Mr. Bungle debut album is the self-titled Mr. Bungle. The songs included genres such as ska, heavy metal, free jazz, funk, and circus/carnival music. Fusion of all these different genres and music styles received different reviews, some of which were negative, with others being positive.
The Writing Process for Mr. Bungle
Mike Patton’s lyrics while for their self-titled debut were heavily compared to his work in Faith No More (who released The Real Thing in 1989), though most songs were written before he joined Faith No More. The album features heavily, quotes from David Lynch from the hit film Blue Velvet (1986).
Recording Mr. Bungle
The album was recorded at Different Fur in San Francisco, California. The main producer of the album was John Zorn, although all members were involved in the recording process.
Mr. Bungle Album Artwork
Dan Sweetman is the artist behind the iconic clown images in the album. Prior to being used on the cover the imagery originally featured in the imprint by DC Comics, Beautiful Stories for Ugly Children. The band reached out to Sweetman who allowed his art to literally be chopped up and coloured. The background sky on the cover was originally intended to be red (rather than blue), to match represent the fire the clown had lit. Trevor Dunn had wanted the black-and-white clown that appeared on the disc to be on the front cover, however, was out-voted by the band.
P. Earwig was responsible for the inner artwork. He had met the band through the tape-trading days and sent artwork to the band based on their lyrics. The hyper-adolescent, violent, cartoony and perverse nature of his work suited the band and they paid him to use it within the album.
The band had also reached out to Joel-Peter Witkin for permission to use a number of his images but were denied usage.
Mr. Bungle Credits
All band members were in charge of producing the album, although each band member had a specific role. Mike Patton was on vocals, Danny Heifetz on drums, Trey Spruance the guitarist. Trevor Dunn was the bass guitarist; Clinton Mckinnon played the tenor saxophone and Theo Lengyel the alto saxophone and the baritone saxophone.
Other important people behind the recording of the self-titled album are backing vocalists YeesusKrist, Maximum Bob, Kahli, and Jeniffer. David Bryson was in charge of engineering, mixing and assisting him was Matt Murman, who also worked on digital editing.
Mr. Bungle Reception
When the album was released, it raised mixed reaction among critics and fans. Some reviewers gave the album negative reviews while others had positive thoughts about Mr. Bungle. Entertainment Weekly, gave the album a D-, referring to the album as ‘unlistenable’ and ‘puerile.’
All Music received the album positively, giving them a four and a half star. Trouser Press bluntly referred to the music as ‘favourable.’ They went on to add that the album was one of the finest albums of its kind during that era. As you can see, the release of this album was received by mixed reactions.
One of the funniest reviews of Mr. Bungle’s debut album was that by Entertainment Weekly, the purveyors of such high-quality reporting. Here’s what they had to say:
Adjectives like puerile and unlistenable take on entirely new dimensions when applied to Mr. Bungle, the first album by this Bay Area band, which features singer Mike Patton (under the nom de rock of Vlad Drac) on furlough from Faith No More. Patton still whines and taunts like some snotty, obnoxious sixth-grader, only now to the accompaniment of Mr. Bungle’s heavy-handed, bungled attempt at blending metal with reggae, carnival music, and white-boy funk. The band’s idea of cutting-edge satire is writing witless lyrics like ”I wanna lock Betty Crocker in the kitchen/And knock her upper during supper” or-yuck yuck-mocking John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever 14 years after the movie’s release. By comparison, the bathroom humor of Frank Zappa (an obvious influence here) would be on par with Jonathan Swift. Mr. Bungle is meant to be clever musical satire, but the joke is entirely on Patton. D-