most do, he opted to exaggerate the emotive side of this, making into the midlife crisis that would give the song its ultimate title.

The music of the track seems similar to Epic albeit less… well … epic. The quiet-loud dynamic makes an appearance once again and works to the desired effect for the listener. The track is fairly generic rock fare in orchestration but the use of space within the quiet-loud dynamic adds a more dramatic edge so such a declaration of genericism would be somewhat unfair with further examination.
The track was released in May 1992 and served as the first single from Angel Dust, the band’s fourth album. Its B sides included “Jizzlobber” (a track which has the co-written credit of Patton with Martin) , Crack Hitler and Midnight Cowboy. It would peak at number 10 in the UK singles chart.

Angel Dust followed up their successful third album The Real Thing and was a clear indicator of the power change that had occurred in the band. This would be Patton’s second album with the group and it would turn out to be Jim Martin’s last as the aforementioned move in sound prioritisation led to disharmony in the group. There are naturally going to be further reasons to the split but the change in direction undoubtedly is the most public reason for such a thing to happen. Patton’s influence on Angel Dust was obvious as while he featured on The Real Thing, his direct involvement on the musical direction was to a minimum as you would expect of any new vocalist into a rock group. The three years that passed in between the releases of these albums gave Patton ample time to become more powerful in the group structure.

“Midlife Crisis” has featured in a few computer games since. It has served as part of the soundtrack of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas as well as a Tony Hawk title. It’s also seen the odd cover version in its time, the most notable of these being by metal behemoths Disturbed.

Faith No More’s heydays were undoubtedly from the release of “Epic” to the end of the Angel Dust tour. The band announced a reformation as such not so long ago albeit without Jim Martin and have been touring regularly the past few years. It’s a given that they will never reach the level they had before but they’ve certainly had an influence on rock groups since. Their more experimental approach to rock didn’t quite get the praise it should’ve but they certainly made a positive contribution at the time.

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