Reel Big Fish – Fame, Fortune, and Fornication

Band: Reel Big Fish
Album: Fame, Fortune, and Fornication
Genre: Ska
Label: Rock Ridge Music

Track Listing:
1. Nothin’ But A Good Time
2. Mama We’re All Crazy Now
3. Veronica Sawyer
4. Authority Song
5. Brown Eyed Girl
6. The Long Run
7. Won’t Back Down
8. Keep A Cool Head
9. Monkey Man
10. Talk Dirty To Me

If you haven’t figured it out by the tracks, this is a cover album. Now normally that wouldn’t even make me raise an eyebrow, but then I realized it was a Reel Big Fish cover record. Ska versions of classic songs? Count me in! At least, that’s the notion I went into this review with, but I guess we’ll  have to see if Fame, Fortune, and Fornication brings a smile to my face or leaves me less than enthused.

I have loved ska from my early teen days. RBF and Five Iron Frenzy were daily soundtracks to my life and nothing pleased me more in the last week than the horns which blare at the beginning of, “Nothing, But A Good Time.” It kicks the record off in full on ska mode and I can’t see how anyone would be hate this music. I mean, true, it’s a hair metal staple, but here, like on most of the record, RBF gives everything a fresh feel. Honestly, someone unfamiliar with the original wouldn’t know this was a cover. It feels meant for Reel Big Fish. In fact, most of te hair metal songs steal the album. There’s something about the whole ludicrous lifestyle that music emulated that fits the ska world. In fact, the best track on the entire record is a cover of, “Talk Dirty To Me,” which isn’t even ska, it’s more folk like. That’s right, 80’s goes acoustic with a near hint of 1950’s rock twang. It’s glorious.

My main problems with this record is actually what I dislike about cover albums in general. I understand the point is to redo a classic track, but there are more than 15 classic songs that everyone knows. “Authority Song,” and, “Brown Eyed Girl,” are the best examples of this on the album. It’s like, “Stairway To Heaven’s,” intro solo; everyone knows it, but no one wants to hear you play it. Yes, it’s nice to reference these timeless pop hits live, ubt I don’t think a true album recording is needed. It’s not even overly different from other covers, there’s just more horns. On the opposite end of the spectrum, songs that are too obscure can either hurt or help the album. I mean, sometimes it brings light to songs you never knew and other times it just annoys you. The latter is the case here. “Veronica Sawyer,” was not previously known to myself or any of my associates and it really sucks the energy out of the album because you can’t sing along anymore. At least not as initially as the first couple tracks. Cover albums aren’t about new songs, it’s about reliving the classics.

In the end, Fame Fortune, and Fornication is a mixed bag of music. The hair metal covers really steal the show, but nothing falls flat on its face. I just wish they got a bit more recent and maybe challenged their musical abilities more. No one really is expected to grow with a cover album, but it’s possible and if nothing else, should at least showcase your talent. I feel like the majority of this album isn’t the best Reel Big Fish can do and because of that, it’s not as great as it could have been.

*Written By: James Shotwell*
Grade: 6.5/10

James Shotwell
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4 Responses to “Reel Big Fish – Fame, Fortune, and Fornication”

  1. Warp says:

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  4. Great list of tracks. Hope I could get their album someday.