NoMeansNo - Why Do They Call Me Mr. Happy? (1993)

By the time I got to the last song in Why Do They Call Me Mr. Happy, "Cats, Sex and Nazis" I was already about to declare NoMeansNo the best band I should have heard years ago. Alas, my music tastes have never until this point taken me towards music like this. And it's a damn shame, because NoMeansNo makes bands like Black Flag look like a bunch of amateurs.

The answer to the question posed in the title is indeed eventually found by the listener. Actually, it's answered several (all contradictory) times by the end of the record. Hell, what's a better way to describe this demented band?

I couldn't put my finger on what their lead singer reminded me of. So I settled on an amalgamation of Gerald Casale, David Yow and the Moviefone guy.

The opening three tracks are all post-punk with their loopy, winding bass lines, interspersed keyboards and textural guitar work. Not textural like Isis, think more squeaks and squawks every now and then. The third track, "Machine," slowly builds from this post-punk tempo to an uproarious and dark rock track.

Then comes "Madness and Death," and there goes your face.

The centrifugal force caused by my spinning head was enough to kill a squirrel happily chewing nuts on the bench next to me.

Part Jazz, Punk, Stoner Rock (Hey, Kyuss was doing it in 91!), and New Wave make up this track and the following "Kill Everyone Now." Suddenly the snaky bass and keyboards bow out to some crazy finger-tapping guitar and fierce vocals. Yes, Finger-fucking-tapping.

"Cats, Sex and Nazis" is definitely the deal-closer. If you had any doubts as to how awesome this band is by this point, they will melt away. Sandwiched between a homage to Faith No More's "We Care A Lot" and Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water" is, in my opinion, the best track on the album. The tongue-in-cheek humor is on full-blast, the weirdo jazz-punk is also so finely churned out you'll think of Amish butter.

Most bands would kill to have such an awesome repertoire of songs that they could afford to put such a great song at the very end of the album. De-loused in the Comatorium comes to mind (Yeah, the Mars Volta is a good band deal with it).

Anyway, I'm not good at closing out so listen to this already and impress your friends with knowledge!

NoMeansNo - Why Do They Call Me Mr. Happy?


Christopher Berry said...

"And it's a damn shame, because NoMeansNo makes bands like Black Flag look like a bunch of amateurs."

no fucking way. although "wrong" is a GREAT album.

they're all like 60 now.

Eyes and Teeth said...

NoMeansNo is one of the best and most underrated bands out there.

If you haven't yet, definitely dig into their discography. I think this album is probably my 4th or 5th favorite album of theirs.
You MUST check out 'Wrong' and '0+2=1'. If you don't have them, I could upload them over at my spot--> http://beatsandblood.blogspot.com
Let me know.

Anonymous said...

I have Wrong, as well as a few other earlier records (Mama, Sex Mad), and I do think that Wrong is an amazing record. However, the moods for Mr. Happy and Wrong are very dissimilar. I just happened to be more in to this record at the time of this post. Thanks for the offer though.

Anonymous said...

They're awesome. Thanks for the post.