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Fishbone: The Psychotic Friends Nuttwerx

Red Hot and Blue

What do Donny Osmond, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Perry Farrell, Gwen Stefani, and George Clinton have in common? George Clinton produced the Chili Peppers' Freaky Styley; Dave Navarro played with Perry Farrell in Jane's Addiction and later joined the Chili Peppers; Gwen Stefani was a special guest on VH1's Behind the Music for the Chili Peppers. And Donny Osmond—I have no idea how he fits in. But no, this is not Six Degrees of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. This is Fishbone's most recent album, The Psychotic Friends Nuttwerx.

How can one band combine all of these artists into one album? Perhaps because of their famously diverse sound, often clumsily described as a combination of funk, ska-rock, punk, jazz, and reggae. The band has been deservedly compared to such easy touchstones as Bob Marley and P-Funk. However, it has also been rather ineptly likened to popular `white' bands that it has, in fact, influenced: the Chili Peppers and No Doubt, to name two.

Nuttwerx is perhaps the best example of Fishbone's diverse appeal—the Chili Peppers contribute on "Shakey Ground" (which sounds eerily similar to the Peppers' "Funky Crime"), Gwen Stefani sings lead vocals on "Everybody is a Star," Osmond, Clinton, and Farrell can be heard throughout. Some tracks sound as if they come straight from '70s disco rock, some sound like pure Clinton funk, and others recall the cheerful ska of the Bone's 1985 self-titled debut. The rest somehow shove it all together and produce a unique Fishbone sound that has hovered for 20 years on the fringe of the mainstream without ever quite making it. As lead singer Angelo Moore said, "I've opened up a lot of doors for other bands. I'm just tired of being a door-opener; I want to walk through that door!" Perhaps the reason Fishbone has never "walked through that door" is because it has such a wide focus; there is a song for everyone on Nuttwerx, but maybe not two, and one song does not an album sell. So that which makes Fishbone a cult favorite is the same thing that keeps it on the fringe, which is exactly what most Fishbone devotees want to hear. (Avex Japan)

—Aislinn Goodman

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