Before No Doubt made ska suitable for new millennium pop kids, Fishbone was first to mess things up with its reggae-tinged, punk-inspired rambunctious rock sound. This Los Angeles-based six-piece spent the 1980s composing a healthy, funkdafied beat that was part metal and part pop. The college scene found the band highly amusing years later, not to mention an infectious live act, so naturally Fishbone cemented a place in what would become "alternative rock" in the decade to come. The Essential Fishbone is a look back at band's rowdy rock party, a definitive selection of classics for the casual fan, but also a decent collection for Fishbone loyalists. Early hits "Party at Ground Zero" and "Skankin' to the Beat" -- rooted in Fishbone's signature frantic ska -- are featured, as well as the bass-driven staple "When Problems Arise." Other highlights consist of "Freddie's Dead" and "Bonin' in the Boneyard," but fans will be pleased with the chosen cuts from 1991's stunning release The Reality of My Surroundings. Everything after that, with the exception of "Unyielding Condition" and "Lemon Meringue" from 1993's lackluster Give a Monkey a Brain and He'll Swear He's the Center of the Universe, is ignored. That's OK though, for The Essential Fishbone is solid enough to last without the oddly experimental moments made on Chim Chim's Badass Revenge (1996) and The Psychotic Friends Nuttwerx (2000).
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AllMusic Review by MacKenzie Wilson