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31 DAYS OF FAITH NO MORE: “JUST A MAN”

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Spurred by a lazy crossword clue in The Onion (36 down, four letters: “Faith No More’s only hit”), MetalSucks contributor Anso DF dedicates every single day in August to celebration and exploration of the San Francisco alt-metal greats. Here we prove that history’s greatest band landed more than one commercial hit (crossword answer: “Epic” natch), we revel in FNM’s embarrassing wealth of winning album tracks (themselves often fit for chart topping), and we dip into the staggering best of the b-sides (ditto). Along the way, we survey the context of FNM’s big break (amid similarly seminal acts Jane’s Addiction, Nine Inch Nails, and Ween) to the post-Nevermind, panic-based music commerce in which the brilliantly versatile, fearless powerhouse band operated until their 1998 demise. It’s a dirty job, but someone’s gotta do it.

Song “Just A Man”

Written by Gould, Spruance, Patton (L); Gould, Bottum (M)

Released 1995

Appears on King For A Day, Fool For A Lifetime album

Produced by Andy Wallace

Guitars by Trey Spruance (Secret Chiefs 3, Mr. Bungle)

Key lyric “And every night I shut my eyes/So I don’t have to see the light/Shining so bright/I dream about a cloudy sky.”

Single? No.

The climate A recurring worry of mine was that maybe FNM needed to get more serious. One of the band’s most endearing traits was their flip lack of respect for stardom and for obtuse media; that’s cool. But regarding music, doesn’t it qualify as self-sabotage to be this nebulous? I know FNM earned their fans’ trust and the right to do challenging records, but even their seams showed in places: K4AD, F4AL has a country ballad, a power-gospel rave-up, two funk hyphenates (one soft, one hard), plus whatever you’d call “Caralho Voador.” Those all mingle with FNM’s nuclear-strength, immediate rock to make for a tough sell and a potentially trying listen. The happy news is that FNM didn’t subscribe to the safe logic of greedy status-chasers like me, so we can all enjoy far-out jamz like “Just A Man,” one of FNM’s most staggering, passionate moments.

Awesome song elevated to supra-awesomeness a gospel choir. It’s important that FNM ramped up the drama on “Man”; it’s not so vital that it was a gospel choir employed to build the ramp. I’ll take that point even further by stating my preference for a horn section, strings, kazoo septet, three-tiered nine-part harmony guitar suite, or monster Hammond organ solo over gospel choir. Hacky bands seeking Hallmark moments — U2 and Foreigner see you in hell — were rescued by the power of gospel voices; Faith No More does not require outside assistance in achieving gravitas at all, least of all on a track with this particular Patton performance. Fuck, I hardly even notice the choir cuz dude is a studdd on this song. But that’s why the choir works for “Just A Man”: The song doesn’t depend on it, just builds on it. In conclusion, Foreigner < Faith No More and U2 < bear trap on your nuts.

Didja know? There’s a grammar mystery in that spoken part of “Just A Man.” I wouldn’t bet money that it’s an error — or that it matters — but I forfeited two good years being trained to spot language misuse, so I wonder. The line is “To hold the terrible power/ To whom only the gods are blessed.” My question is what does that whom represent? If this line’s author means to say that the power is only given to gods and is too much for man, then it should read “With which only the gods are blessed.” If that’s not the intended meaning, I give up cuz bless doesn’t take the preposition to at all; how can gods be blessed to somebody?

–ADF

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METALSUCKS’ 31 DAYS OF FAITH NO MORE

30 “Just A Man”

29 “Pristina” (read)

28 “What A Day” (read)

27 “Epic” “Epic” “Epic” (read)

26 “Everything’s Ruined” (read)

25 “Underwater Love” (read)

24 “Crack Hitler” (read)

23 “Home Sick Home” (read)

22 “The Perfect Crime”!!!! (read)

21 “A Small Victory” (read)

20 “King For A Day” (read)

19 “The World Is Yours” (read)

18 “Absolute Zero” (read)

17 “Collision” (read)

Intermission “Das Schutzenfest” (read)

16 “The Last To Know” (read)

15 “The Real Thing” (read)

14 “Malpractice” (read)

13 ”Ugly In The Morning” (read)

12 “The Cowboy Song” (read)

11 “Helpless” (read)

10 “Smaller And Smaller” (read)

9 “Digging The Grave” (read)

“From Out Of Nowhere” (read)

“Last Cup Of Sorrow” (read)

6 “The Gentle Art Of Making Enemies” (read)

“Caffeine” (read)

“Falling To Pieces” (read)

“Stripsearch” (read)

2 ”Ricochet” (read)

1 ”Land Of Sunshine” (read)

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