Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#837 in the Series) is Chris Squire, Fish out of Water
I can’t give you the date. I wish I could, but I remember it like yesterday coming home as a wasted teen, turning on Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert and seeing Bill Bruford with his Boston Bruins cutoff jersey, Chris Squire with his signature cape and Patrick Moraz standing in front of an orchestra performing the first two tracks on this gem of music. I recognized it well, as I got it on vinyl as soon as I could. It would later remind me of Peter Gabriel’s first solo record, not sounding all that much like the famous and great band they were better known for. If you never heard this, (I had it on LP, 8-track, pick with Atlantic signia and sleeve of record, and later after a long and expensive search, CD), go get it and tell me this is not one of the coolest records you ever have heard. You can’t.
Yes was at their all-time creative highest, having just finished Close to the Edge and Yessongs. They all decided to put out a solo record, more to explore musical roots than to break up, and out came from Squire probably the most pop sounding of all, with little or no guitar and subdued keyboard. The year was 1975 and these guys had the label by the balls, having proved to be the greatest of musician’s musicians. Classically trained and psychedelically influenced, it could have sounded like another Yes record at a different level. Instead, out of the box of a pop love song segued into another of the same. The vocal range can’t be described, it must be heard. I saw Yes many many times and one time when I saw them walking through the lobby of the hotel I called out to Chris and made a request for him play “Hold out your Hand” and elicited a big smile from him. It didn’t appear on that nights set list. That is the first track from the record and it sounds nothing like any Yes song. Not just the absence of the the greatest guitar player of all time in my opinion (Steve Howe if you didn’t know), but the tempo and pulse. It was cool; it was grandiose with the orchestra playing the bridge against flying bass notes. This was more creative than I could have ever guessed. And love songs! From the weird tall maniac bass player that rocked the instrument like no one before or after him.
More cool was to follow. The first side was finished with a longer track that drifted into layers of bass and orchestra and came back to incredible rhythm and harmony. Side two features legendary sax player Mel Collins, who makes it sound like maybe Squire has hit his hot spot and won’t return to the progressive rock group that often made him stand in the shadows. I mean it could be jazz, it could be fusion, it could be pop, I tell you what it was, greatness.
I have two complaints. It was too short (five tracks total) and it was a lifetime before he ever did anything on his own since. And I guess I would have to add I never saw him play any of it live. I have met briefly the Fish a couple of times, but I feel like I never knew him better after listening to Fish out of Water over and over and over again. By a strange coincidence, my wife and him and the City of Chicago have the same birthday (March 4th), I celebrate all three!
– John Driscoll, Chicago, Illinois, USA
All songs written by Chris Squire.
- “Hold Out Your Hand” – 4:13
- “You By My Side” – 5:00
- “Silently Falling” – 11:27
- “Lucky Seven” – 6:54
- “Safe (Canon Song)” – 14:56
- Chris Squire – basses, lead and backing vocals, additional drum fills on “You By My Side”,12-string electric guitar on “Silently Falling” and “Safe”
- Andrew Jackman – acoustic and electric pianos, conductor, orchestration
- Bill Bruford – drums, percussion
- Patrick Moraz – bass synthesizer and organ on “Silently Falling”
- Jimmy Hastings – flute
- Mel Collins – alto saxophone on “Lucky Seven”, tenor saxophone on “Silently Falling”
- Barry Rose – pipe organ on “Hold Out Your Hand”
- Nikki Squire – backing vocals on “Hold Out Your Hand”
Below is the entire album on a playlist
Here’s a cool promo for the album