Friday, May 18, 2012

FDF Volume 3 Issue 267 - Fishbone - The Reality of My Surroundings

Album – The Reality of My Surroundings
Artist - Fishbone
Key Players - John Bigham – guitar, keyboards. Phillip “Fish” Fisher – drums. Kendall Jones – lead guitar, vocals. John Norwood Fisher – bass guitar, vocals. Walter A. Kibby – trumpet, vocals.
Chris Dowd – keyboards, trombone, vocals. Angelo Moore – saxophone, vocals.

Produced By - Fishbone

Release Date – April 23, 1991

What caused me to blow off the dust? - The documentary on the band “Everyday Sunshine”. Watch the trailer for yourself - here

Overview – This is the third full length album from Los Angeles California band Fishbone. The band, who blends funk metal with alternative rock and ska are known for their wild stage shows as they are for their social commentary. Formed in 1979 the band has had their shares of ups and downs and this record was the bands most successful record peaking at #49 on the Billboard charts and allowing them to preform on Saturday Night Live and The Arsenio Hall show. Line up changes and issues with label as well as some internal struggles found the band fractured at times but they continue to make records and tour.

FDF Comments (aka the songs) – (since there are 2 Fishers I'll call Phil “Fish” as he goes by and John by his first name).

“Fight the Youth” opens the 59 minute 18 track album with some big guitars and fast runs played. The keyboards from Dowd work with the guitars before the Fish gets the drums. Fisher is up in the mix on the bass which stands out. The vocals are all shared and it has a nice big full sound. The guitars have some solid bursts, but the horns are silenced until later in the track when there is a great guitar solo that fires off the Fisher bass fills and horns ring out with it. The solos are short and the full band comes back in for another run at the chorus. Fish loves his ride cymbal and it gets a solid workout for the duration. The tempos change often and the track is very entertaining showcasing many of the bands talents with a fun Kibby and Dowd session at the end of the track before the lengthy fade. “If I Were A I'd” is the first of a series of less than one minute tracks (this one is 0:54). One this one it is a short (appears to be culled from a live show) horn bass and drum interlude and then Moore sings at breakneck speed until it ends. “So Many Millions” has Fish starting it all off and Moore, Dowd and Kibby blast the horns. It lays in the funk groove with the guitars from Bigham and Jones chopping over the top. There is more than one singer again, most tucked towards the back for call and response type verses. Dowd has the keyboard in piano mode and Fisher offers a very solid bass line. Once more the band is very tight. Seeming to start and stop on a dime, then coming back full bore. Jones starts his guitar solo late in the track but it comes off strong and is just the right length allowing Fish to take control and wrap the track up with the full band smoking along. “Asswhippin'” is an instrumental clocking in at a short 40 seconds. Heavily percussion based it just has whip sounds and screams otherwise. Dowd gets the ska feeling “Housework” underway. Kibby offers the trumpet and your toes start tapping. The pace is quick and it is hard to sit still with this fun, tropical feeling track. Fish and Fisher are the solid as expected back beats and then the horns all get their turn. The trombone from Dowd is strong while Moore and Kibby each wait their turn. It all comes together for a big swelling finish. “Death March” is 30 second track that sounds like an old record and some horns playing, largely saxophones. Dowd has an elaborate keyboard intro on “Behaviour Control Technician” and it just erupts. Everyone is in on this. The horns chop through the bass and drums. The two guitars find the funky groove. The vocals are once more largely shared with the guys. There is a lot to listen to on the track, you want the horns to play even longer and louder, the bass to somehow even be more funky and the guitars to really battle it out. The good news is you won't be upset, it is all going on. Excluding the instrumental tracks this is the shortest “song” up to this point and you do wish it went on longer. We get another “If I Were A..I'd” to follow (29 seconds this time) and again it culls from a live track with stage banter before the burst of music. Moore sings “Pressure” right at the start of said song a few times over. The band works to get rolling and it blasts forward with a punk feel. The pace is quick with Fish really rolling the drums quickly. After a bit it settles down some and Fisher is tight on the bass as it seems to be chaotic elsewhere. It is the most erratic song on the record. We take a poetic approach as “Junkies Prayer” begins. Two voices work through a rhyme as random sounds phase from one side to the next. It gets confusing with the two lines going (one is on the left, other on right). The full band is once again all in as “Pray to the Junkiemaker” begins. The track seems to be a little less focused but the rap a tap from the drums pushes things forward. The horns are once again full bore which is nice. One of the biggest songs from the band comes next in “Everyday Sunshine”. Opening with a blast of horns after a Fish lead drum attack. Bigham and Jones have some great effects on their guitars. The song gives you a great warm/sunny day feel. Fishers bass continues to really stand out. When the band is all going, on tracks like this, you get to full appreciate them. As the track speeds up and gets some cool time signatures towards the'll get it. The third of four “If I Were A...I'd” tracks is much of the same, short live stage banter and a jam (29 seconds this time). Poppin off the bass “Naz-Tee May'en” lays down the funk and you get the power of the horns. The band all takes turns singing and its a deep funk track, really really solid stuff. Fisher is the focus here, and you'll notice, he rips it. “Babyhead” has a bit more of the slow build with Dowd and Fish slowly getting things going before the vocals begin. The song gets rowdy at times, but seems to maintain an even keel for the duration. The final of the four “If I Were A..I'd” (53 seconds) and its much the same.
“Those Days are Gone” has Bigham and Jones battling at the start and Fish getting things back in order.. Fisher sets the bar and Fish taps out the simple time. There is a lot of vocal blending with hushed backing vocals to the push of the lead. The song that had be get the album in the first place is the song that wraps it all up. “Sunless Saturday” opens with a quickly played acoustic guitar and then it all rumbles together. Dowd has a lot of keyboard work and they set in to almost “metal mode”. Fish hits the drums like they owe him money and Fisher is just in top form with some deep tones. Once we hit the guitar solo, the first and really only stand out guitar solo on the record, Jones runs some cool effect that has his guitar seemingly triplicate the note and phase them all at once. I haven't a clue what effect is used, but it rules. It makes it sounds like he plays a mach speed. As the solo concludes its back to the races and the band is locked in for a thunderous conclusion. See for yourself in the clips below. The acoustic guitar from the intro returns and Kibby blasts out a ringing trumpet and it ends.

Where are they now? - The last studio record by the band was “Crazy Glue” released in October of 2011. Moore, John Fisher and Kibby (who left at one point) are still with Fishbone.Dowd left the band in late 1993 after the band was dropped by Sony. Read more about what he has been up to (and is up to) and his thoughts on getting back with Fishbone here  Bigham left the band in 1998 to work on his own material and formed “The Soul of John Black”.  Philip Fisher also left the band in 1998. He has played drums with Justin Timberlake to Les Claypool. He is currently in the band Wicked Wisdom. Jones has/had and interesting story. Though to be suffering from mental issues he appeared to have been brainwashed by a family member and was a devout person of god. John Norwood Fisher tracked him down and was charged with kidnapping, all a very bizarre and sad story. Jones, at least in the documentary had come back around and played with the band again.

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) – The only time I saw the band live was part of the Lollapaloosa tour. July 17, 1993. It was a rowdy and fun set from the band during the peak of the day so many couldn't keep up in the heat.

FDF Overall Take - This record has aged very well.  It is a very heavy funky record.  It really has something for every taste.  I could do with out the short stage banter tracks, but they do break up the album pretty good.  Watach the documentary and then grab this cd, really..its okay.  Do it.


The bands  site

The Soul Of John Black

Phil Fisher

Curious? Check out some MUSIC!

Sunless Saturday from Arsenio Hall

The same tune but this is from Saturday Night Live

Everyday Sunshine (Official Video)

You can still find the record here


At 10:03 AM, Blogger jakers said...

Interesting that u choose this record after seeing the film because this incarnation of the band was not portrayed in the film.

At 1:49 PM, Blogger March to the Sea said...

hey jakers thanks for your comment. I guess what I meant was I saw the documentary and that caused me to say "oh its been some time since i listened to fishbone" I am honestly not very familiar with most of their catologe but this one stuck a chord with me years ago.

Thanks for reading and your comment.

- March


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