Mission of Burma CD/DVD reissues reviewed by Joseph P. Larkin

Music Reviews
Mission of Burma CD/DVD reissues reviewed by Joseph P. Larkin
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Jun 26, 2008, 01:57

Mission of Burma - Signals, Calls and Marches (Remastered)

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Mission of Burma - Vs. (Remastered) [Bonus Track Version]

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Mission of Burma - The Horrible Truth About Burma (Remastered) [Bonus Track Version]
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MISSION OF BURMA The Horrible Truth About Burma CD; Signals, Calls, and Marches CD EP; Vs. CD                                                                    Â

In 1981, 1982 and 1985, the miniscule Boston-based Ace of Hearts label put out the first three Mission of Burma releases. These landmark recordings, with their sweeping tape loops and catchy vocal hooks, are considered by most music critics and record collectors alike to be some of the finest post-punk records in existence. And they're actually pretty good despite being loved by music critics and record collectors! As luck would have it, these widely regarded recordings have been lovingly reissued by the good folks at Matador. (For those keeping score at home, this is the second time in recent memory that these three albums have been reissued.)

Signals, Calls, and Marches, the band's debut EP, announced Burma's arrival to the world with a brief blast of catchy sing-a-longs—opening with the anthem “That's When I Reach for My Revolver”—Signals, Calls, and Marches demanded the listener's attention…and got it. Mission of Burma's first full-length album Vs. (not to be confused with the Pearl Jam album of the same name which is said to have been named in honor of this record, oddly enough) was a far more ambitious effort, a record that needed to be heard a dozen or so times before it became accessible—in many ways, Vs. is the band's crowning achievement. The live document The Horrible Truth About Burma was a fitting farewell to this band that busted so many eardrums (including Burma guitarist, Roger Miller's) with its ferocious live shows; this posthumous release is loaded with unreleased songs, including a cover of The Stooges' “1970.”

You probably already own these classic Mission of Burma releases, in which case you're most likely wondering, “Are these reissues really worth picking up?” Yes. Yes, they are. First off, each CD comes with a bonus DVD packed with live footage, much of which hasn't been released until now (and which weeren't present on the previous Rykodisc reissues)—how else will you ever get to see the boys tear through an oddly sincere cover of “Break on Through” (yes, that “Break on Through”!)? Second, two of the three discs contain unreleased bonus tracks (Signals alone boasts two of these rare songs), which is something no Burma fan should live without hearing at least once, if not twice. Third, all three CDs come with lavish booklets full of interviews, never-before-seen photos, scans of handwritten lyrics and notebook pages, etc. Fourth, and most importantly, all three have been remastered and resequenced by producer and Ace of Hearts record label proprietor Rick Harte, meaning they can finally be heard the way the band intended 'em to be heard (that's important…to the band, anyway…). So pick 'em up again, tuff nuts. [Matador/Ace of Hearts]

-Joseph P. Larkin

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