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STRANGEFISH

Neo-Prog • United Kingdom


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Strangefish biography
STRANGEFISH has been together since 1989 in various forms, mainly a live act with a steadily growing following. When Julian (bass) joined in 2000, the band gained the catalyst to steer towards a more professional approach. Between touring experience gained and the number of songs written through the years, STRANGEFISH had a rich source to draw on for the four songs-long demo that became "Reeled In". STRANGEFISH continued to develop with the support of England's Classic Rock Society.

2003 saw the debut album "Full Scale". STRANGEFISH loves making music and this dedication shows. "Full Scale" doesn't always follow the classical verse/chorus scheme, and concepts & lyrics figure equally. Long instrumental parts and vocal sections alternate regularly. Steve's voice works here like an additional instrument for which he was awarded with Best Male Vocalist in 2003 by the Classic Rock Society. The music itself is driven by keyboards, brilliant guitar & bass lines, and solid if not excellent drumming. Instead of self-indulgent solos, the listener encounters well-arranged, balanced tunes, pleasing to the ear, yet not boring. People who like GENESIS might find Strangefish appealling.

This album comes highly recommended; it's fun to listen to as even the serious songs emanate a positive vibe, reflecting the lads' attitude to take the music but not themselves too seriously.

: : : Uschi Mitchell-Schrage, UK : : :

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STRANGEFISH discography


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

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

3.79 | 32 ratings
Full Scale
2003
3.84 | 39 ratings
Fortune Telling
2006

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

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STRANGEFISH Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Fortune Telling  by STRANGEFISH album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.84 | 39 ratings

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Fortune Telling
Strangefish Neo-Prog

Review by robbob

4 stars Fantastic album.Better than the first one.

Very complex,this incidental album shows they are neo prog bands that are very creative and inspired. (unfortunately most of this bands are in the rock easy listening issue).

Instrumental arrangements are very good, unexpected musical variations are notable.

This album is a mix of neo and symphonic prog rock because has roots of the old art rock.

The music style reminds me more the best american neo and symph prog rock bands than the British ones.

Yes we find here similarities to Genesis ,Pendragon and IQ but more similarities i can find with the best albums of Spock,s Beard(V),Salem Hill(Mimi,s Magic Moment) and Echolyn(The End Is Beautiful)

So a very good album and to be the second one we must hope very good next works of these guys.

4 stars

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 Fortune Telling  by STRANGEFISH album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.84 | 39 ratings

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Fortune Telling
Strangefish Neo-Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars This is a concept album about an ordinary man who is content with his life but because of the constant media barrage that he hears and sees he wonders about what it would be like to be rich. One day a robbery occurs and he is shot and is taken to the hospital in a coma. During this state he dreams that he is rich and famous, but he doesn't like it's trappings and what he has become. He wakes up from the coma to find out(surprise) he has won the lottery, and now that he is awake he can collect. He decides to pass on the riches though and continue his normal life. A little corny in my opinion although I like the message of being content with who you are and what you have. I think musically it's pretty similar to "Full Scale"(their debut), but I don't think it's as good. Something is sacrificed I believe in trying to stay true to the concept.This one has violin on it as well.

"Happy As I Am" takes a while for a melody to appear, but when it does you know it.The Banks-like synths are cool. Some nice bass lines 2 minutes in followed up by some great guitar from Bob. Vocals before 3 minutes and they do get theatrical at times. A calm 4 minutes in is broken by some aggressive guitar and a full sound. Check out the bass 5 1/2 minutes in. It becomes calm again to end it. "It Could Be Me" is sort of dark with piano to open before vocals come in. Our subject is being tempted. Some spacey synths before the bass becomes prominant. Acoustic guitar after 3 minutes. Electric guitar a minute later. More synths washes and guitar late in this melancholic tune. "Random" opens with the robber shouting "Don't anybody move !" This is where he gets shot. Great sound throughout this song.The synths and guitar are excellent. Vocals 2 minutes in with more powerful melodies to follow. "360" is one minute of violin melodies that blends into "Keep The Exits Clear". Piano joins the violins before it all sort of fades away as reserved vocals come in. It builds to a full sound a minute in. The contrast between the mellow and fuller passages continue. I love the guitar from Bob 3 minutes in that goes on and on. "Have You Seen The Light ?" is an uptempo track with fast paced vocals. He really reminds me of Marco from SYLVAN after a minute. Nice bass lines 2 1/2 minutes in followed by some ripping guitar. Organ follows and they really kick butt after 5 minutes. "Lightswitch" features lots of spacey synths. "Ignorance Of Bliss" opens with slowly pounded drums with synths and gentle guitar. Vocals slowly sing. Some heaviness comes and goes during this track. I like the mournful guitar later on. "Reflection" is spacey to begin with before guitar and synths take over. Nice sound. It blends into "This Is Me (Part I)" where we get vocals again sounding like Marco. "This Is Me (Part II)" opens with soft higher pitched vocals and normal vocals trading lines in a mellow soundscape. Piano followed by some nice gentle guitar and synths.The guitar becomes more passionate and simply shines. I can't help but smile because it all sounds so dreamy and content. Violin before 5 minutes. This is the end of the concept with a bonus track left called "Lighthouse Jig". The keyboard player(Paul) tells how this song was put together in his flat that they had nicknamed The Lighthouse. It really is a jig ! Yikes ! Actually it's pretty good with violin taking a lead role. It gets better as it goes with some blistering guitar and the jig part becoming less obvious.

I feel much like UMER in that "Full Scale" for me was barely a 4 star record, while this one is a notch below it in my opinion. So 3.5 is my rating. Hopefully tszirmay will still talk to me.

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 Fortune Telling  by STRANGEFISH album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.84 | 39 ratings

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Fortune Telling
Strangefish Neo-Prog

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Strangefish debut album Full Scale was a really good album that I rated 4 stars even though it was 4 small stars. Fortune Telling is a very similar album both in quality and style. The big influences are still Marillion, Genesis and IQ. IQ is mostly heard in the vocal melodies and the way Steve Taylor sings at times. There is also a healthy dose of hard rock on Fortune Telling as there were on Full Scale and Steve Taylor is in addition to being a great prog rock singer also a very good hard rock ditto. In fact Steve Taylor is one of the best vocalists I have ever heard in a neo progressive band. I know the competition isnīt that hard, but he is a really great singer.

The music is in the neo progressive vein but with hard rock moments here and there. There are also some symphonic prog rock moments that makes this album more than your average neo progressive album. A song like It Could Be me is a great example of the symphonic Style Strangfish is also capable of. Itīs my favorite track here. Most songs are of a pretty high quality but a song like Random isnīt to my liking. Personally I think Strangefish are best when they play the symphonic style. The more pure neo progressive moments donīt do that much for me, but fortunately they always mix the genres. In 360° and Keep the exits clear there is some violin parts too. It all adds to the diversity of the album.

The musicians are very competent and again I have to mention how great a songer Steve Taylor is. He masters every genre to perfection.

The production is pretty average. Not bad though. It just doesnīt do that much for the music.

I think Fortune Telling is very similar to Strangefish debut album Full Scale and there hasnīt been that much development in their sound. I gave Full Scale a small 4 star rating and I will give this one a big 3 star rating. Itīs pretty good but not fantastic and next time I want to hear some development in the sound. Strangefish have lots of potential IMO but still needs to show that they can do more than just make above average albums.

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 Full Scale  by STRANGEFISH album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.79 | 32 ratings

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Full Scale
Strangefish Neo-Prog

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Strangefish has been a nice surprise to me as I have grown tired of listening to one generic neo prog band after another. My latest discovery Shadowland was no exception. Strangefish defies the boundaries of neo prog and incorporates elements from other genres to make a fresh approach. Neo prog with hard rock/ Soft metal elements wouldnīt be and unfair description of the music on Full Scale.

Especially singer Steve Taylor sets Strangefish apart from other bands in this genre. First of all because he has a strong and distinct voice which he uses in various ways. He can sing both hard rock and more mellow vocal styles and even more theatrical progressive vocal parts. What a great singer. The lyrics are pretty weak though.

The music is influenced by Marillion, Genesis, UK and others in the symphonic genre but with a hard rock edge. Songs like Ocean Deep and Wallflower are pretty fantastic in my book while the silly Take a Holiday could have been ommited for my sake.

The conclusion is that Full Scale is an above average neo prog album not fully deserving the 4 stars but on the other hand too good for only 3 stars, so this is a small 4 star rating. Very recommendable though.

NOTE: I have downgraded this album after some consideration. 3 big stars instead of 4 small ones.

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 Full Scale  by STRANGEFISH album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.79 | 32 ratings

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Full Scale
Strangefish Neo-Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

4 stars Another very good modern band,who strangely decided to call it off after releasing two great albums,despite waiting for over 10 years for the release of their debut.STRANGEFISH had been around since 1989,located in the city of Manchester and gained some wide recognition with their four-track demo ''Reeled in''.Finally the new millenium found STRANGEFISH on the road of a wider recognition with the private pressing of their debut ''Full scale''.

The album heads mainly to fans of mid-era GENESIS as well as fans of MARILLION,but note that STRANGEFISH have their own and unique style of playing,far from pathetic clones of the afore-mentioned bands.Additionally ''Full scale'' contains some rocking moments with nice groves and up-lifting tempos.The compositions are mainly long with good balance between vocal and instrumental parts and feature the strong vocal performance of Steve Taylor.Keyboards ,played by Paul O'Neil, are very much in the vein of TONY BANKS with leading passages and magnificent harmonic solos,while guitarist - hidden under the name- Bob delivers a few good breaks and more STEVE ROTHERY-like soloing.This was one of the most pleasant releases ,regarding 2004, with both modern and retro elements and reaching this album would be the kindest farewell to STRANGEFISH'es contribution to progressive rock.Strongly recommended!

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 Fortune Telling  by STRANGEFISH album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.84 | 39 ratings

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Fortune Telling
Strangefish Neo-Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

5 stars I went out of my way to secure this judiciously reviewed album by Strangefish on our site , as well as a positive write-up in the French Canadian prog magazine Terra Incognita. The beguiling comments were unanimous in their praise for this much maligned sub-genre , which deserves a little more respect, for if it wasn't for Marillion back in the early 80s , there would be a much smaller and less rabid prog scene today, certainly, no more than rehashing reminiscences of the bygone glory of progressive rock. Neo is capable of delivering some excellent groups and stupendous recordings, especially when they search to distance themselves from cloning past successes and formulas. Well, these british lads most assuredly offer up a different recipe , both similar and distant to the neo ruling class (IQ, Arena, Galahad, Tantalus, Big Big Train, Knight Area, Pendragon etc.) . Firstly, excellent vocalist Steve Taylor doesn't attempt a Fish-Gabriel (which is why they named themselves Strangefish?) , owning a distinctive style that shines through most eloquently on all the tracks presented here. My colleague Sinkadotree , correctly compared Taylor's voice to Sylvan's powerful singer Marco Glühmann on his review of Strangefish's debut disc, and this is most crucial as vocals are our genre's Achilles heel and only rarely do we get good , dare I say intelligent lyrics to add to the mix. Great story line, highly contemporary and a tinge sarcastic (I love sarcasm, it's oh so British!), the songs fit well within an instrumental palette that seeks a little originality within the strict confines of the genre. Bob (I hope his discreet last name isn't Loblaw! Ha, ha, ha!) is a splendid guitarist, skillfully remote from the usual Hackettisms, thanks to a more level sounding attack, that will include whimsical Mark Knopfler-like picking , giving out an almost Traffic (The Low Spark" era) on "Ignorance of Bliss" a scintillating piece of classic prog. Bob also knows how to search and destroy, blazing a few scorching leads along the way. What a find, last name not withstanding! Keyboardist O'Neill paints the canvas , deftly combining sparkling synth leads, colored piano tinklings and rousing organ runs. Bassist Julian Gregory is a true revelation, playing a wicked violin, mandolin and viola, backing up his simple, yet precise bass patterns. Drummer Whittaker is not asked to Brufordize and he doesn't, keeping everything tight and edgy. I am really stunned at the sheer quality of this offering, especially the last half which is fabulously expressed, great stuff that deserves applause and recognition. The jig closes out with bombastic élan , an appropriate finale for a lusciously moody, well-crafted musical story that is most worthy of our respect . Fiver.

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 Full Scale  by STRANGEFISH album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.79 | 32 ratings

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Full Scale
Strangefish Neo-Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This came highly recommended to me but I had to wait for it as they sold out their first pressing. My first impressions were not that favourable as keyboard led Neo Prog isn't at the top of my list. To be fair though I wasn't giving the music my full attention. Well after repeated listens these guys have won me over.The synths are great and the guitarist can flat out play.The vocalist has this uncanny resemblance to Marco from SYLVAN which is a plus as I really like his vocals. The songs themselves have some thoughtful lyrics with a lot of humour.

"Shifting Sands And Turning Tides" features some good synth work, piano and vocals. Mood shifts abound and check out the guitar playing after 6 minutes as he goes on a bit of a tear. "Oceans Deep" again brings to mind that these guys are the UK version of SYLVAN. I prefer the mellow passages on this song especially the synths. "Listening To Ghosts" has some excellent guitar as he really lets it rip.This is such a catchy tune. Spacey synths to end it. "Take A Holiday" is a very uptempo, fun song, including a funny Carribean section, as well as the sound of an ice cube dropping into a glass.

"At First Sight" is mellow for the most part with tempo changes galore. Drums dominate 5 minutes in. Some nice guitar work, as he plays the same melody over and over, but higher up the scales each time. "Touch Sensitive" is my favourite song on this record. It's quite heavy and the soaring guitar 4 minutes in is so beautiful as a vocal melody comes in.The soundscape to follow is fantastic. "Wallflower" could have been released as a single. The drumming is fabulous to open. The chorus is great with back ground synths. "Simple Life" has some good bass and synths early. There is a jazzy sound 4 minutes in. He's so exhuberant when he shouts "The sun's still in the sky !" Uplifting guitar to follow. Nice.

If you are a fan of SYLVAN I know you'll love this cd, but any fan of the Neo genre needs to check this out.

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 Fortune Telling  by STRANGEFISH album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.84 | 39 ratings

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Fortune Telling
Strangefish Neo-Prog

Review by evenless
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Fortune Telling was my first, and presently still my only, STRANGEFISH album. I must admit I really had to play this album quite a few times before I started to like it. At first STRANGEFISH' music made me reminisce of Marillion's - Fish era. You might even say: "What's in a name?!"

Coincidence or not, I think this band has made a very appealing album with "Fortune Telling". The album opener "Happy as I am" sets the mood immediately and it is a very happy tune. "What's in a name?" all over again! Many different tempo's in the song remind us of being in different moods. I especially like the "spoken part" followed by the lyrics: "I don't think so!". this is obviously the happy part. :-)

"It could be me" is a soft emotional track, beautifully sung by Steve Taylor. "Random" is a somewhat heavier and more experimental track. "360°" is a very short track containing beautiful violins. A nice "intermission" sort of speak. After this "intermission" comes another highlight of the album: "Keep the exits clear". I completely love this track! Many different tempo's, wonderful melodies and a great chorus: this is STRANGEFISH at their best!

"Have you seen the light" is a more up-tempo again, followed by "Lightswitch", another intermission track. "Ignorance of bliss" is another one of my favourites. Just as great as "Keep the exits clear". The two "Reflection" songs are very good too. "This is me part I" is again sung by the "jolly joker" and "This is me part II" is sung by the softer, more serious side of Mr. Strangefish. I love the strong melody in it, this seems to be the thread through the entire album. The album ends with "Lighthouse jig". This track starts out as a Celtic inspired song, mainly instrumental and we get the same "happy feeling" all over again as where the album kicked of with. Seems like the circle is round again.

Fortune Telling is a very nice effort from STRANGEFISH. 4 stars.

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 Fortune Telling  by STRANGEFISH album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.84 | 39 ratings

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Fortune Telling
Strangefish Neo-Prog

Review by sleeper
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Fortune Telling is the second album from British group Strangefish, a concept album about a normal person that goes through a dream winning the lottery and living the playboy lifestyle.

I bought this album after seeing the band perform live at the Summers End festival. I had never heard the band before but I was mightily impressed with their performance and so bought this album straight away. I'm glad I did because the impressive ability of this group comes through in a very clear and powerful way.

The concept of the album, primarily concerned with the effects of gaining prodigious wealth, is very strong and communicated in a clear and intelligent way without making it feel like your being spoon fed the story. The singer, Steve Taylor, delivers his vocals in strong, clear voice that marks him out as a very good singer that delivers with a slight theatrical edge, something I feel suites Strangefish' music very well.

Julian Gregory and Dave Whittaker prove to be a strong rhythm section here. Gregory's bass lines, though hardly lightning fast, are delivered with precision and with a certain dynamic flair that makes them stand out here on the album in a way that works very well. Whittaker doesn't appear to be an amazing drummer but his drumming works to fill the job required and augment the bass line to create a stable and flowing rhythm section. Gregory also plays the violin, mandolin and viola on this album and, though the latter 2 don't seem to be that prominent, his use of the violin on the final track, Lighthouse Jig, is very impressive and is a stand out performance.

Guitarist Bob (just Bob, apparently) and keyboard player Paul O'Neill both give strong performances that seem more intent on help to create and/or augment an atmosphere than show off their definite technical ability. I've found here that they have a habit of making rather nice riffs that do tend to stay with the listener after you've moved on to something else, certainly a talent to be applauded. However, on one or two occasions, their parts can just stray the wrong side of cheesy for small moments that may not appeal to all.

Of the songs, they almost all seem to be strong compositions with numerous strengths and avoid any unnecessary repetition, each creating a specific mood to reflect the concept. My personal favourites on this album are the opening track Happy As I Am? and Ignorance Of Bliss as well as the bonus track, and album closer, Lighthouse Jig, which is a strange folk influence song that makes me think of Ireland due to the use of the violin and mandolin. To be honest, I don't think there is a weak song on this album.

So, if I like this album so much, why not the full 5 stars? Well, as good as it is, I just cant shake off the occasional feeling that the music is a little clichéd at times and that does detract from it slightly. However, it is a very good album and well worth getting hold of.

P.S. If anyone gets the chance to see them live, do so, they are most definitely a band that know how to have fun, and do so by bringing along the inflatable beach toys with them!

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 Full Scale  by STRANGEFISH album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.79 | 32 ratings

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Full Scale
Strangefish Neo-Prog

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Very interesting debut album from Strangefish. Contrary to some reviewer I found this band to be quite original, it's hard to label it. Even its influences are hard to tell, except for some Yes undertones here and there (instrumental parts only, and even then they are not very so obvious). Unlike most prog records this album is very much guitar driven, the keyboards take kind of a back seat most of the time, although not always. The guitar player (here credit only as "Bob") is truly brilliant, but the band does not fall behind him, they are all fine musicians. Singer Steve Taylor is quite good, does not try to emulate Jon Anderson like so many lead vocalists do in prog, and shows a great deal of originality without sacrifying melody and song structure. The album might take some time to sink in but it is well worth it.

If you're looking for something adventurous, but can't stand those experimental noises and|or don't like too much dissonant harmonies this might interest you. At least something different from the average prog record that does not sound neither too mellow nor too much spaced out. I'm looking forward to hear their next CD. Highly recommed!

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