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FISH

Neo-Prog • United Kingdom


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Fish picture
Fish biography
Derek William Dick - Born 25 April 1958 (Dalkeith, Scotland)

Because he finds it very nice to lie in the bath for hours, with his rubber duck, he gets this nickname from his friends: FISH. Later Derek shall use this name as his artists name. Derek grows up in the little village Dalkeith, where his parents have a garage. He's in school there, where he has a easy time, and has good results. Derek too is a fan of THE BEATLES in that period, and he wants to learn to play an instrument. But he never gets beyond playing a tennis racket in front of the mirror. The first single he buys is "Lola" of THE KINKS.

Daddies' garage is becoming a better and better way of way of earning a living and Derek is allowed to go to high school (which is far more expensive). Derek isn't so satisfied with that and prefers to stay in Dalkeith. When Derek is about 13 years old, he becomes more and more interested in music. Especially groups like YES, ELP and of course PINK FLOYD are his favorites. He likes the idea of having a band of his own. But his problem is that he cannot play any instrument. He tries drumming, but that's not so easy as it seems to. There's only one thing that Derek can do without many problems: singing. And this is the beginning of his career. Derek studies a lot by singing along with his favorite songs of YES, ELTON JOHN, and DEEP PURPLE.

Derek is getting older, and school becomes less and less interesting for him. He discovers the nightlife, and begins to enjoy life more and more. When he's 18 and ready with high school, he still doesn't know exactly what to do. He doesn't like university, and therefore he takes a job at the Forestry Commission. There he has the opportunity to do a building engineering study, something he likes because that would mean spending a lot of time outside. In 1979 he leaves for a study journey to Germany. When he gets back, he decides to become a singer at last. Derek changes his name to FISH. Not in the latest place because the off-stage nickname of Chris SQUIRE is also FISH. When he meets Peter GABRIEL after a concert, and this guy turns out to be a normal human being, FISH thinks "then I can do it too". FISH looks for a band, and after a failed audition for NOT QUITE RED FOX, comes across BLEWITT thanks to an old friend. Although the band does not play FISH's favorite music, he becomes their singer. FISH gets a lot experience on stage and thanks to that his performance and his voice both increase in q...
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FISH discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

FISH top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.88 | 394 ratings
Vigil in a Wilderness of Mirrors
1990
3.14 | 243 ratings
Internal Exile
1991
2.43 | 153 ratings
Songs from the Mirror
1993
2.90 | 185 ratings
Suits
1994
3.81 | 255 ratings
Sunsets On Empire
1997
3.71 | 246 ratings
Raingods With Zippos
1999
3.52 | 151 ratings
Fellini Days
2001
3.59 | 183 ratings
Field Of Crows
2004
3.83 | 276 ratings
13th Star
2007
3.96 | 447 ratings
A Feast of Consequences
2013
3.78 | 129 ratings
Weltschmerz
2020

FISH Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.26 | 23 ratings
Pigpen's Birthday
1993
3.91 | 29 ratings
For Whom the Bells Toll
1993
3.94 | 16 ratings
Derek Dick & His Amazing Electric Bear
1993
3.09 | 26 ratings
Toiling in the Reeperbahn
1993
3.48 | 23 ratings
Uncle Fish & The Crypt Creepers
1993
2.98 | 39 ratings
Sushi: Live in Utrecht
1994
3.73 | 15 ratings
Fortunes of War - Live Acoustic Set UK '94
1994
3.27 | 54 ratings
Acoustic Session
1994
3.27 | 24 ratings
Krakow
1995
2.04 | 16 ratings
Fish Head Curry
1996
4.31 | 26 ratings
Tales From The Big Bus
1998
4.38 | 8 ratings
Haddington Convention 1998
1999
3.18 | 21 ratings
The Complete BBC Sessions
1999
3.38 | 10 ratings
Acoustic Sessions
2000
2.69 | 10 ratings
Candlelight in Fog - USA 2000
2000
3.93 | 27 ratings
Sashimi - Live in Poznan, Poland 1999
2001
3.37 | 30 ratings
Fellini Nights
2002
4.17 | 17 ratings
Mixed Company
2003
4.59 | 22 ratings
Scattering Crows
2005
3.80 | 63 ratings
Return to Childhood
2006
3.79 | 30 ratings
Communion
2007
4.00 | 1 ratings
Fishheads Club Live: The Spittalrig Sessions
2012
0.00 | 0 ratings
Fishheads Club Live: University Of Derby
2012
4.21 | 14 ratings
Leamington Spa Convention 2012
2013
4.33 | 6 ratings
The Moveable Feast (European Tour 2013 - 2015)
2016
4.07 | 14 ratings
Farewell To Childhood
2017
4.00 | 4 ratings
A Fish in the Lemon Tree - Live MMXX
2020
3.83 | 6 ratings
The Last Straw
2022

FISH Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.50 | 6 ratings
Songs For The Company
1994
4.38 | 8 ratings
Krakow - Acoustic Set 1995
1996
4.33 | 9 ratings
Krakow - Electric Set 1995
1996
4.00 | 4 ratings
Duisburg - 10 Year Solo Artist
1998
4.25 | 12 ratings
Kettle Of Fish
2002
4.11 | 17 ratings
Fool's Company
2003
4.16 | 18 ratings
Sunsets On Empire - Live In Poland 1997
2003
4.58 | 12 ratings
Scattering Crows
2005
2.36 | 9 ratings
Live In Krakow - Acoustic
2005
3.89 | 9 ratings
Live In Krakow - Electric
2005
3.21 | 43 ratings
Return to Childhood
2006
4.67 | 6 ratings
In Search Of The 13th Star - Fish Live In The USA
2009
4.33 | 3 ratings
Fishheads Club Live
2012

FISH Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.10 | 50 ratings
Yin
1995
3.21 | 47 ratings
Yang
1995
3.56 | 9 ratings
Yin & Yang - Radio Edits
1995
2.62 | 24 ratings
Kettle Of Fish 88-98
1998
4.19 | 28 ratings
Bouillabaisse - The Perception Of Fish
2005

FISH Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

2.67 | 17 ratings
Big Wedge
1989
4.09 | 11 ratings
State Of Mind
1989
3.31 | 17 ratings
A Gentleman's Excuse Me
1990
4.33 | 9 ratings
The Company
1990
0.00 | 0 ratings
Ao Vivo Em Portugal
1990
4.13 | 16 ratings
Credo
1991
4.00 | 18 ratings
Internal Exile
1991
3.50 | 10 ratings
Something in the Air
1992
3.38 | 8 ratings
Never Mind The Bullocks
1992
4.00 | 13 ratings
Fortunes of War
1994
3.80 | 15 ratings
Lady Let It Lie
1994
4.08 | 13 ratings
Just Good Friends
1995
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Funny Farm Interview - July '95
1995
3.80 | 10 ratings
Change of Heart
1997
3.71 | 14 ratings
Brother 52
1997
4.25 | 4 ratings
Brother 52
1997
4.07 | 15 ratings
Incomplete
1999
5.00 | 1 ratings
Issue 30 CD
2000
4.33 | 3 ratings
Fellini Days - Companion CD
2001
0.00 | 0 ratings
Field Of Crows - Radio Edits
2004
4.36 | 14 ratings
Zoe 25
2008
3.00 | 11 ratings
Arc Of The Curve
2008
4.17 | 6 ratings
Blind to the Beautiful
2014
4.15 | 31 ratings
A Parlay with Angels
2018

FISH Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Raingods With Zippos by FISH album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.71 | 246 ratings

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Raingods With Zippos
Fish Neo-Prog

Review by Dapper~Blueberries

2 stars I am a really big fan of Marillion, and many Neo-Prog stuff as a whole. I don't know, something just clicks with me whenever I listen to an album that has a certain style and aura around it, especially when it is in the realm of neo Prog. I love how dramatic, emotional, poetic, and how theatrically grand it can really get. So with my love for the genre, I decided to check out one of the main contributors to the whole movement that came about in the early 80s, and that'd be Marillion's old singer and songwriter, Derek Dick, better known as, Fish. I have been itching to see what this man can achieve with his solo work since his time with Marillion was nothing short of amazing, even when it only lasted a mere 4 albums. So I decided to check this album out to see what Fish can pull off after his chapter with Marillion closed.

The first song on here is Tumbledown. It starts off with this very elegant piano instrumental. It has a nice progression through this little segment, and is super beautiful. However this all is taken aback with the song fully starting up with some pop like chords and riffs. This was honestly quite unexpected when it first happened, and kinda disappointing. The reason for it is that the change doesn't fit. I know Prog is very eclectic and loves to change up styles and sounds on a dime, but generally it is best to make it sound consistent and smooth. Imagine it as a dinner plate. You got your meats, your cheeses, your veggies, maybe even a dessert. Lots of different stuff, but all work well with one another to where it never really bothers you. Here, it's weird, it doesn't fit. We went from a nice and somber sounding piano instrumental, but then we immediately switched to something that is the exact opposite, something cheery sounding and poppy. It doesn't feel consistent or anywhere to feel good. But I do commend the song for being very catchy and enjoyable besides the whole switch up, but even then it does just feel like your average pop song, not even like a Prog pop song, just normal pop. Kind of a downer to be honest.

Next we got Mission Statement. I really enjoy this song. It's catchy, and has a sorta swing to it. It gets you hooked pretty easily and has a lot of rhymically fun grooves and beats. However I started to really notice a little something off with Fish's vocals. I decided to compare what they were in the 80s to here and I saw that he doesn't have that same Scottish spunk he had in his voice here than he did back when he was in Marillion. He barely has that very meaty accent and voice he had, which is really disappointing cause that aspect of his voice is what made me fall in love with his old band in the first place. I cannot help but feel a sense of loss with this song and the remainder of the album going forward. It's just some little things I wished stuck you know?

The next track is Incomplete. This is a very cool and sorta noir sounding acoustic song with an addition of Elisabeth Antwi also being a lead vocalist here in conjunction with Fish. Honestly, this song is great. Because it is acoustic, instrumentation is going to be a lot less intrusive and makes the song a lot more realized than what it would be if it were filled with nothing but instruments. Funny how this song feels the most complete song here while it's called Incomplete. I also really love that whole duet of Fish and Elisabeth singing together, and to be honest I wished it happened more on this album. This album definitely has a problem of introducing an idea but never actually runs with it. Every song is so different from the last that the only consistency is the sorta pop-like stature these songs have. I like my Prog consistent in that everything, no matter the differences, fits together in some way or shape. Here, nothing fits and it feels weird.

Now we got Tilted Cross, and I think we are getting somewhere now. After Incomplete I expected something very different but now we have this, another great acoustic track, with great chord progressions. It was very breathtaking to actually hear the album starting to feel like it has a clear identity, but then I start to question, why now? This is the fourth song on the album, and we got through three songs that are all very different from one another, and now we are getting some kind of form and shape within the album after all this time? It seems kind of fishy (puns intended) that now we are getting songs that are consistent from one another despite the differences.

Next we got Faithhealer. Now we are back to the pop stuff, but a lot more new wave and similar to that of Tumbledown. I don't really have much gripes with this song, it's fun and catchy, and I think I have already made my mark clear on my problems with this song, or songs now on this album. I won't deny I am sorta bashing this album a lot so why not introduce some kind of positivity, like the guitars. I really like the guitars so far on this album, the quintet of guitarists of Bruce Watson of Foreigner, Robin Boult, Til Paulman, Phil Grieve, and the legendary Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree do such an amazing job with their guitar playing. They give out a strong power within the album that hooks you right in, and this song is definitely one of their best due to the heavy chords and playing. Definitely really good.

Next we got Rites Of Passage, one last acoustic ballad, except it's a lot more orchestral and somber. I honestly really really like this tune, and looking past every issue I have for this album again, I cannot deny that this song is great and really well made. How the instrumentation just melts around Fish's vocals, and how it definitely feels very emotional. It's really nice and gives out a lot of those good feelings out of you, with a sorta bittersweet feeling attached all around. This is definitely one of those highlight songs on the album.

Now we get to the last song. From what I have researched this is Fish's first solo epic, and this is called Plague of Ghosts. I was curious about what it would sound like. After finishing it, I guess it was alright. The segments were good and the suite was definitely polished and well worth going through, but to be honest I just think nothing ever really sounds right throughout it all. Again, this album has a very huge inconsistency problem, and this song is just a shortened version of that. Some parts feel like they are from different albums all together, and when there is an idea going, they never fully roll with it, they just immediately switch over to the next part on a dime without any second thought. I cannot say I am mad at this, just very disappointed. I expected a bit more, and I know Fish can do more, he has done far more, but here, he wasn't at his clear peak of creative and writing highs at the moment, and that really sucks.

So this album is ok all around but throughout it all it felt very inconsistent, a little too bland in some cases, and just doesn't have any identity besides the three-ish acoustic songs and the long suite at the end. I cannot deny it has good moments, but the experience is definitely not one I'd recommend. Only check it out if you know what to expect with the album.

 Communion by FISH album cover Live, 2007
3.79 | 30 ratings

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Communion
Fish Neo-Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars This wasn't Fish's first attempt at putting out an acoustic set - the Acoustic Session release from back when he was first setting up the Dick Brothers Record Company preceded this - but it's his most expansive one, being a two-disc, nearly two hour-long live show of acoustic arrangements of his material.

This isn't a completely absurd move; Fish had dabbled in including a few celtic folk influences into his sound over his solo career, which meant he already had a chunk of material which lent itself to this approach, and generally a good job is done of selecting tracks which fit the general vibe. (The one Marillion-era pick, Slainthe Mhath, is an apt one in that respect.)

The issue, however, is that by concentrating to this extent on this dimension of Fish's repertoire, the set inevitably ends up lop-sided and a little samey, and also much of the material doesn't sound that much different in the acoustic format than in its original. In some cases, Fish and the band adapt the material a little more freely, but their judgement is shaky there: State of Mind was fine as a four-minute song and could have been wrapped up in that time here, it didn't need three minutes of jamming tacked onto the end, especially not when much of that jamming is the sort of high-energy affair which would work better in an electric set to begin with.

It's alright, I suppose, but it's harder and harder at this stage in Fish's career to avoid the fact that his voice is not what it was in his prime, and overall the collection doesn't hold my interest as much as either his original studio albums or his better early-career live albums do.

 Return to Childhood  by FISH album cover Live, 2006
3.80 | 63 ratings

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Return to Childhood
Fish Neo-Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Return to Childhood is a live album capturing a concert from the tour Fish undertook to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Misplaced Childhood. Although Marillion did still include the occasional Fish-era song in their repertoire, they'd taken to leaving most of Misplaced Childhood on the shelf, understandably since their musical direction had evolved away from it and Steve Hogarth's vocals style wasn't as good a match for much of the material. (By comparison, Hogarth's approach to some songs on Clutching At Straws works much better, in part because musically that album found the band evolving in the direction they'd follow on Seasons End anyway.)

As such, Fish pretty much had a clear run when it came to taking the lead on celebrating this anniversary. The structure of the setlist is simple enough: disc 1 is where Fish takes a bunch of his solo material out for a spin, and it's a fairly solid set of song choices, particularly since he's freed of the need to plug his most recent studio album and so can simply select a clutch of bangers from across his repertoire.

Then disc 2 serves up the main course - Misplaced Childhood itself, as interpreted by his solo band. There's been plenty of releases of live renditions from the Fish-era lineup of Marillion, but obviously this stands out from them a little due to the different personnel involved. There's also a clutch of encores touching on the rest of Fish's career with Marillion - Incommunicado and Market Square Heroes to showcase one of his last and first singles of his stint with the band, and Fugazi as a final mission statement.

Though the setlist is well thought-out and means that the album ends up being a little different from the typical Fish live show, at the same time for some reason this show doesn't grab me. The recording quality is decent enough, but the live mix feels off - it's one of numerous Fish live releases where his live band are really giving it a lot of oomph, and his vocals end up a bit overwhelmed. There's no getting away from the fact that not only did this gig take place 20 years after the album's release, but also it was a good long time after Fish himself had performed the epic in full - and in the intervening years his voice had changed and evolved inevitably.

Some alterations to the keys of the songs were undertaken to account for this, but it still leaves the whole thing sounding just slightly off to me - the Misplaced Childhood performance is in this weird place where on the one hand, Fish and the band know they aren't going to make it sound exactly like Marillion did, but on the other hand this is a nostalgia tour so they keep drifting back in a Marillion-mimicing direction rather than adapting the material more freely. I actually think if they'd given themselves more licence to retool and re-imagine the material it would be better; as it is, Fish and company spend the second disc sounding a bit like an especially polished Marillion tribute act. That might be exactly what people wanted - but if you've already heard live gigs from Fish's time in Marillion, you'll probably prefer those to this, and as for the Fish solo material featured here it's good, but there's ample live renditions of this stuff out there too. On the whole the set is solid but inessential.

 Fellini Nights by FISH album cover Live, 2002
3.37 | 30 ratings

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Fellini Nights
Fish Neo-Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

2 stars As one might expect, Fellini Nights is a live album recorded during the Fellini Days tour - specifically, it offers a show from the Amsterdam leg of that tour. This finds Fish with a strong set of material from another creatively successful album to showcase, as well as old favourites - in fact, by this point in his solo career it was more than viable to fill an entire setlist without including any Marillion material, and that's what happens here.

In the liner notes Fish is enthusiastic about the Amsterdam Paradiso as a venue, praising its intimate atmosphere - and I'm sure that contributed to making this a memorable evening. However, the sound quality of the album reveals that whatever the Paradiso might offer in a live context, it's possible that a decent setup for recording live music isn't one of them - that, or Fish's mixing desk was on the blink. Either way, this is another "no overdubs" qucik-out-the-door live release from Fish, as he'd been doing since 1993, and this time around audio issues are evident from the beginning, with the sound levels on the opening track noticeably wavering up and down.

By the second half of the album this has alleviated somewhat, but Fish's voice becomes noticeably tired - I winced to hear him struggling at points on The Company, usually a triumphant anthem of his. As a result, despite the band being on good form throughout and Fish soldiering on bravely, this just isn't that essential of a live album.

 Candlelight in Fog - USA 2000 by FISH album cover Live, 2000
2.69 | 10 ratings

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Candlelight in Fog - USA 2000
Fish Neo-Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

2 stars This is a live album from the US leg of the Raingods With ZIppos tour, with a setlist very similar to that of Sashimi, recorded earlier on the European leg of the tour. Sashimi found Fish and the band in good form, but rather let down by nagging technical faults in the recording. This time around, the recording quality is much more consistent, but distressingly Fish's voice is the weak link.

The band play loud and backing singer Elisabeth Antwi gives it her all to cover for this somewhat, but the fact is that Fish's vocals just seem off on this recording. In the liner notes to the remastered edition of Fellini Days, Fish offers clues as to what went wrong here: late in the 1999 tour he came down with an absolutely rotten virus which he struggled with for weeks, and the Scandinavian leg of the tour had ended up being a "damp squib", leaving him and the band out of pocket.

Put that together and it's pretty apparent what happened here: Fish's voice was still ravaged from his illness, but he and the band couldn't afford to take the time off to recover because cancelling or delaying the American gigs would mean passing up money they couldn't afford to leave on the table - as well as sorely disappointing the US fans. So the show went ahead, and what we hear on Candlelight In Fog is the result. The live album was only released as a limited edition, and I suppose it is a nice memento for the fans who were there or for hardcore Fish fans - but equally, I can see why Fish wouldn't have given this a broader release.

 Sashimi - Live in Poznan, Poland 1999 by FISH album cover Live, 2001
3.93 | 27 ratings

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Sashimi - Live in Poznan, Poland 1999
Fish Neo-Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Urgh. I want to like this live album from Fish, I really do. It's from the tour of one of his best albums (Raingods With Zippos), it has a performance of the entire Plague of Ghosts suite and the opening triptych from Clutching At Straws, it has Fish and his band in good form. In theory, all the ingredients of a great live release is there.

However, there's just too many technical faults. It's not that the recording quality has an inherently rough quality - this isn't an audience tape or something, this is a properly-recorded live gig which was being rebroadcast on Polish radio. Unfortunately, there's all these little glitches and problems which work their way into the thing - a shriek of feedback here, dodgy levels here, muffled sound there - and they're just prominent enough and frequent enough to throw you off.

Which is a shame, because Fish and company are clearly in a rambunctious, energetic mood here. It has all the ingredients of a four-to-five star live album, dragged down to two and a half stars-ish by the recording issues. The liner notes proudly state that there are no overdubs on the album; in this case, it's clearly to the detriment of the material here.

 Tales From The Big Bus by FISH album cover Live, 1998
4.31 | 26 ratings

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Tales From The Big Bus
Fish Neo-Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This double live album captures a set from the Sunsets On Empire tour - specifically, the Koln gig which was the end of the German leg. Sunsets was an incredible artistic breakthrough, in part because of the assistance of Steven Wilson behind the production desk and on the songwriting, but it also found Fish exploring a world of drum loops, samples, and other modern musical techniques which had previously not been such a big part of his sound (though there's some precedent for the samples in the "newsreader" section on the studio version of Forgotten Sons...). The big question arises: "does the band succeed at translating this to the stage?"

The answer is an emphatic "yes". The approach is a bit rockier than on the album, adding a live frisson which helps integrate the newer material with more well-established Fish classics. Yes, Fish classics - the nearly two hours of music on here includes no complete Marillion songs, though Assassing, Fugazi, and White Feather crop up as part of a mid- set medley, and at this stage in his solo career Fish was at the point where he could present a compelling concert just with his own material.

(For that matter, Marillion themselves were approaching the point where they would habitually do entire sets without any Fish-era numbers - Piston Broke, which was recorded the same year, only has Sugar Mice to represent the Fish years on there. Both parties in that particular divorce were growing as artists just fine going in their own separate directions, which is perhaps proof positive that going their separate ways was ultimately healthier for both than staying together.)

The older songs fit alongside the Sunset material admirably, with Fish and his band familiar enough with them to add some new polish to old material - the version of Family Business on here is magnificent. The rendition of Mr 1470 from Suits - a somewhat underrated album in my view - has new juice added to it which makes it sound like something which could have passed muster on Sunsets. Fish also has an excellent rapport with the German audience - a good chunk of his between-songs patter is delivered in a mix of German and English, which seems to be appreciated by the fans.

My only major complaint is that the 20 minute version of Lucky here ends up being rather self-indulgent and self- congratulatory, Fish expending more time on the band introductions than is perhaps necessary. Otherwise, the tape quality is decent for the most part, though there's some hiccups here and there which preclude giving this five stars, the technical execution by the band is much more consistent (impressive, given some of the newer technology they were incorporating), and the man himself is on top form. If you are interested in 1990s-era live Fish at all, I'd recommend getting yourself a ticket on the Big Bus.

 Fish Head Curry by FISH album cover Live, 1996
2.04 | 16 ratings

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Fish Head Curry
Fish Neo-Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

2 stars This was a fan club release capturing a gig in Switzerland on Fish's epic 1995 live tour, and frankly it's a release which doesn't need to exist. The Luzern concert in question took place a few weeks after the gig captured on the Krakow album, and if you compare the two you'll find that the setlist is basically identical; the only difference is in the between-songs patter, and the fact that this release doesn't have the Boston Tea Party encore that the Krakow crowd got to enjoy.

In terms of performance quality, it's alright but Fish and the band inevitably sound just a bit more tired than they do on Krakow, since this concert comes just a shade later in a tour which Fish notes in the liner notes was exhausting for the whole band. When it comes to the production, it's at best on a par with Krakow, at worst just a shade bit shakier.

In other words, it's the same songs as Krakow, performed by a slightly more exhausted band, recorded almost as well but not quite, and because it was a limited fan club release it's harder to find a legitimate copy. If you have Krakow, you don't need this, and if you're interested enough in Fish live releases to even be contemplating this one, you probably already have Krakow (and if you don't, I would pick that over this if you're after something to represent the 1995 tour).

 Krakow by FISH album cover Live, 1995
3.27 | 24 ratings

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Krakow
Fish Neo-Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Several veteran acts of the 1980s wave of British neo-prog benefitted in the mid-1990s from the fact that even though their popularity might have waned in the UK itself, they had gained a passionate following in Europe. This was no doubt helped by the fall of the Iron Curtain making touring in Eastern Europe substantially easier. Poland would seem to become a hub, with Pendragon practically making it a second home and Fish undertaking a seven date Polish tour in 1995.

Fish and Marillion may well have sown some of the seeds of this later flowering back in the Cold War days; in the liner notes to Krakow, this 2CD release of a concert from the tour, Fish talks about how a visit in 1987 saw them becoming a little entangled with the then-burgeoning Solidarity opposition movement (an echo, perhaps, of how Van Der Graaf Generator found themselves embraced by Communists and reviled by Fascists in 1970s Italy), and saw him forging some of the professional and personal connections which would later make that tour possible.

In principle, the Poland dates were as part of the larger "Yin and Yang" tour, in support of that pair of quasi- compilations. (I say "quasi" because despite containing old material, most of the songs on there are re-recordings or alternate takes - but Fish calls them compilations, so I'll go along with that.) In practice, Fish's newest proper album at this stage was Suits, so you can sort of see this as a mature stage of the Suits tour, with the band having toured that for over a year at this point the material is well bedded-in.

Certainly, the best picks from Suits are well-placed here. I particularly like the way Black Canal and Jumpsuit City from that album are woven together with Big Wedge from Vigil In a Wilderness of Mirrors in order to produce a sort of triptych about ever-spiralling corruption.

There's some Marillion material in the setlist - but that's fair enough, Marillion were still including Fish-era songs in their sets at this time. However, the Marillion songs account for some five songs of a set of 17 (and two of those - Fugazi and Slainte Mhath - are worked into a medley and so not played in full), so Fish's solo material is very much now the focus here. In keeping with that, the setlist is very front-loaded with Fish solo songs - he doesn't dip into the Marillion songbook until towards the end of the first disc.

The album is sourced from good-quality 24 track tapes; they don't pick up that much in the way of audience noise except between the songs, which does have the downside of making it sound like the gig isn't being that passionately received, but when you do hear the crowd they do seem happy. At points there seems to be issues with feedback, or Fish's vocals sounding somewhat echoey, or the sound mix simply blowing out the levels, so this isn't exactly a pristine live album, but it's certainly a loud and enthusiastic one. It's also a little disappointing that what is clearly intended as a transition from Slainte Mhath into Credo is split over the two discs. Nonetheless, it's a great little set, but due to these issues far from perfect.

 Acoustic Session by FISH album cover Live, 1994
3.27 | 54 ratings

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Acoustic Session
Fish Neo-Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Recorded "live in the studio" at Fish's own Funny Farm Recording Studio, Acoustic Session offers exactly what it suggests - Fish accompanied by acoustic guitar, base, and drums (played by Dave Stewart - that's the Scottish session drummer, not the Canterbury scene keyboardist!) and without the shimmering keyboards and soaring electric guitar we're more used to hearing accompany his work.

In terms of presentation, this product shows every sign of having been put together in a hurry - a little quickie to act as a treat for the fan club and perhaps a bit of extra product for the nascent Dick Bros. Record Company. Still, the thinking behind this is sound. Commercially speaking, the MTV Unplugged series was riding high at around this time, reviving an interest in acoustic reinterpretations of rock music, and artistically speaking, Fish's material lends itself to the treatment better than you might expect.

Other artists originating in the 1980s neo-prog boom Fish helped spearhead have tried their hand at this sort of thing, of course - Marillion had Unplugged At the Walls, Less Is More, and Live At Cadogan Hall, and Pendragon have also turned their hand to this. Fish did it before any of them, however, and it turns out his songs are ripe for the treatment. It certainly helps that there's a strong streak of the protest song in material like Lucky or Internal Exile, and that traces of folk music had been weaving their way into Fish's recent albums which could be further teased out here.

It's notable that the balance here is skewed very much towards Fish's solo material - of the 9 songs here only 2 are Marillion-era picks, Kayleigh and Sugar Mice, and in this context the solo material holds up well. Sugar Mice translates quite nicely into this format in its early stretches; conversely, the rearrangements and alterations necessary to make Kayleigh or the latter parts of Sugar Mice work in the absence of a Steve Rothery-esque guitar solo or the magic of Mark Kelly's keyboards are a bit more extensive, but it works a treat. (Neither song were tackled by Marillion on any of their various acoustic projects to see release, probably because those came well into the period when Marillion would habitually not revisit the Fish era at all on stage or in studio except once in a blue moon.)

Is this one for the prog snobs who'd prefer artists to err towards ever-increasing complexity in their musical ambitions? No, clearly not. But Fish has never really pandered to that crowd anyway - not in his solo career, not in Marillion. But in terms of really teasing out new charms in Fish's material, Acoustic Session is rather lovely.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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