I realize the last thing the internet needs is another list no one asked for. But I’m making one (hopefully each month) anyway. The idea is to take an artist or band I love and reduce their output to 10 songs I could listen to forever. Sort of a desert island sort of thing. For the first list, I chose an artist that has been with me since around age 7, Mike Patton. His work has shaped a lot of my musical tastes, from rock to metal to jazz to noise. Loving his work introduced me to John Zorn and Masami Akita, two other artists that will probably get the list treatment down the line. Patton’s vocals range from soulful crooning to full on manic, wordless noises. I think I did a fair enough job getting a good mix of his styles on this list. And by all means, if you like any of this stuff, his work is pretty easy to find around the internet, so check it out. I can’t back his work enough.
10. Matador by Faith No More
Matador is the newest song on this list, coming from this years excellent Faith No More comeback album, Sol Invictus. For me, it’s the best song on the album and comes off as a spiritual successor to the only other Faith No More song that will be on this list, Just A Man. It gave me chills the first time I heard it, especially the vocals towards the end. How this wasn’t the swansong for Sol Invictus is beyond me. It’s a perfect closer.
9. Six Pack by Rollins Band/Mike Patton
Coming from the Rise Above: 24 Black Flag Songs To Benefit The West Memphis Three compilation, this song is basically Mike Patton with the Mother Superior version of Rollins Band covering an absolutely perfect Black Flag song. The final scream of “six paaaaaaaack!” at the end of this version is throat shedding. Plus, knowing Mike Patton doesn’t drink makes the irony of this cover and the “Fuck it, make it a Zima” line even better.
8. Where Is The Line? Fantomas Remix
Bjork is probably my favorite voice ever. Her music means a lot to me. When I heard she was going to be doing an album comprised of only vocals, I was excited. Then I found out Mike Patton would be on two songs. This was a dream collaboration for me. Medulla is a fantastic album, and the original version of Where Is The Line? is amazing. But this Fantomas remix is incredible. It takes the beauty of the original and basically turns it into a Fantomas cover. This remix doesn’t seem to show up a lot on lists of Patton’s discography for some reason, but it’s definitely worth checking out.
7. Archie & Veronica by Lovage
From Songs To Make Love To Your Old Lady By, Archie & Veronica is the closing track to this Dan The Automator led group. Featuring Patton and Jennifer Charles from Elysian Fields, the song is very lowkey and downtempo trip hop. Most of the album, Jennifer Charles is the highlight, but I love Mike Patton’s work on this song. It was a pretty close decision between this and their cover of Berlin’s ‘Sex (I’m A)’, but Patton’s vocals on this put it over the top.
6. Litany IV by Moonchild Trio
Moonchild Trio is a group put together and overseen by John Zorn. From the album Six Litanies For Heliogabalus and featuring Mike Patton, Trevor Dunn, and Joey Baron, their work is truly avant-garde. Litany IV is Mike Patton at some of his most manic since his Adult Themes For Voice album. I’m not too sure about the background of this track or how he decides on what sounds to make. There is a live video of Patton performing this online that looks like he has some form of sheet music for this. Regardless, this is insane and brilliant and slightly terrifying.
5. Julia by Carla Hassett
Carla Hassett and Mike Patton do wonders to this personal and subdued version of the Beatles song, ‘Julia’. Singing in both Spanish and English, the song is sparse and beautiful. Patton is there mostly to provide back up vocals and sounds great next to Carla Hassett.
4. Catch My Heart by Bohren & Der Club Of Gore
I only have cursory knowledge of Bohren & Der Club Of Gore. I’ve always liked what I’ve heard, but haven’t fully dived in to their discography. Catch My Heart. a cover of the heavy metal band Warlock, is the first for Bohren & Der Club Of Gore to feature vocals. Patton was a prefect choice for this song. His crooning fits perfectly over Bohren & Der Club Of Gore’s ambient jazz sound. This cover and the number one song on this list have both made me tear up or openly weep while listening to them.
3. Merry Go Bye Bye by Mr. Bungle
Disco Volante is a beast of an album. It’s still one of the strangest things I’ve ever heard. And I dearly love it. Merry Go Bye Bye is the closing track (minus a hidden noise track) and features everything that makes Mr. Bungle great. Poppy, 50’s style sounds smashed together with noise and even some death metal. The middle part of this song is incredibly weird and wonderful, and the vocals towards the end when it all slows down is great. Disco Volante should pretty much always be listened to as a whole album to truly get an idea of how brilliant it is. The fact that it still sounds as weird and relevant 2 decades later is a testament to how genius Mr. Bungle were.
2. Just A Man by Faith No More
Just A Man is easily my favorite song from one of my top 5 favorite bands of all time. Most people point to Angel Dust as Faith No More’s best album, but for me, King For A Day, Fool For A Lifetime is their best. Closing out the album, Just A Man features some of Mike Patton’s best vocal work with Faith No More. His soaring vocals backed with a choir for the last half of the song is beautiful. It’s hard for me to put into words what this song means to me. It simultaneously makes me happy while making me want to cry at the same time. This song definitely ranks in my top 10 songs of all time. Maybe top five.
And number 1. Ballad Of A Thin Man by The Jamie Saft Trio
Bob Dylan is my favorite artist of all time. His songs, especially during the 60’s are timeless. Ballad Of A Thin Man, a poetic and hate fueled track gets a jazzy treatment from the incredible Jame Saft Trio. Mike Patton captures the essence of the original while adding his own original interpretation to a song that has probably been covered hundreds of times. His vocals have an anger, contempt, and sadness to them that fits the song perfectly. I’ve always wondered if Dylan has ever heard this and what his reaction would be. I could listen to this song all the time and never tire of it. Everything from Patton’s performance to the laid back jazz drums and gorgeous piano playing make this my favorite thing Mike Patton has ever been apart of.
I wanted to put Delirium Cordia by Fantomas on this list, but felt like it was unfair to pick an hour plus long song. Delirium Cordia is a terrifying listen full of the sounds of surgery and fills me with dread. We’re Not Alone by Peeping Tom and Dub Trio is another one that just barely got cut off. And I couldn’t figure out a song out of Mike Patton’s work with Eyvind Kang to pick because they’re all beautiful and should be heard as whole. John Zorn’s Elegy features Patton on all of the tracks and it’s another great album that should be heard as a whole.