Fame, Fortune, FornicationWhat began as an on-the-road inspiration by Reel Big Fish frontman Aaron Barrett to record a lengthy (40 tracks!) party-songs cover album (including hits like “Baby Got Back” and “Fight For Your Right to Party”) slowly evolved into an even less-likely plot to record an all-Poison cover album… and eventually evolved into this 10-track cover album of fairly random songs – though the two Poison tracks (opener and closer) stand as the remnants of the all-Poison cover idea. Admittedly, the all-Poison cover album may not have hit it big and the party hits album may have been too ambitious of a project, but at least each of those ideas offered an interesting twist on the cover album idea. As it stands, Reel Big Fish’s new album - Fame, Fortune and Fornication – feels remarkably bland for a band of such ska stature and history.

The songs themselves are plenty good – but that’s to be expected from a band like Reel Big Fish. What’s disappointing is the lack of connectivity and energy throughout the album. Fame, Fortune and Fornication has a distinct air of mediocrity and settlement. Most of the songs on the album feel forced and noncommittal. This is driven home by the final track on the album, the impressive duet cover of Poison’s “Talk Dirty to Me” with TAT’s Tatiana DeMaria. It’s clear that the band is enjoying the song and this comes through in the recording – mostly on DeMaria’s side. Unfortunately the rest of the songs lack this basic entertainment value, and while the band’s chosen some solid songs to cover, they’re not all instantly memorable. The downplayed cover of Tom Petty’s classic “Won’t Back Down” is fairly dead before it gets started as is the unnecessary cover of Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl” – considered an inside joke from Reel Big Fish after years of other artist’s covers of this song being attributed to them.

Overall, Fame, Fortune and Fornication is a mediocre album from a band that can do better. Although they’re known for fun ska covers, an album with no new material needs a bit more pep to stay afloat – and whoever decided that ten songs (less than 30 minutes of music) was enough for a full-length album should reconsider what full-length means. Reel Big Fish is now touring across the US, and then heading over to the UK, Europe, and Russia. My advice is to skip this cover album and catch them live.

Zach Says: 5 (out of 10)

To purchase Fame, Fortune and Fornication, visit Amazon

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