Mission of Burma

The Horrible Truth About Burma
Deluxe and Standard Editions
March 18, 2008

MISSION OF BURMA's posthumous live album, originally released in 1984, has never been available on CD in correct form or sequence. Botched mastering jobs and lost tapes meant that the release had to be reconstructed from scratch by Ace Of Heart's Rick Harte.

Available for the first time in 3 years on CD, and for the first time since the 1980s on vinyl, the songs on this album were recorded during the band's farewell tour of the US in 1982-83. The band had not recorded these songs properly in the studio. Demos and radio tapes circulated, but most people knew classics like "Peking Spring," "Dirt," and "Tremelo," and their covers of the Stooges' "1970" and Pere Ubu's "Heart of Darkness," from the live shows. This reissue contains one unreleased track, plus a bonus DVD with the entire evening set from the final show in Boston on March 12, 1983.

- Remastered and restored to its correct sequence, with 3 bonus tracks
- 32-page booklet containing ephemera, photos, and interviews with the band on themaking of the album
- Vinyl is HQ-180 pressing at RTI; thick Stoughton gatefold sleeve, tipped-in booklet, DVD, MP3 coupon

Deluxe and Standard Editions
March 18, 2008

MISSION OF BURMA's second and final studio album was released in fall of 1982, just months before they broke up. The band were at the pinnacle of their songwriting and performing skills.

"Vs." is a strange and exciting record, full of depth and harmonic color. Unlike its predecessor, it begins slowly, with a fever dream of guitar workouts, drone and tremelo, in "Circles," "Trem Two" and "Dead Pool." The album pivots around the central track, "Mica," perhaps the band's finest moment - about a woman's descent into unreality and madness. At the end, "Vs." expands with the triumphant melodic anthems "The Ballad Of Johnny Burma" and "That's How I Escaped My Certain Fate."

The remastered album contains the 4 bonus tracks that were on the prior Ryko CD issue, plus a never-before-seen DVD of the afternoon set from the final show on March 12, 1983.

- One of the most important rock albums of the '80s, unavailable on CD for 3 years, and out of print on vinyl since the 1980s
- Bonus DVD contains the entire afternoon set from the final show in Boston in 1983
- Fully remastered from the original half-inch tapes
- 32-page booklet containing ephemera, photos, and interviews with the band on themaking of the a l b u m
- Vinyl is true all-analog, re-cut in person by George Marino at Sterling Sound
- HQ-180 pressing at RTI; thick Stoughton gatefold sleeve with tipped-in booklet
- Vinyl comes with DVD and MP3 coupon

"The almost-pop architecture is opposed by
almost-Wagnerian sonic density, a
dichotomy between blueprint and chaos -
the competition indicated by the album's

Signals, Calls, and Marches
Deluxe and Standard Editions
March 18, 2008

Out of print on CD for 3 years, and unavailable on vinyl since the 1980s, the hugely influential MISSION OF BURMA debut record is back with some remarkable extras, including unreleased studio tracks, a DVD of concert footage from
1979 and 1980 and a thick booklet with interviews and ephemera.

Remastered from the original analog tapes, "Signals, Calls & Marches" contains their best-known song "That's When I Reach For My Revolver", their anthemic 1979 debut single "Academy Fight Song" / "Max Ernst," plus 2 unreleased songs from that session, "Execution" and "Devotion." Both are classics, and a fascinating window into their early days.

The deluxe gatefold vinyl has been re-cut ALL-ANALOG from the original half-inch tapes by George Marino at Sterling Sound. The vinyl recut served as the basis for the CD remaster, and the results are stunning.

"The moment punk turned into art."

The Obliterati
May 23, 2006

"The myth has not been shattered, it has grown." - Boston Herald

The Obliterati is the third studio album by Mission of Burma. Aggressive and restless, it's a record of uncommon force even as it contains some of their most abstract sounds. There's also a humor and looseness throughout The Obliterati which stand in interesting contrast to the ferocity and tension of the music, and which reflect the members' personalities in a way not always evident on their other records.

Mission of Burma formed in 1979 and disbanded in 1983, after establishing themselves as one of the most progressive, important, and loud bands in American rock. The members pursued other projects until reuniting in January 2002 for a series of shows that gave way to more shows and eventually to 2004's ONoffON, Echoing a common sentiment, Billboard called ONoffON "shocking ... How can it be that Mission of Burma, 22 years down the line, sounds so good it makes almost everybody else look bad, and many of its erstwhile peers look worse?"

But the remarkable comeback tale was told last time around, and we're talking about a living, breathing, insanely vibrant rock'n'roll band in the year 2006. The Obliterati reiterates every statement made by Vs. and ONoffON, and then some. This is some of the densest and most brutal music they've ever made, with an emotional core that's never completely buried. At a time when so many bands are mining a post-punk era that Burma were both influenced by and an influence on, it's interesting how impassioned and direct The Obliterati sounds in comparison to the mannered angularity of those bands.

With three principal songwriters, Burma records have always stressed diversity, though The Obliterati contains even more textural variation than usual. Roger Miller (guitar, vocals) drops out his guitar here and there, just enough to let other sounds and rhythms take center stage; it's a subtle move with heavy impact. Clint Conley (bass, vocals)'s songwriting takes a more elemental, less melodic turn, suggesting his hardcore influences while maintaining his melancholy undertones. Peter Prescott (drums, vocals) is at his most scathing as well as his most absurdist. And "new guy" Bob Weston (production, tape manipulation) is fully ensconced and confident in both roles.

Praise for ONoffON:

"A potent, jarring reminder of rock's ability to engage with the here and now, and a heartening example of a group's ability to come back screaming after two decades of silence." -The Wire

"How can it be this good? No wasted breath, no gloss, no glamour, just direct intention-into-thought." -Arthur

"They were several steps ahead when they charged out of the gate in '79, and this brilliant refinement of their sound couldn't be timelier."
-Chicago Tribune

"The good news is that there is no bad news. 16 songs that sound as good as, and at times better than, their earlier music." -Boston Phoenix

"Everything that 'Vs.' had, only more so - the rockers brasher, the experimental pieces more dense and jarring, the pop hooks better crafted." -Sound & Vision

"It doesn't sound like a 2004 album, or a 1982 album, for that matter. Which is a sign that the world still has some catching up to do." -Spin


"Academy Fight Song"/"Max Ernst" 45 (Ace of Hearts, 1980)
Signals, Calls and Marches EP (Ace of Hearts, 1981)
"Trem II"/"OK-No Way" 45 (Ace of Hearts, 1982)
Vs. LP (Ace of Hearts 1982)
The Horrible Truth About Burma LP (Ace of Hearts, 1985)
**Above EP and LPs reissued by Rykodisc in 1997

Mission of Burma CD/EP/cass (Taang!, 1987)
Forget Mission of Burma CD/LP/cass (Taang!, 1988)
Mission of Burma Compilation CD/LP/cass (1988, Rykodisc)
Live at the Bradford (1983) VIDEO (Atavistic, 1992)
ONoffON CD/LP (Matador, 2004)
Snapshot EP (iTunes exclusive, 2005)
The Obliterati CD/LP (Matador, 2006)

May 4, 2004

Clint Conley - bass, vocals
Roger Miller - guitar, vocals
Peter Prescott - drums, vocals

Robert Weston - tape loops

"The pioneering blend of avant-rock noise and tense melodicism that Clint Conley, Roger Miller, Peter Prescott, and tape manipulator Martin Swope brought to the post-punk frontier remains as bracing today as it was almost two decades ago."
- Mark Woodlief, Boston Phoenix

'ONoffON' represents the first new studio recordings in 22 years from Mission Of Burma, the Boston avant-rockers whose early works for the Ace Of Hearts label helped stake their claim as one of the most important bands in American rock.

Recorded this past autumn with Bob Weston (Shellac) and original producer Rick Harte, 'ONoffON' is a work of staggering complexity showcasing a group just as ahead of their time in 2004 as they were in 1982. The trio of Roger Miller (guitar, vocals), Clint Conley (bass, vocals) and Peter Prescott (drums, vocals), along with Bob Weston (on tape manipulation, replacing original member Martin Swope, who's in musical retirement) have completed an album brimming with all the raw power of their debut, yet revealing tones, textures and lyrical themes unimaginable the first time around. For our money, this isn't just a hot new release, it's a goddamn cultural event.

During Mission Of Burma's brief tenure, circa '79-'83 they released one album, one EP and two singles for Ace Of Hearts, all of which were later reissued on CD by Rykodisc. Demo recordings were later released in less impressive form by the Taang! label. (See discography page for full details.)

Though they'd share stages with the likes of Sonic Youth, Pere Ubu Gang Of Four, Black Flag and other icons of the rock underground's golden era, Mission Of Burma never quite achieved the worldwide popularity of the names mentioned above. Poor timing had much to do with it - the group disbanded in early '83 as guitarist Miller's tinnitus condition worsened.

Mission Of Burma pulled the plug right on the brink of critical and commercial acceptance, and since the split, their musical influence has taken on mythic form. The number of bands who have cited Burma's influence is in obverse proportion to the group's record sales in 1983 - and it would not be an exaggeration to say they've had more of a media presence during their hibernation than during their initial existence, helped in some portion by old Burma classics being covered by the likes of REM, Moby, Blur's Graham Coxon and Syd Straw, among others.

The band's surviving trio have been involved in myriad other projects since '83 - Roger Miller with Birdsongs of The Mesozoic, The Binary System, Alloy Orchestra and No Man, Clint Conley with the more recent Consonant (as well as production duties on Yo La Tengo's first album, Ride The Tiger), and Peter Prescott's Volcano Suns, Kustomized (Matador vets) and Peer Group…Still, for longtime fans and neophytes alike, the notion of a new Mission Of Burma album was thought to be the stuff of fantasy. Until now, that is.

In 2001, the founding members of Mission Of Burma - Roger Miller, Clint Conley and Peter Prescott, with Bob Weston replacing Swope - began performing together again for the first time since 1983. Subsequent shows in Boston, New York, London, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, Atlanta, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles and Washington DC unveiled a frighteningly contemporary band whose sonic palette has only grown during the layoff. Still suffering from tinnitus, Roger Miller keeps the volume on high but wears firing-range headphones and takes other precautions onstage so as not to compromise the intensity for fans.

To our ringing ears, 'ONoffON' is not a mere rehash of past glories; this is a sprawling, multi-layered epic that drops bombs all over the musical map, with three very distinct songwriters each at a startling peak. While some will doubtlessly be comfortable giving Mission Of Burma the odd paragraph (chapter, even) in the history of independent rock, this is the album that puts them firmly in a more rarified territory. The Stooges, MC5, Velvet Underground, Television, The Fall, Joy Division, PiL, etc. - this is the pantheon that Mission Of Burma are part of. The key difference being that these guys are very much alive and well, and they've yet to peak creatively. Enjoying this album doesn't require that you buy into the notion that the most influential band you've never heard are also the best band of 2004 - but it shouldn't hinder the experience, either.

Gerard Cosloy, 2004

"Combining rock 'n' roll's traditional fetish for pure, unmediated feeling, with a more modern sort of artistic calculation, Burma's music could evoke everything from the Beatles' ecstatic run of Hamburg rock clubs in the early '60s to the lightning-speed hardcore punk - so fast it often seemed more like avant-garde art music than rock 'n' roll - that was developing in the U.S. during Burma's tenure. In this sense, Burma can be said to have blithely encapsulated punk's overarching mission: to draw a line connecting rock rebels past and present, and, in doing so, re-imagine and re-establish the music's anarchic condition. From Prescott's scattershot rhythms to Miller's tightly coiled chords, from Swope's blur of sound to Conley's thudding bass, the thrilling tension of Burma's music is the way it always sounds as though it's about to sabotage itself. Crucially, however, Mission of Burma was an American band; it was as uniquely redolent of its surroundings and intoxicated by rock's manic rush as the Ramones or the Stooges."

- Greg Milner, Salon
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