Iterations: Mission Of Burma’s “That’s When I Reach For My Revolver”

Iterations: Mission Of Burma’s “That’s When I Reach For My Revolver”

Even if Boston’s Mission Of Burma had stayed defunct after their initial dissolution in 1983, their place in music history would have been assured. Hell, even if they didn’t release another record after their debut 1981 EP Signals, Calls and Marches, they’d be gods. Just the opening track alone… which is what we’re looking at today.

The song wasn’t included on the original 1985 version of their post-breakup live record The Horrible Truth About Burma, which collected recordings made on their final tour in 1983, but was included in the 2008 “Definitive Edition” reissue – the album track comes from a New York show.

That definitive Horrible Truth also came with a live DVD from the evening show of their March 12, 1983 double-header at the Bradford Hotel Ballroom in Boston. Here’s video of the song’s performance at the afternoon show:

Here they are a quarter-century later, well into a reunion few expected to happen at all, let alone last as long as it did, performing “Revolver” at Off The Grid, a sustainable music festival hosted by NYU on April 19th, 2008.

Into the covers portion of the post, a personal favourite on all ends – Catherine Wheel doing their take on the song, which may actually be the first place I heard it. It originally appeared on the b-side of the Ferment-era single “30th Century Man” – a Scott Walker Cover – alongside a band original and a Husker Du cover. All of those recordings resurfaced three years later as b-sides on the Canadian CD single for Happy Days single “Waydown” and again in 2010 as bonus tracks on the Cherry Red re-release of Ferment.

Blur’s Graham Coxon has made no secret of his love of American post-punk and put his money where his mouth was by including not one but two Mission Of Burma covers – hell, two Signals, Calls and Marches covers – on his second solo album, 2000’s The Golden D. There was “Revolver”, and also “Fame And Fortune”.

And it was a fixture of his live sets for a long time, including this performance at Leicster’s Summer Sundae festival in August 2011.

Yes, I know Moby did a cover and it’s probably the most famous one. What’s your point? Instead of talking about that, go read this excellent piece at Salon about the band circa their reunion after almost 20 years in 2002:

The Undeniable Truth About Burma @ Salon

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