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A Trip Through the "My 90's Tapes" Collection Pt. 5: Fishbone "It's a Wonderful Life (Gonna Have a Good Time)"

I was gifted a piece of artwork called "My 90's Tapes" by an artist named Jeff Klarin ( It looks like one of my own collections at that time, a mix of rock/classic rock, pop, new wave, punk, dance, heavy metal and soundtracks. I decided to use this artwork as a writing prompt to review all 115 albums pictured and share some personal anecdotes along the way. Consider this me dipping my toe back into the Basement Songs pool.

Had I stayed on top of things, I would've written about today's entry back in December, seeing as it's a Christmas themed EP. You remember EPs, don't you? The abbreviation stands for "extended play," and artists would put them out in between albums when they had some leftover tracks and a new single to promote. Many indie artists would also use the format to create interest in their music while pursuing a record deal. Nowadays, those leftover tracks are saved for "deluxe" editions of albums that get released a year after a record's initial release. Anyway...

Column 1, Row 5: Fishbone "It's a Wonderful Life (Gonna Have a Good Time)"

The legendary Fishbone were a part of the California punk rock scene of the 1980s. They were friends with the Red Hot Chili Peppers and influenced the likes of Primus and No Doubt. Yet, they never achieved mainstream success and have remained a cult favorite for the duration of their existence. It's a Wonderful Life (Gonna Have a Good Time) was released between Fishbone's first album, In Your Face (1986) and the follow up, 1988's Truth and Soul. Fishbone liked to jump around in genre's, which must have made it difficult for the record company to market and radio station's to figure out where the band might fit in their rotation. Were they punk? Metal? Funk? Ska? College radio was the only outlet in the late 80s, and for some reason Fisbone never really caught on. This particular EP sold out and went out of print, which makes its inclusion in this particular collection feel very cool. Didn't we all have at least one cassette or CD that quickly became a collector's item? I had a few.

Side one begins with "It's a Wonderful Life (Gonna Have a Good Time)," which is everything you'd expect from a Fishbone song,  a mosh pit funk ska rocker with topical lyrics about people struggling to make ends meet. The second song on side one is "Slick Nick, You Devil You," a poignant, angry reflection on the holidays about a scumbag named Slick Rick who ruins Christmas. Lead singer Angelo Moore really tears into this one. At first you think it might be some kind of joke, but as the song continues, the pain becomes more apparent.

Flip the tape and you get "Iration," a keyboard driven reggae song criticizing the establishment for marketing and monetizing what Christmas is about, while the people who really need love and healing have faces "twisted with the pain of living." I really wish this one was recorded live with the band, or at least had the band in the studio. The 100% keyboard production distracts from an otherwise powerful message. The EP ends with "Just Call Me Scrooge," a band rocker that concludes the diatribe about Christmas.

That's it. Four and out. 

As I said, It's a Wonderful Life (Gonna Have a Good Time) went out of print, but the four songs were subsequently released on the 1996 CD compilation, Fishbone 101: Nuttasaurusmeg Fossil Fuelin' the Fonkay, although not together in order. In the streaming age, you can now find the EP on Spotify, which I've included below.



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