Issue 30 CD

Chocolate Frog Records, released August 2000
Recorded live at The Haddington Corn Exchange on August 29th 1999.

CFVP007CD, limited edition, available to fanclub members only.

01. Medley
(i) Emperor's Song [Dick/Boult/Cassidy]
(ii) Credo [Dick/Simmonds/Boult/Usher]
(iii) What Colour is God? [Dick/Wilson]
(iv) Mr. 1470 [Dick/Paterson/Boult]
02. Plague of Ghosts [Dick/Turrell/Daghorn]
(i) Old haunts
(ii) Digging Deep
(iii) Chocolate Frogs
(iv) Waving at Stars
(v) Raingods dancing
(vi) Wake-up Call (Make It Happen)
03. Medley
(i) Cliché
(ii) Perception of Johnny Punter [Dick/Simmonds]
04. Incomplete [Dick/Antwi/Millett]
05. Sunsets on Empire [Dick/Wilson]
06. The Company [Dick/Simmonds]

Guitars: John Wesley
Keyboards: Tony Turrell
Backing vocals: Elizabeth Antwi
Drums: Dave Stewart
Bass: Steve Vantsis
Guests guitarists: Frank Usher, Steve Wilson (Sunsets on Empire) Vocals: Fish

This CD is not for retail sale and is only available by mail order.

As a nice gesture to the members of the international Company fan clubs, Fish decided to release a CD with recordings of the electric set of last year's Haddington Convention and send that to the subscribers instead of one issue of the fanzine. It took much more time to get this thing together than was originally expected. The fact that Fish is currently giving priority to getting his acting career off the ground must have had something to do with that.
The band consists of Fish (vocals), John Wesley (guitars), Tony Turrell (co-writer of Plague, keyboards), Elizabeth Antwi (backing vocals), Dave Stewart (drums) and Steve Vantsis (bass).
The Medley worked much better than I had expected. Although some of the older songs aren't performed as tightly as Fish' old back-up band used to play them, they certainly bring back great memories of some of the gigs from the mid nineties. The cross-overs between the separate tracks also work much better than I had expected. All in all a nice recording of this little live collectors item.
After some joking around to be able to get away with reading out some of the lyrics the band goes into the full length version of Plague of Ghosts. Even though this was one of the first (if not the first) live performance of the epic, it works remarkably well and is played very tight. My only complaint are the backing vocals which are often out of tune, misplaced and all over the place. As far as that's concerned I'm not a big supporter of having Elizabeth Antwi on stage because her vocals work more annoying that adding something to the songs. Fish, on the contrary, is brilliant in this song.
The song ends with a great extended Wake-Up Call in which the musicians leave the stage one by one, leaving a chanting crowd behind.
I've always found the combination of Cliche and Perception of Johnny Punter a very weird one. It doesn't work any better on this CD. Cliche is a great track but the sudden switch into Perception still sounds very misplaced to me. Besides that, the best part of Perception is the first half, whereas this version features the end section.
Incomplete has never been a favourite of mine and the vocals of this duet are sometimes out of tune. Sunsets on Empire features a rare appearance of co-writer Steve Wilson (Porcupine Tree). Fish has some problems with the high vocals though and I'm not quite sure if the live version lives up to the studio one. Elizabeth Antwi certainly wasn't an improvement compared to the original singer.
Instead of The Company, which is features on almost every Fish live CD already, I would have preferred to have seen one of the other tracks from the set like Faithhealer, Brother 52, Hotel Hobbies/Warm Wet Circles/That Time of the Night, Tumbledown or Goldfish and Clowns instead.
The sound quality and mix of the album are not brilliant but quite okay. An advantage of this is that the atmosphere and spontaneous feel of the concert are maintained.
All in all, an album that's not without a couple of faults here and there but still nice gesture by the big Scot and worth having for some of the rare live versions and especially the full Plague of Ghosts. 7.5 out of 10.
Ed Sander (DPRP), December 2003

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