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Cirque du Bungle - 95%

ribs_gibson, July 26th, 2018

Not sure why I'm reviewing this album in 2018, but recently I've been going back to the early Patton days and finding some of his involved works more enjoyable than I once thought. Being a huge fan of Patton / Bungle and most of the projects he has been involved in as well as the other members (Spruance, Dunn), I thought I'd have a go on each Mr. Bungle record in chronological order (forgive me I'm an amateur reviewer). Though this is still my least favorite of the three, it's still a highly enjoyable release and still holds some value almost 30 years later in the sense of its' unpredictability and diverseness.
I think I was about four months old when this officially came out and even though my parents have some good taste in rock music, I'm pretty sure they weren't jamming this back in the day. If I can remember I was first introduced to Faith No More which shortly led me to Mr. Bungle. And man, what a trip!

Anyways, this is definitely a band worth getting into at any rate from their first to last album. Still can't believe Warner Bros. held on to Bungle for their next two releases, for they jumped right outta the gate with immense talent and uniqueness but also a great amount of immaturity and childishness... And I love it still to this day. I guess the genre could be considered metal / experimental rock, but honestly after countless listens I still can't quite put my finger on what Bungle truly was , is, whatever. With so many ideas and themes spiraling in and out of control all I can say is the artwork only slightly resembles the circus unfolding on "Mr. Bungle". From Hitler and John Travolta to being oddly obsessed with food or not so oddly to pornos, this album might just find your niche. You ever lose a dog? They've got your tears covered. In my opinion this album is obviously heavily themed on a circus and for some reason with more repeated listens it somehow drags you in deeper and deeper with each session. Maybe it's just me but after all the strange experimental / avant-garde stuff I've listened to and experienced Mr. Bungle's debut still ranks close to the top on my biggest WTF albums of all time.

At times super catchy and at other times quite revolting (try Squeeze Me Macaroni or Stubb (A Dub) "Mr. Bungle" is quite possibly one of the best love / hate albums for myself as well. Definitely an album that requires a certain mood, albeit a "drunken" mood perhaps. I can easily listen to "California" any time on any occasion but for the debut it's definitely like being at a strange circus, sober or not. At times I'm laughing and at others I'm scratching my head thinking, man I wish I was around in the early 90's old enough to see how other listeners were generally reacting. Early early early Mike Patton was a bit of an odd rare gem, especially in "Mr. Bungle". History aside, Patton has always had incredible range and him being chosen for FNM was an easy pick, but as big as both bands are / were it's easy to tell which Patton had more control or range on "Mr. Bungle" compared to "The Real Thing". From time to time you can hear that nasally, whiny style in which he possessed in TRT, but to me and still to this day this was the first taste of things to come for Patton's wild transition into his more matured and controlled voice in the later FNM records. Guess he got tired of the Axl Rose comparisons or he just had the ability and balls to just say fuck it, I'm changing, but nonetheless it works either way. I'd say this is the definite Mike Patton vocal performance alongside "Angel Dust" as I think Mr. Bungle and Patton definitely had other agendas for the next record. Trey Spruance is pretty much amazing at anything he does as well as Trevor Dunn and Heifetz. I mean at this point it's almost embarrassing having to explain why or how each member of a band such as is good at what they do "lulz". I'll just say these guys even from their demo days to high school performances just had that knack and finally polished it with a good studio and recording team. Extremely strange even for 1991, but extremely talented in almost every aspect.

I hate doing track by track but the only real reason this doesn't get any higher of a score is due to a few duds on the album, at least for me. Even though the hilariously over-the-top lyrics and catchy tunes have me bobbing my head along still every now and then, I find myself usually skipping Squeeze Me Macaroni and The Girls of Porn. Not bad tracks really, just after how many times I've spun this album they're easily my least favorite from the album. Nothing against mac n' cheese or porn, just these tracks show the bands early immaturity and lack of focus as I mentioned earlier. The only other reason would be the sometimes unnecessarily long outros or filler on some of the tracks, such as Egg. Whatever not that big of a deal, as I usually just find myself skipping past all those parts now anyways.

Not really sure how to summarize the beginning of Mr. Bungle's short, but goddamn amazingly weird full length career. In my own words I'd say a bunch of young kids with immense talent being goofy doing their own thing but still trying to find what they're really wanting to do. Maybe Mr. Bungle was never that kind of band from the very beginning and they most likely never were giving the true nature of each of their LP's...But.... whatever was going on in that time and place and for what it was worth, it happened and it worked. Though Bungle was signed to Warner Bros. Faith No More's Patton was unintentionally or unfairly overshadowing Bungle's Patton after "Epic" and rightfully so... Two completely different bands with completely different agendas. I still think Bungle was Patton's true outlet and some people love Bungle hate FNM and vice versa. It's all history now and what you should be doing if you haven't already is try listening to at least the first track from this album Quote, Unquote or "Travolta". It all goes downhill from there my friends, as this is probably the kind of circus you only want to attend every now and then, but hey if that's your kind of thing, then it's probably already too late. Classic debut, classic band.