Mission Of Burma
1. That's When I Reach For My Revolver
3. Fame And Fortune
4. This Is Not A Photograph
6. All World Cowboy Romance
7. Academy Fight Song
8. Max Ernst
Boston's Mission of Burma was one of the first post-punk bands before any such thing actually should have existed. Featuring a sound that was rife with jangly, skewed guitars placed over punkish rhythms, Mission of Burma has become one of the quieter influences of their time. Their songs have been covered by the likes of Moby, R.E.M. and the Scrimmage Heroes in more recent times. They are one of those bands who may not have received raging success and noteriety during their time, but apparently everyone who did hear them started their own band.
Signals, Calls, and Marches was originally a six song EP. The 1997 Rykodisc version appends their Academy Fight Song seven-inch single to the end, giving listeners a great overview of the band's early times. Vocalist/guitarist Roger Miller is a creative guitarist, both in writing jaunty, driving rhythms and overlaying them with feedback and experimental noise, but all within reason and never overpowering the song. His singing voice is a bit rough and occasionally a tad uncomfortable delivering the lyrics. The rhythm section offers an appropriate backdrop with bassist Clint Conley throwing in intelligent basslines to either underscore the music or act as a vying counterpoint. But what this band excelled at was precise songwriting and an inherent catchiness that causes the listener to fully remember the songs. "Academy Fight Song" is rhythmic and forceful while "This is Not a Photograph" is unhinged and abrupt. "All World Cowboy Romance" is a jangly guitar instrumental. And as we all know, this is where the original version of Moby's "That's When I Reach For My Revolver" comes from.
Signals, Calls, and Marches is a taut modern rock album, at times tense but always strong throughout. Mission of Burma has always quietly been one of the pioneers of what would become modern and alternative rock and this reissue is as good of place as any to become acquainted with their music.
Review by John Chedsey
Review date: 06/2001