The Essential Fishbone
Record label: Columbia
Format: CD
Release date: 1 April 2003

I remember it like it was yesterday. I was in my early teens watching MTV around 3:30 in the afternoon. The video for Fishbone's "? (Modern Industry)" had me glued to the tube. Six young black men with punk rock hairdos (from South Central Los Angeles, no less) danced and jumped around my television screen while rattling off the call letters of various radio stations. Being the impressionable adolescent that I was, it was as if a revelation had been broadcast to my brain. Fishbone was like nothing I had ever seen before, but everything I wanted to exist. It was at that moment I came to the conclusion that a whole bunch of black people had been lying to me.

You know you're getting older when the bands you idolized in your youth start putting out greatest hits compilations. It was high time that the 'Bone got their own. Right from their first release, the hyperkinetic combination of funk, ska, and punk proved their ability to show serious musicianship and have a lot of fun while doing so. Cuts like "Party at Ground Zero," "It's A Wonderful Life," and the B-side "Skankin' To The Beat" display the band at a frenzied pace. At the same time, they can turn right around and churn out softer numbers such as "Movement In The Light" and "Change." Their phenomenal Truth and Soul LP gets the most nods on this collection, including such crowd pleasers as "Ma and Pa," "Bonin' In The Boneyard," and their cover of Curtis Mayfield's "Freddie's Dead." Their moods can reflect both sides of the coin with different songs; nowhere is this more apparent than listening to "Everyday Sunshine" and "Sunless Saturday." Nice to see some songs that aren't the first to come to mind, such as "Cholly," "Lemon Meringue," and "Unyielding Conditioning." And if you had to pick one guilty pleasure track from the bunch, "Lyin' Ass Bitch" easily outranks them all.

Ridiculously tight in the studio and on stage, lyrically potent and musically daring, this is a great collection for those who are new to the Fishbone experience. Spend some time with this disc and a Bonehead you will soon become. For now, forever, for always...FISHBONE IS RED HOT!!!


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