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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Real Thing


In 1989 I bought my last "real" record- as in "on vinyl". There have been others since, but they have been mere curios; a reminder of times gone by and perhaps for reasons of parody.

That album was Faith No More's "The Real Thing". I was halfway through year 12, and frankly I think this album got me to the end in safety. Of course, being an album from 1989- even the last 6 months of that decade makes it an 80's album. But really it's a bookend. I'm not entirely sure what the other bookend is- perhaps the death of Bon Scott/John Bonham signaled the beginning of the 80's just as TheReal Thing signaled the end.

All that aside, I want to focus on but one song; "From Out Of Nowhere". Of course any dissertation on "The Real Thing" ought to include "Epic", but that's almost too easy and certainly too obvious. In 2008, it's easy to listen to this song and say "oh... I get it", but in 1989 the musical landscape was very different. Culturally, the Berlin wall had fallen, Bob Hawke cried on telly and Milli Vanilla had not been revealed as a fake.

So from the opening bars emanating from Jim Martin's guitar, some confusion begins. It seems metal, but perhaps a little punk. There's a keyboard floating in and while you are trying to work out what's going on there a double flam hits you and the hi hats open from then on...! What the hell? There's a bass guitar bouncing about in a manner that just ain't right. Mike Patton's singing is forced and strained, yet on brand. What the hell is on brand in this situation? Listen and learn.

Back then I rarely listened on headphones to my favourite music. The only way I got to hear it loud was to turn it up when the family were out and hope Mr Munro in Maylands ave didn't come round/ring/tell Dad later. If I had listened to "From Out Of Nowhere" closely I would have picked up the the subtleties that ipod earbuds now afford me; the subtle doubling of the chorus vocals- Mike P singing with Mike P and the final "wave goodbye" being followed by a whispered "...goodbye".

The song's ending, where it perfectly runs down and then launches immediately into "Epic", is for me the greatest 1-2 opening double punch outside of Led Zeppelin IV's "Black Dog" "Rock n' Roll".

The evenness of this album, and by that I mean genius, would perhaps not have bothered the band as much as it bothered me. After copying the record to tape for my newly purchased '74 Corolla, it became my soundtrack to 1990 as well. I was at uni, had a job as a part time sound engineer and roadie. Every soundcheck that required a tape played invariably meant "From Out of Nowhere". This was the album and for me the song.

When Angel Dust came out in 1992, I was 20, turning 21. I had a steady girlfriend and school days were already behind me. There was no way for "Angel Dust" to compete no matter how good it was.

Fittingly, when I broke up with that girlfriend, she kept "The Real Thing". Today, I have it on my ipod, but its not the same.

And neither am I.

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posted by thr at 5:58 pm 0 comments links to this post

 
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