This wasn't Faith No More's first album, but it was their first with Mike Patton, so you might as well think of it as their first. Patton was the missing piece to their sound. They were already eccentric and different, but there are plenty of bands that were just “different”. Patton possesses a toolset that few other vocalists have. He’s like having a Swiss Army knife in the band. He can flat out sing, growl, bark, hiss, cackle…..whatever, and The Real Thing is evidence of all of it. To have a singer that can go from the lounge singer vibe of "Edge Of The World", to the rap-pop of “Epic", to the rapid fire nastiness of "Surprise, You’re Dead”, is something no other band had.
As I’ve been thinking more about FNM with their upcoming album, I realized that they truly are a collection of parts that cause this creative juggernaut. Most bands circa 1989 had the obvious leader, but FNM were truly built from the sum of their parts. Jim Martin’s guitar playing was essential, but no more up front than Roddy Bottom’s keyboards, Mike Bordin’s drums, or Billly Gould’s bass. We refer to them as Hard Rock, but that’s more for a lack of genre that’s simply called Faith No More.
The production on The Real Thing is the one thing that does still sound very 1989, and hopefully there will be a remastered version that will help with that, but the music itself is set apart from everything else of it’s time. There were other heavy bands that had funky bass grooves, like Infectious Grooves and Primus, but neither of them had the hooks of FNM. The Real Thing isn’t quite as timeless as it’s follow up “Angel Dust”, since they were still developing their sound, but it holds up pretty damn well.