The fertile musical ground that is the 90’s. An era filled with guitar driven bands that released huge records and filled stadiums with its buyers. Faith No More had already been around in various forms for ten years before this record became a behemoth. In the early days in a search for a new lead singer even Courtney Love got an audition.
Formed in 1979 as ‘Sharp Young Men’ this is a band that doesn’t release a lot of albums, only seven in forty years. It’s largely thanks to long hiatuses and a break up of sorts. ‘The Real Thing’ was their third album and hit the market in 1989. Singer Mike Patton wrote all the lyrics for this record despite only being in the band for two weeks.
Upon it’s release the singles ‘From out of Nowhere’ and ‘Falling to Pieces’ took off, largely thanks to heavy rotation on the music channel MTV. An appearance on ‘Saturday Night Live’ didn’t hurt either.
As usual, I came to this record later, probably in the mid 90’s, five or six years after its release, I’m sure I heard ‘Epic’ on a radio station somewhere in America. It’s the song on this record that transcended the fans, a chugging funk metal classic with popular appeal.
Faith No More are such a great band at shifting musical genres, sometimes even in the same song. Here it offers up a pile driving riff heavy song (Surprise! You’re Dead!), whilst also delivering something you’d hear in a cocktail lounge (Edge of the World).
Patton hadn’t taken control of the band yet, considering he’d only just joined but on later records you’d see even more genre shifting, especially after guitarist Jim Martin left. The title track ‘The Real Thing’ is another transcendent song that’s instantly recognizable, an ‘alt’ metal classic.
The record sold over 4 million copies worldwide; it’s a massive number considering Beyonce’s ‘Lemonade’ record from 2016 hit just over the 3 million mark. My favorite song on this is ‘Zombie Eaters’, it starts quiet and ends up being six minutes of acoustic, metal and thrash wrapped with a classical background. It’s Led Zeppelin like in its grand ways, really showing off the strength of the band, their versatility.
In my musical reawakening I’m enjoying all of the FNM records, but I don’t even think ‘The Real Thing’ is their best. 1995’s ‘King for a day, fool for a lifetime’ is my numero uno, a stripped down hardcore affair mixed in with Avant-garde allure. Clearly it wasn’t nearly as successful as this record.
“The Real Thing” pushed the band into festival headliners, which is really saying something in an era filled with so many heavyweights.
hallymustang rating : 4/5