The continuing trend of remakes seems to have spilt over into the brainwaves of ska/punk musicians Reel Big Fish as they offer up their best (hopefully not their best) renditions of songs from Poison to Van Morrison in Fame, Fortune, and Fornication.
I’ve been an on again off again Reel Big Fish listner and while I haven’t really been to crazy about the band I’ve always been able to appreciate their solid sound. Their horn section has always been great and they’ve really been able to utilize the ska/punk sound to their advantage, even though their vocals have sometimes been to over the top silly. I haven’t heard from these guys in awhile, their last proper studio album coming out in 2007, and as a resurfacing album Fame, Fortune, and Fornication is a sorry one.
I understand the bands angle, they’ve always been really goofy and silly, hey they even covered A-ha’s take on me (who hasn’t), but the choices here are not only abysmal ones but the band just sounds tired and out of synch and lead singer Aaron Barrett has trouble maneuvering his voice around pitch and technique. Say what you will about the laws of punk rock but when you put out a 10 track cover album and the best songs you’ve got just happen to fall into your own genre (Desmond Dekker’s Keep Your Head and Toots and the Maytal’s Monkey Man) its obvious you weren’t meant to lower yourself to hair band music or tackle the challenges of classic rock.
Reel Big Fish fans, those hardcore type that own all the ticket stubs from every concert they ever went to for the band, they’ll probably buy this one up on principle, but as a dedicated and long time ska aficionado I have to say everyone else is going to be really disappointed. To me the albums only saving grace are the above mentioned covers of Toots and Dekker, which if they had messed those up they may very well have been tossed out of the ska community for life. Decide for yourself by heading to the bands various websites to grab hold of some samples or streams. To those who can, enjoy.