The debut album from British band Faithless, released in 1996 on Cheeky Records.

This album came as something of a surprise when it was released. We had all heard the amazing single, Insomnia, and on the basis of that were expecting an entire album of ecstasy-fuelled dance-music, with Maxi Jazz’s trademark voice rapping beautiful thoughts over pounding drums.

Thankfully, we were wrong.

Not that there aren’t plenty of pounding drums on this record. There are a couple of tracks which aim to get the dancefloor moving, and when Faithless decide they want to get things pumping, they certainly do. But if you are expecting a whole album of house music, you’re going to be sadly disappointed.

Track Listing

  1. Reverence
  2. Don’t Leave
  3. Salva Mea
  4. If Lovin’ You is Wrong
  5. Angeline
  6. Insomnia
  7. Dirty Ol’ Man
  8. Flowerstandman
  9. Baseball Cap
  10. Drifting Away
(The album is now available with an extra 2 tracks, remixes of Salve Mea and Insomnia respectively)

Before looking at the tracks in more detail, I should point out that I love this album. Not everyone does. I just read the Amazon.co.uk review of it, and they clearly don’t feel the same way. As always, listen and make up your own mind.

Reverence
The first track on the first album from Faithless, and as such it was important to set the tone. And set it they did. From very spacey beginnings, the track grows into a funky little house number, and continues to build while Maxi Jazz preaches a sermon to the dancefloor… The backing vocals (So slow, it's gotta be, slow) come from Dido, Rollo's sister. According to Dido, her payment for contributions to the album took the form of one curry dinner. She's not complaining though, since her brother helped produce her first album (presumably also for free).

My name is G.O.D, the Grand Oral Disseminator

Don’t Leave
This track could not be more different to Reverence. Most of it consists of only a sampled acoustic guitar and Jamie Catto's voice, forming a beautiful, yet extremely simple, love song. I first heard this song 6 years ago now, and I still can’t hear it without getting goosebumps.

Packin your bags like people in the movies do…

Salva Mea
Opera? In house music? You can almost picture the confused expression on the record label executives face… However, Faithless managed to convince them, and the result is another bangin’ house anthem, with an incredibly powerful female vocal line, sung in an operatic style.

If Lovin’ you is wrong
..And then things slow right down to a sexy grindMaxi Jazz provides the vocals again over this track, with the music coming from a more traditional bluesy line-up of 'real' instruments. Very sexy indeed…

Lord, this is gonna last all night, if lovin’ you is wrong, I don’t wanna be right…

Angeline
Still with ‘real’ instruments, Faithless start crooning away on this traditional love song about a girl who’s left her man behind.

You’ve been out on the tiles, winnin’ the smiles of men of low persuasion…

Insomnia
The hit singleTM. This is the track that catapulted Faithless to fame, and for me it remains the greatest track they’ve ever written. There were two reasons for this songs success. First, the amazingly catchy synth-hook, which even the most hopeless dancer could jump about to, and could be repeated endlessly without getting dull, so long as Sister Bliss was busy tweaking the dials. Secondly, the lyrics, from Maxi Jazz, were simply brilliant. Dealing with (possibly drug-enduced) insomnia, the words were both witty and completely fitting for a couple of thousand people jumping about the dancefloor out of their minds on amphetamines

I only smoke weed when I need to…

Dirty Ol’ Man
More cleverly crafted lyrics, using the image of a dirty old man as a metaphor for big cities everywhere. The music treads a tight rope here between cheesy pop and hip hop, but manages to keep its balance.

..some call me London, I’m also known as New York

Flowerstandman
A beautifully chilled out track with Dido contributing the lead vocal. Spaced out, electronically influenced, but not as hectic as Salva Mea or Insomnia.

I don’t care about the ozone layer, I wouldn’t notice if it wasn’t there…

Baseball Cap
Just to show they’re not all about drugs and partying, Faithless come out with this morality tale, set to a funky hip hop backing. The lyrics tell the story of a 14 year old boy (Maxi Jazz) being beaten up for his baseball cap, but learning to control his anger and accept non-violence as a solution

So try and listen hard before you fall into the trap, of making war over a baseball cap…

Drifting away
Relax. It’s all over…

Although I cannot confirm this, this album probably represents the entirety of Faithless's work up until this point. I saw them live in 1996, and although they played for over an hour, the crowd forced them to do two or three encores – Faithless had to repeat tracks (admittedly, remixing them as they went…), simply because they did not have enough material to play a longer set.


Disclaimer: The album has some very special, personal memories for me. I fell in love for the first time to Don’t Leave, I took my first pill to Insomnia, and I once spent 72 hours locked in a darkened room with only two friends, a large supply of narcotics, and the Reverence/Irreverence double album… It is possible my ability to view the album objectively may have been impaired. Still, I urge you to listen to it. Whatever you might think, there is no doubt that this is a surprising album.

My name is Maxi Jazz, and I ain't no joke
I make ya choke on the mike when I go for broke
When I come into a jam I tear off my shirt
I have no knowledge of fear, cos I'm here to do work...

The title track for Faithless' debut album is a suprising one, not at all what most people expected for a group best known for the dancefloor anthems Salva Mea and Insomnia. However, this is a great showcase for showing off Maxi Jazz's intense talent and stands out as one of Faithless' best tracks, both on the album and ever. The lyrics not only mean something special written down, but when aurally expressed with the addition of Rollo (Roland Armstrong, brother of Dido) and Sister Bliss (real name Ayalah Bentovin)' beats, bassline etc truly come alive. My own personal experience is of listening to the track 20 or more times (no, not in a row...) to learn the lyrics just so I could recite them in my head whenever I wanted to. As with most lyrics, they don't look like much written down, but hearing them rapped by Maxi (aka Max Frazer) on the track for yourself will reveal the real meanings behind the words.

The edit released as a single featured a cut-down version of the full lyrics, with different inflections in the rap by Maxi Jazz. There was also a chorus added and the entire track shortened from around 6 minutes on the album to the 3-and-something minutes acceptable for radio airplay. It is widely accepted, however, that the above version is superior, because of the more natural rapping style that Maxi uses, and the chorus added to the radio edit manages to deflect the power of the verses. That is not to say that the radio edit is poor, but its overall feel is very different, thus once again showing the greater public a different side of Faithless: a side and style unbelievably different from that shown on all three of their albums.

I'm not a mystic, my views are realistic, simplistic...

I won't find peace of mind rollin around on the floor
The point I wanna make is
You can never escape from your faith
The mistake is to take without givin, from within
You wanna know how I'm livin?
I'm cool, I'm lookin after myself
I would never place wealth before my spirit...

The essence of what Maxi is trying to get across on this track is contained in these few lines. It is about not giving in to materialism, and Maxi clearly rates spiritual health above money and possessions, which are, after all, only temporary.

By referring to himself as the "GOD" (the "Grand Oral Disseminator") on this track (which he does not continue in any other track on any album, by the way, although does on this album's insert) Maxi is both making a religious point (see below) and simply saying "listen up, this is important". Almost every line of this track has something meaningful to say, reflecting the genius of Jazz's lyric-writing skill. It's not short, either (7 minutes 43 seconds in total, about 3 or 4 minutes of which is taken up by the rap - itself split into two main pieces, with the intro as seen at the top of this writeup), so Maxi clearly as a fair bit to say.

I ain't a Christian, sometimes I feel like dissin em
But listen, I'm just tryin to tell ya what I know
If you would once relax, chill to the max...

As is obvious, Maxi Jazz is not a Christian. He is actually a Buddhist. Maxi's lyrics for Faithless are not always motivated by his religion, however - infact, this is the only example I can think of where he mentions religion at all. This is not, therefore, a precedent for the rest of this (or any other) album by Faithless, but does reveal something about the band's name. "Faithless" refers to the fact that none of the band members are religious devotees, and although Maxi is Buddhist neither Rollo nor Sister Bliss follow a religion as such.

If I say God is alive I know you'll wanna know why
Babies die, food don't grow. Why trains smash, planes crash
Situation mash an slam-bam, ya fellow man

He didn't just give us the planet and it's wealth
Deep inside your soul he left a piece of himself
The Lord is in here, his voice is small
Y' keep lyin and tryin, denying the call from inside
You can't hide responsibility

He can set ya free, see, butcha hafta listen
An who's that false idol I see ya kissin
Money, success an untold wealth, good health
An all ya hafta do is love yourself...

The age old question: if God exists, why do bad things happen? Maxi places the blame squarely with us. We keep "lyin and tryin", ignoring the voice of "the Lord" who has been inside us all along. Well, this is obviously a personal belief of Maxi's. Whether you agree with this or not is also entirely subjective, but either way Reverence is a great start to a great album. Even if you completely disagree with what Maxi Jazz raps on this track, you cannot help but be impressed with both the buildup to the lyrics and the way in which Maxi raps them. although not the longest track on the album, it is easily the longest rap (even split into two main chunks), and showcases the talent of the three main members of the group Faithless - Maxi in the raps, and Rollo and Sister Bliss on the production side.

Ya don't need eyes to see: y'need vision...


CST Approved

Words in italics by Maxi Jazz, responsibility (and blame) for the in-between stuff falls to me.

These are not the full lyrics, by any means. In compliance with copyright changes, there can only be 250 words max shown here. The full lyrics consist of about 600 words, I believe.

Rev"er*ence (?), n. [F. révérence, L. reverentia. See Reverent.]

1.

Profound respect and esteem mingled with fear and affection, as for a holy being or place; the disposition to revere; veneration.

If thou be poor, farewell thy reverence. Chaucer.

Reverence, which is the synthesis of love and fear. Coleridge.

When discords, and quarrels, and factions, are carried openly and audaciously, it is a sign the reverence of government islost. Bacon.

⇒ Formerly, as in Chaucer, reverence denoted "respect" "honor", without awe or fear.

2.

The act of revering; a token of respect or veneration; an obeisance.

Make twenty reverences upon receiving . . . about twopence. Goldsmith.

And each of them doeth all his diligence To do unto the feast reverence. Chaucer.

3.

That which deserves or exacts manifestations of reverence; reverend character; dignity; state.

I am forced to lay my reverence by. Shak.

4.

A person entitled to be revered; -- a title applied to priests or other ministers with the pronouns his or your; sometimes poetically to a father.

Shak.

Save your reverence, Saving your reverence, an apologetical phrase for an unseemly expression made in the presence of a priest or clergyman. -- Sir reverence, a contracted form of Save your reverence.

Such a one as a man may not speak of, without he say. "Sir reverence." Shak.

-- To do reverence, to show reverence or honor; to perform an act of reverence.

Now lies he there, And none so poor to do him reverence. Shak.

Syn. -- Awe; honor; veneration; adoratuon; dread. -- Awe, Reverence, Dread, Veneration. Reverence is a strong sentiment of respect and esteem, sometimes mingled slightly with fear; as, reverence for the divine law. Awe is a mixed feeling of sublimity and dread in view of something great or terrible, sublime or sacred; as, awe at the divine presence. It does not necessarily imply love. Dread is an anxious fear in view of an impending evil; as, dread of punishment. Veneration is reverence in its strongest manifestations. It is the highest emotion we can exercise toward human beings. Exalted and noble objects produce reverence; terrific and threatening objects awaken dread; a sense of the divine presence fills us with awe; a union of wisdom and virtue in one who is advanced in years inspires us with veneration.

 

© Webster 1913.


Rev"er*ence, v. t. [imp. & p. p. Reverenced (?); p. pr. & vb. n. Reverencing (?).]

To regard or treat with reverence; to regard with respect and affection mingled with fear; to venerate.

Let . . . the wife see that she reverence her husband. Eph. v. 33.

Those that I reverence those I fear, the wise. Shak.

 

© Webster 1913.

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