Sued51's Blog

{June 29, 2012}   A Fan’s History of 80’s Boston Bands: M is for Mission of Burma

Mission of Burma was one of the loudest local bands on the 80’s Boston scene (there’s a reason why Roger Miller got tinnitus in his ears). They were originally a trio with the addition of a tape manipulator/sound engineer. Going to see them was a crap shoot…they could be amazing or they could be awful. When you went to a bad gig, you weren’t in a hurry to go back; it could be like listening to too many fingernails on a blackboard at excruciating decibel levels. Once after seeing them at the Rat, my ears were still ringing the next day!

One of my college friends had a crush on the bass player, Clint Conley. I could understand her attraction: he was handsome, intelligent (he became a producer on a local TV news show), and his songs had the most airplay. You could actually sing along with them. Unlike me, my friend was one of the most soft-spoken, most shy, intelligent people I ever met; she was an animal lover and a vegan. It amazed me that with her personality that she loved the band so much; it was such a surprise. She would go to see them regularly, and even though it was painful to her, she would talk to Clint; she liked him that much! She was quite devastated when the band broke up; she talked about the final gig for weeks before it happened.

My favorite Mission of Burma story is only indirectly about them. One of the most well-known (and most covered) and accessible songs they recorded was called “That’s When I Reach for my Revolver” (of course it was one of Clint’s songs). (It’s funny to read the comments on YouTube…people think that Moby wrote the song…not true though his IS a good version.) Years after the band had broken up and I was working at the Orpheum Theater, Soul Asylum was opening for Keith Richards. The ushers were hanging around watching sound check and talking to the band; the band members were friendly and down-to-earth. It was a wonderful surprise during the show when the lead singer of Soul Asylum said, “This one is for the ushers!” and they played “Revolver.” It was a memorable gift at the time. I didn’t know until now that they actually played that song regularly. (YouTube has a version from 1989 in Minneapolis.)

peters154 says:

One of the few times I ever met a musician who I was actually a fan of was when I was at the Tsongas arena in 2004 for the Pixies – Mission of Burma show. I was walking down the stadium stairway, on my way to my seats, when I look over to the man walking next to me.
‘Hey, you’re Clint Conley aren’t you?’
‘That’s right’
‘Have a great show, Mission of Burma is the reason I’m here’

From the way he was dressed, he could have been a college professor, if it were anywhere else I probably would not have realized who it was.


sued51 says:

I think that “professor” look was part of why my friend had a crush on him. 🙂
He was a pretty cool guy.


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