Local Wire

Reel Big Fish

Besides being most identified as the poster boys for the mid-'90s ska explosion, the members of smart-alecky Orange County outfit Reel Big Fish are somewhat infamous for their goofy covers of '80s hits. Frontman/guitarist Aaron Barrett and crew have quite the hard-on for performing send-up songs at gigs or on albums, in addition to their regular repertoire of humorous ska-core. Although they did over-the-top versions of the Duran Duran's "Hungry Like the Wolf" and Operation Ivy's "Unity," (both of which ended up on respective tribute albums for each band), Reel Big Fish is best known for their rendition of a-ha's "Take on Me," which got the ska-punkers screen time and soundtrack space on the 1998 farce BASEketball. Of course, we're not forgetting Lita Ford's "Kiss Me Deadly," Metallica's "Enter Sandman," Morrissey's "We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful," and at least a half dozen others. They've even been frequently misidentified on peer-to-peer file-sharing as having aped such tracks as "The Tetris Song" (in reality, it's Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra's "Pedorazu"). So it comes as little wonder that the ska-punk sextet's newest album, Fame, Fortune and Fornication (which drops later this month) consists of nothing but covers, ranging from reinterpretations of classic rock anthems like Tom Petty's "Won't Back Down" and Desmond Dekker's "Keep a Cool Head." We're guessing that ASCAP loves these guys.
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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.