Fame, Fortune and Fornicationby Reel Big Fish
Reel Big Fish originally formed as a cover band, playing hyperactive renditions of metal anthems and Top 40 material before discovering ska music in the mid-'90s. Although the group released several covers throughout the subsequent decade (most notably a brassy remake of A-ha's "Take on Me," which appeared on the BASEketball soundtrack), Fame, Fortune and Fornication marks Reel Big Fish's first covers-only album, featuring ten songs in less than 30 minutes. The band speeds through material by the likes of Tom Petty, Slade, and the Eagles, giving each song the standard ska remake treatment of horns, upstroke guitar, and tongue-in-cheek vocals. Poison is the only band to receive two covers, one of which -- a co-ed version of "Talk Dirty to Me" featuring British accents -- is perhaps the highlight of the disc. Other standouts include a version of Toots & the Maytals' "Monkey Man," an unpredictable choice that shows appreciation for RBF's predecessors. The bulk of this record is fairly humdrum, however, delivering on the typical promise of most ska cover albums (e.g. fast, humorous covers of songs that are neither fast nor humorous) but offering few surprises.
- Release Date:
- Rock Ridge Music
Performance CreditsReel Big Fish Primary Artist
Derek Gibbs Bass,Background Vocals,Group Member
Dan Regan Trombone,Background Vocals,Group Member
Aaron Barrett Guitar,Harp,Vocals,Shaker,Group Member
Scott Klopfenstein Trumpet,Vocals,Vocal Harmony,Group Member
John Christianson Trumpet,Background Vocals,Group Member
David Irish Harp,Hand Clapping,Shaker,Musician,Guest Appearance
Ryland Steen Drums,Background Vocals,Guiro,Group Member
Brian Klemm Vocals,Background Vocals,Musician
Tatiana DeMaria Vocals,Musician,Guest Appearance
Technical CreditsDon Henley Composer
Jeff Lynne Composer
Tom Petty Composer
Glenn Frey Composer
Bret Michaels Composer
Van Morrison Composer
Bobby Dall Composer
C.C. DeVille Composer
Rikki Rockett Composer
Reel Big Fish Arranger
Cynthia Cochrane Art Direction
Tom Ames Management
Desmond Dacres Composer
Aaron Barrett Arranger,Producer,Engineer,Audio Production
Vince Pileggi Management
David Irish Engineer
Nathaniel Taylor Cover Photo
Brian Klemm Cover Model
Elizabeth Ashley Cover Model
Greg "Milo" Milam Guitar Techician,Stage Manager
G. Henderson Composer
B. Diaz Composer
V. McAuliffe Composer
John Mellencamp Composer
F. Hibbert Composer
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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At first listen, it sounds like ska (shocker!) - lots of horns, fast choppy guitars, choruses yelled in unison, and a heavy dose of fun. Unfortunately, it heads downhill quickly but regains itself to ultimately what I would consider a middle-ground album. Interestingly enough, what hurts it for me though is not the music itself, it's the singer.
With this being a cover album, RBF's singer Aaron Barrett semi-emulates the vocal style of the original artist of each track. He doesn't have the skills to pull it off. In songs like Nothin' But a Good Time and the slower tracks of The Long Run and Won't Back Down, Aaron's vocals are put front and center with fewer harmonies and background instrumentation. Let's just say, he's not professionally trained.
Before I get flamed for this criticism, I don't fault him for it. He's a SKA singer. Ska music is founded on choppy lyrics that are barked and often in chorus with other band members. Aaron's vocals are great for that. He just doesn't have the chops to pull some of these songs off. Now, I should further soften it to clarify that his voice isn't horrible. It just doesn't have the range to do these songs justice. That's enough about that point but it's really what made some songs better and others not so good.
My favorites on Fame, Fortune and Fornication are Mama We're All Crazy Now, Authority Song, Keep a Cool Head, Monkey Man, and Talk Dirty to Me. The first two were played fast and with harmonies mostly throughout. They fit the ska style well and played to the band's strengths. The second two were songs that were closely tied to the genre so they also ported well to RBF. Keep a Cool Head is a song by Desmond Dekker the "King of Ska" and Monkey Man is by reggae stalwarts Toots and the Maytalls. Ska and reggae are right up RBF's alley and the songs sound great. Talk Dirty to Me was great for an entirely different reason. I thought it was the most dramatically different sounding of the cover songs. It was almost ska-lounge. The groovy lounge guitar with the hand claps was a great way to do it. It was also jointly sung with Tatiana DeMaria of TAT and she sounded great. If the band is looking for nominations for a single, THIS ONE IS IT.
As I explained above, Nothin' But a Good Time, The Long Run, and Won't Back Down just didn't cut it for me. On each listen (and I always listen at least 3 times to give a fair review), I had to skip those tracks about two minutes after they started. I had one song that I just hated. I know it's a harsh word but, yes, I hated it. Brown Eyed Girl. It was a good song ten years ago when I hadn't heard it 12,744,878 times but now, I wish it could be erased from history. This is not a reflection on RBF (other than that they selected it), it's just that I now despise that song. The other song, Veronica Sawyer, fell somewhere in the middle. It was fine but I wasn't familiar with the song and thought it was just OK. The beginning is really good but then the "Friday Night..." chorus parts were just...eh...OK.
So my review is positive but mixed. I think the album is mostly very good. There are just those two or three that I'd always skip. If you're a fan of the 80s, have a listen. You'll probably have a good time. If you want something different to throw on the stereo when you're having friends over, or even if you're just knocking around the house, Fame, Fortune and Fornication will put a spring in your step and keep people smiling.
While their previous album ("Monkeys for Nothin' and Chimps for Free) is some of the best original stuff they've done in years, this album is a bunch of covers. But don't let that fool you; Reel Big Fish still brings their tight playing, sense of humor, and great ska-punk style to the table. The result is a bunch of cover songs that are A LOT of fun. They cover songs from a bunch of genres equally well, from 80's glam/hair metal (Poison), to classic rock (Tom Petty), and even a nod to their roots with covers of songs from the Desmond Dekker and the Specials. Granted, after giving us such an awesome collection of new material with "Monkeys for Nothin'...", I was hungry for more, so I was skeptical when I found out this album would be all cover songs. And while I would have like some more new stuff, I honestly can't complain about "Fame, Fortune..."; it's tons of fun.