Why is Fishbone’s Truth & Soul on my best 1,000 albums ever list?
It might not be for ma nor pa, but this Fishbone dish is sizzling.
What does Fishbone’s Truth & Soul mean to me? What does it make me feel? Why is it exciting or compelling?
My man Adam is a huge Fishbone fan, and Truth & Soul was an album that got a lot of airplay when we lived together in Berkeley, California, in San Francisco’s East Bay many years ago.
Now, we’ll get back to Fishbone in a minute, but let’s talk about Jeb the cat for a minute.
Jeb was a pudgy, somewhat taciturn orange and white cat who belonged to our other housemate at the time, Felice. I love animals and have had some combo of cats and dogs as pets throughout my life, but I must say that Jeb was easily the least favorite pet that I’ve ever lived with.
Jeb did not enjoy being petted by me, nor anyone else except perhaps Felice for all I knew. Also – and this isn’t really Jeb’s fault, to be fair – Jeb’s litter box and surroundings was not attended to in a timely manner, let us say, which would cause a fun litter “moat” to accrue in the single bathroom that was shared by all residents of our place. I started dating my now wife Amy during this era, and the bathroom situation never ceased to appall her.
Back to Fishbone. While driving around town, we would often throw Truth & Soul (on cassette tape!) on, and it worked out as the first two tracks – “Freddie’s Dead” and “Ma and Pa” – were our favorite two tracks. The third track, “Question of Life,” has a bombastic, almost majestic, opening with its bright horns and upbeat tempo. For reasons that cannot truly be explained except for the goofy sense of humor we shared, we always dedicated “Question of Life” to Jeb the cat, and imagined Jeb waving around a royal scepter of some sort while Fishbone blasted on the car’s “system.”
By the time that “Freddie’s Dead” was on my radar in the late ‘90s, I knew that it was a cover of the Curtis Mayfield original. And, in fact, during that era when I lived in Berkeley, I wrote for a sketch comedy troupe in San Francisco, and one of the sketches involved that version of “Freddie’s Dead,” but that’s a tale for a different time.
South Park was also on the air by that time, which I quickly became obsessed with. Master P’s version of “Freddie’s Dead” changes to “Kenny’s Dead,” which is absolutely brilliant on multiple levels and, in my humble view, by far the best thing that Master P and crew ever produced.
The Fishbone version is pretty great in its own right, of course, a rock-funk-metal update to the exquisite Mayfield song.
“Ma & Pa” is my favorite song on Truth & Soul. The lyrical content is quite dark but relays a compelling tale of domestic abuse. Ironically, and I’m sure purposely so, the song is a propulsive rocked up ska number that is my favorite version of Fishbone musically.
Some stats & info about Fishbone – Truth & Soul
- What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? Rock Music, SoCal Bands, Heavy Metal, Funk Metal, Ska Punk, Alternative Rock
- Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – not ranked!
- All Music’s rating – 4.5 out of 5 stars
- When was Truth & Soul released? 1988
- My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #734 out of 1,000
Fishbone’s Truth & Soul on Spotify
What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?
Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.
But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective review of what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.