When I hear or see a performance, my impressions, like anyone's will vary. Sometimes I will dismiss the act as substandard. Other times I will think."hmm..not bad, these guys might do a little damage one day". Then there are those all too few times when you realize you are witnessing true brilliance, that this act is what I like to call The Real Thing. It's difficult to determine the exact criteria for such a moment, but much like pornography, you know it when you see it. It's the moment when you know what you're watching is not merely a good performance, but the work of a rare talent. To follow are three acts and the point where my personal "Real Thing" moment occurred.
Michael Jackson's appearance on the Motown 25th Anniversary Special.
There is a reason that most Michael Jackson impersonators look comical and a bit pathetic...and that reason is simply that only Jackson himself was able to pull off those moves effectively. End of story. This was exactly the case with James Brown and Elvis. It was at this point that I realized this young man was one of the greatest musical performers popular music will ever see.
Real Thing Moment : No, not the moonwalk, too obvious...it was the spin-to-frozen-pose he executed at 2:15...sublime.
"The Fairy Feller's Master Stroke/Nevermore" from Queen's second album Queen II. This band was never considered "progressive rock" simply because they hopped from genre to genre with giddy abandon, heavy metal here, dancehall there, disco, rockabilly, you name it. This selection proved early on what they were capable of. If you were familiar with Queen from their debut album on, then "Bohemian Rapshody" would have not surprised you one bit.
Real Thing Moment : at 1:01 they use the word "taterdemalion" in a rock song. These guys were so ahead of the curve it was ridiculous. (feel free to look it up)
It was the end of the 70s...and I for one was exhausted by all of the decade's stratopheric highs and bottom-of -the-barrel lows. As I drive home one night wondering what the 80's will bring, and if it even be worth it, this song comes on the radio. The guitar tone is unlike anything I've ever heard. The singer screams like Ian Gillan and sings like a drunken frat boy. The song itself is so simple it makes "Smoke On The Water" sound like "Watcher Of The Skies". It's "Running With The Devil" by Van Halen. Suddenly I can't wait for the 80's to begin.
Real Thing Moment : Eight pumps from a de-tuned bass guitar and at 0:18...The Riff!