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Fish On Friday: An Initiation (2010-2017)

Often when Belgium’s Fish On Friday come up in conversation it’s their previous production team-up with Alan Parsons that’s discussed, or that bassist extraordinaire Nick Beggs has been part of the band’s number for quite some time now. An Initiation (2010-2017) is a chance to put that to one side and simply listen to FoF’s music as it pulls together tracks from their four albums to date and adds the exclusive piece, “Wings”. It makes for a remarkably cohesive collection and one that I’d suggest the uninitiated wouldn’t necessarily pick out as a compilation effort. That may suggest that there’s not been much evolution in this band’s sound and while, from this evidence, that might be a valid observation, the reason may well be that Fish On Friday have always known exactly what they’re after.

Cleverly, avoiding the temptation to run the album chronologically may also have aided its natural listening experience, the remarkably poppy “Welcome” an interesting choice of introduction. Yes its name may well suggest a first encounter, but with its blast of super sharp horns and a confident snare-pop, it’s Phil Collins in the “Sussudio” era that immediately slaps you around the chops. And in many ways that tells a lot of this band’s story, for there’s no denying that mid-era Genesis plays a strong part in their sound, but then so does Gilmour era Pink Floyd, with the amalgam heading in the same direction as those other gentle Euro-prog bands RPWL and Magenta. The track is one of three from 2012’s Airborne, with “Angels Never Die”, which features Bert Embrechts on bass, illustrating that back then FoF had a rather large foot in the pop world. Yes there’s serious heart on show and the verse is pensive and considered but it’s hard to shake off the feeling that this would have been a worldwide hit in the hands of a big-name boy band. Embrechts also appears on the one new track, suggesting that “Wings” might be a moment from the vaults where the introspective beginnings build into a mid-paced wash of melodies and percussive clicks and clacks, courtesy of drummer Marcus Weymaere and keyboard player William Beckers. It may only be three minutes forty-five, but FoF aficionados will still want this confident piece in their collection.

Only two selections are included from the band’s 2010 debut, with the “Shoot At The Moon” title track featuring original bassist Robin Aerts alongside the confident guitar work of Marty Townsend. Whereas the vocals from Frank Van Bogaert (who also adds piano, Hammond, keys, and some guitars) undoubtedly bring RPWL’s Yogi Lang and therefore Floyd’s Mr. Gilmour to mind. That means that the bulk of the heavy lifting is left to the more recent albums, Godspeed (2014) and Quiet Life (2017); the former featuring through four tracks and the latter with five. For casual observers there’s no denying that it’s going to be “In The Key Of Silence” that first grabs the attention, it being the moment where Beggs and Co were joined by Alan Parsons on backing vocals and Arena/Frost*/It Bites/Kino/Lonely Robot man John Mitchell on guitars. It has to be said that it’s a mature slice of accessible progressive commercialism that any of those involved would have been proud to call their own and that is no little compliment.

However, whether through “Sanctuary”, “All Fall Into Place”, “Quiet Life” or “She Colours The Rainbow”, the standard never drops and the style never really alters, all the tracks on this release based on plaintive melodies and even when they are bullish and bold, still meticulously memorable and hook laden. For some Fish On Friday might be just a little too brightly blatant to be truly considered progressive but if you like that style to arrive with a cool chorus and slick arrangements, then there’s no doubt this is a journey you’ll want to join them on and An Initiation you should sign up for.


Track Listing
1. WELCOME
2. SHOOT THE MOON
3. ANGELS NEVER DIE
4. SHE COLOURS THE RAINBOW
5. AIRBORNE
6. GODSPEED
7. SWEET LOVE
8. SANCTUARY
9. IN THE KEY OF SILENCE
10. QUIET LIFE
11. CALLIN’ PLANET HOME
12. GET UP
13. ALL FALLS INTO PLACE
14. WINGS (PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED)

Added: July 6th 2019
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Score:
Related Link: An Initiation @ Cherry Red
Hits: 1138
Language: english

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