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Fish Out Of Water
Box Set, Import
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Deluxe box set including two CDs, two DVDs two seven inch singles and a 180gm vinyl LP pressing plus a 36 page book. Digitally remastered and expanded edition of Yes founder Chris Squire's legendary 1975 solo album Fish Out Of Water. Recorded in the late Spring and Summer of 1975 whilst Yes was on hiatus as members recorded their respective solo albums, Fish Out Of Water was a breath-taking work, and equal in standard to any Yes album in terms of sheer invention and creativity. The album was essentially a collaboration between Chris Squire and his friend Andrew Pryce Jackman, a gifted arranger who had been a member of The Syn, Squire's pre-Yes group. The sessions saw contributions from former Yes drummer Bill Bruford, Yes keyboard player Patrick Moraz and noted musicians Mel Collins and Jimmy Hastings. Released in November 1975, Fish Out Of Water was a Top 30 chart hit in the UK and made the US Billboard Top 75 album chart, going on to sell nearly 500,000 copies worldwide. 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 remaster 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 180gm gatefold LP with poster of Fish Out Of Water (mastered and cut from the original tapes at Abbey Road studios), along with two seven inch singles, 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. Always justly proud of his first solo album, it was Chris Squire's long held wish that a 5. 1 Surround mix would be undertaken of the work someday. This Esoteric Recordings edition finally brings this to fruition and is a fitting tribute to the artistry of Chris and his collaborator, Andrew Pryce Jackman.
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The results are...mixed. First, a quick guide to significant differences: (1) the rapid cross-channel echo in "Hold Out Your Hand" is gone; (2) there's an extra 30 seconds or so in "Silently Falling" since the fade is longer; (3) there's a curious, tape-slowing-down echoing percussion thing (a gong?) at the end of Patrick Moraz's organ solo in "Silently Falling" which was not audible in the original mix; (4) orchestral parts are audible in the first verse of "Lucky Seven" which were not audible in the original mix; and (5) the distorted bass solo about 12 minutes into "Safe (Canon Song)" is almost completely inaudible.
I have no strong opinions about the first 4 of these--I think they make a sort of alternate version of the album, and I have no preferences. But I really, truly cannot fathom what drove Jakszyk to get rid of that bass solo. Especially since this is a very densely mixed album: there are almost no two bars that are exactly the same...except in two places. One is the vamp underneath Moraz's organ solo in "Silently Falling." And the other is the orchestral vamp underneath this bass solo. That is, it seems pretty obvious to my ears that, in both cases, Squire wanted to draw listeners' attention primarily to the solo.
I actually wrote Esoteric (the label) to ask whether this was a mistake (I haven't heard back--I will update if and when I do).
The good news is: the old mix is still there, remastered. Overall I think it sounds great...but I haven't A/B'd with any older versions.
The package on the box set is quite nice: a 24-page booklet (curiously illustrated most prominently with photos of Squire from about a decade ago), a folder with pockets for the two CDs and two DVDs, a 180g vinyl version, and 7" singles of the edits of "Lucky Seven" and "Silently Falling," and the not-all-that-great Squire/Alan White single from 1980, "Run with the Fox" and its instrumental b-side, "Return of the Fox."
If you don't care about the surround, or having the vinyl, the two-CD version is probably fine.