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Spotlight: Chris Squire – Fish Out Of Water (2018 Esoteric Recordings)
By Gary “Uncle G” Brown
I need to start off by saying that this latest and greatest write up of mine centers around the Chris Squire – Fish Out Of Water, expanded, remastered, new and improved, double CD set that Esoteric Recordings just released. And not the too cool for school ‘deluxe limited edition’ Chris Squire – Fish Out Of Water Box Set with all those extra lovely bells and whistles. Also courtesy of Esoteric Recordings. When asked, I saw the writing assignment as a trip down memory lane. I also wanted to focus on the five songs that make up Chris’ Fish Out Of Water. So the double-disc release worked best for what I wanted to do.
Two CD set which features a stunning new stereo mix from the original multi-track master tapes by Jakko Jakszyk, and a new re-master of the original 1975 mix by Paschal Byrne. Includes 4 bonus tracks and a booklet including interviews with surviving participants.
Great! And for all practicality (easier when out and about), I secured a digital copy. Listened to that one fine day while out for a walk to my new favorite medical marijuana dispensary. So if driving by and glancing my way, you saw yours truly, strolling down the sidewalk, enjoying the day while immersing himself in sound and sight. And I must add, doing so safely (always be aware of your surroundings). I had my Sennheisers on. Each of the five tracks a treat. I paid attention to not only Chris’ performances, but to those joining in with him as well. If into art-rock at the time, you knew players like Patrick Moraz (organ and bass synthesizer), Bill Bruford (drums and percussion), Andrew Pryce Jackman (pianos and co-collaborator), Mel Collins (saxophone), Barry Rose (church pipe organ), and Jimmy Hastings (flute). Pete Sinfield gets a ‘thanks’. And Chris gives mention to his then wife; Nikki (background vocals: Hold Out Your Hand). Add to all this superior talent, the sounds of an orchestra; strings, brass, etc.. All written, arranged, and produced by Chris Squire (with help uncredited: Andrew Pryce Jackman).
A FEW Words
Back to a decade from the 20th century in which we commonly refer to as; The 70’s. Chris Squire – Fish Out Of Water was released in November 1975. Made me 14 years old. Considered young perhaps, but by this time I had pubes and already seen Yes, once live (Relayer Tour). In New Jersey, that previous summer (Roosevelt Stadium). All the while in the process of learning the bands’ catalog by heart. More than a casual fan.
I remember opening the album (Fish Out Of Water) and putting the brand new wax on the turntable for the first time. Started off with the radio friendly; Hold Out Your Hand. Was used for promotion (good choice). That signature bass sound that one has come to expect from Chris, was front and center. With the stereo loud, and the bass cranked, you could FEEL Chris play. First the sound of the bass, and then an instrumental up-tempo start (combining keys and drums) that introduces us to Chris on lead vocals. I’m now committed till the very end, which concludes when flipped over, with a 15 minute song called; Safe (Cannon Song). I recommend a very good pair of headphones. Turn UP the volume towards the end. Every sound, you want to hear. Back in the day, I could hear the scratches and such, after being played, a shitload of times. The magic of digital and this release is I can play a track like ‘Safe (Cannon Song) and hear the entire composition like I remember it. And also most importantly … how Chris meant it to sound. True for the first play and every time thereafter.
As I WAS saying…
The main and lead instrument IS the bass guitar. Same time, Chris’ Fish Out Of Water is VERY keyboard friendly. The various keyboard/piano sounds playing throughout, and at times with orchestration weaves multi-layers of instrumentation and melodies that in and out Chris can be heard and followed. A milestone really for the main instrument; bass. Listen intently and you can pick off some cool guitar work also (compliments of Chris).
This Chris Squire album, titled ‘Fish Out Of Water’ … means in a nutshell, Chris not in Yes. For some of those associated with that musical organization, nicknamed Chris; Fish. The story goes he enjoyed long showers. The part, out of water, simply meaning away from the group that made him a millionaire. Clever title! All five band members who made up Yes at the time, agreed to nine months away from the group so they could relax some and record their own solo albums. Totally cool attitude and approach to an ever-expanding business. The same thing, at right around the same time, broke up the band, Alice Cooper. Solo records in that camp were seen as a threat. Never did make any sense to me. From there as the story goes, Vincent Damon Furnier, legally changed his name to ‘Alice Cooper’ and never looked back (unless lawyers were involved). Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Yes survived, and flourished. Hard rock’s Kiss also saw each member back in 1978, release their own records. Again successfully. Management was happy, for each one brought positive attention back to the group. It all helps. Results were concerts were sellouts! Merchandise flying off the shelves. The same with Yes. In 1976, Yes headlined one concert that had well over a hundred thousand people in attendance. Decades later, Alice is now again doing live shows that include original Alice Cooper members (Bruce_Dunaway_Smith). Like all that nasty shit never happened. A mini UK tour last year was a huge hit! America in 2018? So not to be the only really cool thing to happen this calendar year in the world of classic rock beside the very nicely done re-issue of a real GEM in progressive rock: Chris Squire – Fish Out Of Water.
Uncle G’s Verdict
A wonderful archival project! The sound is fabulous! Nice to see the album properly preserved. A new lease on life for this generation and many to come. The songs … Hold Out your Hand (hit) … You By My Side (is beautiful) … Silently Falling (groovy) … Lucky Seven (tight) … Safe ‘Cannon Song’ (Masterpiece!)
Instead of rating (1 to 5 stars) this CD, something in which is fairly routine with me, I’d rather strongly recommend adding Esoteric Recordings, Chris Squire – Fish Out Of Water, to YOUR music collection. TODAY or NOW (if possible). Either the 2 CD offering or the ‘deluxe’ box set. Like a fine wine, let the music consume and intoxicate you. One of life’s pleasures. Just try not to stumble and fall when heading off for the munchies. It’s a sometimes side effect.
“And everything is as it appears to be so” – Chris Squire (1975)
Cherry Red Records
Promotion: Glass Onyon PR
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