Faith No More – “The Real Thing” (1989)

Faith No MoreMany fans, myself included, consider the Faith No More lineup that recorded The Real Thing to be the definitive (or “classic”) Faith No More lineup.  This lineup made only two studio albums — the first was 1989’s The Real Thing and the second was 1992’s Angel Dust.  Both are great — though I think The Real Thing is better.  After Angel Dust, guitarist Jim Martin left Faith No More and, frankly, they were never the same without him.

The Real Thing marked the debut of Mike Patton as the new vocalist for Faith No More.  Eccentric and deranged, Patton was a man of many voices, though he relied heavily on his bratty, whiny voice on this particular album.  Mike has some bats in the belfry, that’s for sure.  Meanwhile, Bill Gould was responsible for the bone-rattling (and sometimes funky) bass lines.  Helping Gould hold down the rhythm section was drummer Mike Bordin — who, incidentally, was also carrying the torch for “white man with dreads” at the time (while the world was waiting for Adam Duritz to arrive on the scene).  Elsewhere, Roddy Bottum provided quite possibly the most integral part of the trademark Faith No More sound — the haunting and atmospheric keyboards.  But it was guitarist Jim Martin that did a lot of the heavy lifting with his gnarly riffage.  I truly believe it was Martin that was responsible for Faith No More’s heavy metal leanings.  As mentioned above, I think Faith No More really suffered once he left.  On albums like King For A Day Fool… For A Lifetime (1995) and Album Of The Year (1997), Faith No More let Patton’s eccentricities push them in a direction that I didn’t much care for.  Jim Martin has said that The Real Thing is the ideal Faith No More album, and I agree with him!  But I digress, my point is that during the era of The Real Thing, Faith No More possessed a magical chemistry that (despite only existing for a short time in the band’s long history) is the biggest reason for the band’s enduring cult legacy.

The Real Thing is best known for the smash hit Epic — a song which prompted many uninformed folks to erroneously label Faith No More as rap metal.  This song is the only song on The Real Thing that has any type of “rapping” (if you can even call it that), so I’m not sure why that label stuck to Faith No More.  But any discussion of The Real Thing should not start and stop with Epic.  The album has so much more to offer.  Tracks like From Out Of Nowhere and Falling To Pieces show more of Faith No More’s radio-friendly side.  One could argue that either tune is equal to or even better than Epic.  Of course, Faith No More also had a twisted, psychotic side.  This is best exemplified by the unhinged Surprise! You’re Dead! and my personal fave, the schizoid Zombie Eaters.  The cassette and CD editions of The Real Thing added a special treat — a brilliant version of Black Sabbath’s War Pigs.  My score: A+

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7 thoughts on “Faith No More – “The Real Thing” (1989)

  1. I like King For A Day… & Album of the Year, perhaps because those albums were my first exposure to FNM. I do agree that the sound goes in a far different direction without Jim Martin.

  2. Great to the point summary on FNM my friend! I agree completely although I do have a slight oh, so very slight preference for the ‘Angel Dust’ album. I think it is in it’s subjects that I find it a bit more controversial and daring as what came out of The Real Thing. But hey, the title already says it, I am wrong, that simply is The Real Thing. You have said it correctly, the ultimate first strike although not for FNM more in this holy line up. Seen them quite a few times on various stages. I have been very lucky I guess to see them on this tour. As young as they still were at that time that was nothing I had ever seen or heard before. And it’s not that I have a select range of musical tastes even back in those days. This might sound a bit odd, but the riffage was not all Martin. Roddy had a big hand in that too, and still has. But with that huge Gibson flying V and his weird persona of course Jim was not to miss. I also want to point tout that it’s quite interesting what FNM has done for the alternative rock scene. With this album and it’s odd single’s they managed to win a fairly big audience but even more importantly opened MTV up for more alternative harder rocking music to find it’s way up to the mainstream. Their previous outing, before the line up change, the 12″ ‘We Care a Lot’ single managed to make it big on the dance floor all over Europe. It was a cult hit of sorts and for good reason. If you want to dance your ass off but were not into that acid beat thing that was exploding at the time, this was your way to go.

    I do think they never made a single bad album. I also think that they always chose integrity over commercialism and simply paused whenever it was becoming too flat. The reunion tour (though without Martin) was quite great too. That has been over 16 years ago now as well… Damn! (:P)

    If peeps don’t know about Mike Patton’s love child Mr. Bungle you should try that. I can tell you, if you’ve never heard it and are in for a surprise, you’re dead before the first album is over. (;D) Talking about manic-depressive intense shit. That first album is genius. Not that the later were not but that first one, I have no references to show what that all exactly is, you need to hear it, at least once in a lifetime. It’s about fools too. (:D)

    P.S. Why bother Chris? What the hell does you comment say and what’s the point?

    • Great comments Eddy! A review within a review! I used to have a Mr. Bungle CD, but that stuff was just too avant garde for my mainstream tastes. I love Angel Dust, too. I give The Real Thing a slight nod, because there are a few songs on Angel Dust that are a bit noisy for me, like Crack Hitler and Jizzlobber.

      • Thanks again my friend! You know it comes up all by itself once someone or the right subject is inspiring me. You definitely have that effect on me. Oh well, said that before. Like minded people add to the whole and appreciate each other’s point of view whether they’d agree on them or not.

        Yeah, Mr. Bungle is quite difficult to swallow at once. I have even more weird shit in my archive. I like to explore the unknown. Always been a curious kinda fellow. But you know, I certainly can’t listen to Mr. Bungle just about any day. And when I do have a go at it it’s kind of like a ritual. I prepare myself for the adventure. The first Mr. Bungle album is way more of a theatrical performance than a modern jazz or rock album. Avant Garde is not exactly pinning it down properly I guess. It’s way too much of a story that is being told. We can fairly say it’s quite an unique album. There are brilliant musical outbursts on there, simply genius often. But, it goes all ways and the moods and patterns are changing quite often. It’s like Frank Zappa had found out that cocaine would make him more productive, and then of course utterly failed. If you look at this album in an openminded way it really one big mistake, a complete mess. But, oddly enough, controlled on the dot. This ties the music with the lyrics as well. The story is about a clown that has lost his sense of purpose and loses his mind in the process. It delivers quite some stuff to talk about afterwards when you listen to it among friends that like a good philosopher’s round table talk. There are quite some brilliant one liners through the album. Things everyone could take home and expand on in everyday life.
        It’s actually one of my alltime favorite albums, does it show? (;D)

        I get it why you slightly prefer the Real Thing album. My preference for the Angel Dust album is also fueled by the boldness of it. They dared to take it a step further towards daring territory and I do always love that whether or not it leads to an album that is better than the one outed before. Alas, better is in the eye or rather ear of the beholder. In fact, the Angel Dust album is in a way more Mr Bungle than The Real Thing was. Mike had been working on Mr Bungle as a project before he joined FNM. He was not long enough in the band to imprint the album with his input since many of the songs were already (partly) written and he added to it. He got more opportunity with the Angel Dust album and that is probably why it is that more gritty than it’s preceder.

        Keep it up neighbor! It’s always a pleasure to visit this place. I am going to read your last collection of reviews tomorrow. Curious what you have to say about Q5 and Fates Warning in particular.
        Cheers! Have a drink on me!

        Oh and a P.S.
        Don’t know if you’d noticed but I posted a very brief article on Queensrÿche’s ‘Operation:Mindcrime’. There’s an early easter egg hidden in there… I think you might like to download that! (;D)

      • Will do. I’m also excited about that latest KISS post. My brother is a KISS freak and we are from Rhode Island (where the 1975 concert, their debut in Providence, was recorded) so it will be a treasure for my brother to hear.

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