#65, "Party at Ground Zero," Fishbone (1985)

If you don't know Fishbone, the easiest way to explain them is that they were shockingly ahead of their time in their heyday and by the time the world caught up with them, they'd sort of fizzled out following lineup changes and interpersonal issues. Though they never really stopped playing.


I've mentioned before that the early 90s were all about fusion. I think it would be exaggerating to say that Fishbone lead this charge, but I don't have firsthand knowledge of Fishbone's activity in the 80s so I can't say for sure. It solidly blows my mind that they released this song in 1985. I became aware of it because it received airplay on Radio Free Hawaii, I think coinciding with their singles collection release and the budding mainstream appreciation of ska. 


I was also prompted to ponder this morning how much political music there was in the 80s. There was a ton of political punk. I feel like a solid 20 percent of titles of 80s punk songs included the word "Reagan" or "bomb." But even mainstream pop music had a number of Songs on the State of Things like "The Future's So Bright" and "99 Luftballoons"? I have a theory as to why it all-but ended there. During George W Bush's administration, some punk bands tried out of nostalgia for 80s hardcore, but it came out all weird and derivative. And how do you even write a song about Trump? I'm sure there's stuff out there but unless it's conveyed via a very layered metaphor, I don't think anyone wants to hear it. He's not a fun enemy. 


The reason that politics worked in 80s pop songs is that the politics did not lead the way. "Party at Ground Zero" RULES from a pure bop standpoint. I was going to recommend that people who think they hate third wave ska should listen to this and get back to me but that might be a bad idea. The horns are really obtuse but they serve a goddamned purpose. It's not comfortable, but it's definitely frenetic and certainly a party. It's so hard not to dance to it. 


I can't 100% recommend the Fishbone Documentary Everyday Sunshine because it's fairly depressing, but does provide a lot of good information about the band and will teach you all about the theremin. I've learned today that like a shooting star, the original lineup was finally 100% back together and touring in 2018, only to lose a member again the following year.