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Reel Big Fish

Fame, Fortune, and Fornication

(Rock Ridge Music; US: 20 Jan 2009; UK: 26 Jan 2009)

Reel Big Fish has always done a lot of covers, at an average of two or three per album. Sometimes they do something great with a song (A-ha’s “Take on Me”, Morrissey’s “We Hate it When Our Friends Become Successful”, Lita Ford’s “Kiss Me Deadly”), and sometimes they make an awful choice (Sinatra’s “New York, New York”). But for a band that’s released only 1/2 of an album of new material since 2005, an album comprised of 10 covers does nothing to dispel the notion that Reel Big Fish is mailing it in these days.


There are the requisite reggae/ska covers, relatively fun versions of Toots and the Maytals’ “Monkey Man” and Desmond Dekker’s “Keep a Cool Head”, as well as the more obscure “Veronica Sawyer” by ‘90s ska band Edna’s Goldfish. And there are the beyond-crusty bar band covers, Van Morrison’s “Brown-Eyed Girl” and John Mellencamp’s “Authority Song”. Not to mention the only slightly less crusty versions of Tom Petty’s “Won’t Back Down” and Eagles’ “The Long Run”.


To top it off, the band opens and closes the album with Poison covers. “Nothing But a Good Time” is what you’ve come to expect from the band, a skankified, upbeat interpretation that they’ve done way better on other songs. But the band actually shows a spark of inspiration on album-closer “Talk Dirty to Me”. They turn the song into a laid-back, easygoing duet between frontman Aaron Barrett and guest singer Tatiana DeMaria of TAT. That single spark is not enough to make this a worthwhile effort, though.

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Reel Big Fish - Monkey Man
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