(a film review by Mark R. Leeper)

CAPSULE: In 1979 a high-energy rock and funk band came out of the black ghetto of Los Angeles with a sound distinctively their own. They influenced dozens of other bands including the Red Hot Chili Peppers and No Doubt. Yet Fishbone never really was as big a success as other bands that imitated them. In EVERYDAY SUNSHINE directors Lev Anderson and Chris Metzler look at the members of Fishbone, the culture that spawned them, and the music industry. Actor Laurence Fishburne narrates. Rating: +1 (-4 to +4) or 6/10

I am told that if you are reading this you probably already know and love the band Fishbone. At least that is the impression I get from the film EVERYDAY SUNSHINE: THE STORY OF FISHBONE. I put this film on shortly after hearing some Rimsky-Korsakov. After ten minutes of listening to Fishbone music I was more than ready to go back to Rimsky-Korsakov. But that is my taste. Your mileage may vary. In the film admiring fans, some well-known, keep repeating that Fishbone could have been the greatest band and the one that everybody else copies. Okay. You cannot prove it by me, but I accept it as the premise of the documentary.

So who is Fishbone? Apparently they are a band from the Los Angeles black ghetto. The film makes a big point that they are hard to categorize. Wikipedia calls them an alternative rock band. They play a combination of ska, punk rock, funk, hard rock, and soul. Fishbone performances seem punctuated with screaming, wild faces, gyrations, and literally climbing the walls. Most of these are not actually what I would consider music.

Apparently there is a legion of fans who see the group as seminal. Several other groups started because they wanted to do what Fishbone does. They did not say whether that includes screaming, making wild faces, gyrating, and wall-climbing. Even with such adulation as a band they could never get real profitable success. Among their problems they always had artistic differences and personality conflicts. They pulled in different directions. What kills the band is they do not want to operate as a team. Each has a different idea as to what the policy of the band is. For example, Angelo has created an alter-ego called Dr. Madvibe. Norwood likes Angelo and wants to be in a band with him. But he thinks that Angelo has carried the Dr. Madvibe routine too far. Angelo's response is that he has creativity that must flow out of him or it turns toxic inside of him. The artistic conflict goes on.

Anderson and Metzler focus primarily on the professional careers of bass-player Norwood Fisher and lead singer Angelo Moore. Fisher's trademark is a ponytail in front looking like a unicorn horn. Moore's is a constant infectious smile. Other members of the band came and went during the course of the band's life but the one constant was Anderson and Metzler. In telling of the founding of the group directors Lev Anderson and Chris Metzler show us little of their personal lives. Eventually some of their personal lives creeps in. Someone will say at this point he had broken up with his wife because of his drinking. To this point the drinking problem would not have been mentioned, but we pick it up from context. One picks up on their inner lives by inference. More time is spent on the difficulty of categorizing their music as rock, funk, black music, or whatever. This difficulty apparently also contributed to the group's problem with the music industry. The music stores sell music sorted into standard categories. With a fusion of so many music styles there is no way the music stores could pigeonhole them so there is no obvious place in the store to put their music.

Several different techniques are used to tell the story of the group. To tell their origins, animation is introduced to tell how the group came together in high school. Interview comments are inserted mostly from performers and producers in the industry including the rapper Ice-T, Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers, Branford Marsalis, and Tim Robbins, who I guess is just an interested fan.

The music will not appeal to all, but the documentary moves and covers the material. See below for music samples courtesy of YouTube. I rate EVERYDAY SUNSHINE: THE STORY OF FISHBONE a +1 on the -4 to +4 scale or 6/10. Chris Metzler previously co-directed PLAGUES & PLEASURES ON THE SALTON SEA. EVERYDAY SUNSHINE opens in New York on October 7th, 2011 and in Los Angeles on October 21.

Film Credits: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0840358/

What others are saying: http://tinyurl.com/66f5wpq

Fishbone's "Party at Ground Zero": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vrONIb9gQ-k

Fishbone's "Date Rape": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3xgmSfiy_tY

Fishbone's "Ma And Pa": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KK640dPPhXE

Rimsky-Korsakov's "Russian Easter Festival Overture": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_XCs9Jy30c

					Mark R. Leeper
					Copyright 2011 Mark R. Leeper