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Chris Squire - Fish Out Of Water CD (album) cover


Chris Squire


Symphonic Prog

4.00 | 493 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

2 stars Avoiding the traps of idolatry and nostalgia and even more quietly prevalent in those factors that govern our human perception, namely false equivalency we turn to what is often regarded as the best solo Yes album.

So I updated my old long gone LP with the CD / DVD version. The DD is a nice bonus but not essential. Has videos and interviews. I wondered why I was not that keen on this album. Given the enthusiasm it generates among the Yes fans (me too) then I thought what was I not hearing. Perhaps I don't like it for whatever reason but is it that bad?

Not a disaster this album but there are caveats.

1. The songs are not that memorable. Strong melodies are more the field of Jon Anderson. Squire made a much better musical adjutant than leader.

2. Oft criticized is the orchestra. I think the orchestra is well used but that there is a problem somewhere may be the instrumental variety and requirement for counterpoint. There is little of either. How (sic) I wanted to hear Steve Howe's guitar turn up. Still, Squire's orchestrations are more crisp than the soggy arrangements that ruin Howe's Beginnings at times.

3. Instrumental balance. Dare I say it but when he does play those lovely fleet footed / fleet fingered riffs then Bruford kicks into gear and everything sounds fine. Then things slow down or changes happen and the results are half baked. Happens a lot in the longer songs. They are well arranged but somehow the idea of being a lead bassist has allowed the prominence of his the bass to be too much so. One note staccato is all very well on a chord change not for verse accompaniment. Or again. Just when you thought it'd been done it turns up. Especially when its so way up in the mix.

I thought that Squire may not be as good or interesting a bassist as his contemporary bass whizz John Entwistle until I recalled the album he did with Joe Walsh Too Late The Hero. Two witty minds with tons of talent I thought ... that produced a snore-fest of an album. No idea why, probably creativity and a hired producer / engineer whose job does not include telling his employers their out put sucks.

Well Fish Out Of Water is better than that but, well... not that much. His singing is useful at a 2nd or third banana level in Yes but he becomes grating either instantly or after a while. Your tolerance may be higher. Saying he's better than Howe at lead vocal is a bit like saying you're better off losing a toe than a leg.

The sophistication of the symphonic rock is there but flatters to deceive due unmemorable songs and lyrical content that is largely uninteresting. Everyone does what they're supposed to but I guess once the albums were out they were forgotten as the next tour turned up. And if you get a good 1976 live bootleg (download off a reputable torrent site for cost of some band width) then you will be well better off. Roosevelt Stadium 1976 for instance. Yes (with Moraz) as you and I need to hear them.

Olias from Anderson needed the instrumental input from his band to give it the necessary power, dynamics and identity it, and many of his demos deserve. Fish Out Of Water needed the melody and stronger vocal from Anderson as well as his sense of occasion. This is what makes his more, um, arcane lyrics tolerable. It also really needed Howe's dazzling styles and techniques to make it sparkle and give it much needed excitement. It may be that White may have been the more appropriate drummer here. Bruford is fine of course but White can kick songs into some semblance of energy rather than just finding the most intricate way of making lack luster material listenable. Which reminds me, this sounds like CTTE than White's dreadful Ramshackled which would have benefited from being left next to magnets than foisted upon the public. Or me.

It's often remarked upon that Fish Out OF Water is the lost Yes album. Well frankly all the solo albums were. They would have been better taking these albums and getting a double volume studio album, or a series of them after considerable work than having a bunch of reasonably sophisticated demo albums. A spare volume of material might have come in handy around the time of the aborted Paris '79 sessions. I heard the bootleg versions of those before much of those got released with the CD remaster or Tormato and it sounds like their solo albums, only even more devoid of ideas and inspiration. The official releases support that notion. Curses. No undiscovered gems.

The solo albums only sold on merit of association. Had these albums been by unknowns they would not even be given the grace of a review. If they had been new releases by hopefuls then maybe with help from friends these worthy efforts could have been made compelling; they're ok but veer from awful to interesting to rather good in parts. Few but Ramshackled are without merit entirely. Fish Out Of Water underlines the importance and value of a great singer, great material and the critical appraisal of a producer who should have the authority to tell his client / employer that his music is tanking as it plays. I'd recommend to anyone trying this sort of album in symphonic (aka prog) rock to check out the third movement of Dvorak's New World Symphony first.

So the virtuosity of Yes can work against them if the material is not great. The sum of the parts exposed when the components cannot measure up to the sum. And this one is okay but flawed. The fanatics will have it but if you're curious then see if a copy is going for a song; you may be one of those who give this a 4 - 5 star review and wonder how I can be so ungenerous.

2 maybe 2.5.

uduwudu | 2/5 |


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