Vs. (Mission of Burma album)

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Mission of Burma-Vs-cover.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedOctober 11, 1982
RecordedJanuary–April 1982
StudioNormandy Sound, Rhode Island, United States
LabelAce of Hearts
ProducerRichard W. Harte
Mission of Burma chronology
Signals, Calls, and Marches

Vs. is the debut studio album by American post-punk band Mission of Burma, following their 1981 EP, Signals, Calls, and Marches. It was released in October 1982 by record label Ace of Hearts. It is the only full-length studio album the band released during the 1980s – and until 2004, as soon afterward they disbanded due to guitarist Roger Miller's worsening tinnitus.[2]

Recording and content[edit]

Whereas 1981's Signals, Calls, and Marches was notable for its accessible and organized qualities, Vs. saw Mission of Burma make a deliberate effort to record the chaos and noise that characterized their live performances.[3] To help capture their live sound, the album was recorded in a large room at Normandy Sound studios in Rhode Island.

The songs on the album feature a greater presence of band member Martin Swope's electronic and tape sound effects than with the band's previous recordings.

Mission of Burma guitarist Roger Miller considered Vs. to be the band's best recording, and among the greatest rock and roll albums ever made.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[1]
The Austin Chronicle4/5 stars[4]
Entertainment WeeklyA+[5]
Q4/5 stars[8]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide4/5 stars[9]
Spin Alternative Record Guide8/10[10]
The Village VoiceB+[11]

Vs. has been well received by critics, immediately receiving positive reviews from publications like The New York Times. Despite strong reviews, the noisier sound caused the album to be considered less appropriate for radio airplay than previous Mission of Burma recordings.[3] Robert Christgau, who originally gave it a "B+" in The Village Voice, later said he should have graded it an "A−".[12]

In his retrospective review, Mark Deming of AllMusic opined that Vs. saw Mission of Burma "[mature] into a band whose sound was as distinctive as anyone of its generation. [...] It's daunting to imagine just how far Mission of Burma could have taken its music had Roger Miller's hearing problems not caused the band to break up the following year, but regardless of lost potential, very few American bands from the 1980s released an album as ambitious or as powerful as Vs."[1]


The album ranked at number 49 on Pitchfork's "Top 100 Albums of the 1980s" list.[13] In 2016, Rolling Stone magazine ranked the album number 25 on their list of the 40 Greatest Punk Albums.

Track listing[edit]

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

Side A
1."Secrets" 3:22
2."Train"Clint Conley3:31
3."Trem Two" 4:10
4."New Nails" 3:00
5."Dead Pool"Conley4:05
6."Learn How"Peter Prescott3:56
Side B
1."Mica"Conley, Holly Anderson3:34
2."Weatherbox" 3:29
3."The Ballad of Johnny Burma" 2:00
4."Einstein's Day" 4:34
5."Fun World" 3:40
6."That's How I Escaped My Certain Fate"Conley2:04


  • The Matador Definitive Edition CD has the same bonus tracks, but they are in a different order: "Laugh the World Away", "Forget", Progress", "OK/No Way".


Mission of Burma


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


  1. ^ a b c Deming, Mark. "Vs. – Mission of Burma". AllMusic. Retrieved April 25, 2013.
  2. ^ "Interview With Roger Miller From Mission Of Burma: Psychedelic Sorties". The Aquarian. Retrieved 3 November 2017.
  3. ^ 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.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  4. ^ Schroeder, Audra (May 2, 2008). "Mission of Burma: Signals, Calls, and Marches, Vs., The Horrible Truth About Burma". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved June 13, 2016.
  5. ^ Mirkin, Steven (August 1, 1997). "Mission of Burma reissues". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved July 23, 2017.
  6. ^ Masters, Marc (March 24, 2008). "Mission of Burma: Signals, Calls, and Marches / Vs. / The Horrible Truth About Burma". Pitchfork. Retrieved April 25, 2013.
  7. ^ Gatian, Natasha (July 30, 2015). "Mission of Burma: Signals, Calls, and Marches / Vs.". PopMatters. Retrieved April 25, 2013.
  8. ^ "Mission of Burma: Vs.". Q (190): 132. May 2002.
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ Weisbard, Eric; Marks, Craig, eds. (1995). Spin Alternative Record Guide. Vintage Books. ISBN 0-679-75574-8.
  11. ^ Christgau, Robert (March 29, 1983). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Retrieved April 25, 2013.
  12. ^ Anon. (April 25, 2002). "Nitpicking Issues With the Lists". robertchristgau.com. Retrieved April 20, 2018.
  13. ^ Dahlen, Chris (November 20, 2002). "Staff Lists: Top 100 Albums of the 1980s | Features | Pitchfork". Pitchfork. Retrieved April 25, 2013.

External links[edit]