The Austin Chronicle

Big Boned

By Greg Beets, April 24, 2007, 3:08pm, Earache!

It's been way too long since I thought about Fishbone.

The Los Angeles-based punk/ska/soul outfit plays Emo's Wednesday with Lick Lick and Opposite Day in support of Still Stuck in Your Throat (Sound in Color), their first new stateside album in seven years. Aside from helping pave the way for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jane’s Addiction, and No Doubt, they were one of the best live bands of the Eighties. Anyone who saw them plow through "Party at Ground Zero" or "Lyin' Ass Bitch" during their heyday can testify to that.

Fishbone's sweat-soaked August 1987 show at the Ritz with the True Believers and Bad Mutha Goose may have actually saved my life after being shown the dorm-room door by an unrequited summer-school crush. I also recall a 1989 show at the Texas Union Ballroom with Thelonious Monster at which the band stated they'd never play UT again until the university divested from apartheid South Africa (a promise they kept).

The 'Bone's commercial peak was 1991's The Reality of My Surroundings, but even that sprawling album never made the Top 10. Diminishing returns followed and original members started dropping off. Today only sax player/vocalist Angelo Moore and bassist/vocalist John Norwood Fisher remain from the original 1979 lineup.

At its finer points, Throat recalls the frenetic, stereotype-smashing fusion of “black” and “white” musical genres that made Fishbone’s 1985 debut EP so revolutionary. From the hardcore neurosis of "Frey'd Fuckin' Nerve Endings" to the goofyass ska hoedown, "Party With Saddam," the band retains its boiled-over melting-pot vibe. While hearing them pay tribute to the influenced with a cover of Sublime's obnoxious "Date Rape" is sort of sad; it's the last song and easy enough to skip. Either way, Fishbone was always a live band. I'd never write them off in that context.

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