REVISITED: Faith No More – ‘The Real Thing’ (June 15, 1989)

Posted: June 3, 2006 by Jeffrey Maki in Editorials, Reviews, Revisited
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faith_no_more_the_real_thingIt was 1989, and for many of us, the music video “Epic” was our introduction to Faith No More. These guys were clearly a bunch of weirdos, but that song and video were infectious as hell. You have this singer in high-top sneakers and funky, bright-colored ’80s clothes, a strange looking guitarist with nerdy glasses, and keyboards. And let’s not forget the infamous flopping fish at the end of the video, an image burned into the minds of millions of people. What was this band? Rap? Rock? Metal? Elements of each are in the song. I wasn’t sure what to think at first, but something drove me and many others to purchase the album.

What an excellent surprise I received when I arrived home with my cassette—yeah, I said “cassette.” The album kicked off unexpectedly with “From Out Of Nowhere” and its alternative/rock riff and hypnotizing keyboards. I then skipped “Epic” to see what the rest of the album was about. The incredible funky bass lines and Mike Patton’s clever lyrics make “Falling To Pieces” one of the best songs on the album or maybe ever. At this point, I was pleased with my purchase and continued listening. “Surprise Your Dead” is heavy as hell, featuring Patton’s humorous death metal vocals over a driving thrash rhythm. “Zombie Eaters” begins with a two-minute acoustic introduction before exploding into the angst-filled chorus ending of “So hug me and kiss me then wipe my butt and piss me.” The funky bass and grooves of “Underwater Love” and “The Morning After” add even more fun. Both song easily could have been singles. Next, we have the instrumental “Woodpecker From Mars” with a violin seemingly telling the tale of our main character in the song.

When you tackle a Black Sabbath song, you better do it right. There have been plenty of attempts, and the verdict is about 50/50. Faith No More covers “War Pigs” here and they more than do the song justice. Patton’s vocals are a perfect fit, and the song just sounds like it belongs on this record. The closing track, “Edge Of A World,” a jazzy number, is a strange choice for an album closer. But once again, the unexpected works. After repeated listens, this is one of the best songs of the album. You just have to hear it.

Thanks to “Epic,” which still can be heard on rock radio more than 15 years after its release, Faith No more exploded with The Real Thing. “Falling To Pieces” was also a big hit, and you can hear that one occasionally, as well. This was the band’s third release and first with vocalist Mike Patton. Patton replaced original singer Chuck Mosely and gave the band a dark side that was missing before on their first two albums. Although the band still had their fun on The Real Thing, they were much more focused and seemed less like a parody-type band now.

Faith No More - 1989

Faith No More – 1989

The Real Thing has gone on to sell millions of copies and introduced the world to a brand of so-called rap-rock. The difference between Faith No More and many of the bands that followed in their footsteps is that they did it right. Patton could not only rap, but sing and sing soulfully. He could frantically scream, moan, and be just plain psycho. The Real Thing is not to blame for nu-metal or rap-rock or anything else polluting the airwaves today. There is so much more to that album than that. The Real Thing was perhaps one of the first true alternative metal albums and showed rock musicians that they had no limitations. Whether you want to have a good time and party, bang your head, sing along or simply have fun, there’s no better album than The Real Thing.

Faith No More’s follow-up, Angel Dust, took the band into darker, creepier musical territory and was less accessible to mainstream listeners. The album is actually just as good as—if not better than—The Real Thing. This album spawned the hit “Midlife Crisis,” a great song that was overlooked by radio. King For A Day … Fool For A Lifetime was released in 1995 and was a sign of a band getting older and more serious about their music. This naturally did not bode well for Faith No More. The album’s straight hard rock approach turned off many old fans and the material just wasn’t strong enough to lure in new ones.

Album Of The Year, released in 1997, saw the band return to form with the modern rock hit, “Last Cup Of Sorrow.” This album would be the last studio recording from the band. In 1998 bassist Bill Gould posted a message online, saying that the rumors were true and Faith No More was breaking up. The split was mutual and further allowed band members to pursue individual projects. Patton also is involved with Mr. Bungle, Fantomas and Tomahawk, and has turned up in countless guest appearances and collaborations with other artists. He is viewed by most in the industry and fans as a musical mastermind. He was truly what propelled Faith No More to stardom, and he continues to amaze even today.

You can hear Faith No More’s influence in many bands today all across the musical spectrum. This band truly broke down barriers with it’s musical cocktail, The Real Thing.

The Real Thing tracklisting:

1. From Out Of Nowhere
2. Epic
3. Falling To Pieces
4. Surprise! You’re Dead!
5. Zombie Eaters
6. The Real Thing
7. Underwater Love
8. The Morning After
9. Woodpecker From Mars
10. War Pigs
11. Edge Of The World

Jeff enjoys satanic death metal and may still be banned from Canada.

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