SOME STUFFS: Karl Denson take the Tiny Universe on a winter tour

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Karl Denson will be hitting the road later this month and considering how cold the United States is as of late, it will be a good time to warm up to the jazziness of this amazing band. See where they’ll be and also show up to see everyone scheduled to perform.

January 20… Miami, FL (Jam Cruise 15)
January 25… Fort Lauderdale, FL (Revolution Live) *
January 26… Nevada City, CA (The Miners Foundry)
January 27… San Rafael, CA (Terrapin Crossroads) ^
January 28… Reno, NV (Crown Room @ Crystal Bay Club Casin)o #
January 29… Ashland, OR (Armory)
January 31… Bend, OR (Volcanic Theatre)
February 1… Arcata, CA (Arcata Theater) **
February 2… Eugene, OR (Hi-Fi Music Hall) **
February 3… Portland, OR (Aladdin Theater) **
February 4… Seattle, WA (Nectar Lounge) **
March 3 – Santa Barbara, CA (Soho Restaurant & Music Club)
March 4… Los Angeles, CA (Teragram Ballroom)

* = w/ The Motet
^ = w/
Phil Lesh
# = w/
** = w/ The Main Squeeze

SOME STUFFS: Loggins & Messina’s “Full Sail” receives a new audiophile treatment from Audio Fidelity

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One of my all time favorite albums, one I’ve loved since I was introduced to it through my parents, has been remastered by Audio Fidelity. Kenny Loggins & Jim Messina released the incredible Full Sail album and it was released in proper stereo along with a quadraphonic pressing soon after. Audio Fidelity have given Full Sail the SACD treatment, meaning you’ll get to hear a new remastering via Steve Hoffman and the original quad mix will be heard on the SACD.

While the album did produce one single (“My Music”), it was not a hit but the album does feature such songs as “Lahaina”, “You Need A Man/Coming To You”, “Watching The River Run” and the Chicago stepping classic, “Pathway To Glory”. I’ve had this album on vinyl, cassette, and 8-track and the remaster Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab (MFSL) is nothing short of amazing and I’m sure Hoffman has done an incredible job with it too.

It was released last week and you can order it below via

FREE MP3 DL: J Hacha De Zola’s “Bubble Gum”

Photo by Miguel Peralta
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J Hacha De Zola released an album earlier this year and you’d think he would be happy and just coast it for the rest of the year. No, for he’s about to release his second album in 2016. A month from now, he will release Picaro Obscuro and he is sharing a song from it to keep you anticipating highly, listen to “Bubble Gum” (no relation to the 9th Creation song of the same name.)

SOME STUFFS: Chris Robinson return with The Brotherhood for album #4

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The Chris Robinson Brotherhood are returning with a new album, their fourth, come July 29th. You’ll have to wait for almost three months to check out Anyway You Love, We Know How You Feel, to be released on Robinson’s own Silver Arrow label, the label he used in the last days of The Black Crowes. You might be asking yourself “last days?” Well, they may be on hiatus but we don’t know if and when they’ll return so if you haven’t got familiar with what Robinson has been doing, catch up. Best way to begin is with a song called “Narcissus Soaking Wet”, which begins kinda trippy but is very soulful and bluesy just as you like it.

The group are heading on tour this June but they’ll begin with a one-off show next week Friday at the Cherokee Creek Music Festival in Texas. Then it’ll be time to spend the rest of spring into the Brotherhood’s arms and make the summer another great one:

May 13… Cherokee, TX (Cherokee Creek Music Festival)
June 2… Hunter, NY (Mountain Jam)
June 4… Atlanta, GA (Chandler Park Music & Food Festival)
June 5… Knoxville, TN (Bijou Theater)
June 6… Birmingham, AL (Iron City)
June 9… New Orleans, LA (Tipitina’s)
June 10… Dallas, TX (Gas Monkey Live)
June 11… Austin TX (Scoot Inn)
June 12… Houston, TX (Warehouse Live)
June 14… Little Rock, AR (Revolution Music Hall)
June 15… Jackson, MS (Duling Hall)
June 16… Memphis, TN (New Daisy Theatre)
June 18… Bend, OR (4 Peaks Music Festival)
July 1… Quincy, CA (High Sierra Music Festival)
July 15… Charleston, SC (The Music Farm)
July 16… Orlando, FL (The Beacham)
July 17… Fort Lauderdale, FL (Culture Room)
July 19… St. Petersburg, FL (The State Theatre)
July 21… Macon, GA (Cox Capital Theatre)
July 22… Augusta, GA (Sky City)
July 23… Wilmington, NC (Greenfield Lake Amphitheater)
July 24… Norfolk, VA (The Norva)
July 26… Asbury Park, NJ (The Stone Pony)
July 27… Annapolis, MD (Rams Head Onstage)
July 29… Fairfield, CT (The Warehouse)
July 30… Beverly, MA (The Cabot)
July 31… Plymouth, NH (Flying Monkey)
August 5… Stowe, VT (The Rusty Nail)
August 6… Hartford, CT (Infinity Hall)
August 7… Newton, NJ (The Newton Theatre)
August 25… Arrington, VA (LOCKN’)
September 16… Morrison, CO (Red Rocks Amphitheater)

DUST IT OFF: Prince & The Revolution’s “Parade”… 30 years later

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  • When Prince released his album Parade on April 1, 1986, it was his third album in three years. Looking back at how the music industry normally plays itself, maybe three albums in three years is not that of a big deal but consider that the first album of that three-album batch was Purple Rain, essentially the soundtrack for one of the biggest films of the year. 1984 was also the year where Michael Jackson’s Thriller album was finally dying down in massive popularity after its release in November 1982. Normally when someone comes out with a hugely successful album, they generally wait two to three years, taking those years to tour across the country and perhaps the world, then cutting the business off and allowing them to relax and decompress. Then perhaps two years after the release of that album, they return to the recording studio after having a number of songs waiting to be recorded and see what happens.

    However, it seemed Prince was not on a normal time schedule compared to everyone else. He not only had time specifically to make his album, but whenever he felt like doing a session or two for someone he was working with or wanting to collaborate with someone else, he had the opportunity to do so. On top of that, it seemed when he wasn’t on tour, he was in the studio recording a wealth of songs, some of which remain on the vaults as is so the only time anyone knew he was releasing a project was when it was reported in Rolling Stone. As Purple Rain came out with a string of successful singles, it was when we heard about him already finished with another album, Around The World In A Day. Upon listening to the first song, the title track, it seemed Prince was not about to follow-up a successful album by creating variations on a theme. Due to how different some of the tracks sounded to those who were able to listen, it was immediately called Prince’s Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band with slight psychedelic touches. Yet with every hint of “Strawberry Fields Forever” or “Penny Lane” one felt they could detect on that album, you had songs like “America”, “Pop Life”, “Temptation”, and “Tamborine”.

    Around The World In A Day featured four singles, at least in the UK. While “Paisley Park” also marked the introduction of his brand new boutique record label, it was also the first single released from the album and got a small bit of airplay in the United States but depending on what you read, either radio programmers didn’t like it as much, code for “it doesn’t sound anything similar to “When Doves Cry” or “Let’s Go Crazy” and we need something familiar so fans can say “hey, welcome back” or fans didn’t take to it immediately. They may have wanted something closer to Purple Rain than the Beatles fetishism Rolling Stone were creaming about. Nonetheless, when Warner Bros. UK decided to release “Raspberry Beret” as the album’s second single, that became the United States’ first release for the album. While not as big as Purple Rain, Around The World In A Day was a huge success and just when it was expected for him to perhaps rest another year, here came news of not only a new album, but a new movie.

  • When news surfaced that Prince would be doing a follow-up film to Purple Rain, it made a lot of people anxious. The hope was it would be as great and powerful as his initial Hollywood success and on top of that, it would be in black & white. In comparison, it was a reverse approach that The Beatles did with their first two films. A Hard Days’s Night was shot in black & white and the following year, Help! was filmed in color. Prince decided to do something completely different, to the point where when the film was released on July 2, 1986, it moved many mainstream fans away from their newly-embraced superstar. It lead many wondering if Prince had lost the power that introduced him to them.

    However, fans had three months to have some sense of what this new movie would be like with Parade. Like Purple Rain, while it was released as a soundtrack, the music worked on its own terms and could be heard separately from the film. In fact, most people who saw the film probably wanted to forget it, as the film that cost Warner Bros. $12,000,000 to make barely made over $10,000,000. It lost money for Warner Bros., who spent $7,000,000 to make Purple Rain, relatively low but decent for a first-time project for Prince, and it made close to $70,000,000. Under The Cherry Moon was panned, bashed, give any word that compared it to complete crap and it probably received it. I saw it at a local drive-in theater and I didn’t mind it at all, I thought it was good. It was quirky and fun and while that may come off as a nice way to say “it’s good but not as good”, not at all. There were a lot of in-jokes throughout the film and sadly, new Prince fans weren’t wanting Prince to be quirky. They wanted to try to understand their new hero and Prince wasn’t about to let anyone in. If that is anywhere close to being true, Prince was not afraid to let people in through his music.

  • If Around The World In A Day was considered his Sgt. Pepper, then what to make of Parade? For me, the album’s first four songs would easily be compared to the medley that makes up Side 2 of Abbey Road, as each song did not sound like the next but were strung together in harmony to carry the listener and let them know it was meant to be listened to as one. Yet if we are to make one last Beatles comparison, Parade could be considered his Revolver. If that’s to case, then what to make of the album that would follow a year later, Sign ‘O’ The Times? I’m ahead of myself.

    Prince had utilized string sections in two tracks on Around The World In A Day: “Raspberry Beret” and “The Ladder”. He liked it so much that he wanted to do much more with one of his next projects. He decided to make it work for a number of songs on his Parade album by bringing in Clare Fischer, a composer/arranger who most likely knew of Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman, as both of them were children of the recording studio culture of Los Angeles that their parents came from. Nonetheless, Prince knew he wanted to work with Fischer in time they would but their relationship involved never meeting with each other. In an interview with Fischer, he said that Prince did not want to know what he looked like, nor did he want to be anywhere near the recording studio when he created arrangements for him. Prince felt if he was there, he would interfere and end up adding his input, which he did not want to do. Prince was confident in his own capabilities but wanted to work with Fischer because he put faith in his capabilities so in the time they made music, they apparently never met each other. They traded master tapes, sheet music, and notes and if Prince liked it, that is what would be added. If Prince didn’t like it, it wasn’t used. That was their healthy exchange and as odd as that might sound, it ended up creating some of the most incredible music in Prince’s discography.

  • Parade is very much an album by Prince, The Revolution, and Clare Fischer, that can’t be denied. Bootleg cassettes circulated on what was considered early rough versions of Parade, with one bootleg album called Charade. An early version of “Christopher Tracy’s Parade” was called “Little Girl Wendy’s Parade”, the line of which surfaces in the song “Kiss” during the guitar solo. In that early version of the song without the string arrangement, the lyrics are different and things sound sparse, if not empty as if something is indeed missing and what Fischer did is welcome in the listener into a new world, Prince’s new world, or Fischer’s new world, or “Prince’s new world with Fischer hanging out in the mythological background.” The strings build the song together in different ways and while it is arguably the most effective part of Under The Cherry Moon, the idea of hearing strings bringing the viewer in to this unusual Parisian world, the world it captures in audio is distinctly its own.
  • Just when it things Prince will take you to a completely world, he brings you into a “New Position”. It’s in the same tempo as “Christopher Tracy’s Parade” but is slightly funkier, at least in feel. The exchange of vocals between Prince, Wendy, and Lisa shows how beautiful they worked together and their groove was something that was irresistible.
  • This eventually segues directly into “I Wonder U”, essentially a Wendy & Lisa song with the kind of eroticism some fans were hearing through their harmonies, arguably starting with their exchange in “Computer Blue”. For me, this is one of the best songs on the album. While Prince is not heard vocally throughout the song, it is Prince who plays everything but the string arrangement. In fact, even though the album is credited to Prince And The Revolution, The Revolution only played on three of the tracks. We wouldn’t hear anyone from The Revolution, outside of Wendy and Lisa, until song #5. and we were still here on track #3. The lyrics of “I Wonder U” are basic and one could hear this as an interlude, even though it works very well on its own. One might argue Prince could’ve done more but it easily does its magic without anything else added to it. On top of that, Fischer’s arrangement carries things nicely until the next track.
  • The last song of the four-part movement is the title track to the film, where Prince takes to the piano. It is here where he builds a sculpture for what the movie would be like, at least in theory:

    I want to live life to the ultimate high
    maybe I’ll die young like heroes die
    maybe I’ll kiss you some wild special way
    if nobody kills me or thrills me soon
    I’ll die in your arms under the cherry moon

    Essentially he is telling what will happen in the film but what works about the song is while it wouldn’t be known that Prince played everything but the arrangement in “Under The Cherry Moon”, it sounds like it’s just him and his “band” in a small jazz club, playing a bit of the blues and being intimate with no one but himself. I always love the “if that alright” part as he is getting into a piano groove. One can say he is either giving himself code as he is in the studio doing the overdubs, or perhaps it’s a bit of code for Fischer to do something specific. One can say Prince got caught up in the moment and simply said something as if someone else was in the room or the studio. As the song comes to an end, the album’s first four tracks could have easily been something Prince could’ve or should’ve done more of in the years to come, and I wish he did. Then again, I probably would’ve said something to the effect of “Prince did that mini rock opera again, I wish he didn’t repeat himself.”

  • Track 5 is the first song where The Revolution joins in with help from Eric Leeds on baritone saxophone in the jazzy funk pump of “Girls And Boys”, complete with mean baritone saxophone work from Eric Leeds. Also in assistance is Sheila E., who helps Wendy and Lisa in their background vocals. The song was recorded in July 1985, most likely around the same time Prince and Sheila E. recorded “Alexa De Paris”, a song that would be used within the film but was released as the non-LP B-side to “Mountains”.
  • This goes immediately into “Life Can Be So Nice”, which sounds like it could be another Revolution contribution but is actually Prince all to himself with help from Wendy and Lisa and Sheila E. on cowbells. When this is heard in Under The Cherry Moon, it is one of my favorite parts of the film, where you see Prince sitting in his car just jamming and getting lost in his own groove before he is seen mouthing the lyrics “scrambled eggs, so boring.”
  • “Venus De Milo” wraps up Side 1 and sounds like a true interlude, not wasteful but a nice delicate piece that highlights Prince with Sheila E. on drums, most likely recorded around the time she did her parts in “Girls & Boys” and “Alexa De Paris”.

  • Side 2 begins with the second song with the rest of The Revolution, “Mountains”. This one sounds like a cross between Curtis Mayfield and Larry Graham, with Mayfield’s essence heard in Prince’s falsetto while Brown Mark’s bass work could be straight out of the Sly & The Family Stone vaults. While many have said the lyrics are Christian in theme, the line “Africa divided, hijack in the air/it’s enough to make you want to lose your mind” suggests it’s also cultural as well. The overall feel of the song is about someone looking for love and regardless of how you find it, it will pull you out of your loneliness. Eric Leeds and Atlanta Bliss’ horn playing is sharp but it also ties in with the complete arrangement from Fischer, which carries this song throughout in different textures. The 12″ version, a full ten minutes, carries a funkier groove and it offers a chance for Leeds and Bliss to get lost with their instruments.
  • “Do U Lie” could be considered an extension of an interlude, as if “I Wonder U” and “Venus De Milo” wasn’t enough and Prince said “I need to make something stronger but keep things mellow.” The music is primarily Prince with help from Wendy and Lisa but Wendy’s brother, Jonathan Melvoin, sits in for this song playing the drums. It’s playful and if others covered this song in their own way, it could easily become its own entity.
  • “Kiss” was Parade first single and the one most people identify with the album and, if they remember it, the film. While the video also featured Wendy playing the guitar, she is not in the actual version. Prince plays everything in the song and originally he did it as a demo to present to a group he had signed to Paisley Park, Mazarati. However, after Prince heard Mazarati’s version of the song, which was funkier than the acoustic and laid back approach of his demo, Prince decided to tinker with their formula and make it his song. He pulled out a few elements (including the original lead vocal from Sir Casey Terry) but made sure to leave the background vocals from Mazarati to give it a bit of character. The song, pulled by the seductive and also humorous music video, eventually went to #1 on Billboard’s Pop Singles Chart, becoming Prince’s third #1 single and because of its success, is often one of the Prince songs you’ll always hear on the oldies format today.
  • If there’s another song on Parade that had much more of a Sly & The Family Stone hint, that would belong to “Anotherloverholenyohead”, the third and last song on the album to feature the entire Revolution, along with Wendy’s twin sister Susannah on background vocals. The third single in the U.S. from Parade, there’s so much to enjoy from this song, from the different ways he sings one verse compared to the others to Prince’s guitar work, especially in the last minute. The extended version on the 12″ doubles in time and allows everyone to keep things in the pocket until he calls it a day. A full arrangement from Fischer had been made for “Anotherloverholenyohead” but according to, he liked the song without the orchestration so while you do hear light strings in parts of the song, most of it was pulled out of the final mix.
  • The album closes with “Sometimes It Snows In April and ends up being the moral of the story in Under The Cherry Moon although if you just hear it as is, you might wonder what it means and what it has to do with the rest of the album. The main character in the film is Christopher Tracy, played by Prince, and the name can be shortened to Chris T., or “Christ”. If “Mountains” was said to be Christian themed, you might say that by the snow existing in the warm spring month of April, it’s a reference to Jesus Christ in his last days. Everything is in metaphor and in the song, it’s just Prince on piano with Wendy on guitar and vocals and Lisa on keyboards and vocals. While he did initially approve of Fischer’s string arrangement in the song, he decided to not use it on the final mix of the album but choosing for it to be used in Under The Cherry Moon.

    The song itself ends with two lines that you could say ended up being prophetic for what was to come for Prince and his career:
    Sometimes I wish that life was never ending
    and all good things, they say, never last
    all good things, they say, never last
    and love, it isn’t love until it’s past

  • While Under The Cherry Moon was a complete flop, Parade is easily one of the best things Prince recorded and released not only in the 1980’s but his entire career. You could play along with the story line of Christopher Tracy but the album has more of a running theme than an actual concept but then again, you can say the same thing about the film. His songs, his guitar work, his vocals and musicianship was becoming stronger and by continuing his collaboration with Wendy and Lisa and bringing in Clare Fischer to help, one was hoping these good vibes would continue for perhaps the rest of the decade. As we now know, Prince had other things in mind for he wasn’t about to wait around to follow himself up in anything.

    Parade would become the last set of music credited to Prince & The Revolution. A tour in support of the album was fairly small compared to all of the dates did for Purple Rain and if you look at the concert dates, it almost seems as if he had no urge to push the music to a bigger or greater audience. Only eleven shows were done in the U.S. and the second half of the tour went to Europe along with a small handful of shows in Japan.

    Perhaps the failure of the film in the United States moved Prince to wonder if it’s worth supporting the album at all. “Anotherloverholenyohead” only went as high as #63 on Billboard’s Pop Singles chart and ran out of steam in a month. By the end of the tour, Wendy & Lisa were no longer happy with Prince’s shenanigans and that put an end to The Revolution. While reading that made it off as if Prince’s decisions to break things down was sudden, perhaps it was something he was preparing to do in the first place, despite the fact most of his band had toured with him long before there was a Revolution.

    Nonetheless, even when Parade was recorded, mixed, and mastered, he was still working on an album that had yet to be finished, Dream Factory and it had been planned for release at the end of the year. In other words, Prince was not only working on what was assumed to be one new album a year for three years, but he had enough on stand-by to possibly release a second album. All the song that were done over the years were put together for album configurations but Prince was not happy with either of them. A few weeks after Under The Cherry Moon was released in limited theaters, Prince was putting together what he felt was good enough for a double album. However, when Wendy & Lisa getting ready to leave, there was no reason for him to release Dream Factory as is and the album was scrapped. The album never came anywhere close to being approved for a final version but some of its songs would be used for a project-to-come.

    That included a third album that was planned for 1987, and it was Crystal Ball that was was not only announced as his follow-up to Parade, but it would make up for the scrapped Dream Factory (at this point in his career, Prince’s on-again/off-again album projects were becoming told like a soap opera). Portions of what was Dream Factory were used for what was to be Crystal Ball and he came up with a plan to release it as a triple LP. That included tracks from a new project he was working on, where his voice was sped up to where he came close to sounding like a Chipmunk. That would be the voice of Camille and he had plans on releasing a full album under the character. While sales for his music were still very strong, Warner Bros. looked at the flop that was Under The Cherry Moon and told him under no circumstance would they ever release a 3-record set. He needed to reduce the amount of songs or come up with something completely different. While Prince had no problem with coming up with anything, two of his potentially-biggest projects were not meant to be and that would help him create what we now know as Sign ‘O’ The Times. When news of that album surfaced in Rolling Stone, I was kind of leery about it, only because his other projects were not considered worthy so what should I expect from him in 1987. We would find out on March 31, 1987.

  • As for Parade, it ended a formula that Prince very much had in the palm of his hands and while it’s easy to say he let it fly away, perhaps Wendy and Lisa’s departure was inevitable. Fortunately it lead to them being signed to Columbia Records and release music on their own, pushing on with a musical collaboration that continues to this day. Prince went to a different and arguably higher level with Sign ‘O’ The Times, which continued with the release of Lovesexy and later with Diamonds And Pearls, nothing could equal what was created on Parade, and perhaps even Prince knows this too. The trilogy of albums Prince did with The Revolution are remarkable and while each of them are still self-contained showcases, it’s what he did with the other members that helped make those albums stronger. Parade was, in many ways, a climax of a feeling that ended up becoming another feeling, from a man who refused to stay in one place at any given time. Maybe he forced himself in not wanting to be too comfortable, not ever wanting to take the easy way out. If he did, he could have yet… well, anyone can assume what he would’ve/could’ve/should’ve but at this point in his career, Prince was doing things with his music that no one else could equal to. As Sheila E. said in one of her songs, Prince was inside of his toy box and he didn’t cared who knocked. Parade was a theme park you never wanted to leave but all good things, as they say, never last, and it didn’t.

  • DUST IT OFF: Fishbone’s self-titled EP…30 years later

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  • To say that this record is one of the best and most underrated releases of 1985 and the entire decade of the 1980’s is an understatement. It’s my way of saying that the debut release from Fishbone was something that I could not keep myself from. If the first half of the 80’s featured a number of brand new musical discoveries for me, then this was easily the crossroads that put me over into a new territory, for a number of reasons.
  • The first time I heard of Fishbone was through the video for “? (Modern Industry)”, which at the time I felt was one of the oddest songs due to its lyrical content:
    WBRU, KABE, WFLY, Cool 92

    The majority of the song was nothing but radio station call letters and as Angelo Moore says during the chorus:
    This is the music behind the machine
    These are the voices of modern industry

    As someone who loved the power of radio, enough to where my childhood dream of being a radio disc jockey became true when I joined the Radio/Television Production class at the local vocational skills center during high school, hearing this was a dream. It was a song about the radio that I would never hear on any local radio stations, which made it even better. Yet it wasn’t just the call letters that moved me, it was the attitude of the band and especially the musicianship, these guys rocked. One would never expect a band who looked like them to play music like that, but outside of Los Angeles, who would expect anyone to look like that? These guys were punk rock and new wave in their own world and I had to have more.

  • The next time I heard them was with their follow-up video, or at least that’s how I had seen it before. One video may have been made before or after the other and “Party At Ground Zero” looked independent compared to the major label clout of “? (Modern Industry)”. Then again, unless you were Michael Jackson, black artists in the 80’s were lucky to have any level of a music video budget, look at how homemade Atlantic Starr’s video for “Secret Lover” looked, followed with “If Your Heart Isn’t In It”. One wasn’t expected to be a pop hit, one showed the after effect. Nonetheless, “Party At Ground Zero” was incredible for it started off somewhat low-key and mellow and about a minute into the song, it interrupts itself by going to a major shift in vibe and attitude:
    Party at ground zero
    every movie starring you
    and the world will turn to flowing pink vapor stew

    All of a sudden, it was a ska basement party we all wanted to find ourselves in, a tasteful song about being in some kind of apocalyptic realm where during a time of utter chaos, all you can do is party. Or as Frankie Goes To Hollywood once said in the liner notes for one of their albums, “get off your dance, we’re all going to the same grave” so if the end is truly coming, end it by gyrating our bottoms.

  • I just loved what these guys were going, how they were coming off so I went to the local record stores to find this self-titled EP on Columbia Records. I could not find it and I found myself frustrated. I was in my mid-teens, going out of town to Seattle for school clothes or just a visit out of town was common. I always made sure that we would go to Tower Records since I had made that place “a home away from home” when I visited Tower regularly when I lived in Honolulu. All of a sudden, there it was: the tape. In time, I would eventually discover for the next six years that my Fishbone purchasing tasks were always out of town. Despite me assuming their music was getting more popular due to seeing their videos on BET and MTV, I guess since I live in a “small market” town, their music was never sold here, or at least I never noticed them. If it wasn’t in Seattle at Tower on 5th & Mercer or in the U-District, it was in Portland at the Tower on 82nd. If not there, maybe I’d lever buy their Christmas EP It’s A Wonderful Life in Spokane at Eli’s. Before the easy access of MP3 files and now streams, if you really wanted the music of a band one liked, you had to make the effort, or at least “the effort” was a bit more difficult than it is these days. I found myself loving Fishbone and I enjoyed buying their music by going long distance, at least before 1991 when I finally became a part of Columbia Records’ promotional mailing list and was able to get Fishbone advance tapes and CD’s for free. I’m jumping ahead of myself in this story.
  • The union between Angelo Moore, Philip “Fish” Fisher and brother Norwood Fisher, Kendall Jones, Christopher Dowd, and Walter A. Kibby II was something that could not quite be understood despite reading about it. They were all young kids from South Central Los Angeles enjoying the kind of music most kids from South Central weren’t exactly listening to. They loved soul, funk, and jazz, with Moore with his love of the saxophone and Norwood getting down with the funky bass but learning how to play those instruments was a process in itself. They gathered together just to jam and party, the idea of doing it for a living really didn’t happen until later. However, as other kids saw this “disparate, all-black oddball crew” having fun and at times taking themselves seriously, that’s when they started to do more shows throughout L.A. and eventually California. They seemed to fit in with what the Suicidal Tendencies, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Faith No More were going, mixing up soul and funk in odd ways, but also bringing in ska, reggae, punk, and metal. At that time, ska music was considered “white man’s reggae” partly because no one bothered to discover ska was a pre-cursor to reggae. Thus, for a short time, Fishbone were considered a band playing “white man’s reggae”. In truth, the band who were one of the most successful groups who played white man’s reggae was not The Specials or Madness, but The Police. Their album Reggatta de Blanc was called that for a reason. It was a different time but for the weirdness people saw and heard in Fishbone, it lead to them being signed by Columbia Records, where they ended up working with producer David Kahne, a relationship that would last for years.
  • The EP begins with “Ugly” and it became the best way one could start off their debut release.
    Boy. you’ve got no method to control us all
    for the mentalities are not that small
    and now you’re thinking’ that you have won
    but the revolution has just begun

    It was their way of saying their music revolution is here and they are ready to attack whenever necessary, while also touching on social conditions while briefly making a pop culture reference to Dennis The Menace.

  • If the music of Fishbone may have seemed out of wack to some, their lyrics showed a very strong sense of maturity that perhaps showed subtle hits of what Parliament/Funkadelic, Earth Wind & Fire, and Bob Marley were doing: making statements that touch on how someones regular sense of living is interrupted just because they are not within the community of someone else.
    Another trend to follow, another word to linger on
    they may not even know the reasons why
    you think without a vision, and then they try to call it ours
    and it’s causin’ me to culture shock

    It’s not saying they have created their own world, but due to personal interpreations and misconceptions, they were outsiders. In truth, it may have been a need to just fit in but they were more than happy to fit with whomever was willing to take them in, or to simple state “this is us, this is who we are and always will be and if you don’t like it, fuck off, we’ll find a place to call home because someone will welcome us.”

  • If there’s a song that was just outright foolishness, then that would have to be “V.T.T.L.O.T.F.D.G.F.”, featuring a lead vocal from Walter Kibby Jr. The initials stand for “Voyage To The Land Of The Freeze Fried Godzilla Farts” and if anything in the song makes some level of sense, it’s the chorus:
    It take a big bean but butte, we’ll surely rumble
    it take a big bean but butte, we’ll surely rumble
    it take a big bean but butte, we’ll surely rumble
    King Kong will fall as will the great wall
    and the whole damn town will crumble

    However, Norwood states the song is actually about nuclear war, even though the lyrics state Godzilla is going to come in and do his damage, whether it be with his feet or his flatulence, we are uncertain but one thing is certain: everyone will be scared.

  • The EP closes with “Lyin’ Ass BitcH”, which features Lisa Grant helping out on vocals and while the title suggests the guys in Fishbone were on the misogynistic, the song was actually condemning the treatment some men give to women. As Norwood Fisher said in a 1985 magazine interview: “(the song) isn’t ragging on women, it’s making fun of all that macho balderdash.”
    She swears that her heart’s for you
    and she swears that her love never ends
    she swears that she’s all for you
    as she messes around with your friends
    I really thought our love was much too strong
    but that little slut just proved us Wrong
    I still care and that’s my fatal flaw
    cause sharing you will surely kill us all

    When the song was performed as Michelle Bachmann’s walk-out music during her appearance on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, some people in the viewing audience who watched knew the song laughed, even though no one in the group sung the lyric “you’re nothing but a little lying ass bitch”, it was just the “la, la la la, la la la la la la” part. Nonetheless, the damage was done, The Roots’ drummer and band leader Ahmir “?uestlove” Thompson was put in temporary “detention” and had things went a different way, The Roots may have been pulled off as the show’s band. They are now the official band for The Tonight Show and the song’s suggested for walk-out music for guests are “carefully monitored.”

  • Fishbone’s self-titled debut EP was a few seconds short of what was considered “album length” at the time (27 minutes) for if it was a second over 26:59, it would have been an album (a short album at that). Nonetheless, what Fishbone created in that frame of time was a revolution of sorts that had begun, even if they weren’t one of its leaders. For the next ten eyars, the band recorded some of the best music in their lives and best music ever made, whether it be the advanced fun they displayed on their debut album In Your Face, the next wave of intensity with Truth And Soul or the incredible genius that was their best album, The Reality Of My Surroundings or the last album to feature Kendall Jones and Christopher Dowd, the powerful yet emotional Give A Monkey A Brain And He’ll Swear He’s The Center Of The Universe, which also became their last album with Columbia. The group had hits but not solid pop hits like Red Hot Chili Peppers, Faith No More, and Jane’s Addiction. They were always the band that could’ve or should’ve and it had seemed they were always on the verge of being ready. While that major success never happened, they didn’t bother waiting for anyone to say they are relevant, revolutionaries didn’t have time. In truth, they remain a band who are willing to execute any level of boredom within a room or even themselves, and it “began” in that small room on the cover of that EP, incredibly cramped, just like their music.
  • VIDEO: Pearl Charles’ “You Can Change”

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    Pearl Charles released a new EP this week on Burger Records, aptly titled Pearl Charles, or you could say it’s self-titled, which may mean it’s untitled but it’s eponymous, you know what that means. For the release, she has released a video for one of its songs, the single from it called “You Can Change”, directed by Angelo Izzo. You can stream the EP in full below from Bandcamp.

    SOME STUFFS: First Bill Wyman solo album since 1982 to be released.

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    He’s the oldest living member of The Rolling Stones, despite the fact he hasn’t been a member of the group since 1993. At 78, bassist Bill Wyman will be releasing a new album, something he hasn’t done since 1982, and it’s only his fourth album. Back To Basics (Proper) will be released on June 22nd and is being joined by Terry Taylor, Guy Fletcher, Graham Broad, and Robbie McIntosh. Wyman co-produced the album with Andy Wright, who worked with Jeff Beck, Eurythmics, and Simple Red. Wyman had always been driven to make music, but wondered if it would be appropriate for him to do so. He states “Initially I thought I’m a bit old for this but then I thought all the old blues musicians played till they dropped so why don’t I give it a go.” The Rolling Stones have always worked like blues statesmen, so it would make sense that Wyman would give it another short at this phase in his life. The album will have 12 songs and a bonus track that will be iTunes only, although I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s found on the CD in the Japanese pressing.

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    VIDEO: Fishbone starts a new webisode series

    Thirty years after the great Fishbone released their debut EP on Columbia Records, the band are still doing their thing and in 2015, they’re getting into doing a webisode series called The Fishbone Reality: “Unstuck”, Part 1 of Intrinsically Intertwined. The title comes from their new EP Intrinsically Intertwined and one of the songs from it called “Unstuck”. Have a look and keep an eye out for more to come.

    RECORD CRACK: New Melvins split 12″ to be released tomorrow

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    Amphetamine Reptile’s Sugar Daddy Splits Series continues with installment #13 and this time, Melvins are teamed up with Karp. The Karp folks will deliver “Rowdy” and “Bacon Industry” while our friends in Melvins deliver a live version of “Boris”. The record itself will look something like this.
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    They will be made available tomorrow, February 9th at 2pm pacific/5pm Eastern, 10pm UK. Adjust your alarms accordingly, and head to at the right time. As with most Melvins-related records in limited series, once this is gone, you have to deal with the eBay mafia fiends. If I could afford them all, I would but sometimes being a Melvins fan doesn’t mean having everything. As for you, get them.