There’s something wonderfully strange and welcoming about the new Chuck Mosley record.
I, like many, got introduced, pun intended, to Mosley through early, Introduce Yourself-era Faith No More and specifically the band’s 80s-ubiquitous single “We Care A Lot.” That track and much of what Mosley did before Patton became the FNM frontman was colorful and bombastic – over-the-top punk attitude filtered through the neon prism of Roddy’s keyboards or the chikka-chikka-crunch of Martin’s guitar.
That was then.
The Mosley I profiled and got to know personally before his 2017 death was an older, rustier version of himself, aged beyond his years and maybe a little world-weary but not bitter about it, and his work reflected it. Primitive Race’s Soul Pretender LP, released shortly after Mosley’s unanticipated death, showed a man, though, who remained in full control of his potential; he crooned, moaned and, sometimes, barked with a well of passion and well-worn maturity his younger self lacked.
Enter Record Store Day 2019.
Collaborator Douglas Esper, the Indoria band member who’s working on a tome of Mosley’s life and career, will gift listeners on April 13 a two-song, limited-edition single, cut with engineer Joe Haze during what many were billing as Mosley’s second comeback tour in 2017. Both songs are covers – one of Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 U,” made famous in Mosley’s early years of public notoriety by Sinead O’Connor, and one of “Take This Bottle,” a Patton-era Faith No More ballad. Both are jaw-droppingly honest takes on familiar songs.
Now, I like Mosley’s cover of “Take This Bottle,” very remorseful and stripped down, despite the subdued interjections of bass and percussion under Mosley’s acoustic guitar and vocals. (Including the false start and Mosley’s muttered obscenity adds a certain authenticity to the document, for sure, and made me crack a smile.) But the real gem is “Nothing Compares 2 U,” which Mosley strips of all adornment and plays solo. His raspy voice is the perfect foil for Prince’s broken-hearted lyrics, and every little quiver in a note, every little subtle hesitation in delivery can be breathtaking. Even the occasionally shaky acoustic guitar work, the feeling of being tossed off or tossed aside, wonderfully fits the theme of the day.
Mosley died as his star was rising again, sad to say. In addition to the book, he was talking about releasing an acoustic record (and maybe a DVD) documenting his 2016 UK tour. More material from VUA – the band of Cleveland-area rockers he led after his run as Bad Brains frontman and the split of another post-FNM outing, Cement – was even on the table.
His next day was dawning.
Mosley might be gone, but the Record Store Day 7-inch single is a wonderful reminder of his last works – a little worn for the wear but not down-and-out, steadfastly engaging, and, above all, brutally heartfelt. We all miss you, Chuck.