Mission of Burma

Signals, Calls, and Marches, Vs., and The Horrible Truth About Burma (Matador)


Mission of Burma

Signals, Calls, and Marches (Matador)

Mission of Burma

Vs. (Matador)

Mission of Burma

The Horrible Truth About Burma (Matador)

The second coming of Mission of Burma's Vs. goes down this summer at the Pitchfork Music Festival. The Boston quartet – guitarist Roger Miller, bassist Clint Conley, drummer Peter Prescott, and sound manipulator Martin Swope – defined innovation, and the fact that they created a sound imitated to this day in two albums speaks volumes. With these three LPs recently out-of-print, Matador's "definitive editions" of MoB's Ace of Hearts Records catalog are especially exciting, all three remastered by original producer/Ace owner Rick Harte. The tight, stabbing "Academy Fight Song" b/w "Max Ernst" 7-inch now opens 1981's Signals, along with two previously unreleased studio tracks, and '82's sprawling Vs. gets an additional four songs. Horrible Truth, the band's posthumous 1985 live release of their final 1983 tour, also features four bonus tracks from NYC and Detroit. The liner notes are flush with archival photos and gems such as Miller's audiology report from 1982 and a 1983 rejection letter from Warner Bros., but the group's feral, stop-on-a-dime Clash-like punk, buttressed by a new musical angularity that would come to define the emerging universe of post-punk, remains as disconcertingly primal as ever. The bull's-eye is, thus, three DVDs of live performances. Signals' black-and-white collection from '79 and '80 is pre-MTV in its artiness, but the two '83 sets from the Bradford Hotel in Boston are of particular interest. Though the band's clearly road-weary – Miller already wearing rifle-range earmuffs to protect his deteriorating hearing – they're unrelenting. The afternoon set accompanying Vs. starts with the two-minute punk killer "The Ballad of Johnny Burma" and keeps the pace from there, while Horrible Truth's evening show stretches a marathon 17 songs and ends with sweat and "Academy Fight Song," visualizing a band not at their peak but just getting started.

(Signals, Calls, and Marches; The Horrible Truth) ***.5

(Vs.) ****

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Music Reviews
Texas Platters
... And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead
X: The Godless Void and Other Stories (Record Review)

Alejandra Ramirez, Feb. 21, 2020

Texas Platters
Daniel Johnston
Chicago 2017 (Record Review)

Raoul Hernandez, Feb. 21, 2020

More by Audra Schroeder
SXSW Interactive Conference Quick Cuts
The Signal & the Noise
Statistician Nate Silver on more data, more problems

March 15, 2013

SXSW Film Reviews: 'Kiss of the Damned'
Daily Reviews and Interviews

March 15, 2013


Mission of Burma

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle