Fish – The Complete BBC Sessions
I was rather surprised to find this two-disk set lurking in my local Best Buy as I had heard nothing about it. Being a big fan of Fish, I, of course, had to pick it up and hear what it was all about – well, other than what the title The Complete BBC Sessions said.
The set covers two shows by the Scotsman dating from 1989 and 1991, respectively. The production and performances are better during the 1991 date, a November 15 show at Nottingham Royal Concert Hall. The first show actually bleeds over to disk two with the persistently requested “Kayleigh” and “Lavender” (and “Heart of Lothian”) ending the London Town and Country Club show. The all too familiar guitar phrases take on a different character here – not bad, but decided different, making the track seem much sunnier than it was intended. In fact, it almost seems to be out of another song.
The performances for the 1989 show are a little too loose, where the band seems a little out of sync. This isn’t helped by the often-muddy sound. The band seem a little sluggish, especially in comparison to the more energy Fish seems to exhibit. Disc two fares better; the production certainly does as this has a much clearer, crisper sound. The band sounds and feels more energetic and more in sync.
All the expected tracks are here, both from his Marillion days and his solo career to that point. As Fish alludes to in the liner notes, the circumstances surrounding his career at the time (the whole EMI then Polydor “things”) provide a subtext to his performance here on the 1991 show. This well above the subtext inherent in the lyrics anyway. “Vigil” has an extra punch, “Tongues,” “The Company” too.
Because there is so much live Fish material out there both legit and bootleg, it doesn’t make this disk essential. I haven’t judged this in comparison to those other (legit) live disks, but it is work buying if for disc two alone.