Faith No More - The Real Thing
Hot off the heels of the cutting loose of original singer Chuck Mosley after two albums and little success for bouts of drunken idiocy, Faith No More picked up perhaps the best deal they could ever bargain for, recruiting the vocal talents of a young Mike Patton who would rise to cult legend status as one of the most versatile personalities in the musical spectrum, toting an eclectic body of work and insane work ethic that would make the jaw drop for all but the most cynical of music fans.
While Patton's eclectic side did not come to the fore on The Real Thing
, hints of what was to come is evident in much of the music. This album is much more of a group effort then just Patton taking the reigns, as he did on 1992's follow up album Angel Dust
which is considered by the majority of fans to be the bands masterwork and one of the most innovative albums of all time. The Real Thing
has more in common with FNMs earlier two albums We Care a Lot
and Introduce Yourself
then any of the bands later work, though Patton's vocal delivery and lyrical content sometimes push it into strange realms. Genrewise it dwells primarily in the realms of early funk metal, though with nods to the inspirations of thrash (Surprise! You're Dead!), classical (Woodpecker from Mars), and the closer to the album which is an odd foray into lounge music (The Edge of The World). It is perhaps the closest a Patton era Faith No More album can be likened to "normal" music, bizarre as it is at times.
Musically, the album is diverse. Billy Gould provides a lot of inspired basslines around Puffy Bordin's solid drumming, which add up to a solid rhythm section. Guitarist Jim Martin provides the meat and sauce with a thick, flangey distorted tone that is unique, mostly playing for rhythmic crunch but branching out here and there to bust out a killer lead (the dynamic solo to Epic and War Pigs), to play around with clean arpeggios (Zombie Eaters), or to f*ck around with distortion effects (the growling monstrosity which is the end of the title track.) Roddy Bottum harmonises the whole mix wonderfully as the bands keyboardist, adding much to the unique sound of FNM.
1. From Out of Nowhere - 9/10
Crunchy chords and a killer bassline work together with the drums to create an energetic opener, driven by a symphonic keyboard line. Patton busts out the nasal vocal delivery here that is popularised on FNM's biggest hit song "Epic". The lyrics are very sing-a-long in nature and deal with falling in love or something like it.
2. Epic - 10/10
The hit. Most people will know it, and may even be sick of it. That's okay i still rate it as an amazing song, and its a very good representation of most of the music you will find on this album. A funky conglomeration of rap and rock near its pinnacle, with a great solo and a piano outro that lives up to the title of the song.
3. Falling To Pieces - 10/10
Has an insane film clip that opens with a spinning cat and features exploding fish. As a song it features some very nice rhythm work indeed, opening with a great intro that has Billy Gould plucking the bass, Puffy Bordin picking up on the drums then Roddy Bottum playing a really smooth keyboard part which builds up to a rocking verse section. The lyrics are some of my favourite and inspirational from FNM.
4. Surprise! You're Dead! - 9/10
One for the metalheads. It's a very biting and aggressive song in comparison to many of the others on the album, and Patton shows a very nasty side lyrically as he adopts a rapping style and sings about the defeat of an enemy. The main thrash riff is one of the most notable on the album, and it keeps up a brutal pace.
5. Zombie Eaters - 10/10
Opens with clean acoustics and a droning bass overpowering it all, creating a very foreboding mood. Once the keyboards come in you have a powerful intro that builds up to what i consider the boss
of all slow and heavy crunch riffs. The keyboard dynamics and the way they work in this song enthrall me, as Patton sings very bizarre lyrics about being a temperamental baby. Goes off at the end.
6. The Real Thing - 10/10
The most serious and beautiful song on the album, and it also rocks. This is a lyrical epic, probably my favourite FNM song ever for feeling inspired. It starts off with a simple drum pattern, and builds up into an amazing interweaving of guitars, keyboards, bass and drums that words cannot do justice. Highly recommended.
7. Underwater Love - 10/10
An underrated classic. Bouncy funk rhythm with great keyboards that sounds as beach party like as it's title suggests, and is a great singalong. Ironically the lyrics are supposed to be about drowning a lover in a bathtub, counteracting the happy vibe.
8. The Morning After - 8/10
Chuck Mosley wrote this song before he was kicked out of the band, but Patton came and made it his own here. The keyboard dynamics work wonders, and there are some beautiful parts indeed.
9. Woodpecker From Mars - 9/10
Fantastic instrumental that sounds like 19th century battalions preparing for war, with a classically inspired keyboard line that is simply amazing. In come the drums, slap bass and guitar, and we have a loopy funk metal thrash song with an incredible rush to it. Amazing.
10. War Pigs - 10/10
A cover of Black Sabbath's "War Pigs". This is one of the rare covers taken by a band that makes the song their own, and its f*cking awesome! A fan favourite, not as dark and menacing as the original Sabbath version but making up for it with pure energy.
11. Edge Of The World - 8/10
A lounge song that almost feels out of place on the album. A swinging bassline and some bar room piano adds up to a smooth rhythm unlike anything else on here, with Patton singing in his nasally voice making a very weird mix not everyone will like. I hated this song on first listen but it grew on me, the hilarious first person lyrics of being a dirty old man falling in love with a minor are layed on with many slabs of cheese.
The Real Thing
is essential album, love it or hate it. To Mike Patton fans it represents a stepping stone towards the more eclectic pursuits of his musical career (which was more prominent in the shades of Patton's other band, Mr Bungle, and their self titled album that came out around the same time) but it can also be appreciated on its own merits and unique feeling which was never to be quite captured again by any artist anywhere. It inspired generations of artists since, and as cliched as it sounds the musical scene has never been quite the same again.