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

FISH OUT OF WATER

Chris Squire

 

Symphonic Prog

4.00 | 492 ratings

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patrickq
Prog Reviewer
5 stars I'm not sure that Fish Out of Water is exactly the "lost Yes album" that some have claimed, but the fact that this epithet has been used with some regularity for years by Yes fans is meaningful. While the album doesn't suffer much from the absence of a dedicated lead vocalist and the practically total absence of guitar - - never mind lead guitar - - its claim as a Yes album is hard to sustain without the presence of Jon Anderson or Steve Howe. In terms of Yes members who are present, Fish Out of Water represents the last substantial studio collaboration between Squire and drummer Bill Bruford, who had left Yes two years earlier. Then-current Yes keyboardist Patrick Moraz also appears on one track. Interestingly, the title of the album seems to imply that this is not a Yes album - - that Squire, "the fish," has established a new ecosystem for his music.

So it's not a Yes album, but as some have pointed out, it's less of a Squire solo album as it is a collaboration with Andrew Pryce Jackman, whose orchestral arrangements seem to have warranted co-writing credit for each song. (Apparently, Squire discussed this at one point with Jackman.) Jackman also serves as the main keyboardist, as well as the conductor of the orchestra.

While Squire's bass guitar is the central instrument here, the orchestra is an essential component throughout, and is perhaps the biggest reason that neither lead guitar nor synthesizer parts are missed here. In addition to the orchestra and Jackman's piano, each of the first four songs includes some additional sweetening: pipe organ on "Hold Out Your Hand," flute on "You By My Side," saxophones (by Mel Collins) on "Silently Falling" and "Lucky Seven," as well Moraz's contributions (including synthesizer) to "Silently Falling." The fifth and final song, "Safe (Canon Song)" is performed by Squire, Bruford, Jackman, and the orchestra.

Anyway, even if Fish Out of Water isn't a Chris Squire solo album, it's definitely a Chris Squire showcase. Squire's vocal and instrumental performances are strong and inspired throughout. His bass guitar has been called the "anchor" of the album, and that describes it perfectly: the songs seem to have been written around the bass, and the bass dominates the instrumentation in the mix. His vocals, both solo and in multilayered harmonies, are also an important part of each song (his wife Nikki Squire backs him on the choruses of the opening track). The vocals are also the most probable cause of Fish Out of Water sounding like a Yes album; it turns out that much of the character in Yes-sounding vocals is Squire's singing, which is why some listeners have thought they heard Jon Anderson on parts of Drama.

Extending the Yes comparisons, the compositions on Fish Out of Water (1975) are stronger than those which would appear on the next two Yes albums, Going for the One (1977) and Tormato (1978), although they don't reach the heights of Yes's best works with Anderson and Howe. But in this aspect, also, Fish Out of Water compares favorably to the Yes catalogue.

The sound qualities of Fish Out of Water are excellent. The original vinyl album sounded very good, and the 1990 Japanese CD issue (AMCY 19) was fine, although it didn't seem to be as much of an improvement over the vinyl as you might expect today. The 2006 (Wounded Bird) remaster is very good, as is the 2018 Esoteric / Cherry Hill remaster - - I'm unsure as to which of the two is better, but I imagine that the 2006 version has been superseded. The 2018 two-disc set also includes a remix of the album by Jakko Jakszyk. The remix strays a little here and there from the original, which makes it pretty interesting.

The only real area of weakness on Fish Out of Water is that some of the sections are a bit drawn out; I get the sense that this might have been done to make up for the lack of a sixth song. Then again, Fish Out of Water is two minutes longer than Going for the One and six minutes longer than Drama, so maybe these were artistic choices. At a minimum, it's clear that varied repetition is an intentional part of Fish Out of Water.

So this isn't a lost Yes album, but it is a true masterpiece of symphonic-progressive rock. Highly recommended to lovers of prog music, whether Yes fans or not.

patrickq | 5/5 |

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