Back in the ' swim
Fish has chosen to kick off promotion for his two new albums by playing beneﬁt gigs around the country for The Big Issue. Alastair l Mabbott spoke to him about the
yin, the yang and the Blue Peter ethic.
‘Normally.’ says the big man who makes the big music. ‘you go and do your Highlands and islands gigs - your warm-ups. i thought. well, why don‘t we do the UK and use these shows'?‘
The one they call Fish is back on the road again. To promote the simultaneous release of two new albums. he is trotting around Europe for the next four months. winding up back in Britain in December. But before he leaves these shores. Fish is heading the bill at four multi-band beneﬁts for The Big Issue in Edinburgh. Liverpool. Wolverhampton and London — four areas ofthe country served by different editions of the magazine.
The mini-tour coincides with the launch of The Big lssue’s North East England version — a happy coincidence which means Fish and Co have a goal. ‘rather than just presenting them with a cheque, because it goes towards setting up new ofﬁces.‘
The Edinburgh show — Fish's first appearance in the Capital since playing The Music Box in October 1993 — features The Sensational Alex Harvey Band. Kit (Danny Wilson) Clark. Craig (Neighbours) McLachIan and the return of Roy Harper. and is free except for 2000 ticketed seats immediately in front of the Ross Bandstand. The timing. Fish reckons. is
Just good friends: Fish and Sam Brown
ideal and bodes well for repeat performances in future years.
‘lt wasjust perfect because it‘s the international Festival and there‘s never been a rock presence in Edinburgh [at that time]. and i think . . . well. T in The Park‘s great. right. but the style fascists tend to operate across there. which means that acts like myself. there‘s not a hope in hell of getting on a bill like that. ‘cause the vampires want new blood. So we thought. rather than moaning about not being able to play any festivals in the UK. let‘s do one ourselves. The Blue Peter ethic. you know?
‘If this one works, then next year we could maybe get a three-day event there and make a commercial event out of it. We could make a really good international rock event and start bringing acts over from Germany and places like that. which would tie in nicely with the whole Festival idea.’
The gigs tie in nicely with Fish‘s new releases too, two albums called Yin and Yang. both issued on 4 September. with 26 tracks between them. fourteen being re-recorded versions of old Marillion and solo material.
The ploy is to introduce younger fans to the back
catalogue and to welcome back those w ho perhaps ditched Fish when he left Marillion and have a few years' worth of solo material to catch up on. But if
that's all there is to it. why go to the bother of re- recording so many from scratch'.’
‘Mariliion were always better known as a live hand than as a studio band.‘ Fish explains. ‘Some of the stuff was very intricate. and within the intricacies a lot of the power was lost. l remember i always wanted it to sound like The Who. And now l‘ve got a core band that‘s been around since 1992 and they’ve been playing the material. they‘re used to my style. So I thought. “Why don‘t i used these musicians. whom I consider to be better musicians than the original ones that recorded it. along with myself -‘ and l‘ve got fourteen years of studio experience behind me and I know more about my voice than i did back in 1983 — why don‘t we utilise all that to make the songs better?” And who the fuck else is going to cover my songs‘."
The release has been preceded by the single ‘Just Good Friends'. a duet with Sam Brown. The two singers initially got to know each other by arguing live on Central TV over the merits of cover versions. and by the time they got around to singing together. Brown —just back frotn touring the world as a backing vocalist for Pink Floyd » was eight months pregnant.
‘i thought it was going to be one of those nightmare scenarios where she cotnes into Britain for two days and the baby's going to fall out on the studio floor and Her Majesty‘s tax people are going to be standing at the door saying. "(‘an we speak to Miss Brown. please. about this year she‘s been out of the country'?"! But it worked great.‘
The Big Issue Charity C'mtt‘et't takes [)fllf'l’ at the Ross Baht/stand. Princes Street (fart/ens. [filth/)mgh on Sat Zfrant noon until ///)III with l’is/t. Sam Brown. Craig Mt'lxa'lt/an. Kit Clark. The .S'ettsatio/ta/ .‘i/m‘ Harvey Band. The Dream l)isi'ip/es, 'l‘lte (iitt Gab/tits. 721m White and Ray Hat/tel:
ms— Twin sets
Highly representative of the surprising number of very able young players now emerging on the Scottish - for want of a better word - ‘folk’ scene, Orkney’s Wrigley Sisters reveal a haphazard path to such proficiency. Jennifer was already playing violin, but her sister Hazel admits to some coercion. ‘The music teacher wanted a cello in the fiddle group, so I was given the job. Then the brass teacher wanted me in his wind group. The teachers asked me to choose - so I gave up both bands!’
She started picking about on guitar but it was after visits by ‘Peerie Willie’ Johnston, the influential
The Wrigley Sisters: little to chews
Shetland guitar maestro, that Hazel ‘determined to play with a plectrum. I was right into chords and although I couldn’t read very well then, I played ' all the shapes from tablature, and started playing in the school swing
‘I was also learning piano, and was aware that most people played very much boom-ching-ching, and i wanted anything but that. But there was a guy called Billy Peace, a country musician who was living in Orkney, who taught me a lot on the piano. He was a real
‘We grew up on an island where there was no distinct music. There were Scottish-type dance bands like The Hamefarers, but little singing, and the pipes are no big thing up there. So we evolved our own way of doing things.’
Their own way of doing things now
includes being part of a bigger band. Seelyhoo incorporate bass, drums, accordion and vocals, and Hazel is excited. ‘l’m discovering a lot playing 5 as part of the rhythm section. I use all the chords but I’m now waking up to all the rhythmic possibilities on the guitar and the keyboards.’
in the dextrous interplay between the siblings, all the influences come out. A Scots/irish/American swing, jazz- inflected harmony, quicksilver musical humour, telepathic communication, Jennifer’s high-quality compositions and a beguiling, unforced confidence contribute to what is certainly one of the most interesting folk-based instrumental duos around, the more so when you know that the twins turned 21 only last week. (Herman Chalmers) The Wrigley Sisters play the New Dawn Club, Glasgow on Thurs 7.
The List 25 Aug-7 Sept 1995 85