When I first heard Mr. Bungle, it sounded to me like it had come out of nowhere – this crazy amalgam of ska, metal video games, porn, crass humour and, as I would learn later, Frank Zappa. I was 19 (I think), and so it really, really appealed to me.
Since then, I’ve realized that at least some of what Bungle was doing was not just indebted to Zappa, but was indebted heavily to some more comedy-oriented bands of the ’80s. But listening to Fishbone for the first time, it feels like the real influence on Bungle’s debut was Fishbone.
No, they’re not the same:
- Fishbone emphasizes soul, R&B, funk and reggae where early Bungle focused on ska,
- Fishbone doesn’t have the same metal influence – or the same Zappa influence, meaning that Fishbone is a more restrained/predicable,
- but there are some real similarities in the cross-genre jumping, so I should really like this.
The problem is that I was a teenager when I first heard Bungle. Now I am in my ’30s and the things that appealed to me at 19 do not necessarily appeal to me now. Had I heard this record at 19, I probably would have lost my mind over it. But now, I find it pretty juvenile at times. (That’s not Fishbone’s fault, mind you.) I also find the attempt to be sincere at times completely at odds with their comedy – at least Bungle were never (or very rarely) sincere lyrically.
And some of it is also just that I like early Bungle’s points of references more than Fishbone’s so some of the songs really work for me but some of them don’t.
I am told this is Fishbone’s classic record, which is another reason why maybe I’m disappointed. Expectations too high again.
Anyway, I appreciate what they’re doing, but I sure wish I had heard it at 18 or 19, instead of 34.