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A couple of years before ska broke on the radio, Fishbone—who was on Columbia Records at the time—released arguably the greatest ska song of the 90s: “Unyielding Conditioning,” a beautiful tune with a deep message that challenges us to re-examine the very fabric of our shared reality, and to grapple with the forces that control us and make us miserable. In 1993, the public was not ready for this amazing tune, and would not accept ska in the mainstream until Sublime’s “Date Rape” got into heavy rotation in 1995. But can you imagine what ska’s legacy would have been if “Unyielding Conditioning” had been a hit instead?
This song came after a decade of Fishbone completely taking over the underground landscape within nearly every scene. They also released several landmark albums and had become the band everyone assumed would blow up. They were good enough, but the fact that they were so competent in all these genres worked against them as potential pop stars, even though, their secret weapon, Angelo Moore, was one of—if not—the greatest frontmen of all time. It was too much for the mainstream which preferred simple and easy to categorize.
On this episode of In Defense of Ska, we talk with the great Angelo Moore and devote some serious time breaking down the lyrics for “Unyielding Conditioning.” We also discuss several key moments in Fishbone’s history, like their wild Soul Train performance, and their bizarre cameo in the cult film Tapeheads, which starred a young John Cusack & Tim Robbins. Angelo tells us what it feels like to stage dive from a literal balcony (He did it near the beginning of the 2010 documentary Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone). And he even tells us about his odd role in the alternate reality game, Jejun Institute, which would later inspire Jason Segal’s AMC drama Dispatches From Elsewhere.