Category: The Daily Loper

Certain Songs #446: Fishbone – “Everyday Sunshine”

Fishbone Reality Album: The Reality of My Surroundings
Year: 1991

What a pure blast of unfettered energy.

As one of the greatest singles in my favorite year for music, “Everyday Sunshine” should have been as big of a single as the Sly & The Family Stone songs that it proudly steals from.

In retrospect, it was probably inevitable that Fishbone would attempt a song like “Everyday Sunshine,” as they turned out to be as hard to pigeonhole into any single style as The Clash or Sly & The Family Stone ever were.

“Everday Sunshine” starts out with a huge blast of joyful horns over funky bass & keyboards and almost issues its thesis statement:

I wish everyday the sun would shine
Take me to another place in my mind
Where everything is beautiful
And no wants or needs
Nor sign of greed
Could rule our soul

As they progress, trading off vocals and harmonizing on the chorus, “Everyday Sunshine” doesn’t even show a hit of being sarcastic or ironic or anything but a full-out plea for, well, everyday sunshine.

And of course, they eventually double-down on that by exploding into a double-time, ecstatically trading off “Everyday, everyday, everyday” until the song finally screeches to its end.

“Everyday Sunshine”

“Everyday Sunshine” performed live in 1991

Certain Songs #445: Fishbone – “Party At Ground Zero”

Fishbone EP Album: Fishbone EP
Year: 1985

As I’ve written before, if you were a young person in the mid-1980s, you kept one eye permanently on the sky, expecting that at any moment nuclear hellfire would rain down from out of nowhere.

This naturally let to a lot of great songs, from The Clash’s “Stop The World” to XTC’s “This World Over,” but of all of the songs written about nuclear annihilation, none was more fun than Fishbone’s epic “Party At Ground Zero.”

Like a lot of the greatest Fishbone songs, “Party at Ground Zero” has a ton of moving parts, so it starts out with a long reggae instrumental that kinda meanders here and there, before exploding into lightspeed ska, which almost instantly gives away to the brilliant almost acapella group chorus:

Party at ground zero
A “B” movie starring you
And the world will turn to flowing
Pink vapor stew

Of course, it wasn’t until I looked up the lyrics on the internet that I discovered that the lyric that I’d always thought was “Every movie star and you” was actually “A ‘B’ movie starring you”. And assuming the internet has it right (which is a huge assumption with the lyric sites) I still like my interpretation better, because it meant that not even the privilege of being a movie star was going help folks with the Big One dropped.

Either way, after that intro, it’s a joyous horn section and enough energy to deflect a nuclear blast as Fishbone sing about how fucked we’d all be in case of that nuclear blast. For one thing, getting blown up would mean that we couldn’t dance to this song anymore!

And of course, my favorite part back in 1985 was when somebody interjected “Play it, Boy Wonder!” just before a particularly hot trombone solo. Actually, it’s still pretty cool.

“Party at Ground Zero” Music Video

Certain Songs #444: Fishbone – “? (Modern Industry)”

Fishbone Modern Industry Album: Fishbone EP
Year: 1985

This song is really mostly a trifle, but the video had a shout-out to KFSR, so how could I not include it?

Musically, “? (Modern Industry)” doesn’t amount to much more than a weird hybrid of reggae and the new wave that was dominating the radio stations that this song name-checked.

And boy did it name-check a lot of radio stations:

WAMX, yes, wow
KJZ ! The KUSF, check 94, KFRC

So while you could be excused for thinking that it was a cheap ploy to get some airplay on those radio stations — like when Billy Idol did a bunch of versions of “Hot in The City” where he yells the name of a different city in each version. “FRESNO!!”

But while it’s wacky on the surface — the guys in Fishbone intone the radio stations, both real and imaginary, in a plethora of voices ranging from stoned surfer dude to flat-out Mark Mothersbaugh — “? (Modern Industry)” has some points to make about the radio and the role it plays in peoples lives.

These are the voices of modern industry
This is the music that brings us together
These are the buttons that start the emotion
Continue the motion, the motion, the motion…
This is the music behind the machine
These are the voices of modern industry
These are the voices
These are the voices…

So “? (Modern Industry)” kind of gets to have it both ways: the music and voices signify as satire, the words seem sincere. Which is true?

Probably both.

Official Video for “? (Modern Industry)”

Certain Songs #443: 54-40 – “Sound of Truth”

54-40 sound of truth Album: Set The Fire
Year: 1984

Most likely, if people have heard of 54-40, it’s because of an episode of the TV show Friends. Specifically, the one with Hootie and The Blowfish, which was actually called “The One With Five Steaks and an Eggplant.”

After the usual series of wacky hijinx and hilarious misunderstandings, the gang finds themselves at a Hootie and The Blowfish concert, where — in a very unconvincing “concert” scene — Hootie and The Blowfish aren’t playing one of their songs from Cracked Rear View, but rather a cover of the Canadian band 54-40’s “I Go Blind.”

Lord knows what kind of burgeoning corporate synergy led to that moment, but I remember watching that episode, and not knowing anything about Hootie and/or The Blowfish (outside of their tremendous popularity), was incredibly confused that they were playing a song that I actually knew.

In any event, I’d like to think that cover — which was freaking identical to the original version, BTW — sent a few folks towards discovering 54-40’s 1986 major-label debut, 54-40, which included a few good songs, like the aforementioned “I Go Blind” and the almost-a-Certain-Song “Take My Hand.”

None of which has very much to do with today’s entry, “Sound of Truth” from their 1984 indie release Set The Fire.

Starting of with a mournful trumpet, and almost instant falling into a slow, bass-driven two-note groove, “Sound of Truth” is one of those songs that trades upon repetition, while occasionally adding more instruments into the mix.

Meanwhile, vocalist Neil Osbourne (no relation), who sounds like the third vocalist in Translator if they had a third vocalist, is singing:

Some kind of order is what we’re after
The sound of truth doesn’t matter any more,
happy poor
There is a trick some kind of lure
No means of knowing sure anymore,
happy poor

At one point, a banjo comes in, playing the same figure over and over and over, against the slow beat, while more horns come in while the the entire band (or maybe just multi-tracked Osbournes) sing over and over:

The sound of truth is what we’re after
The sound of truth is what we’re after
The sound of truth is what we’re after
The sound of truth is what we’re after
The sound of truth is what we’re after
The sound of truth is what we’re after
The sound of truth is what we’re after
The sound of truth is what we’re after
The sound of truth is what we’re after
The sound of truth is what we’re after
The sound of truth is what we’re after
The sound of truth is what we’re after
The sound of truth is what we’re after
The sound of truth is what we’re after
The sound of truth is what we’re after
The sound of truth is what we’re after

While some folks might shout “We get it already! You’re after the sound of truth!” I’ve always found the repetition — musically and vocally — hypnotic and anthemic.

Also: for thirty years, I’ve been waiting for a deep voice to counterpoint “THE SOUND OF TRUTH” like a Rush song or something. So far, it hasn’t happened, except for in my head, every time.

“Sound of Truth”

Certain Songs #442: Felt – “Primitive Painters”

Felt Primitive Album: Ignite The Seven Cannons
Year: 1985

Felt was another band that I shoulda loved more than I did. But despite all of the jangly guitars, psychedelic textures and amazing song titles like “Dismantled King is Off Of The Throne” and “All The People I Like Are Those That Are Dead”, I never quite got into them.

Except, of course, for their absolute classic masterpiece, “Primitive Painters.”

Produced by Cocteau Twins mastermind Robin Guthrie, “Primitive Painters” was a massive swirling wall of sound, featuring Martin Duffy’s keyboards and an absolutely lovely chorus where they other Cocteau Twin, Elisabeth Fraser, singing a gorgeous counterpoint on the chorus:

Oh you should see my trail of disgrace
(Yeahhh, ho you should see my trail of disgrace)
It’s enough to scare the whole human race
I said, oh you should see my trail of disgrace
(Yeahhh, ho you should see my trail of disgrace)
It’s enough to scare the whole human race, yeah, eminence

In the end, Guthrie just piles on the vocals, so that the entire track becomes a huge pile of vocals singing “whole human race” and “yeahhhhh,” every which way, occasionally punctuated rainfalls of Verlainesque guitar licks.

At six anthemic minutes long, “Primitive Painters” was probably too long to actually be a massive hit single, but it was also so powerful that it just missed becoming one.

“Primitive Painters”

Crappy-sounding official video for “Primitive Painters”