[This one's been on our, um, brain lately. The review was originally posted on 10/16/06. - KJ]
[Cover art courtesy of Punk News]
Give A Monkey Half A Brain And He’ll Swear He’s The Center Of The Universe
Long derided as Fishbone’s so-called “metal record” Give A Monkey may not be an overlooked masterpiece but it is not the unmitigated disaster it was labeled as upon its 1993 release. Coming off the highly-acclaimed The Reality Of My Surroundings [Columbia-1991], itself preceded by the much beloved Truth and Soul [Columbia-1988]—one of the best albums of the ‘80s—much was riding on the record that was to bring Fishbone to the mainstream in grand style.
It didn’t happen: critics lambasted the album, sales were poor, and the band lost their major-label deal.
So, what happened?
For starters, Fishbone’s social commentary was much more somber (“Servitude”, “Black Flowers”, “End The Reign”) than on past albums, which may have been partially due to the hard-edged production courtesy of Terry Date (Pantera, Soundgarden); their trademark ska/funk (the excellent “Unyielding Conditioning”) and elastic grooves (“Lemon Meringue”) were in shorter supply; and the major internal struggles that may or may not have been caused by these changes culminated with the departure of key members.
But a decade and a half later, with the dust having long settled and the purported demise of the band brought on by this album by now a faint memory, Give A Monkey’s shining moments may not be the mass sing-a-longs some thought they could become but are, nonetheless, up there with some of Fishbone’s finest work.
Highlights: See above.