Detailed review of deluxe edition of Chris Squire’s “Fish Out Of Water”

squire_fishoutofwater_deluxe.jpgI came very late to Squire’s 1975 solo album, but once I really listened to it, I gained an entirely new appreciation for his musical genius: the album is melodic, soaring, sometimes surprising, often lush yet constantly energetic, and filled with monster—but always deeply musical—bass playing.

Originally released by Atlantic, Esoteric Recordings’ new deluxe edition is, well, deluxe:

The highlight of this limited edition deluxe boxed set is a stunning new 5.1 Surround Sound mix (exclusive to this set on an NTSC / Region Free DVD), along with a new stereo mix, from the original multi-track master tapes by JAKKO JAKSZYK and a new re-master of the original 1975 mix by Paschal Byrne. FISH OUT OF WATER also includes four bonus tracks of the single edits of ‘Lucky Seven’ and ‘Silently Falling’, along with both sides of the 1981 single by CHRIS SQUIRE and ALAN WHITE; ‘Run With the Fox’ and Return of the Fox (appearing on CD for the first time).

The boxed set also includes a replica 180 gram gatefold LP with poster of FISH PUT OF WATER (mastered and cut from the original tapes at Abbey Road studios), along with two seven inch singles of ‘Lucky Seven’ b/w ‘Silently Falling’ and ‘Run With the Fox’ b/w ‘Return of the Fox’, both in picture sleeves. To complete the content is a visual DVD (NTSC / Region Free) featuring the 1975 FISH OUT OF WATER promotional film featuring the songs Hold Out Your Hand and ‘You By My Side’, along with a 2006 interview with Chris Squire conducted by Jon Kirkman and a 2006 audio commentary by Chris Squire. Finally, the set also contains a 36-page book with an essay by Sid Smith featuring exclusive interviews with BILL BRUFORD, PATRICK MORAZ, GREGG JACKMAN and JAKKO JAKSZYK.

The prolific John Kelman, who has written several exceptional reviews of prog albums for AllAboutJazz.com (and who has authored liner notes for many jazz and prog albums) has a very informative review of the new set. Here’s a taste: 

But why is Fish Out of Water (its title referring to Squire’s nickname, “the Fish”) such a remarkable album from a time when it seemed that so many extraordinary recordings were being released; why does it stand out so?

Well, perhaps some of the most compelling reasons are, for an album that clearly emphasizes the “progressive” in “progressive rock,” the many things it is not. Unlike so many progressive rock albums of the time, Fish Out of Water features no mellotrons; instead, Squire chose to employ a real orchestra throughout the album, with orchestrations written and conducted by Andrew Pryce Jackman, with whom Squire first played in the pre-Yes band The Syn, and with whom the bassist considered his first solo album to be an overdue reunion.

Barring some Minimoog bass on the episode “Silently Falling,” there are also no synthesizers to be found; in fact, barring some electric piano on the groove-laden “Lucky Seven,” the only keyboards played by Moraz and Jackman are organ and acoustic piano respectively, along with some particularly beautiful pipe organ work from Barry Rose (then, sub-organist of London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral) on the opening “Hold Out Your Hand.”

There’s also virtually no guitar—electric or acoustic—to be found, other than some jagged Rickenbacker 12-string electric guitar chords towards the end of “Silently Falling.”

As for the qualities that define and unify Fish Out of Water? Without a doubt, Squire’s immediately recognizable, at times viscerally forceful but elsewhere profoundly lyrical playing, where he manages to marry the role of rhythmic/harmonic anchor with both melodic counterpoint and, at times, staggeringly virtuosic soloing. Squire is also generally more dominant in the mix than with Yes, whether he’s soloing with fiery intent on “Lucky Seven,” contributing visceral fills and brief solo passages (along with his riff-based underpinning) on the opening “Hold Out Your Hand,” or simply commanding attention throughout the rest of the album as he finds innovative intersections between various instrumental roles.

Additionally, this point in his career, Squire had rarely been heard so clearly as a singer. Beyond revealing a vocalist who could have (and, perhaps, should have) been featured more often, Fish Out of Water‘s many choir-like passages, with Squire overdubbing a multiplicity of layers, shapes a collective sound considerably different to Yes’ equally appealing harmonies.

It’s not really a surprise that Fish Out of Water would, quite simply, not have been the same were it not for the greater freedom afforded to Squire’s playing, singing and writing.

Nor would Fish Out of Water have been as special without

Bill Bruford

Bill Bruford
b.1949
drums

” data-original-title=””>Bill Bruford

‘s distinctive approach to the sound/tone of his kit and his combination of mathematical precision and increasing freedom when playing it. While possessed of a different kind of virtuosity when compared, say, to ELP’s Carl Palmer, Bruford’s absolutely rock-solid time and more ensemble-driven approach allow Fish Out of Water to groove, travel from elegant delicacy to propulsive power, and breathe in ways that many progressive rock albums of the time simply did not.

Read the entire review at AllAboutJazz.com.

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