Kettle Of Fish

Roadrunner Records, released 9th November 1998

Promo CD
(Marked - 'Not final version - for promotional use only')

UK: RR 8678-8 (16861 86788)
The first 30,000 copies contain an extra CD-ROM with 3 video clips (Fortunes of War, Brother 52 and Just Good Friends) and details of the back-catalogue re-releases

01. Big Wedge (05:19) [Dick/Simmonds]
02. Just Good Friends (with Sam Brown) (05:48) [Dick/Usher/Boult/Simmonds]
03.  Brother 52 (06:06) [Dick/Wilson]
04.  Chasing Miss Pretty (4.53) [Dick/Braide/Bassett]
05. Credo (06:41) [Dick/Simmonds/Boult/Usher]
06. A Gentleman's Excuse Me (04:19) [Dick/Simmonds]
07.  Goldfish and Clowns (06:38) [Dick/Wilson]
08. Lady Let It Lie (04:12) [Dick/Paton/Cassidy]
09. Lucky (04:58) [Dick/Boult/Simmonds]
10.  State Of Mind (04:46) [Dick/Simmonds/Lindes]
11.  Mr. Buttons (4.36) [Dick/Gardiner/Sharp]
12. Fortunes Of War (07:54) [Dick/Cassidy/Boult]
13. Internal Exile (04:41) [Dick/Boult/Simmonds]
Total Time (70.51)

Don't let the label fool you - Fish isn't the latest heavy-metal act. The former Marillion frontman, on his own for the last decade, is either god or devil to long-time fans of his old band, and a rather interesting fellow. There aren't many rockers about with backgrounds in forestry.
Although his stylistic wanderings have taken him to some fairly odd points in the musical continuum during his solo career - the song "Brother 52" being a good example - Fish hasn't lost any of the ability he displayed prior to 1988. He can still sound passionate at any point in his broad dynamic range, be it a whisper to a shout, and his passion is put to good use with lyrics from introspective to accusatory.
This compendium serves up a baker's dozen of Fish songs, including two new tracks. With sounds reminiscent of old Marillion, Peter Gabriel, traditional jigs, and the occasional bit of electronic pop, it displays the breadth of his work. All in all, a rather tasty morsel for new fans who'd like to sink their teeth into some Fish, and a suitable retrospective for existing fans' collections.
Dan Birchall (Consumable), 2 Feb 1999

I know, you're thinking "Another 'Best of' Fish", right? Only 3 years ago, most will remember that Fish gave us the double compilation Yin and Yang. But wait, the intents behind this release are noble and justifiable. You see, Fish decided to call it quits with his own record label Dick Bros, and he managed to secure an interesting deal with the Dutch label Roadrunner. One of the conditions upon signing the contract was the acquisition of the whole of Fish solo's back catalogue and the release of a new compilation CD with his more commercially appealing songs to generate a bit of interest with the general public and the medias before retaliating with the big punch on April 19th: the next album, Raingods with Zippos which is already collecting very favorable reviews.
To my amazement, in most CD stores I walk in, there are a number of copies of Kettle of Fish on display. This is something I have never seen here in Canada for Fish since his glory days with Marillion! This CD could very well give the opportunity to the masses who lost track of Fish because of the lack of publicity about him to find out what the sympathetic giant has been up to all these years, and that's been making gorgeous, yet unknown to most, music! Kettle contains a combination of sweet and poetic ballads and groovy rock and roll in which Fish gives us a number of points of view, sometimes sarcastical, on political and social topics. As it usually is the case with Fish, the lyrics are very imaged and colourful, but I couldn't help but notice that most of the texts on this compilation show the lighter side of him, meaning he can sometimes be very dark and poisonous in his prose, but it seems we took, consciously or not, a lighter approach and offered his "less shocking" work.
And for the long-time die-hard fans who have all the albums available on the market on various formats, enough reasons are given to buy this CD. There are two previously unreleased tracks, recorded recently in France during some kind of seminar where several performers gathered and where bands were randomly created and they had to come up with a recorded new song by the end of a day. The results are far from being unpleasant despite the short deadline. "Chasing Miss Pretty" is a light-hearted anecdote about a short obsession about a woman, but its Andy Summers-ish flavour in the guitars is refreshing and sticks well with Fish's voice. As for the other new song, "Mr Buttons", you can tell these are matured lyrics in Fish's brain (the idea was born during the Suits sessions), and is more typical of his work. It offers more meat with judicious accordion parts. A real gem is the duet version of "Just Good Friends" with the sweet voice of Sam Brown (known mostly as one of Pink Floyd's chorists). Beautiful! But wait, there's more: if you own a computer, try to locate the limited edition of Kettle with the bonus CD-ROM on which you will find 3 videos ("Brother 52", "Fortunes of War" and "Just Good Friends" with Sam Brown) and other interactive features. Very entertaining!
Listening to this compilation, only one question comes to mind: how come we practically never heard those songs on radio? The musical business has never been very fair to Fish, but the "airwaves controllers" take the biscuit! It's a crime!! But it's never too late to make up for that absence and we can only hope that Kettle of Fish helps Fish getting back his well-deserved place on the podium along with the big names of music. It's a CD that will get your feet tapping at certain moments and will make you appreciate great musicianship accompanied by fabulous lyrics that deserve to be heard by the masses. If there is justice in this world, Kettle will help Fish's star shine again. *** (out of 5).
Marc Roy (Cyclone Magazine), April 09 1999

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