What are they like? First off, they are brutally loud. So loud that they had to break up at the height of their game in 1983 'cause artsy singer-guitarist Roger Miller's tinnitus--the ringing in his ears--got so bad. To ward off further damage, Miller wears firing-range ear protection in concert now while drummer-yelper-philosopher Peter Prescott is encased in a Plexiglas "Popemobile."
MOB's music is a dense soup of opposing forces. The guitar is slashing but minimal; singer-bassist Clint Conley's playing is weirdly poppy and beautiful; the drumming's like Keith Moon playing everything at once. They wrote droning, complex instrumentals; dense, bash-and-flail, almost-hardcore songs; tightly coiled punk rock anthems; and gorgeous indescribable sounds as well. They wrote songs about feeling alienated that sound warmly compelling.
Their tunes sometimes had a million and one parts to 'em but they never succumbed to the heartless sway of prog or math rock. Burma have songs that could be so pretentious--their first single's about a painter associated with the Dadaist and Surrealist movements, for chrissakes--but they almost never are. Never very popular outside of Boston, one of their best songs has the words, "Fame and fortune is a stupid game and fame and fortune is the game I play," sung over and over again. By all accounts, Burma's recent reunion gigs have been astounding and well attended, while Albert Maysles (who directed the Stones film Gimme Shelter) is doing a documentary film about this tour. MOB are a punk-rock fairy tale come true.