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Album Review

One of the reasons Mission of Burma's small recorded oeuvre is so impressive is because it's so consistent — they released two singles, a six-cut EP, and a 12-song album in a four-year recording career, and there's not a song among them that isn't worth hearing. One of the band's secrets was a matter of strict quality control, and if you need any proof, just give a spin to Forget, a 12-song collection of demos and outtakes recorded between 1979 and 1982. While this disc isn't bad by any stretch of the imagination, it's not up to the standards of Signals, Calls and Marches or Vs.; the songs often seem to be repeating themes Mission of Burma explored elsewhere, and the performances (as well as the recording) lack the resonance of the band's studio work. (Superior versions of two of the songs, "Progress" and "Forget," appear as bonus tracks on the CD reissue of Vs., as if to offer further proof Forget doesn't capture the band at their peak.) But it's worth pointing out that Mission of Burma were among the best American bands of the 1980s, and the material on Forget would hardly convince anyone otherwise; the edges may be rough, but the intense and intelligent heart of Mission of Burma beats strong and clear on this disc, and given how little MOB material is available, practically anything is a welcome addition to the pantheon. If you loved Vs. or Signals, Calls and Marches, don't expect something on quite the same level, and if you've never heard Mission of Burma, you should pick up those records first. But anyone who is already familiar with this band's achievement will be happy to have Forget in their collection.


Formed: 1980 in Boston, MA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '00s, '10s

Of all the punk-inspired bands that came out of Boston in the early '80s, none were better than Mission of Burma. Arty without being too pretentious, capable of writing gripping songs and playing with ferocious intensity, guitarist Roger Miller, bassist Clint Conley, drummer Peter Prescott, and tape head Martin Swope galvanized the city's alternative rock scene, and despite a too-short existence, set a standard for excellence that has rarely been equalled -- a standard the band upheld when they unexpectedly...
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