It’s 1992 and you guys are the hottest alternative metal band on the planet. After emerging from the mid-’80s American underground, your last album went platinum, you performed at the MTV Awards and Saturday Night Live, and absolutely everyone is biting your style. What are you doing? If You’re Faith No More, You Record A Straight Cover Of The Commodores’ Sweet ’70s Soul-Pop Ballad Easy.
FNM’s breakthrough 1989 album the real thing was a glorious mix of funk, metal and everything in between. They had recorded a cover as a bonus track for this album, a faithful version of Black Sabbath War Pigs. It seemed like an obvious decision, but maybe it was too obvious for singer Mike Patton, who would troll the audience by changing the lyrics to: “Generals assembled en masse / Damn, I hate Black Sabbath.”
Follow angel dust was a reaction to the success of the real thing. Fan-tested songs such as Caffeine and the abrasive jizzlobber like the image of dead animals in a slaughterhouse that appeared on the back cover, it was darker, stranger and more disturbingly evil.
Most evil of all, at least on paper, was their version of Easy. The band had played it on their European tour before going into the studio to record Angel dust. Live they would part ways with War Pigs in a note-for-note version of the song The Commodores. It didn’t go well.
“It feels good to have a few thousand people knocking you down.” bassist Billy Gould said Billboard in 1993. “Just to see the middle finger count go up when we walk in Easy It’s incredible.
It was Gould’s idea to record the song during the angel dust sessions. “We love the way we played it and we loved the way Mike sang it,” keyboardist Roddy Bottum said. Kerrang!.
In addition to cutting the second verse from the original, they played it totally straight and without irony, capturing the easy-going, Sunday-morning vibe of the original. The only flash of FNM-style mischief came when Mike Patton offered an over-the-top “EUUGGHHH”! before the guitar solo, even though it was an OTT homage to the original.
Coverage was retained from angel dust when originally released in June 1992, although a live version was included on the B-side of the third single Everything is ruined. But when the album failed to instantly replicate the success of its predecessor, Faith No More’s parent label Warner Bros grew concerned.
“We recorded it on the B-side,” Bottum said. Kerrang! in ’95. “Then the record company had the brilliant idea of releasing it as an A-side.”
It was a final roll of the dice, but it worked. Easy was released on December 29, 1992, as a non-album single, although in true Faith No More style there was still a refusal to play the game completely. The video saw the band hanging out in a hotel room with a group of drag queens, interspersed with chaotic live footage. The only cover was a photo of a pair of rhinos having sex.
“Honestly, I don’t think we have a lot of easy-going fans of this song,” Bottum told Kerrang!. “Maybe it’s the video. Even though the performance of the song is quite faithful, you can see that we are up to something. The tongue is definitely in the cheek.
Regardless, someone was buying the song. It became their second number one in Australia, reached the Top 10 in New Zealand, Switzerland, Norway and the Netherlands, reached a career peak at No. 3 in the UK and was the only song of angel dust trace in the United States. Inevitably, it was added to later editions of the album, which helped propel it to gold status in the United States.
“For our own personal satisfaction, we like to do things that stay on the field,” Gould said. Billboard in 1993. “Warner Bros. markets us as a rock band; we like to think that we are other things too. There was a bit of hesitation in releasing the record, but it just blew up.
As committed contrarians, FNM said shortly after that they would never perform the song live again. “It’s kind of like stealing your own gun and then shooting you,” Mike Patton told Kerrang!.
Faith No More being Faith No More, they replayed it of course. Since their reunion in 2009, the band and their audience have embraced it – crowds no longer flip the bird en masse. Even former Commodores frontman Lionel Richie, the man who wrote the song in the first place, praised FNM’s version. “I was actually pretty flattered about the song,” he told the Washington Post in 2001. “Yes, I loved it.”