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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Chris Squire

Fish Out of Water (Two CD Re-Mastered Edition)

Review by Gary Hill

This new edition of Chris Squire's debut solo album is great. It's a two CD set. The first CD is a new mix of the original disc. The second one is a re-mastered version of the original mix with some bonus tracks. I'd say that I still prefer the original mix to the new one, but I recommend checking that new mix out nonetheless. It really allows you to hear some things that you couldn't really hear on the original version.

In addition to the two versions of the album, there is a great booklet included, but that's not all there. There are four songs that were originally single sides. The first two are the A and B sides of the single from Fish Out of Water. The second pair is "Run With the Fox" and "Return of the Fox" from Chris Squire and Alan White. Those are well worth having two. It should be noted that I previously reviewed the original edition of the CD and the overall review from that follows here. Also, the track reviews (since they are the same) are included here from that review for the sake of consistency. I've also included my earlier review of the song "Run With the Fox" (from the Yesyears box set) here for the same reason. The reviews of "Return of the Fox" and the two Fish Out of Water single sides are new for this review, though.

When Yes all took a temporary hiatus to focus on solo works in the early 1970s, Chris Squire put out this masterpiece. This disc is arguably the most Yes-like of the bunch (Okay, Jon Anderson's Olias of Sunhillow is hard to beat in that regard). This is also one of the strongest of the bunch. There is not a weak song on the disc, and Squire's vocal performances are top notch. His bass playing is the stuff of legend, and there aren't many better examples of just what is possible on the instrument than this album. The thing is, all of the songs work extremely well together creating a unified musical vision that is as fun to listen to today as it was then. He did surround himself with several other notable musicians for this session, and it paid off. Amongst them are two Yes alumni (Bill Bruford and Patrick Moraz). This one, despite the fact that it can be a bit hard to find at times, is a must have for fans of 1970s progressive rock.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2018  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Disc One:
             
The New Stereo Mix
              
Hold Out Your Hand

Starting on keys, of course Chris Squire's bass (which drives this up tempo prog rocker) is unmistakable. So, too are his vocals. Certainly The Fish has a voice that would be quite up to par with Jon Anderson's, meaning that he could conceivably have been the lead singer of any incarnation of Yes as this shows. For a song that's only a little over four minutes in length, Squire packs a lot of intriguing twists into the structure. There's even a nice instrumental break where the keys seem to alternate between the stylings of Keith Emerson and Rick Wakeman. Symphonic bursts accentuate the chord changes on the segment that leads up to the killer change-up for the outro. The ascending bass line that serves as this conclusion also segues it straight into the next song.

You By My Side
Coming straight out of the last track, this one is a very Beatles-like pop rock number that is extremely effective. After running through in this fairly mainstream manner for a time, it drops back to a rather atmospheric segment with symphonic instrumentation. Squire takes the opportunity to recreate the song from here, moving the arrangement gradually upward into a different song with flute soaring overhead. This break runs through for a time, and seems to be about to close out the cut. Then it bursts out with a revitalized version of the original musical themes. It really wouldn't be hard to imagine the Beatles doing this song on Let It Be or one of the other albums from around that time. This one turns in a killer jam late in the track with Squire running cool lines of bass while an orchestra accompanies him and provides the high end melodies. This eventually builds up to the outro that ends it.
Silently Falling
Pretty, but somewhat "airy fairy" (sorry, I remember that term used in derogatory fashion by one of the guys in Yes to refer to some of the music that was being created in the legendary Paris sessions) symphony sounds take the song up to the first melody lines. Squire plays the backdrop on his bass in a gradually building element that he sings over accompanied by more of those symphonic instruments. This one is an incredible piece of music that is probably my favorite on the disc. It reminds me a lot of something from Yes' Fragile, and the way it keeps climbing in cycles is awesome. This cut alone is worth the price of admission here. At about 11 and a half minutes it's also the second longest cut on show here. As it works through its varying layers and changes there are also moments in here that make me think of Traffic. The fast paced off kilter riff that shows up after this is both extremely Yes-like and exceptionally potent. Squire puts in some absolutely awesome bass soloing on this cut and the organ work is also quite meaty. It keeps working up in a swirling cycling fashion with each layer becoming more complex and potent than the one before it. Eventually, though, it crescendos and then the cut drops back to the earlier verse section. Squire and company follow through here, building it much like the last time. Instead of jumping into this spiraling climb again, though, it drops to a dramatic mellower segment where Squire sings the words, "Silently falling / Silently Falling / Silently Falling / Falling Down / Down / Down" over an increasingly potent slow moving structure. This gets incredibly lush as it carries forward and is one of the most evocative sections of this CD. I challenge anyone to listen to this and not feel the sheer building of energy and power. As it reaches its apex it stretches out into a new jam based on these elements that just seems to keep soaring higher and higher. If you are a fan of 70s prog rock and particularly bass guitar, this song (and arguably the whole CD) is a "must have."
Lucky Seven
Starting with a Pink Floyd like organ sound, Squire comes in on bass to bring the rhythm section with him. The man lays down some of the most funky sounds he ever has on this cut, turning it into a nice mid-tempo groove. Saxophone lends a jazzy texture to the song. Squire's vocal lines create a cycle of energy and rhythmic pattern, and the man throws short bass runs into the ends of the verses to create an additional energy and interest. While this one is not as powerful as the one that preceded it, it is incredibly listenable and if you focus on the bass guitar work you'll note that The Fish puts down some more incredible playing on this one. The points where it takes the lead guitar role are equally awesome, but those you can't miss. Paying attention when it's more in the background reveals even more to love about Squire's mastery of the instrument. Add in the symphonic arrangement and killer vocal layering, and it's obvious that this cut is up there with anything else on the disc, and indeed can stand alongside most of the music in Yes' catalog.
Safe (Canon Song)
In its early segments this cut reminds me a lot of "Silently Falling." It builds extremely slowly for a time until it eventually bursts out into a mid-tempo prog rock journey that shows off more of those Beatles-like elements. This (after running through for a time with this song-oriented structure) becomes an incredibly complex bass guitar dominated journey of ever higher peaks. It climbs slowly, but so effectively. There are definitely links to something like "Heart of the Sunrise," but this is even more impressive than that one. The first time out it only climbs so far, instead dropping back to the sung segment again. But then it drops way down and starts the long upward climb at first in tentative baby steps. Squire's bass holds down the rhythm while orchestral instruments create patterns over the top for quite some time. Eventually though it seems as though the whole track is climbing Mt. Everest, and each successive run through a few lines of music takes them to an ever higher plateau. They repeat this pattern. They reach ever upwards to where you feel you might touch the stars, then drop it back down to the origins. Only (if you really notice) this baseline is somewhat above the one before, and then the climb begins anew. During one of these drop downs the music is so much like Fragile that it's downright scary. This turns quite symphonic at times and eventually drops down to an atmospheric sounding, slightly echoey bass solo to end. This nearly 15 minute epic is such an incredible ride and it makes for an equally incredible disc conclusion.
Disc Two:
         
The Original Stereo Mix Re-Mastered
          
Hold Out Your Hand

Starting on keys, of course Chris Squire's bass (which drives this up tempo prog rocker) is unmistakable. So, too are his vocals. Certainly The Fish has a voice that would be quite up to par with Jon Anderson's, meaning that he could conceivably have been the lead singer of any incarnation of Yes as this shows. For a song that's only a little over four minutes in length, Squire packs a lot of intriguing twists into the structure. There's even a nice instrumental break where the keys seem to alternate between the stylings of Keith Emerson and Rick Wakeman. Symphonic bursts accentuate the chord changes on the segment that leads up to the killer change-up for the outro. The ascending bass line that serves as this conclusion also segues it straight into the next song.

You By My Side
Coming straight out of the last track, this one is a very Beatles-like pop rock number that is extremely effective. After running through in this fairly mainstream manner for a time, it drops back to a rather atmospheric segment with symphonic instrumentation. Squire takes the opportunity to recreate the song from here, moving the arrangement gradually upward into a different song with flute soaring overhead. This break runs through for a time, and seems to be about to close out the cut. Then it bursts out with a revitalized version of the original musical themes. It really wouldn't be hard to imagine the Beatles doing this song on Let It Be or one of the other albums from around that time. This one turns in a killer jam late in the track with Squire running cool lines of bass while an orchestra accompanies him and provides the high end melodies. This eventually builds up to the outro that ends it.
Silently Falling
Pretty, but somewhat "airy fairy" (sorry, I remember that term used in derogatory fashion by one of the guys in Yes to refer to some of the music that was being created in the legendary Paris sessions) symphony sounds take the song up to the first melody lines. Squire plays the backdrop on his bass in a gradually building element that he sings over accompanied by more of those symphonic instruments. This one is an incredible piece of music that is probably my favorite on the disc. It reminds me a lot of something from Yes' Fragile, and the way it keeps climbing in cycles is awesome. This cut alone is worth the price of admission here. At about 11 and a half minutes it's also the second longest cut on show here. As it works through its varying layers and changes there are also moments in here that make me think of Traffic. The fast paced off kilter riff that shows up after this is both extremely Yes-like and exceptionally potent. Squire puts in some absolutely awesome bass soloing on this cut and the organ work is also quite meaty. It keeps working up in a swirling cycling fashion with each layer becoming more complex and potent than the one before it. Eventually, though, it crescendos and then the cut drops back to the earlier verse section. Squire and company follow through here, building it much like the last time. Instead of jumping into this spiraling climb again, though, it drops to a dramatic mellower segment where Squire sings the words, "Silently falling / Silently Falling / Silently Falling / Falling Down / Down / Down" over an increasingly potent slow moving structure. This gets incredibly lush as it carries forward and is one of the most evocative sections of this CD. I challenge anyone to listen to this and not feel the sheer building of energy and power. As it reaches its apex it stretches out into a new jam based on these elements that just seems to keep soaring higher and higher. If you are a fan of 70s prog rock and particularly bass guitar, this song (and arguably the whole CD) is a "must have."
Lucky Seven
Starting with a Pink Floyd like organ sound, Squire comes in on bass to bring the rhythm section with him. The man lays down some of the most funky sounds he ever has on this cut, turning it into a nice mid-tempo groove. Saxophone lends a jazzy texture to the song. Squire's vocal lines create a cycle of energy and rhythmic pattern, and the man throws short bass runs into the ends of the verses to create an additional energy and interest. While this one is not as powerful as the one that preceded it, it is incredibly listenable and if you focus on the bass guitar work you'll note that The Fish puts down some more incredible playing on this one. The points where it takes the lead guitar role are equally awesome, but those you can't miss. Paying attention when it's more in the background reveals even more to love about Squire's mastery of the instrument. Add in the symphonic arrangement and killer vocal layering, and it's obvious that this cut is up there with anything else on the disc, and indeed can stand alongside most of the music in Yes' catalog.
Safe (Canon Song)
In its early segments this cut reminds me a lot of "Silently Falling." It builds extremely slowly for a time until it eventually bursts out into a mid-tempo prog rock journey that shows off more of those Beatles-like elements. This (after running through for a time with this song-oriented structure) becomes an incredibly complex bass guitar dominated journey of ever higher peaks. It climbs slowly, but so effectively. There are definitely links to something like "Heart of the Sunrise," but this is even more impressive than that one. The first time out it only climbs so far, instead dropping back to the sung segment again. But then it drops way down and starts the long upward climb at first in tentative baby steps. Squire's bass holds down the rhythm while orchestral instruments create patterns over the top for quite some time. Eventually though it seems as though the whole track is climbing Mt. Everest, and each successive run through a few lines of music takes them to an ever higher plateau. They repeat this pattern. They reach ever upwards to where you feel you might touch the stars, then drop it back down to the origins. Only (if you really notice) this baseline is somewhat above the one before, and then the climb begins anew. During one of these drop downs the music is so much like Fragile that it's downright scary. This turns quite symphonic at times and eventually drops down to an atmospheric sounding, slightly echoey bass solo to end. This nearly 15 minute epic is such an incredible ride and it makes for an equally incredible disc conclusion.
Bonus Tracks
            
Lucky Seven (Single Version)

As you might guess, this is the A-side of the single from Fish Out of Water. It is about half the length of the full song. It works quite well in this shortened form, though. In fact, I would say "surprisingly well." This is a great alternate.

Silently Falling (Single Version)
Cutting an eleven-minute plus song to three minutes requires some serious editing, the likes of which they've done here. This still works pretty well in this rendition, but it loses the variety and dynamic range of the full version, instead focusing just one section of the piece. This was originally the B-side of the "Lucky Seven" single.
Chris Squire & Alan White
                
Run With the Fox

Released by Squire and White as a Christmas single when Yes had ceased to be, this prog ballad with the bassman on lead vocals is a great song, both as a Yes track and a Christmas number. It feels a bit like a cross between Squire's Fish Out of Water album, Drama era Yes and a touch of ELP's Love Beach. That last influence can probably be explained by the fact that Pete Sinfield (who was responsible for that ELP album's lyrics) penned the words to this one. This has some nice touches like horns and strings, a killer bass line and is just a stellar tune. Its positive theme and texture are great.

Return of the Fox
Coming in with the same musical themes as the previous piece, this has even more of a Drama type sound to it in a lot of ways. That said, it also makes me think of some of the demo material that had been recorded between Tormato and Drama before Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman left Yes. This is essentially an instrumental version of the previous piece, but there are vocals of the title on the chorus part of the piece. The instrumental work seems expanded from the other version. This was actually released as the B-side of "Run With the Fox."

 

 
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