Signals, Calls, and Marches

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Signals, Calls, and Marches
Signals, Calls, and Marches (Mission of Burma).jpg
EP by
ReleasedJuly 4, 1981
RecordedJanuary–March 1981
LabelAce of Hearts
ProducerRichard W. Harte
Mission of Burma chronology
Signals, Calls, and Marches

Signals, Calls, and Marches is an EP and the debut release by American post-punk band Mission of Burma. It was released in 1981 by record label Ace of Hearts.


The album's first track is "That's When I Reach for My Revolver," which features a singable, anthemic chorus that helped make it one of the band's most popular songs.

Though Mission of Burma's live performances were characterized by noise and chaos,[1] Signals, Calls, and Marches has a notably "cleaner" sound in comparison to the band's live performances and subsequent recordings.[2] Marc Masters of Pitchfork called this different sound "somewhat misrepresentative" of the band, as "[Producer Richard] Harte's production cleaned up the band's brutally loud live sound."[3] Guitarist Roger Miller noted that the sound probably helped the band become more accessible, recalling:

We played a show in Cleveland ('81 or '82) and we were on the street in front of the club. A girl came up to us and said how much she was looking forward to the show, and that she loved "That's When I Reach for My Revolver". We thought we were golden. However, once we started playing, people backed up against the wall and after the first song did not applaud or respond to us one bit, even after we started heckling them. Even when we played "Revolver". So, it is quite probably true that the "mild-mannered" recording we made on Signals reached more people than if we recorded it in a more furious or noisy fashion.[4]


Signals, Calls, and Marches was released on July 4, 1981 by record label Ace of Hearts.

Upon its release in 1981, the record was immediately popular in the Boston area, charting at number six on local radio station WBCN's charts. The EP sold out its initial printing of ten thousand copies before the end of the year.[1]

For the CD reissue, Rykodisc remastered the six original songs and added the two tracks from the band's 1980 debut 7" single, "Academy Fight Song" and "Max Ernst". The EP was remastered by Matador Records in 2008 with video material and extra tracks.[5]


Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[6]
Christgau's Record GuideB+[7]
Entertainment WeeklyB+[8]
Q4/5 stars[10]
Record Collector4/5 stars[11]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide4/5 stars[12]
Spin Alternative Record Guide9/10[13]

Signals, Calls, and Marches has been well-received by critics.

In his retrospective review, Mark Deming of AllMusic wrote, "if Mission of Burma were not yet at the peak of their form, most bands blazing as many trails as this one did lost their footing a lot more often that Burma did on these six songs; Signals, Calls and Marches was as accomplished and impressive a debut as any American band would release in the 1980s."[6] Marc Masters of Pitchfork called it "impeccable" and "probably the best Mission of Burma release ever."[3]


Signals, Calls, and Marches is considered an immensely influential landmark in the field of indie rock and alternative rock. Mark Deming of AllMusic wrote, "One could argue that [Signals, Calls, and Marches] was the point where indie rock as a separate and distinct musical subgenre well and truly began. Mission of Burma's music had the brawn and the volume of hardcore punk, but with a lyrical intelligence and obvious musical sophistication that set them apart from the Southern California faster-and-louder brigade."[6] Marc Masters of Pitchfork opined that the EP "reverberated loudly through alternative rock for three decades, influencing everyone from R.E.M. to Fugazi to Nirvana."[3]

Pitchfork ranked it the 53rd greatest album of the 1980s.[14]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks are written by Roger Miller, except where noted.

Side A
1."That's When I Reach for My Revolver"Clint Conley3:53
2."Outlaw" 2:33
3."Fame and Fortune" 3:35
Side B
4."This Is Not a Photograph" 1:53
5."Red" 3:37
6."All World Cowboy Romance"Conley, Miller5:13


Mission of Burma

  • Martin Swopeloops, percussion, cover and sleeve design
  • Clint Conley – bass guitar, vocals, percussion, cover and sleeve design
  • Roger Miller – guitar, vocals, piano, trumpet, percussion, cover and sleeve design
  • Peter Prescott – drums, vocals, percussion, cover and sleeve design


  • Richard W. Harte – production
  • John Kiehl – engineering
  • Holly Anderson – cover and sleeve design
  • Neal Trousdale – sleeve photography


  1. ^ a b Michael, Azerrad. Our band could be your life : scenes from the American indie underground 1981-1991 (First Back Bay paperback ed.). Boston. ISBN 9780316787536. OCLC 50483014.
  2. ^ Robbins, Ira; Smith, Jason W. " :: Mission of Burma". Trouser Press. Retrieved April 25, 2013.
  3. ^ a b c d Masters, Marc (March 24, 2008). "Mission of Burma: Signals, Calls, and Marches / Vs. / The Horrible Truth About Burma". Pitchfork. Retrieved April 25, 2013.
  4. ^ "Signals, Calls and Marches". Archived from the original on October 29, 2003. Retrieved April 25, 2013.
  5. ^ "Matador Records | Matablog". February 11, 2008. Retrieved April 25, 2013.
  6. ^ a b c Deming, Mark. "Signals, Calls and Marches – Mission of Burma". AllMusic. Retrieved April 25, 2013.
  7. ^ Christgau, Robert (1990). "Mission of Burma: Signals, Calls and Marches". Christgau's Record Guide: The '80s. Pantheon Books. ISBN 0-679-73015-X. Retrieved April 25, 2013.
  8. ^ Mirkin, Steven (August 1, 1997). "Mission of Burma reissues". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved July 23, 2017.
  9. ^ Gatian, Natasha (July 30, 2015). "Mission of Burma: Signals, Calls, and Marches / Vs.". PopMatters. Retrieved July 23, 2017.
  10. ^ "Mission of Burma: Signals, Calls, and Marches". Q (190): 132. May 2002.
  11. ^ "Mission of Burma: Signals, Calls, and Marches". Record Collector: 100. [P]erhaps their strongest statement, opening with the brilliant 'Academy Fight Song' and the anthemic post-punk classic 'That's When I Reach For My Revolver'...
  12. ^ Randall, Mac (2004). "Mission of Burma". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 546–47. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  13. ^ Weisbard, Eric; Marks, Craig, eds. (1995). Spin Alternative Record Guide. Vintage Books. ISBN 0-679-75574-8.
  14. ^ "Top 100 Albums of the 1980s - Pitchfork". Retrieved July 8, 2017.

External links[edit]