Give A Monkey A Brain And Hell Swear Hes The Center Of The Universe


Columbia, 1993

REVIEW BY: Pete Crigler


Right away from the first track, it’s very obvious there were problems in the Fishbone camp. “Swim,” written by guitarist John Bigham is a fantastic song, full of crunch and designed to get a helluva mosh pit going, but it has none of the standard sounds from a regular Fishbone song. No horns, no amazing harmony vocals, just heavy guitar and lots of attitude. By the way, this is the first Fishbone song I’d ever heard; needless to say, I was quite surprised when I started digging into their catalog.

Then there’s a song like “Solitude,” written by Kendall Jones, who was in the midst of some very heavy personal issues during the album’s creation. The song, sung by Chris Dowd, has no horns and instead is full of guitars as Kendall was very into metal – and damn does that come across here. Add in some amazing drum work courtesy of Fish and you have a very unwieldy track. Listening to the record, you would start to believe that something was seriously wrong with Fishbone and you would be right. Hell, horns don’t even make an appearance until “Unyielding Conditioning.”my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Listening to a track like “The Warmth Of Your Breath” with its memorable chorus, “May your dog’s colon be familiar with the warmth of your breath,” it’s clear that the band was starting to go off the tracks. It’s kind of scary because as a Fishbone fan, you wonder who was in control in the studio. Having parted ways with David Kahne, the band teamed up with Terry Date, best known for producing Prong and Pantera. Consequently, the mix is very dense and more focus is placed on the guitars than ever before.

Elsewhere on the album, the band was clearly trying to freak people out. “Drunk Schizo” is one of those songs, just strange weirdness from a band that used to be at the top of the heap. Perhaps the weirdest song besides “The Warmth Of Your Breath” is “Properties Of Propaganda (Fuk This Shit On Up).” Trying to describe this song defies description and just leaves the listener trying to figure out what the hell happened to this band.

This album marked the end of the line for the original band. Kendall Jones quit just before the album was released and keyboardist/singer Chris Dowd left after they finished Lollapalooza.

The Onion once called this record one of the worst of the ‘90s. True, some songs are worse than others and drag the album down, but thanks to “Swim” and “Servitude,” there are some bright spots. For the real Fishbone fans, this album is far from a washout, but for the uninitiated, this is not the place to start.

Rating: C-

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