A Gun to the Head: A Selection from the Ace of Hearts Era

Mission of Burma

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A Gun to the Head: A Selection from the Ace of Hearts Era Review

by Mark Deming

In the spring of 2004, with Mission of Burma suddenly a semihot item following Matador Records' publicity blitz for the band's reunion album Onoffon, Rykodisc, the label who had reissued MoB's back catalog in the 1990s, decided to make the most of the press attention by putting together a "Mission of Burma's Greatest Hits" compilation. Since they had already issued a promotional-only MoB sampler in 1997, Rykodisc dusted it off, gave it the new title Accomplished: The Best of Mission of Burma, and prepped it for release. However, the band wasn't especially happy with the disc, and at the last minute Accomplished was pulled from release, and instead the group's members compiled A Gun to the Head: A Selection From the Ace of Hearts Era, which essentially took the place of Accomplished on the label's roster. While the title suggests a certain reluctance on the part of the band about this album, there's no arguing that A Gun to the Head is a better and more interesting collection of the band's first-era work than Accomplished; the track sequence flows more naturally, the set doesn't shy away from the band's more angular and abrasive side, the remastering sounds fine, and the packaging is far more attractive. In short, if you're looking for an introduction to Mission of Burma's classic period, A Gun to the Head is a pretty good way to go. But then again, Ryko's near-perfect 1988 collection (simply called Mission of Burma, and now out of print) was even better, and either Signals, Calls and Marches or Vs. on their own are probably equally good starting points. In short, if you need a Mission of Burma collection, A Gun to the Head is your best bet, but given this is an essential band that has only released three full-length albums, perhaps you ought to reassess your needs and go for the whole catalog.

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