Thursday, December 1, 2011

Epic - Faith No More

Faith No More
(M. Patton, B. Gould, J. Martin, R. Bottum, M. Bordin) Slash K 10139


Chart Entry: 15th July, 1990
Highest Entry: #1
Accreditation: Platinum
Points: 102,238
From the album "The Real Thing".


Even when the biggest hits of the 80's were at their rocking best, there was always a hint of pop embedded somewhere deep inside. The transformation of disco and punk into 80's pop saw the charts maintain that genre for ten years. A musical change was ready to explode and Faith No More were there with the ammunition.

Faith No More, like so many other bands who broke into the 90's charts, were active right throughout the 80's, forming as Faith No Man in 1981. An album eventuated in 1985, We Care A Lot, which brought them to the attention of Slash Records, a specialist in punk rock bands. 1987's Introduce Yourself showed a band with direction, the album featuring an improved sound and better sense of cohesion than the debut. But there was one thing missing. Mike Patton.

Mike moved across from the experimental Mr. Bungle to take on Faith No More's vocal duties after their former singer, Chuck Mosley, was fired for "creative differences". The Real Thing was the result of the union, the first of four successful albums, which made Faith No More one of the biggest bands of their genre. Not that that was a terribly hard feat. The band mixed everything from Heavy Metal and Progressive Rock to Funk, Jazz, Hip Hop and Soul. So when they hit the top of the Australian charts in August 1990 with "Epic", there was no better signal that the 90's was going to be a diverse decade indeed.

Exploding with Jim Martin's guitar, and finishing with a classically-inspired piano piece, "Epic" was almost a "Bohemian Rhapsody" for the 90's, genres at either end of the scale, but married to produce a #1 hit. Add to that, Mike Patton's hip hop vocals were unlike anything we had heard in a #1 single before, but Faith No More were pipped to lay claim as the first "rap" #1 as M.C. Hammer had just finished his run at the top of the Australian charts with the first ever #1 rap single, "U Can't Touch This".

The speculation over the meaning of "Epic" is greatly debated. The most common answer is that the song is about sex, or more precisely, oral sex, but suggestions of drugs, masturbation, and finding inner greatness have all been put forward (to totally debunk all the theories, it is well known that Mike Patton actually writes much of his lyric based on the sounds of the words rather than their meaning, so it really could just meaning nothing at all). The only thing that we are certain the song is about, is "it", but as Mike constantly reminds us, just "what is 'it'?".

The Salvador Dali-inspired video for "Epic" caused its own controversy with the depiction of a dying goldfish, supposedly given to the band from Icelandic singer, Björk. Whether the band was serious with their admission is also a mystery, but fits right alongside visions of the all seeing eye in the hand, exploding pianos, artificial rain and fake green blood gushing forth onto the band.

"Epic" spent three weeks at the top of the ARIA charts, coming in at #22 on the End Of Year list for 1990. The Real Thing was a surprise success itself, peaking at #2 with a #37 placement on the EOY chart. There was more Faith No More success to come, including a return to the top of the singles chart in 1993, and three more top ten albums. Mike Patton's experimental ways took hold of the band soon after his induction, refining their sound to the slickness of "Midlife Crisis" and "Evidence", but "Epic" was the culmination of ten "adolescent" years all in one song.


Chart Run: (23 weeks)
(ARIA Top 100)

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