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Fish On Friday - 8mm CD (album) cover


Fish On Friday


Crossover Prog

3.76 | 18 ratings

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4 stars International pop-prog band are back with their sixth album, their first without founder William Beckers but their fourth since prog royalty Nick Beggs became a full-fledged member. The album is also the first recorded with all band members present in Frank Van Bogaert's new studio in the Belgian countryside. Here the band pulls together to use their music to react to the COVID pandemic and all of its fallout.

1. "8mm" (4:43) A beautiful, fully engaging song that tells such a meaningful, relatable personal story using an AMERICA "I Need You"/ALAN PARSONS PROJECT "Eye in the Sky"-like sound palette and form to do so. Great team vocals from Frank and Nick. (P.S. I love the accompanying video that the band used to release this song onto the Web via YouTube.) The music here is simple but effective, giving lots of room for instrumental nuance and flourish. The final two minutes seem to offer superfluous material (maybe for the sake of the video) but the ending is satisfying. (9/10)

2. "Collateral Damage" (4:19) piano, strummed acoustic guitars, bass and rhythm electric guitar support Frank Van Bogaert's AMERICA/Dave Gilmour/ALAN PARSONS PROJECT-like vocal. Nick Begg's ChapmanStick really picks up its prominence after the first chorus. Nice motif switch in the third minute after Marty Townsend's pedal steel guitar solo. Nice atmospheric Neo Prog. Though the chorus is not my favorite, which is probably why this one misses out on earning a place in my top three. (9/10)

3. "Overture to Flame" (1:45) instrumental intro to the next song. Great piece! Kind of a combo of Alan Parsons Project, and John Entwistle's bass from "Emminence Front." Definitely the proggiest work on the album. (4.625/5)

4. "Flame" (7:46) another 1:45 of proggy instrumental work bleeding over from the "Overture" leads into a solid song with co-lead vocals of angel-voiced Frank Van Bogaert and Nick Beggs and some very solid acoustic guitar work from Marty Townsend. A lyrics-delivery mechanism, I find myself a bit out in the cold as to the message and, therefore, the fullness of the song's intended impact. The singing here is actually the weakest part of the song: it's just a bit too wispy and smooth whereas I feel a need for some power to match or enhance the intricate instrumental work. (13.125/15)

5. "Jump This Wall" (5:54) opens with a nice APP/TANGERINE DREAM-like synth-led intro section before the full band kicks to create a lush APP/GENESIS NeoProg sound palette. Awesome multi-voiced group vocals (including co- composer, Sofi Dykmans) and some fun Nick Beggs Rickenbacker bass walking. I'm not quite sure what the lyrics are about: "I'm having a ball, Frankie, let's jump this wall," "Mississippi" and "freedom"?!? Bonus fun is the presence of Theo Travis on alto sax and flute. Still: a top three song. (9.25/10)

6. "Don't Lose Your Spirit" (5:43) like two songs in one: the first 2:30 is instrumental, then a shift occurs and a vocal supporting tune plays out (once again using Frank and Nick to share the lead duties in tandem. Man do these two vocalists make a perfect match!) At 4:38 the song switches to yet another mellow motif for Frank to solo outro with only his keyboard and voice. Amazing finish! Definitely a top three song. (9.25/10)

7. "Funerals" (7:39) opens like another electrically-amped AMERICA song (especially the vocal melodies and stylings). The big switch into a completely new "Caribbean yacht" motif at 3:50 is pretty cool: allowing Frank and Marty a chance to show a little of their skills (on Hammond organ and nylon-string acoustic guitar, respectively). At 5:17 we morph back to a vocal section. Incredibly beautiful. Man! I wish there were more bands doing these kinds of group harmony vocals. Very nice synth and electric guitar play on the 1:15 outro. Nice sophistication of the overall construct. Great mix of vocals and awesome bass and guitar play. (13.75/15)

8. "Silently Raging" (4:11) another fairly straightforward song (about the concerns of CCT monitoring, Artificial Intelligence facial recognition and the degradation of human privacy) that benefits from group singing to include representation from the female sector in the forms of Lula Beggs and Sofi Dymans as well as some nice incidentals from all of the instrumentalists. (8.75/10)

9. "Instillers" (5:19) opens with some Peter Gabriel-like electric piano over which the boys sing collectively (though it sounds as if Nick might have more of the lead). Nice lower range soloing from the electric guitar during the fourth minute's instrumental section. As usual, really nice melodies and very solid sound and construction. Nick Beggs' sound in the fourth minute's instrumental section is to die for--and the key changed reprise of the chorus near the end is absolute ear candy. (9/10)

10. "A New Home" (4:25) a pretty standard lush pop song in the vein of 10CC or Alan Parsons Project with the delightful addition of Lula Beggs on background vocals while her father flourishes his ChapmanStick prowess within. Nice lap pedal steel work from Marty Townsend. (8.75/10)

11. "Life Is Like the Weather" (2:31) (I love the accompanying video as created for the band by Nick's daughter Willow.) (8.875/10)

Total Time 54:15

Comparisons (and valuations) to my all-time favorite NeoProg album, Equations of Meaning by British artist Tony Patterson are not only warranted but necessary. This is incredibly intimate and evocative music for me and definitely my favorite (and the best) album by Fish On Friday (that I've heard so far).

B+/4.5 stars; a near-masterpiece of Prog Pop music that most prog lovers will love--especially if you're into the lush soundscapes of the NeoProg world.

BrufordFreak | 4/5 |


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