Fish - Kettle Of Fish

Year of Release: 1998
Label: Roadrunner
Catalog Number: RR 8678-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 68:11:00

It's fairly easy to review a Greatest Hits-type compiliation of an artist you're already familiar with, the presumption being that you must really like the artist if you are going to shell out the bucks for a disk that, with modern technology, you can make yourself. If you didn't like the tracks included, or the artist, you probably wouldn't buy it (I'm in the "bought it" category).

Rather I should say, it appears to be easy. Because you are a fan, because you already know and love all (or most) of the tracks, being objective about them is the challenge.

Where I stand is this: If I were to make a compilation of Fish tracks from Vigil In A Wilderness of Mirrors to Sunsets On Empire, this is the one I'd make - give or take a couple of tracks. Whether I would choose the original version of "Just Good Friends" or the duet version (with Sam Brown) included here, is a toss up.

As an introduction to Fish for the non-fan, this is perfect. Fortunately, this isn't saddled with the nebulous title Greatest Hits, but the more apt title Kettle of Fish.

What this "kettle" contains are the most accessible Fish tracks written in the post-Marillion period, a selection of songs which Fish feels most represents him. Though, if they were truly accessible, they'd be overplayed radio fodder, now wouldn't they? Why can't Fish be as ubiqitous as the penny a dozen clones being churned out today? Yeh, sure their music is poppy enough, and listenable in a non-threatening kinda way, but frankly, a lot of that music fades away an hour after hearing it. Fish (among so many other artists of integrity) writes compositions that stick in the mind days, weeks, maybe even months later.

Well, we've done that diatribe in our first issue. [April 97 - ed.]

For long time fans, the selling point is the two new tracks - "Chasing Miss Pretty" and "Mr. Buttons."

The first, without the histronics and oversized ego, is Fish in a David Lee Roth kinda mode. Before you start that email lashback, let me clarify. I mean that this wouldn't sound out-of-place as a solo Roth summertime tune (okay, for kitsch value, I kinda liked those first few post-Van Halen singles). Would I ever compare Roth with Fish in any other context? No (except for the band-split thing, but we should be over that by now).

Look. For those of us who know Fish's darker side (especially in his Marillion days) this is far sunnier than we expect him to be. Coming after "Brother 52" and before "Credo" on this compilation, it seems even more out of place.

Make no mistake, though. "Chasing" is a good track. But there is much stronger material here, both in contextually and compositionally, that "Chasing" seems very lightweight in comparison.

Maybe it's because I've come to think of Fish as sharp and insightful commentator on our times, whether it is governmental politics ("State Of Mind," for example, included here) or personal politics ("Just Good Friends" ).

I know Fish is trying what he can to get the success he deserves, and "Chasing" may just mainstream enough to get a foothold. And if that sells this disk, exposing new fans to the much better material, and thus the back catalog, then it can't be all wrong.

The second of the two new tracks, the tale of "superhighway" robbery entitled "Mr Buttons," is more characteristic of recent Fish - it wouldn't sound out of place on 1997's Sunsets On Empire nor even on the earlier Suits. The verse parts will remind of a mellower "Lucky" (which on this disk it follows), where the chorus is a blend of acoustic and electric guitar elements (give and take) over characteristic Fish crooning. Actually, if you were to take every solo Fish song, post Vigil, mix them together, add a few tinkily piano bits, out would come "Mr. Buttons."

By the way, the booklet includes all the lyrics with pictures of the appropriate single sleeve, pictures of Fish over the course of his "solo career" (thus far) and a 7 page essay/historical overview written by Fish. While I suspect it was a deliberate, sly bit of cheek, the essay isn't concluded, cut off as Fish discusses the upcoming Raingods With Zippos. Only appropriate, of course, because with Raingods on the horizon, the story of Fish isn't finished being written yet. Of course, it could all have been a printer's error. [It was a printer's error, one of a few. -ed.]

For long time fans, the new tracks are enough to make us think about Raingods, but not enough really for anyone but completists to get.

Big Wedge (5:19) / Just Good Friends (5:48) / Brother 52 (6:06) / Chasing Miss Pretty (4:53) / Credo (6:41) / A Gentleman's Excuse Me (4:19) / Goldfish and Clowns (6:38) / Lady Let It Lie (4:12) / Lucky (4:58) / State of Mind (4:46) / Mr. Buttons (4:36) / Fortunes of War (7:54) / Internal Exile (4:41)

Fish - vocals
Frank Usher - guitar
Robin Boult - guitar
Davey Paton - bass
Mickey Simmonds - keyboards...

Vigil In A Wilderness of Mirrors (1990)
Internal Exile (1991)
Songs From The Mirror (1992)
There's A Guy Works Down The Chip Shop
?Swears He's Fish
Toiling In The Reeperbahn (1993)**
Derek Dick And His Amazing Electric Bear (1993)**
Pigpens Birthday (1993)**
Uncle Fish & The Crypt Creepers (1993)**
For Whom The Bells Toll(1993)**
The Funny Farm Project - Outpatients '93 (1993)***
Suits (1994)
Sushi (1994)**
Acoustic Session (1994)**
Yin and Yang (1995)
Fish Head Curry (1996)**
Krakow (1996)
Sunsets On Empire (1997)
Kettle Of Fish (1998)
Fortunes Of War Acoustic Set UK '94 (1998)
Tales From The Big Bus (Live From K?ln 1997) (1998)
Haddington Corn Exchange 1998 (1999)
The Complete BBC Sessions (1999)
Raingods With Zippos (1999)
Candlelight In Fog (USA 2000) (2000)
Fellini Days (2001)
Sashimi (Live In Poznan, Poland 1999) (2001)
Fellini Nights (2002)
Mixed Company (2003)
Field Of Crows (2004)
Bouillabaisse - The Best Of Fish (2005)
Return To Childhood (2006)
Communion (2007)
13th Star (2007)
A Feast Of Consequence (2013)
The Moveable Feast - European Tour 2013-2015 (2016)
Farewell To Childhood - Live In Europe 2015-2016 (2017)

NEARFest - Fish Live In The USA (2009)
Leamington Spa - Sunday October 21st (2013)
Fishheads Club Live (2013)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin UK

Added: April 10th 1999
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 1743
Language: english


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