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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Fish

Field of Crows

Review by Steve Alspach

Scotland's favorite 6'5" singer (well, how many are there, really?) returned in 2003 with a new CD. Using the figure of the crow as a thematic center to the album, there is a unity to many of the songs in this CD.

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Track by Track Review
The Field
The album kicks off with this piece, a 6/4 declaration with a brass section towards the end that adds to the stateliness of the piece. This song is perhaps most reminiscent of Fish's work with Marillion.
Moving Targets
This number continues the 6/4 rhythmic pattern with a 7/4 break in the middle. Lyrically the song looks at a figure who at first appears to be the hunter, only to find himself to be the hunted, but the hunting grounds can be anywhere - are we all moving targets?
The Rookie
A simple, plodding guitar riff anchors this Machiavellian tale of success in the business world. Fish advises the subject of the song, telling him that all he needs is "a big idea."
Zoo Class
Fish leans heavily on images of the animal world. The horn section adds a definite punch to this song, and the guitar adds some tasty fills throughout.
The Lost Plot
Thematically this could be "The Rookie, Part 2." Fish has always had a penchant for honesty in his lyrics, and this appears to be another example his self-inspection. The keyboards figure a bit more prominently in the beginning, but the song eventually goes into a lengthy outro.
Old Crow
Hip-hoppin' Fish! This song is the funkiest on the album, and "funk" doesn't come to mind often when discussing Fish. But it may be the brass section, Steve Vantsis' plaintive bass, or Irvin Duguid's clavinet that puts the sass in this one.
Numbers
A bit of a play on words on this one, Fish uses numbers as a basis in painting different scenarios, including one where "Nine eleven becomes twenty-four-seven." The song has a Zeppelin-esque eastern feel in the main riff throughout the verses, and "Numbers" is the most guitar-driven tune on the album.
Exit Wound
This may be as torchy as Fish gets, lamenting the "hole in my heart" as the saxophone and trumpet linger in the background. The song slowly builds, and Fish allows for a nice two-minute instrumental outro.
Innocent Party
This song has a driving rhythm that might sound like later-era Who or Pete Townshend's solo work. Again, this is reminiscent of Fish-era Marillion, perhaps from the "Clutching at Straws" era. The piece is a bit ambiguous until the final verse - "You lost sight of your goals / Your vision was blurred when the towers one day disappeared" - and you realize that Fish, in his acerbic voice, is addressing the U.S and its place in the world.
Shot the Craw
The keyboards anchor the 7/8 verse structure, and the song does a good job of reflecting the sense of regret in Fish's voice.
Scattering Crows
Closing out the album with a somewhat sensitive ballad, once again the musical ghost of Marillion appears in the closing section with the descending chord structure. "You'll see me coming / I'll be scattering crows." But in the end, you hear a rifle go off and the sound of crows taking flight, throwing a last-second twist to the piece.
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