The Bruce Lee Band – “Everything Will Be Alright, My Friend”

Album Reviews | By on Sep 29th, 2014

Record Label: Asian Man Records
Genre: Ska Punk
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For me, when Mike Park releases new music it’s like a national holiday. Unfortunately, it doesn’t happen often but fortunately, when it does it is a cause for celebration.

“Everything Will Be Alright, My Friend” is, in actuality only the second full length Bruce Lee Band album since Mike Park combined forces with Less Than Jake way back in 1997. There were a couple of EPs released since then, but this time Mr. Park teamed up with Jeff Rosenstock from Bomb the Music Industry! fame as well as members of Shinobu and the Chinkees.

One of the first things that I noticed upon listening to this release is that Mike Park has dusted off his saxophone and brought that back to his musical repertoire. I may be mistaken, but I don’t recall him playing the sax on any albums since the dissolution of Skankin’ Pickle. The addition of the horns gives the songs on “Everything Will Be Alright, My Friend” a distinguished sound when comparing the album to the hornless ska punk found on the Chinkees albums.

While this release has an overall similar sound to the albums that Mike Park released under the Chinkees moniker, it doesn’t seem to just focus on one particular era of ska. It is obviously fueled by ska punk influences and has a faster pace to it, but there are also some traditional ska and two-tone era gems on there like “Be Alright” and “Where’s the Call”. Jesse Michaels of Operation Ivy/Common Rider even makes a vocal cameo on “Generations”. There is definitely something on this album for any ska fan out there.

What always seems to make any Mike Park release poignant and important in the scene and in general are the messages to be found in his songs and “Everything Will Be Alright, My Friend” is no different. Topics on this release range from poverty in the streets, senseless violence, greed and warmongering. One of the most poignant songs on the album is titled “We’ve Got the Money, We’ve Got the Power” and deals with the plight of the Native Americans and their battle with the NFL’s Washington Redskins over the use of the term “redskins” and its racial connotations and the ignorance of the general public in regards to the name. It’s a subject that has come to a crossroads recently with the US Patent and Trademark Office revoking copyright protection on the “Redskins” name. These are the subjects that Mike Park is not afraid to deal with in his songs. There are never any love songs, generic songs about school or work or over-the-top goofy songs…and that has always been fine by me. Some people don’t want to be faced with these subjects, especially in their music, but the subjects in these songs, and any of Mike Park’s work are happening right now on a daily basis. You can’t and shouldn’t ignore them.

On a lighter note, while there isn’t much to complain about, I would like to point out that the sound quality seems to be somewhat sporadic. Depending on what you’re listening to the album on, some songs sound great on headphones but really low on a stereo system and vice versa. Overall, the album seems to have a muffled quality unless you crank the volume up. This album should be listened to at a higher volume anyway, so it’s no big deal.

To sum things up, “Everything Will Be Alright, My Friend” is one of the best ska punk albums in recent memory and that was a given. This incarnation of the Bruce Lee Band manages to put together some memorable, skankable tunes with a message all while still managing to have lots of fun. Albums like this just don’t come around often, but when they do it’s officially Mike Park day for me. It may be a long time, but here’s to the next one!

Bottom Line: Mike Park + new music = ska punk goodness…now with horns! Fans of Skankin’ Pickle, the Chinkees and Bomb the Music Industry! and ska in general will surely rejoice.
Notable Tracks: Generations, Dollars and Cents, We’ve Got the Money, We’ve Got the Power, Be Alright, Where’s the Call
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