Tales from the Big Bus

Dick Bros Record Co, released July 1998

2 CDs
UK : DDICK29CD (5 034349 000051)
Eur: (Roadrunner re-release 28th Oct '98) RR 8688-2 (016861868826)

Recorded live in Köln, Nov. 20th 1997

CD1 (64:05)
01. Perception of Johnny Punter (11.41) [Dick/Wilson]
02. What Colour is God? (07.21) [Dick/Wilson]
03. Family Business (06.24) [Dick/Simmonds/Lindes]
04. Mr. 1470 (05.32) [Dick/Paterson/Boult]
05. Jungle Ride (08.15) [Dick/Boult]
06. Medley (20.25):
(i) Assassing [Dick/Rothery/Kelly/Trewavas/Mosley]
(ii) Credo [Dick/Simmonds/Boult/Usher]
(iii) Tongues [Dick/Simmonds/Boult/Usher]
(iv) Fugazi [Dick/Rothery/Kelly/Mosley/Trewavas]
(v) White Feather [Dick/Rothery/Kelly/Trewavas/Mosley]

CD2 (50:17)
07. Cliché (08.35) [Dick/Simmonds/Lindes]
08. Brother 52 (06.08) [Dick/Wilson]
09. Lucky (20.14) [Dick/Simmonds/Boult]
10. Internal Exile [Dick/Simmonds/Boult]
11. The Company (08.48) [Dick/Simmonds]

All music Published by Fishy Music Ltd/Hit and Run Music Publishing Ltd except tracks 7 and 3 published by Fishy Music Ltd/Hit and Run Music Publishing Ltd/Copyright Control and track 6 Parts i, iv and v published by Charisma Music Publishing Ltd.
Recording Copyright Derek W Dick 1998

How many times have we seen something like this: "I'm a big H-era fan, and want to get into Fish. Can someone suggest an album to help me get started?"
Well look no further. Fish's 2 CD live album Tales From... is the perfect starter kit for any Fish-fan wannabee and for those already converted be prepared to wear out the repeat button on your CD player.
Perception Of Johnny Punter kicks off this 2-hour set recorded in Germany late last year, and Fish is in excellent form. This rocking beginning is followed suit with What Colour Is God. Other songs on Disc One include Family Business and Jungle Ride.
The highlight of the album is the Assassing/Credo/Tongues/Fugazi/White Feather medley. Vintage Marillion tunes merge perfectly with classic Fish stuff on this 20-minute jam session.
Cliche kicks off side two, followed by show-closer staples Internal Exile and Lucky. The CD ends with The Company, quite a pleasant surprise as I don't recall him doing it on the North American Tour.
Because this is a live recording of a full concert, Fish's pre-song banter is left on. Live it's funny, particularly if you're in a crowd with a bit of a buzz-on happening. But he does have a habit of going on and on at times. I can see myself skipping past a lot of this after a few listens, particularly since a lot of it is in German anyway.
However if Fish's acting career doesn't pan out he might want to try stand-up comedy. I mean the "titty-magazine" bit at the beginning of Side 2 is funny--in a Jerry Seinfeld observation type of way.
It's too bad, also, Gentlemen's Excuse Me, was left off this recording but all in all, a proud thumbs up from me.
Joe the Hollowman, 8 Jul 1998

The last notes of Cliché fade away, the applause comes to a rest and Fish asks the audience for a minute of silence in memory of the victims of street violence, a minute of silence that is held all over Holland. After that, the concert continues with full power and an hour later, at midnight, my first - and so far only - Fish concert ends with a third and extra encore, The Boston Tea Party. I decided on the spot to buy the live-album of the tour, if there would be released one, that is.
And so, nearly a year later, I got hold Tales From The Big Bus. A live-CD can hardly be as great as a real concert, but Tales ... gives it a good try. It is but a try of course, and the main reason for that is the simple fact that you experience a concert with many people, and a CD on your own. The ambiance of a real concert is lacking a bit on Tales ... because the audience cannot be heard very well. A lot different from Sushi, were they used additional microphones to record the audience as well.
The sound quality is good: the recording-equipment obviously was better than the concert-PA, because during the chat-tracks the hissing of the speakers can be heard, too. Pink Floyd's Pulse remains unbeaten, however.
Tales ... does not contain bad songs, of course, and neither does it contain bad versions of the songs. I was pleasantly surprised by Mr. 1470, much better that what I remember from Suits (by the way, about half a year ago I saw the skull this song is inspired by). Cliché in a slightly longer version than usual, where Robin Boult can do his thing, Half a Company where Micky Simmonds plays his magistral keyboard-solo himself again (Rick Wakeman has a challenge with Micky Simmonds at his best), the Badger story (Fish is completely ga-ga, as you can tell by reading the eight pages of lecture in the CD booklet). And of course, there is the medley: whenever I think about that concert in Amsterdam, the first word that pops into my mind is Assassing! Pure ambiance live, and that makes Assassing one of the poorer songs on this album. The memories are so much better. But yet, the memories are not done wrong, they are added to: I can't remember much keyboards, and they really are there, including the nice transition from Fugazi to White Feather by Mickey Simmonds. If you listen quietly to the record, it is striking how un-Marillion it sounds.
All in all is Tales ... 1h55m of music and chatting (including the obligatory joke about beer) that gives a faithful impression of what Fish brings nowadays. Fans who appreciate the "heavier" work (like Suits or Sunsets On Empire), will surely appreciate Tales.
Dirk Rombauts, September 19 1997

1997 was a very fulfilled year for Derek William Dick, better known as Fish. He first kicked off the year with a dynamite album, Sunsets on Empire, which led him on a trek around the world for several months. How can we forget his memorable stops in Quebec City (twice), Hull (what a weird night!), Montreal and Sherbrooke, as well as many other north american cities for the first time since the beginning of his solo career. The most selfish of us will say it was about time!
And as it's usually the case at the end of his tours, Fish serves us this red hot official bootleg, ideal for those who missed out on catching Fish live, or those who wish to relive the atmosphere. Tales from the Big Bus, recorded on November 20th 1997 in Koln in Germany, is a must to any serious Fishhead.
Even though Fish's intersongs banter is a perfect mix of English (with his best Scottish accent), German, and a variety of swearwords, his comedy routines and his unique way of mastering his audience make his concerts unique and colourful. And his music is pretty good too!
This CD is quite successful in grabbing this intimate party atmosphere you get at most of his shows. Most of Fish's stories to his crowd of that night are kept on the double album, and only a few tracks on the setlist needed to be discarded. Sadly, Goldfish & Clowns is one of them, but the rest makes up for it. No censorship or retouching was done, so we're dealing with a raw and authentic product with it's techical glitches and a few bum notes. Personally, that's how I like these official bootlegs.
The highlight of this album has to be the famous medley during which Fish digs out a few skeletons from the grave and mixes some parts of songs that made him famous with Marillion with some of his solo material. A 20 minutes treat! I must admit though that as far as I'm concerned, I'm always more thrilled by his solo stuff with his band, especially the Sunsets material, brilliantly played in particular by Mickey Simmonds who was literally on fire that night. One must hear him (and see him!) play those fiddle, guitar or wind instruments parts on his keyboards with the help of a gadget he blows in to add realism. For exemple, he's the one playing most of the guitar solo originally recorded by Steven Wilson for The Perception of Johnny Punter (sung with original lyrics, by the way) with his keyboards. The less trained ears will be fooled into thinking we're dealing with real guitar work in here. And Fish seems to have finally settled on a very efficient and dynamic rythmic section with Steve Vantsis and Dave "Squeeky" Stewart. And after playing musical chairs with guitar players (we had the opportunity to see JJ Belle in Canada), it's Robin Boult, a long-time collaborator on Fish's roster, who takes care of the axe work. I can't say I'm very enthusiastic about his performance on this album, but Fish looked enchanted to count on him for the last stretch of his World Tour in Europe.
Tales is well complemented by pages of juicy notes and anecdotes written by Fish himself. Not too many photographs though. This said, it's a highly interesting CD for Fish fans, without being a classic. 3 out of 5.
Cyclone Magazine, 26 Mar 1999

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