Email 30th April 2009

Fish 2009 - Something old, something new...

Dear FishHeads, Freaks, fans and the Company,

Like London taxis, you never see Fish blogs for ages and then 5 pages come at once! :-D

Quite a few people have asked about the upcoming releases from EMI as other mail order companies have been advertising advance sales on these tiles.
As you know I recently supplied EMI records with sleeve notes for 2 of the 3 new live releases and the projects have moved along quite fast in recent weeks.
Both Lucy Jordache, the Marillion manager, and I have been involved in developing the projects and after discussions with EMI I am pleased to announce that we will be selling the titles through our own mail order operations.

The titles are as follows:

"Thieving Magpie" (2005 digital remaster) double CD.
CD1 - La Gazza Ladra, Slainte Mhath, He Knows You Know, Chelsea Monday, Freaks, Jigsaw, Punch And Judy, Sugar Mice, Fugazi, Script For A Jester's Tear, Incommunicado, White Russian
CD2 - Pseudo Silk Kimono, Kayleigh, Lavender, Bitter Suite, Heart Of Lothian, Waterhole (Expresso Bongo), Lords Of The Backstage, Blind Curve, Childhood's End?, White Feather.

"Recital of the Script" (2009 digital re master) double CD recorded live at the Hammersmith Odeon 18/4/83
CD1 - Script For A Jester's Tear, Garden Party, Three Boats Down From The Candy, The Web, Charting The Single, Chelsea Monday.
CD2 - He Knows You Know, Forgotten Sons, Market Square Heroes, Grendel.

The first time the complete concert has been released in audio format. Includes a previously unreleased track; 'Three Boats Down From The Candy'. The version of 'Charting The Single' from the gig was previously issued as a b-side to the 'Garden Party' 12" but was not featured on the original DVD version.

"Live From Loreley" (2009 digital re master) double CD recorded at the Freilichtbuhne, Loreley 1987.
CD1 - Slainte Mhath, Assassing, Script For A Jester's Tear, White Russian, Incubus, Sugar Mice, Fugazi.
CD2 - Hotel Hobbies, Warm Wet Circles, That Time Of The Night (The Short Straw), Kayleigh, Lavender, Bitter Suite (Medley), Heart Of Lothian, The Last Straw, Incommunicado, Garden Party, Market Square Heroes.

The first time the complete concert has been released in audio format. Includes four previously unreleased tracks; 'White Russian', 'Fugazi', 'Garden Party' and 'Market Square Heroes' not featured in the original DVD version.

These are scheduled for release on 22/06/09 but we will be taking advance orders for these titles from Monday.
Prices will be announced over the weekend but we intend to be highly competitive with other mail order stockists and would appreciate your support in dealing with the artists directly.

I am first to admit that I was surprised at EMI's decision to go with these titles as both "Loreley" and "Recital" have been available on DVD for a while. It appears that the success of the "Early Stages" collection (which we still have in stock) has prompted a re-examination of the other dusty gems in our back catalogue and as contractually we have no control over the material both Lucy, the Marillos and I decided it would be more advisable to help out rather than relinquish total responsibility.
Nigel Reeve and Hugh Gilmour at EMI have done a wonderful job championing our cause and have, together with the rest of the team there, done everything they can to make the projects as "interesting" as possible under the circumstances.
These are not full price double CDs which does make it more palatable and the remastering of "Loreley" and "Recital" a worthwhile incentive to audiophiles.

I understand there will be accusations of "scraping the barrel" directed at EMI, and perhaps there is some justification, but as I said previously our choice was to walk away and let Amazon and the like benefit or get involved and at least try and get some return above the pennies we get as royalties as a band under our old contract while at the same time presenting something to fans that is high quality and reasonably priced.

I'd like to think that in the future we can work together with EMI on other "archive" projects where we have some more control on content and not just reissue titles in different formats.

I don't mean to appear negative on these releases but I am very aware of the raised eyebrows out there and felt I had to offer some explanation and perspective.

I personally am looking forward to hearing the 2009 remasters :-)

On a more current note the Nearfest recordings are being mixed and mastered by Calum Malcolm this month and the video footage will be going into an editing suite in the US at the same time. I'd like to think we will have all the parts together by the end of May for compiling in June. This will mean the "13th Star" DVD will be ready for release around the same time as the Marillion titles.

Mark has completed the artwork for the Leamington Spa convention and I must say it looks great! :-)
Hopefully there will be a sample on the web site in the next few days.
I was lucky to get Mark's attention as he has been run off his feet getting material together for his new book "Shadowplay" as well as for a major exhibition in Denmark at the end of June.
KT and I will be heading over to Scandinavia for a long weekend and I will be speaking at the opening of the exhibition which will feature works of art by other artists as well as from our Mark.
I'll supply more details as to the venue and the exhibition nearer the event.

On the subject of the convention I can confirm that Glyder will be playing on the Sunday night before The Reasoning.
They have a new album out and I have been told it features a 20 minute Prog epic that the boys assure me will blow you away! :-)
Pendragon will be the only special guests on the Saturday and as such will have a slightly longer set than a standard support slot.
There are still a few spaces in the events log that need to be sorted out but I am confident that by the middle of next week everything should be pretty much firmed up.

Tickets for Leamington will go on sale at the end of next week and full details will be posted on the web site.
The "tickets" will be laminates with dual sided printing and holograms provided on a "Fish" lanyard.
These will be sent out last week of June with a full info pack for the weekend's activities.
Price for the laminate/ticket is 55 pounds inclusive of VAT and postage.
A laminate provides entry for one person to all the official activities on the schedule.

At the moment the schedule consists of:

Friday 7th
Get together night at "The Sausage". This is for early arrivals for the weekend's activities and not as such an "official event".
Entrance is for laminate holders only and entertainment on the night is provided by "Jump".
As the pub has a restricted capacity of just over 400 anyone attending should check in early to avoid disappointment.

Saturday 8th
1pm - Doors open to venue, film footage and videos on screen.
2pm - The Fish talk. Introduction to convention, general discussion and Q and A.
3pm - Mark Wilkinson Q and A and fashion show
4pm - Short acoustic set
5pm - Venue closes for soundcheck
7pm - Venue reopens for evening performances with "Pendragon" special guests followed by Fish set.
Post gig - Aftershow party in venue.

Sunday 9th
Morning - "Hunt the Penguin" competition. General pub crawl.
1pm - Doors open to venue, film footage and rare clips on screen.
2pm - Fish intro 2.
3pm - "Never Mind the Aardvarks" comedy quiz hosted by Will Smith and featuring two teams of various old and new band members and friends.
4.30pm - Venue closes for soundcheck.
6pm - Venue reopens for evening performances from "Glyder" and "The Reasoning" followed by Fish set.
Post gig - Aftershow party until 2am in the venue with Rock DJs.

This is the cunning plan so far and times and events are subject to change. I am still waiting on answers from a couple of people re their attendance availability and will have other events to add around both the dates.
I am still waiting to discover just how much Planet Rock want to get involved in all this but I think we could have some interesting ideas. ;-)

I met up with Gavin Dickie and Frank Usher last week and they are well up for the convention although baulking at some of the numbers I threw at them as ideas for inclusion in the set. ;-)
It is going to take us nearly three weeks of rehearsals to put this together and get it right for the nights and I think some of the band members will never be the same after this :-D

It is all coming together and judging from those of you who have already notified Elspeth that you are attending I think Leamington will be overrun that weekend :-D

As the weird and wonderful world of Fellini has it a couple of pointers were to be had in the last week.
The raised vegetable beds were finally completed in the front garden and another couple of tons of topsoil were dutifully shovelled into them by my beloved KT (it's embarrassing I know as the male sits in the office pummelling away on the keyboard and my better half is sentenced to manual labour in the garden, not my choice!)
I noticed that the bags containing the Rolawn topsoil all were manufactured in Leamington Spa! A sign! A sign!

This came soon after the grill on the cooker erupted in sparks and blew the main fuses signifying the end of days of one of my first purchases for my "new home" in 2001.
It was time to elevate myself away from the 4 hob, single oven mainstay of cooking in the last 8 years to something more suited to our culinary needs. A bit of Googling and searching and I was confronted with the object of my desire which after approval by KT moved into "must have" position. I was still shuddering a bit at the price and balancing budget against all the energy saving devices and promise of smoke-free cooking and being able to expand on our catering abilities etc. when I saw they were made in - yes, you've got it already - Leamington Spa!
Two hours and a lot of surfing later the credit card melted and we are now waiting on the all singing and dancing Rangemaster Toledo induction electric cooker that had better see us through to the end of our days! :-D
At least now we can have a Sunday roast without having to open every window and door in the Studio to let the smoke out!

The cooker wasn't the only casualty in the last week or so.

My Dad was in hospital for some minor surgery on his head last Monday and when I picked him up from Livingstone to take him home the subject of grass cutting came up. I knew he wasn't fit to get the tractor out and offered to cut the lawn. Normally this would be met with total refusal and a 'how dare I even contemplate riding his beloved tractor' routine but this time he acquiesced and told me where the keys were and how to put in the recharged battery. It was a spiritual handing over of immense significance which many males out there will relate to. Two days later I charged the battery and fired up the mini tractor for the first cut of the season.
No one was more proud than me when my Dad came up next day and complimented me on the state of the lawn. I was well chuffed! :-)

The rain and the fertilizer had done their job well and I had to repeat the process soon after. The orchard I had planned to leave and sow with wild flowers but on advice I was told not to bother sowing seed which would be lost against the competition from the lawn but to go for plug plants. The estimate was 3000 plugs to cover the area.
Too much "kerching" and the idea was planted to sow my own for next year rather than buy in.
This meant another huge swathe to be cut and next time around after trimming the main grass I headed down to the orchard.
I'd watched with a smile as a couple of magpies pulled apart the jute matting which covered the immediate area around the base of the trees in order to line their nests. It seemed very appropriate and Fellini!
As I did my Mr Rusty impression weaving in and out of the regimented rows of fruit trees I was very careful to avoid the mats but after only a few runs a "stray" caught in the blades and I staggered to a stop, the engine cutting out and leaving me powerless and stranded at the bottom of the garden. I managed to extricate the matting from the blades but after restarting the engine I managed only a couple of rows before I lost power and had to retreat to the garage as smoke poured out of the engine.
I had been in command only a few days. I was disconsolate.
My Dad was sympathetic as we both knew that the tractor was close to the scrap heap, however losing your mower at this point of the season is a disaster.
And now I await the engineer and his diagnosis. I'm hoping it's just the belts rather than anything traumatic.
If it is then I could be swapping a cooker for a mini tractor pretty soon!

I'll send up some photos of the garden in the next week or so and you will get a better idea of what is happening up here.
KT has been a revelation in the greenhouse and we have far more seed than we can plant out in the beds.
The garden has taken over our lives just now and the thing taking prime importance in the next few weeks is sorting out an irrigation system for the raised beds.
The greenhouse ventilation is now sorted and the cold frames built and ready for the cucumbers and aubergines as the brassicas move out to the new beds. The orchard is in flower and the trees rooting down and happy.
I built another 2m x 1.5m raised bed from some discarded cherry wood decking planks which KT yacht varnished and are now home to the snowball turnips and assorted courgettes.

The kale, brussel sprouts, savoy cabbage, cauliflowers, summer cabbage, purple sprouting and ordinary broccoli are all being set up in the netted raised beds and away from the scourge of white butterfly and the new potatoes are just beginning to poke out the soil in the BB bed. Carrots and beetroot thinned, onions, shallots and garlic splendid, runner and french beans heading to the skies and various other crops all doing the business.

The only blight just now is vine weevil who've taken an interest in KT's orchids and the fig and vine in the greenhouse.
Tomorrow is nematode day as I set about watering the garden down with a biological control. I hate the bastard things. Ugliest weevils on the planet and they deserve to die. Only slightly down from slugs on the garden hate list.
There's nothing quite as satisfying than the crack of a vine weevil twixt finger and thumb. Sneaky little bastards deserve everything they get as you know that when you see them they have laid hundreds of larvae who will all be chomping on the roots of your plants.
The only next good thing is knowing the nematodes are on their way to sort out the grubs underground and that next year the ugly bugs will be fewer on the surface.

And in all this verdant greenery the cogs whirl and the machine ticks over. The septic tank arrangements are complete and in working order, another dipped beam bulb fries on the Volvo, the cracks widen on the gable end of the neighbours "byre" above the Japanese garden whose black bamboo is around 20 feet "short", the goldfish - who number over 15 now in the "Peter Pan" pond - are happier with the new oxygenating plants and the diet of frogspawn, the phone continues to ring with offers of work I find hard to entertain just now and the weekends are ever more crowded with things to do that are never done.
It's not that I'm lazy. It's been a long time since I have had chance to sit back and enjoy the life I've worked for over the years.
I am most definitely not retired and more so not idle. I am in career neutral, parked up in the middle of a journey, taking a well-earned rest. I can sense the lights changing soon though and when they do I will be raring to go.
Until then I can take the opportunity to listen to my own heart beat.

lots of love
Onkel Fish x

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