Fish - Field Of Crows

Year of Release: 2004
Label: Chocolate Frog Records
Catalog Number: CFVPO16CD
Format: CD
Total Time: 66:59:00

There's a huge body of musical work out there that is brilliant in almost every way. It is melodic, clever, complex, and varied. But there's a fundamental component that's been ignored in a large majority of this music: Good, old fashioned songwriting. And that's what Fish brings to the table.

Every Fish song seems to be imbued with meaning and depth and they're usually partly autobiographical, so you have the impression you're in the middle of a dark, mysterious story. It's a feeling Fish manages to impart with his poetry, and the way that rich instrumentation is orchestrated so impeccably around the words. His unmistakable vocals are flat and un-melodic and he has always lacked range, but no one in the business puts as much heart into their songs. These are deeply sincere pieces, and you'll be carried away in the emotion of each track.

The instrumentation is not unduly complex but it has a mature, rich texture, and most songs are a wall of sound from end to end ? almost a big-band sound, in parts. Don't look for your garden-variety guitar-keyboard-drum-bass combo. Those instruments are there, but the album is richly enhanced by saxophones, trumpets, flugel horns, a clavinet and plenty of sampled keyboard sounds; and the flawless production and mixing bring each sound to the fore in perfect balance.

Field Of Crows isn't a concept album, and it isn't really a theme album ? although the theme of crows comes up, in different contexts, in at least half the songs. There are 11 tracks lasting 67 minutes, with only 3 songs lasting over 6 minutes. One of the standout tracks is "Exit Wound," a sophisticated ballad of lost love that starts with a soft acoustic guitar, and builds up over its 6 minutes to a huge wall of sound led by a deep, rhythmic bass, and a wailing saxophone. (Nothing can emphasize a minor key like a sax!) The vocals are consistent and melodic, and this is one of the more moving ballads I've heard in years.

"Shot The Craw" is a Scottish term for "took off," or "ran away'" (You won't find that in a phrase book, but as a Scot, I'm familiar with the term). The song of that name is a lament for having left a relationship. The repeated line of "I dance without you ? I learned to dance without you" changes over the length of the song to "Now I find I can't dance without you, can't dance without you," and the phrase "I shot the craw" at the end of most verses, gives the song a wonderfully expressive, poetic lilt.

The title track is a slow head-nodding rocker and probably the next best piece on the album, and you'll love the King Crimson-esque distorted bass guitar riff in "The Rookie" (Remember KC's Thrak? "Sex Sleep eat?").

The cover art is fun ? it is a Mark Wilkinson impression of two of Van Gogh's paintings, Wheat Field and Wheat Field With Crows, with a stylized Fish striding down the dirt path.

For Fish aficionados: This one falls within the realm of Sunsets On Empire and Vigil In A Wilderness of Mirrors, and it's streets ahead of Raingods and Fellini Days.

Fish is a master song writer, and if anyone still feels there's no place for neo in today's progressive rock world, Field Of Crows will change your mind.

The Field (8.42) / Moving Targets (5.46) / The Rookie (5.35) / Zoo Class (5.23) / The Lost Plot (5.10) / Old Crow (5.20) / Numbers (5.36) / Exit Wound (5.55) / Innocent Party (7.37) / Shot The Craw (6.00) / Scattering Crows (Still Time) (5.05)

Fish - lead vocals
Bruce Watson - guitars and e-bow
Frank Usher - guitars, slide guitar
Steve Vantsis - bass
Mark Brzezicki - drums and percussion
Tony Turrell - keyboards
Dave Haswell - percussion
Danny Gillan - backing vocals (1,2,3,4,6,11)
Richard Sidwell - trumpet and flugelhorn (1, 4 , 6, 8, 10)
Steve Hamilton - saxophone (1, 4, 6, 8, 10)
Yatta, Lars K. Lande - 'crowd' vocal (1)
Irvin Duguid - clavinet (6)

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: February 9th 2004
Reviewer: Duncan N Glenday
Artist website:
Hits: 2278
Language: english


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