❉ The otherworldliness of Squire’s strangely beautiful 1975 album has only grown with the passing of time.
With over twenty one studio albums to their name , it’s no wonder that many have claimed Yes to be the most astonishing of the Progressive Rock contingent. It’s probably too premature to bandy that term (Pink Floyd have been in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame since the nineties), but what’s harder to argue is how much Chris Squire’s bass work held on the band. He remains the only musician who travelled everywhere from the Topographic Oceans to the Heaven & Earth on Yes’s trajectory, bringing with him a propulsive, piercing bass sound that proved every bit as indelible as Jon Anderson’s angelic falsetto. Squire’s commitment to the outfit – a band whose change of personnel made Genesis’ look comparatively stable – was evident, both from his dedication to their music and adhering to their legacy. In the weeks before he died, Squire asked bassist Billy Sherwood to carry the band’s flag, both in his memory and his place.
Squire was one of many prog titans who passed on to pastures new and bold in recent years: King Crimson bassists’ Gordon Haskell and Greg Lake both succumbed to cancer, while the fate of Keith Emerson-keyboardist extraordinaire and ELP frontman- is simply too awful to commit to print. Between them, Yes, King Crimson and ELP followed a structure that stuck to anything but audience expectation. Amidst the panoply of feverish licks and liturgies of a misspent youth in a bucolic land known only to elves and mistresses, came Squire’s strangely beautiful Fish Out Of Water. Released in 1975, the album has been rereleased as an official remastered and expanded 2 CD edition and on Blu-Ray format, demonstrating an otherworldliness that has only grown with the passing of time.
It takes a certain kind of narrator to pull off something quite so remarkable as to bring clarity to the work from which Squire essayed to the world, but Cherry Red have cannily chosen to package listeners with a commentary recorded by the bassist himself in 2006. Through his own mellifluous tones, Squire illustrates the world created entirely from his own hand, affecting an immediacy more readily available to the wondrous (and often unbelievable) stories in the Yes wheelhouse. Yes bandmates Bill Bruford and Patrick Moraz contributed to the recordings, but the work – much like the gorgeous footage that bestrides this Blu-Ray – boasts an aesthete that is incredibly personal, and intimately gorgeous. Hold Out Your Hand (the closest thing in the collection to a bona fide pop tune) shows us a musician aware of his bass virtuosity, carrying a haircut that bears more than a humorous touch of the Eddie Van Halen to it. You By My Side furthers the similarity, as the bassist -accompanied to the dulcet tones of an orchestra- embraces the medium of live performance like a duck does to water (feel free to groan at that joke in the comments section below).
That he performs to such a gorgeous re-master says everything about the possibilities, and potential prog rock holds on those of us too young to embrace the first crusade. As he was onstage, as he is in record, a soldier for the cause, and a God on the next. Rather than a fish out of water, Fish Out of Water shows the bassist for the consummate professional Yes were sorry to lose in 2015. He earned his seat, and his bass, at Valhalla.
❉ ‘Chris Squire: Fish Out Of Water’ 2CD Remastered & Expanded Edition (Esoteric Recordings PECLEC22621) is available from Cherry Red Records, RRP £11.99. Click here to order directly from Cherry Red Records.
❉ A regular contributor to We Are Cult, Eoghan Lyng’s ‘U2: Every Album, Every Song’ is published by Sonicbond Publishing and available to buy from Burning Shed. Follow him on Twitter. Visit his homepage.