Faith No More’s smash hit album The Real Thing (Slash/Reprise) turns thirsty years old today and it still holds up not only as the album that catapulted the weirdo art-punks cum alternative metal band into the mainstream, the majority of it still holds up as a classic. All of the bands’ earlier formative material on the We Care A lot EP and the Introduce Yourself album definitely had threads passed down to its cute, feisty little brother of an album, but in many ways, much of the creative energy and reckless abandon of future releases surely was foretold here.
Although the band was already established as an up and comer in the business in 1988, things began to really settle and coalesce when Mr. Bungle singer Mike Patton replaced talented by troubled Chuck Mosely (RIP). Although he contributed much more music and direct on Angel Dust, Patton’s impact in joining the band cannot be understated. His vast talent, at the time only just being realized, was the key to taking the emerging band of future legends to the next level.
Musically, The Real Thing has an enduring quality about it. About as all over the place stylistically as every FNM record tends to be, it definitely feels like the sound of a band really coming into its own. Little of it sounds dated for the time (the late 80s were crazy eclectic yo) considering how unique this album is amongst its 1989 peers from across Hard Rock, Thrash, Glam Rock, Death Metal and other sub-genres. Besides Patton’s prowess, the entire band is pretty much on their “A” game and is especially a showcase for guitarist Jim Martin and Billy Gould on bass.
Obviously, a lot of people will bring up ‘Epic’ as the memorable song everyone knows from the band. Sure it’s a great song, but so far from where else they went on this album, it’s an anomaly against the rest of their career. You couldn’t blame them if they resented the huge success of the track and the enormous impact the video made at MTV, the millions and the headaches it brought with it. Still, it’s a fun track that even if you’ve heard it a million times, you can enjoy it.
Although people remember the hits like ‘Falling To Pieces’, ‘From Out of Nowhere’, and ‘Edge of The World”, it is the deep cuts on The Real Thing that deliver its real power. Minor single ‘Surprise! You’re Dead! is still brutal as fuck. ‘Zombie Eaters’ is amazing and maybe the best song on the album along with the title track. ‘Underwater Love’ gives a hint of what was to come on later albums: subversive, catchy, not so much heavy, and thoroughly killer songs. ‘The Morning After’ one foot in their past and one in their deep future. Also an incredible vocal performance from Patton. Even the instrumental ‘Woodpecker from Mars’ is so unusual, unexpected and gushing with sweet skills. For a more in-depth peek into how this album was made, we can’t recommend Adrian Harte’s Small Victories biography enough.
Although they would go onto up the ante on Angel Dust with their masterpiece, The Real Thing shouldn’t get overlooked in any way.