Released September 13, 1988 – 28 years ago
Fishbone’s second full-length album blurs musical boundaries with their fusion of punk, ska, reggae, soul, funk, blues, and hard rock. Featuring blistering guitar riffs, spectacular bass lines, dynamic horns, and raw, socially relevant lyrics, it is generally considered one of their best and a standout release of the late 1980s.
Fishbone formed in Los Angeles in 1979. They played a fusion of ska, punk, funk, soul, blues, reggae, and hard rock. They were noted as one of the most distinctive and eclectic alt.rock bands of the late 1980s. With their hyperactive live sets, diversity, sense of humor, and acute social commentary, the band garnered a cult following that never translated into widespread commercial success.
Fishbone’s founding members are John Norwood Fisher (bass), his brother Phillip Fisher (drums), Angelo Moore (vox & sax), Kendall Jones (guitar), Walter Kibby (vox & trumpet), and Christopehr Dowd (keys & trombone). Norwood Fisher, Angelo Moore, and Walter Kibby remain part of the touring band to this day.
Initially the band was more of a ska-funk act, but incorporated more soul and rock with the release of Truth and Soul. Also, on this album, the band became more political with commentary on broken families, racism, fascism, socio-economic oppression, and nuclear war. The album is highlighted by a hard-rock/funk cover of Curtis Mayfield’s classic “Freddie’s Dead” from the blaxploitation film Super Fly. Mayfield was also known for his social commentary.
Upon the album’s release, Truth and Soul reviews were generally mixed leaning toward positive. Some critics found a hard time with the myriad of musical styles incorporated by Fishbone. However, other’s included the release among the best albums of 1988. Over time though, Truth and Soul has grown into a highly regarded album, noted for its creativity, genre bashing, and musicianship. It is considered by many as one of the best albums released during the 1980s.
Truth and Soul was recorded from late 1987 through early 1988 at Sunset Sound Factory in Hollywood, California. Originally known as the Moonglow recording studio prior to being renamed in 1981, the studio has seen the likes of Ringo Starr, Dolly Parton, Brian Wilson, The Jackson 5, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Oingo Boingo among others record here.
Production & engineering credit goes to David Kahne, who first rose to notoriety as the a&r (talent scouting and development) director for San Francisco’s 415 Records, an early punk, post-punk and new wave label, and later he became a vice president at Columbia Records. Along with his a&r responsibilities, he produced a number of acts including Paul McCartney, Stevie Nicks, The Bangles, Sublime, The Strokes, New Order, Regina Spektor, and Ingrid Michaelson among many others.
Kahne also designed Fishbone’s widely-recognized dead fish logo, which he created with an early Macintosh.
Following the release of Truth and Soul, Fishbone toured with the Red Hot Chili Peppers in 1988-89, another LA based band.
Members of Fishbone as well as the whole band have appeared in many movies. This is because many Hollywood actors and film industry people were fans of the LA based band. Furthermore, Fishbone t-shirts have also have been worn by characters in a number of films and television shows. Band members, Fishbone songs, and/or Fishbone t-shirts and stickers have been featured in Say Anything, Bull Durham, I’m Gonna Get You Sucka, The Mask, Hot Tub Time Machine, Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo, Back to the Beach, Tapeheads, Last Action Hero, Beverly Hills 90210, and Northern Exposure among others.