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Peking Spring

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Album Review

Originally released only on cassette in 1985 and then reissued on CD in 1993, Peking Spring is an odds-and-sods collection of previously unreleased material from all of Mission of Burma's 1979-1982 career. The ten tracks are in non-chronological order, but the heart of the disc is six 1982 recordings intended for what was going to be Burma's third album. (The group split before the album could be completed, due to guitarist Roger Miller's tinnitus.) These are largely unadorned recordings — tape manipulator Martin Swope is less in evidence than usual — and it's possible that they're only demos. However, they show that Mission of Burma split up at the height of their powers, with Clint Conley's "Dirt" and "Go Fun, Burn Man" and Peter Prescott's "Blackboard" among their best songs. Special note must also be made of "Dumbells," which sounds like it's about half-written but contains the single coolest guitar sound in the entire Burma oeuvre. The other four tracks include two from 1979, Miller's "This Is Not a Photograph" and Conley's "Peking Spring," which are easily the equal of better-known Burma favorites like "Academy Fight Song," and one track each from 1980 and 1981 that sound more like experiments that didn't quite come off. Overall, Peking Spring is no match for either of Mission of Burma's official releases, but it's worlds better than its follow-up, Forget Mission of Burma, a collection of dispirited live in the studio demos that's the bottom of the outtakes barrel.


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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