Fish Out Of Water Deluxe Expanded Edition
Review by Bruce Stringer
Quite possibly the most satisfying of Yes-related solo efforts, Fish Out Of Water has many of the elements of greatness that were hallmarks of the early ‘70s Yes output. Although the album was a product of the end of the Relayer-era Yes lineup, it is a grand opus with an orchestra and lengthy compositional passages that allowed Patrick Moraz the ability to work his magic in a subtler musical arena. Bill Bruford appears on drums and does what he does best: play the sideways time signatures straight but with a twist. Squire’s vocals are on form and his bass playing is excellent. The packaging of this release is excellent and well thought out with superior quality over many re-mastered sets and a dual digipak design that includes artwork from the original LP release.
Interestingly, there is almost no guitar on the album and – thankfully – Squire handles the vocals himself making this an album of many definitions. One can hear Squire as Yes, as the solo artist, the composer, the bass player "extraordinaire" and sideman to the (at times) unforgettably haunting arrangements. Compared to the other Yes solo albums of the time, this would have to be the most Yes sounding and grandest achievement in their back catalogue. Whilst comparing the original Japanese CD release of this album I have noticed very little difference in quality apart from the new version being "toppier" and having clearer definition between the bass and other instruments. This is obviously no fault on behalf of the newly re-mastered product: it is proof of how well the original release was recorded and produced back in ’75. This album was only about 6 years after the "Concerto For Group And Orchestra" by Deep Purple and 5 years after "Time And A Word" by Yes, which produced their own unique problems in dealing with the classical music fraternity. So – not withstanding the Moody Blues material with orchestra – it is interesting to note the difference in attitude at this project, which married the orchestral to rock group with such confidence and class.
The original promo clips for "Hold Out Your Hand" and "You By My Side" are included on the bonus DVD and offer a different manner of appreciation due to the visual stimulus. These clips, filmed in 1975, include a full orchestra set-up along with former Yes drummer, Bill Bruford (who had left the band after Close To The Edge), and keyboard player, Patrick Moraz. The impression is of a live performance of the pieces although they are miming but the sheer scale of heads on stage makes for an impact so close to live that it defies belief. Bruford is dressed very much of the day and Chris Squire’s own clothing is suitably horrid in a way only outdone by Rick Wakeman’s attire of the mid-70s. The interview with Chris Squire, filmed in 2006, has some very interesting anecdotes that fans will be interested in as Squire takes us back to the time when he was planning the recording stages of this album and building his own studio. There is very little I can go into here without giving away too much and I wouldn’t want to spoil it for those that would like the pleasant surprise of hearing the, at times, humorous stories from the man himself. Much of the Fish Out Of Water audio commentary by Chris Squire (also from 2006) concerns the production techniques and facts surrounding the equipment used, which may baffle the non-musician but there are enough anecdotes concerning Yes to make it all worth while for the fan. I was very interested in his recollection of time signatures and systems of obtaining particular effects, some of which were pioneering for the day. As this is possibly the very first of its type, seeing Chris talk over the recordings with headphones on (in front of the stained glass window from the LP sleeve) makes for a great new experience. One might imagine this as the best chance in ever getting to sitting down with your favorite artist and have him / her talk you through it as it plays. Great one, Chris!