19 May 2014

Fishbone - The Reality Of My Surroundings

Now this is a band I have been meaning to blog about for a long time and saying as I am finally getting to see them live this week, now seems as good a time as ever to give this one a spin.  For those of you who do not know who these guys are, a brief history lesson. Fishbone formed in 1979, yet they did not release their debut album until 1986.  This was their third release in 1991, coming three years after 'Truth And Soul'.  At the time, the band was on the up commercially and was reaching a larger audience; in fact for the American audience this was the band's highest charting album.  Now to judge a band on their commercial merit is not really what we do here, otherwise it would be a blog about the latest smelt of vanilla thunder coming out of Simon Cowell's stunted jock strap; so with that being said (and a probably impending law suit heading my way), let us see if this album has aged with more grace that some aging rocker's hair style.

The album opener "Fight The Youth" sets the ball running with a large slab of funk metal, it makes the world such a fun place. I swear down that Prince is still looking in his back catalogue to see where his riff has been stolen form.  However, this is just a perfect example of what Fishbone are all about; it is a perfect (and I mean perfect) piece of funk rock that you will ever here.  Next is the first of four live tracks called "If I Were A....I'd" - this one is about believing everything on the TV, each of these tracks is fun and filled with barded comments about society.  "So Many Millions" is a great protest song, something that they also do very well indeed.  Just like when I first heard this song, I am amazed by the power of the song and by the band; they just seemed to be able to pick songs out of full promise, angry and positivity - uplifting.  Next is "Asswhipping" which is just under a minute long little jam with a sound of whipping.

"Housework" is the sound of a teenager who just wants to drink and smoke, however the teenager is being told to do the housework. It is a fun number designed to make the work have a boogie and dance to some silly lyrics.  Just a fun moment which was needed, next is another one of the interlude tracks "Deathmarch"; short and over with in the blink of an eye.  It gives way to a wall of sound that forms into the song "Behaviour Control Technician", this a little bit more on the edge of their sound for this album; however it is again another example of their jaw dropping sound.  For me, it is a moment of genius that is almost hard to surpass on this album.  Then comes the second of the "If I...” and this is about being a lying Colonel and is just a laugh again.  Then comes the almost gospel moment in "Pressure" and I want to dance around like a member of the Blues Brothers listening to James Brown give a service.  You will be hard pushed to find another piece of music with such energy and just crazy ass playing this side of rock.

"Junkies Prayer" is the next song and is a pray to the junkies of the world - it is quite a clever and thought provoking number and is not a comfortable listen by design.  A harrowing and powerful song that shows more of the amazing power behind this band - they just bring it every time.  Next is "Pray To The Junkiemaker" which is about the dark and dangerous path which being a junkie can be, the more fun filled neighbour is no less powerful; in fact it is quite possibly more powerful due to the contrast against the sun filled music. A fascinating duo of songs that is still as powerful now as it was back in 1991.  "Everyday Sunshine" follows on with a little more fun than the last numbers and it was quite possibly needed.  I like this song for the simplicity of the number (obviously for the band), which is married to the way that the band make complicated of the music itself.  It is not easy to play this sort of stuff effectively and with the grace that this band is displaying. Also perfect for any type of day, it does bring the sunshine!

Following on is the third "If I...." which is about Society - again over far too soon, but what a great message. "Naz-Tee May'en" is the next song; it is the first song on this album that I was not really impressed by what was on offer.  Basically it is a song about getting some as a heterosexual man - not as if I have not heard numbers like this before, but I got over this number a while ago.  I am sure there is an audience and if they play it when I see them I will be dancing with the rest of them - on record though, it falls through.  "Babyhead" is the next number, slow and seedy and again about sex.  However, this one is a much more interesting number as it does not sound like a bad porn soundtrack.  The lyrics are no worse than something you have heard from Red Hot Chili Peppers and the music is a thousand times better than anything that has ever passed from RHCP.

The last of the "If I...." is about having a choice and how the band feels.  I think that as fun as they have been separately that all placed together the "If I...." songs would make one fun number.  "Those Days Are Gone" is a brooding number from Fishbone here, with some of the most clever lyrics that I have heard.  I can listen to this for days on end and most than likely have, it was very close to being picked as the track of the album.  Ending the album is "Sunless Saturday" which actually is almost prog in feel, but this is just very heavy funk metal and my deity does it bring the album to a great ending.  It has everything you could want and should be played more often.

As a whole album, this is still a great record; a few of the numbers are still a little weak for my tastes, but overall you will not find a better protest/ska/punk/funk album to have come out of the 90's.  When the rest of the world was going to grunge and misery, these guys were sticking their fingers up and forging ahead on their own course.  Do yourself a favour if you have any interest in something other than the norm - place this album on next! You will not regret it.

8.5 out of ten - Oh, now you have my attention and maybe my money, time and heart

Top Track - Everyday Sunshine

You can purchase the album from Amazon here

You can visit the Fishbone website here 

You can listen to the album on Spotify here 

Here is a link for our Deezer readers 

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