Chris Squire – Fish Out of Water (Esoteric) – Take a bite from 1975’s apple of life, how to deal with this one? Without any shadow of doubt an absolute classic in terms of 70’s prog rock, re-issued once again, for what seems like the millionth time and to quote someone on social media responding the label posting the news of this latest release “I can’t understand a two LP set unless they do the second vinyl with edits since there are only 5 songs total on the release. I am excited to see that the Bluray with 5.1 surround sound is released separately from the Deluxe edition that was released 5 years ago. I have loved this album start to finish since it first came out in 75”. The label’s own posting read “Coming in May, Chris Squire’s Fish Out Of Water. A 12″ Gatefold vinyl edition of the classic 1975 solo album. Cut at Abbey Road Studios, this edition fully restores the original LP artwork with inner bag and poster”
So what we have here? Well we’re promised “A new gatefold vinyl edition of Yes founder Chris Squire’s legendary 1975 solo album Fish Out Of Water. Recorded in the late Spring and Summer of 1975 while Yes was on hiatus as members recorded their respective solo albums”. The press release describes it as a “breath-taking work and equal in standard to any Yes album in terms of sheer invention and creativity. The album was essentially a collaboration between Chris Squire and his friend Andrew Pryce Jackman, a gifted arranger who had been a member of The Syn, Squire’s pre-Yes group. The sessions saw contributions from former Yes drummer Bill Bruford, Yes keyboard player Patrick Moraz and noted musicians Mel Collins and Jimmy Hastings. Released in November 1975, Fish Out Of Water was a Top 30 chart hit in the UK and made the US Billboard Top 75 album chart, going on to sell nearly 500,000 copies worldwide”.
So, like we just said, we’re told this Esoteric Recordings Blu Ray edition has been cut at Abbey Road studios and that it fully restores the original LP artwork with a printed inner bag and poster. And I do note that the label’s own website and the Cherry Red mailorder page fails to mention that Run With The Fox and Return Of The Fox are both tagged on to the end just as both were with Esoteric’s previous 2018 reissue. Or maybe the label just sent the sound files for the 2018 reissue and this 2023 version isn’t doing any kind of foxtrot? Frankly Il;ml not sure what the point of this re-issue is other than the last one might be sold out and people may still want it. I bought my first copy for 10p from the basement of the Nottinghill Record and Tape Exchange somewhere in the early 90’s when hardly anyone had any love for vinyl or classic prog rock and their basement, where everything was 10p, was stuffed with treasure to buy by the crate load.
If you’re a Yes fan you probably have this album already, you probably treasure it, you don’t really need another review from us, But then if you’ve never heard it, you really really (really) should treat yourself to a listen. Solo albums from members of big 70’s rock bands were notoriously hit and miss affairs, this one, from Yes founder member, bass player, songwriter and very fine backing vocalist Chris Squire is absolutely delicious. From the Mike Oldfield meets Yes flavours of the opening line of the excellent opening track Hold Out Your Hand until the closing note of the fifteen minutes that is Safe (Canon Song) everything is just right. Safe is of course where the original album ended, this latest re-issue has a couple of single edits of Lucky Seven and Silently Falling as well as (maybe?) both sides of the 1981 Run With The Fox Christmas single release from Squire and fellow Yes man Alan White – but then so did the 2018 re-issue so what you’re actually getting here that you didn’t get last time around isn’t really that much (but we said that all ready), you get the Bluray with 5.1 surround sound version I guess? Don’t ask me to start analysing the difference (especially as we only have the advance sound files of the release here), the 2018 version sounded wonderful. Hang on, now I’m wondering if the record label website is correct and you just get the original album tracks and this advance review copy we’ve been sent is actually the 2018 version? Enough with all the trainspotting and the different versions, let’s deal with it in terms of the actual music. Always hated having Christmas songs tacked on to the end of albums, here it comes again, we’re here listening in April! (or we were, got distracted, all the new music coming in, this review started in April, got lost in the pile and the paint and here we are fishing it again in May and trying to catch up before it all gets lost again), Bah humbug, I hate Christmas songs on albums that aren’t Christmas albums, stick it on a bonus seven inch so we don’t have to jump up and turn it off every time we listen to it outside of December (I bet Yashashwi from Unstoppable Sweeties Show listens to her Christmas songs at Easter while eating her pancake day treats and having breakast at tea time, do check out the Sweeties, prog being made right now up there in Liverpool)
Okay, let’s deal with this in terms of those who might not have discovered the delights of Fish Out of Water or indeed the late great Chris Squire yet, and yes, as the press release says, it is indeed a “breath-taking work and equal in standard to any Yes album in terms of sheer invention and creativity”. Must confess, I hadn’t really considered how good the actual arrangements were before of how it all flows in such a fluid effortless kind of way. Hadn’t really considered what Andrew Pryce Jackman had brought to it all. Fish Out of Water does sound beautifully mid 70’s, positively so, loved it from the first time I heard it and yes, the art of arranging is rather under appreciated (ask Mike Batt). We have here a glorious mix of classic 70’s prog, pomp and high flying 70’s pop, proper proper stuff. Indeed some of it, the opening track for instance, is very much classic Yes (and anyone who tells you Yes weren’t cool back there really should be ignored, Yes were as cool as flip back there when they were at their 70’s best, everyone besides the tired old hacks who tried to jump on to punk;s coat tales knows that and that tedious bore from the Old Grey Whistle Test was always full of shit). Everything on Fish Out of Water is good good good, the whole thing wonderfully lush, everything on it sounds big, bold, warm, full bodied, rich, never overblown though, never too over indulgent, never too much, all beautifully crafted, almost lean in a rather contradictory orchestral more-is-more kind of way. Hey look, solo albums from members of big fat 70’s prog rock bands were hardly ever that good, this one was though, and it still is, there isn’t a dull moment on it, not an inch of filler, Fish Out of Water is a cool as flip classic. (sw)
More details via Cherry Red
Meanwhile, a re-issue and a very first vinyl pressing of an album that originally came out in 2012 (had we recovered from the Brian Jonestown Massacre experience by then?)
Flowers Of Hell – Odes (Space Age Recordings) – in isolation, a re-issue of an album of cover songs, however beautifully they may be interpreted, wouldn’t really grab much attention from us, but that is a really glowing version of Joy Division’s Atmosphere (admittedly a song that it rather hard to mess up) and those Siouxsie and the Banshees flavours of Dylan’s Mr. Tambourine Man are rather rewarding.
“On Odes the group pay tribute to some of their favourite songs and influences, creating orch pop covers of works by Lou Reed, Bob Dylan, Klaatu, The Plastic People Of The Universe, Neutral Milk Hotel, and others. It includes guest vocals from Czech dissident musician Ivo Pospisil and British Sea Power’s Neil Wilkinson”.
Their version of Calling Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft is just gorgeous, even so, in isolation this, a reissue of an album of cover versions originally released a number of years ago really wouldn’t be something to really engage us here if it wasn’t for the fact that the Flowers From Hell are such an interesting self-declared “trans-Atlantic space rock orchestra”. They’re a collective made up of sixteen or so independent musicians based in both Toronto and London. Led by “synaesthete composer Greg Jarvis, the group are noted for building classical tangents from the work of The Velvet Underground and Spacemen 3”. Their then fourth album Odes was originally released back in mid 2012 on Optical Sounds, it is now coming out on vinyl for the first time some eleven years later (the press release says nine but we know our maths). The version of Lou Reed’s Walk on The Wild Side features the original demo tape lyrics, nice touch, those are the kind of things we look for in a cover, their version of Oh Superman is equally as interesting, and let’s say ityt again, their version of Calling Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft is just gorgeous, and Atmosphere does glow and well, here, have a listen on Bandcamp, I can;t be here writting about msuic, I’ve got the Spring Bounce to deal with and paint for. Odes is another fine fine album, if you haven’t already, go explore more of Flowers Of Hell, they really are far more rewarding than their band name would have you believe (sw)
The original album can be heard on Bandcamp, find the vinyl here via Space Age Recordings and there’s some previous Flowers Organ coverage here. There’s a hell of a lot more to The Flowers of Hell than just deliciopus cover versions….
While in 1986 Gentle Giant were releasing Interview for the first time. Here it comes again….
Gentle Giant – Interview (Chrysalis) – A Steven Wilson remix, is it almost obligatory now? Seems like there’s a release of a classic album remixed by the Porcupine Tree leader released by someone or other on an almost weekly basis these days.Wilson claims Gentle Giant to be a major influence (which begs the question, why are Porcupine Tree so damn boring these days? Interview was the eighth studio album from the always progressively experimental Gentle Giant, originally released back in 1976. The line up on the album is Derek Shulman, Ray Shulman, Gary Green, Kerry Minnear and John Weathers. The album also had the participation of Sounds writer Phil Sutcliffe as the interviewer. (Sounds being one of the UK’s main weekly music press publications, by far the best of them actually).
Took my time with this one, didn’t rush into anything… Gentle Giant are a circular band, by that I mean their sound spirals around on itself, the construction I mean, it skips, it always flows, jaunty, with a purpose, a direction, it had a direction, not any other way, it could only be them. Gentle Giant were never quite a prog rock band, they were too progressive to be just that. Art rock? Well that’s a rather lazy catch all. Challenging, almost certainly, a band should challenge themselves, proper art rock. A bounce, s series of skipping motions that really makes it hard not to like it all, Gentle Giant were always a rewarding band, never simple, never easy but then they always were very easy. Don’t really know where to start, where do you suggest we begin?
“The band had completed a year of non stop touring throughout Europe and North America promoting the highly successful Free Hand album. Despite having no real down time the band felt inclined to write and record the follow up to Free Hand without having any time to reflect on its success. This may have influenced both the direction and attitude of the album, hence its somewhat cynical concept. The band recorded the album at their favoured Advision Studios where in addition to the usual stereo version the album was also mixed in 4-channel quadraphonic sound. It poked a little satirical fun at the state of the music industry and dissected the way a group’s relationship with the rock press could either help or hinder their career. Stylistically it continued in the vein of their preceding seventh studio album, Free Hand released in the year before, in 1975″.
The press release has it well – “featuring a spoken cameo from the aforementioned Sounds writer Phil Sutcliffe, the shape-shifting funk-rock of the title track Interview lampooned clichéd rock ‘n’ roll journalism, while the snappy Another Show painted a vivid portrait of life on the road, redolent of The Kinks’ Here Comes Yet Another Day. Elsewhere, Interview further displayed the eclectic and versatile nature of the band, from the 5/4 reggae influenced groove of Give It Back to the ethereal Design which featured a cappella vocal passages combined with a furious percussion section. Timing lived up to its name, a complex rocker with stop start dynamics driven by Ray Shulman’s biting electric violin. The album closed breathlessly with the epic seven-minute suite I Lost My Head, its deceptively delicate opening majestically transforming into one of Giant’s most unstoppable and relentless riffs”.
Hey look, we can’t be here writing reviews of re-issues, even fine ones like the three featured on this page. This Gentle Giant album is as good as any of the albums released, impossible to pick out one above another. It is a unique sounds, they sounded liek no one else and no one has sounded like them since, one of England’s finest bands ever and this was as good as anything they ever did…
“Award winning producer and musician Steven Wilson has remixed Interview in Dolby Atmos and 5.1 surround sound. The Porcupine Tree guitarist has long been a fan of the band, noting them as a primary influence on his own work. Wilson’s painstaking attention to detail, deep respect for the source material and keen tonal range make the album sound as fresh today as it did on first release. In addition to the 2023 remixes, the original 1976 stereo mix, original 1976 quad mix, instrumental mixes, and custom visuals for each track are all included in the CD/Blu-ray version. A limited blue coloured vinyl album of the Steven Wilson remix version of “Interview” will also be available.
The worldwide release date for this classic Gentle Giant release is June 16th 2023. Interview will be available to pre-order on CD, CD and 5.1 Blu-ray Digipak as well as a limited edition 180g sky blue variant LP. Also available on 180g regular black vinyl (not limited).
To pre-order or t ofind out more about Gentle Giant go here
2 thoughts on “ORGAN THING: Classic prog from Yes man Chris Squire, Something rather special from the space rock orchestra known as Flowers Of Hell, the ever rewarding Gentle Giant’s Interview, three vital albums reissued…”
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