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Fellini Days was originally released in 2001, Fish’s first studio album on his new independent label the Chocolate Frog Record Company. Fish co-wrote the album with John Wesley (Porcupine Tree) and John Young (Lifesigns). The 2016 remaster is a 3CD collection containing the original album, previously unavailable demos and live performances all remastered by Calum Malcolm and is the definitive release delivered in a hardback book with 90 pages of artwork designed by Mark Wilkinson with photos and 8000 words of sleeve notes written by Fish.
Deluxe Remaster Edition
Disc 1 (Studio Album)
01 3D Dick/Wesley/Young 9:11
02 So Fellini Dick/Wesley 4:06
03 Tiki 4 Dick/Wesley/Young 7:32
04 Our Smile Dick/Wesley/Young 5:25
05 Long Cold Day Dick/Wesley/Young 5:33
06 Dancing In Fog Dick/Wesley/Young 5:30
07 Obligatory Ballad Dick/Wesley 5:15
08 The Pilgim’s Address Dick/Wesley 7:18
09 Clock Moves Sideways Dick/Wesley 7:17
Lead Vocals – Fish
Guitars – John Wesley
Keyboards – John Young
Bass – Steve Vantsis
Drums – Dave Stewart
Backing Vocals – Zoe Nicholas
Backing Vocals – Susie Webb
Percussion – Dave Haswell
Spoken word on Track 8 - Paddy Mayne
Samples – Mr Samples
Loops Programmed By – Eric Dewolf
Mixed By – Calum Malcolm, Elliot Ness
Mastered By – Calum Malcolm
Recorded at The Studio, Haddington, East Lothian, Scotland with additional recordings taken from sessions in The Grand Hotel, Pristina, Kosovo and live recordings from Leeuwarden, Utrecht and Oberhausen.
Disc 2 (Demos)
01 3D Dick/Wesley/Young 9:36
02 So Fellini Dick/Wesley 2:56
03 So Fellini Dick/Wesley 4:38
04 Aggro (Square Go) Wesley 4:34
05 Clock Moves Sideways Dick/Wesley 5:00
06 Tiki 4 - Acoustic Dick/Wesley/Young 2:14
07 Tiki 4 Dick/Wesley/Young 4:52
08 Long Cold Day Dick/Wesley/Young 5:00
09 End Of The Line Wesley 3:14
10 Federico Wesley/Vantsis/Young/Stewart 4:00
11 The Pilgim’s Address Dick/Wesley 3:38
12 Our Smile - Acoustic with vox Dick/Wesley/Young 5:28
13 Dancing In Fog - Album remix Dick/Wesley/Young 6:17
Disc 3 (Radio Edits & Live)
01 3D - Rotterdam 2001 Dick/Wesley/Young 8:55
02 So Fellini - Nearfest 2008 Dick/Wesley 4:25
03 Long Cold Day - Tilburg 2005 Dick/Wesley/Young 6:26
04 The Pilgim’s Address - Oslo 2001 Dick/Wesley 8:40
05 Clock Moves Sideways - Amsterdam 2001 Dick/Wesley 7:27
06 Our Smile - Acoustic, Leamington 2012 Dick/Wesley/Young 7:19
07 Tiki 4 - Oslo 2001 Dick/Wesley/Young 7:51
08 Clock Moves Sideways - Oslo 2001 Dick/Wesley 7:32
09 So Fellini - Poznan 2001 Dick/Wesley 3:59
10 The Pilgim’s Address - Haddington 2006 Dick/Wesley 9:40
From the Sleeve Notes:
“I was going to have to look for ideas beyond music to provide me with the size of income I needed to assault the mountain of debt
I’d been watching a lot of movies back at home during those many sleepless nights when I was trying to concoct yet another “cunning plan” to get out of our financial quagmire. I found myself watching a lot of old European films that I hadn’t seen for a long time. Amongst those titles were “Amarcord”, “La Dolce Vita” and “La Strada” by the Italian director Federico Fellini that I’d caught when I sometimes went as a teenager to the art house cinema in Edinburgh.
I really liked the films and was intrigued but I didn’t know exactly why as I didn’t understand what they were about. I couldn’t decipher the story back in the 70’s.
I now saw the movies in a different light. I started to notice things I had never seen before and that there was no real story as such. What there was was a string to thread mesmerising images upon; strange magical moments within ordinary situations, that little slice of wonder that doesn’t quite make any sense but which slightly catches your breath, something that can quickly pass you by but which you notice at the last moment and you see the world from an entirely different angle, one that turns out to be so beautiful and you wonder how you never saw it like that before? Fellini was a genius at allowing us to see a lot of things we take for granted and reminding us how beautiful they are. He could make the ordinary quite magical.
I think his movies started to change my own perspective on life and I started to see beautiful things in everyday situations that I’d previously taken for granted. Every now and again something would catch my eye or imagination and draw me in a direction that I’d follow to discover a wonderful coincidence or a magical experience that I otherwise would have missed.
That is what I came to call a “Fellini Moment””
“On another night off I’d agreed to a fan club meet at Shakespeare’s Bar in San Diego. It turned out to be a hoot and I met some very interesting and colourful people who I ended up jumping in the back of cabriolet cars with and heading to somewhere in the suburbs just as night fell. I found myself in a place that the beautifully eccentric occupants had named Tiki 4, the fourth house with appropriately Hawaiian themed bar they had created. We sank back into huge floor cushions and let the Floyd swirl around us, the smoke and the cocktails with monkey swizzle sticks and umbrellas taking their toll on the assembled freaks that we were. The toilet was shrouded in artificial spider’s webs glowing from the UV bulb, the only light source and quite disconcerting when you’re wasted. The journey there and back from the sucking floor took a gigantic effort. It was a totally magical place that hosted a fascinating communion of souls who all opened up their lives for all to see on a special night that commanded to be recorded in a lyric.”
“‘Masque’ , the artwork book Mark Wilkinson and I had been putting together for a number of years and which had been at the centre of the break up with ‘Marillion’ 12 years before, was finally going to print. It covered our relationship from the early days in 1982 right up to and including the brief for the ‘Fellini Days’ artwork; the album now scheduled for a release in April 2001.
Mark and I decided to go for yet another computer graphic treated head shot using the ‘Captain Willard’ character from the final scenes in ‘Apocalypse Now’ as the main influence. The resurrection, the transcendence, the rebirthing, the baptism of an assassin in the oily waters, the sky on fire as the backdrop, it was another homage to one of my favourite all time movies. I identified with the idea of the heroic solo warrior battling against the odds and holding onto his sanity. It seemed the drama was never far away and I was living in my own movie.”
“I also had the major problem of putting a band together and had been putting feelers out since the New Year. John and Wes were both on board but Steve and Dave were out. Neither could afford to leave their full time jobs for the 6 weeks of touring I had put together.
John Marter I had known since the early 80’s when he’d served on the drum stool in 1983 for a very brief stint with ‘Marillion’ before being ultimately replaced by Ian Mosley in 84. He actually only played 7 shows with us including the infamous 5 nights at Radio City supporting Rush, Reading festival and it’s warm up at Liverpool Royal Court theatre. I liked him. The others didn’t. We remained friends and eventually ended up playing again together when he became the first choice drummer for the SAS band. I’d been singing a lot with them in the last year or so and John knew my situation very well. He offered to help out. He also introduced me to bass player Steve Barnacle who had also played with the SAS band.
Steve was a well-known session player and had worked with Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend, ‘Spear of Destiny’ and had been an original member of ‘Visage’. When he arrived we took an immediate shine to each other and as his credentials were flawless there was no need to audition. Barnacle joined the ship and gave me a whole load of comedy interludes on stage! He was a fun character and wonderfully argumentative with a sharp and intelligent mind. We had completely different views on politics and would have marvellous confrontations that had the others running for cover and us laughing hilariously when we finally agreed to disagree again when the wine ran out.”
Fellini Days Discography
Fellini Days (Ltd Pic) Chocolate Frog Records CFVP007LP 2nd May 2001
Fellini Days (2xCD) Chocolate Frog Records CFVP007CD 2nd May 2001
Fellini Days (CD) Chocolate Frog Records CFVP007CD 2nd May 2001
Fellini Days (CD) Snapper Music SDPCD220
Fellini Days (3 disc deluxe remaster) Chocolate Frog Records FHC008CD
Always fun to review an underrated record and this one definitely is. "Fellini Days" came after "Raingods with Zippos" which was more or less a return to progressive form. I wouldn't call FD a progressive record. It has some symphonic flavours but the compositions are far too simplified. Moreover the guitar chords are too much on the fore. The good news is : it doesn't spoil the fun. In fact I gave "Fellini days" more spins than "Raingods". The guitar chords of John Wesley are pretty dominant and seems to carry most of the songs. The atmospheric keyboard parts are adding a foggy atmosphere. This must be the advantage of a solo artist. Every new album, different people are lending their skills and musical input. John Wesley and John Young contributed to the song writing and the result is more than satisfying.
The atmospheric "3D" takes some time to reveal its beauty. Gradually the sound get broadened by a mixture of orchestral keys and wonderful guitar chords. There're some similarities between the sound of this track and the sound you'll find on "sunsets on empire". Only the sound of Fish' voice is more quiet. On lots of moments during this album, Fish is rather whispering than singing. It suits the idea for this album well but I suppose his voice wasn't in good shape when this was recorded.
The production of "Fellini Days" is good but maybe Steve Wilson could have made it even better. Between the tracks there's the sound of a movie spinning. This is referring to the fact that Fellini was a famous director. Still this is not a concept album. The lyrical subjects are very different from one track to another.
The title track has the most harmonic chorus on the disc. It's astonishing, probably due to the excellent samples of a choir and a couple of backing vocalists. Since long Fish' vocals are accompanied by a couple of female vocals and as always, it works quite well. In fact with it has become a necessity with a voice that keeps eroding during the years.
The highlight of this album is most definitely "Long cold day" ; a powerful track. The main guitar chord that forms the basic melody is awesome !! Here, Fish is finding the power in his singing again, the sound of his vocal parts vary from calm to aggressive. Great to hear how the atmosphere slowly turns to calm near the end of the track. It ends with a great lyric line : ".as I hit the water, the ship sails on" which means that the influence of one individual should never be over-estimated. "Dancing in fog" is another intriguing track ; there's a gorgeous atmosphere, crossed by a haunting Fripp/Wilson like guitar line throughout the track. The sound of this song benefits from the exotic percussion and the trumpet line at the end. Nice one ! Even though this can't be called a ballad in any way, this track is most romantic. Maybe the composition could have been developed one step further on. When other musical parts and sections should be added, this would be an unforgettable prog track !
The closing track "the clock moves sideways" is another major gem in the same vein of the opening track. It sums up all the qualities of the band. Again the sound has some resemblances with Porcupine Tree. Here the weak points of most of Fish' music is showing again. The excellent melodies are repeated over and over again till it bores the listener..
It took me some time to get in to this album but in the end it has become one of my favourite Fish records. "Fellini days" was well worth the effort of repeated listens. The sound of this album breaths mystery even though the meaning of the messages in the lyrics is clear. When compared to Fish' back catalogue, "Fellini days" is one of a kind. 3,75 stars
It was always going to be a challenge to follow Sunsets On Empire and Raingods With Zippos.
Fish’s last two studio albums of the century heralded a revival in his fortunes after the water-treading covers collection Songs From The Mirror (1993) and the frustratingly patchy Suits (’94). His increase in momentum could be attributed, at least in part, to his teaming up with one Steven Wilson. But with Wilson becoming otherwise engaged with Porcupine Tree, that songwriting partnership was broken, which only added to the pressure. Yet 2001’s Fellini Days is a confident, reassuringly complex record – both lyrically and in the wonderfully layered music – that plays to many of Fish greatest strengths. Granted, there have been fleeting career moments when the music hasn’t matched his poetic, contemplative musings, but here it certainly does. A certain element of groove seeps in here, notably on the driving Dancing In Fog, and although this may seem somewhat incongruous, that groove is never distracting and augments the track well. Political cynicism is something that’s been a frequent fuel for his lyrical inspiration, and that resurfaces here on The Pilgrims Address. A Big Wedge for the 21st century, it’s a sincere plea for truth about war motivations and actions, and some 15 years later it remains disturbingly relevant. Elsewhere are reflections on his marriage breakdown (the furious and exasperated Long Cold Day), extended moments of progressive grandeur (3D), while the elegant Tiki 4 harks back to earlier works. It’s an album where lyrical bleakness could have been suffocating, but these are perceptively counteracted by the optimistic Obligatory Ballad and lovingly executed, classy pop song Our Smile. A disc of demos provides an enlightening insight into the writing/thought process, a third disc compiles hefty live renditions and Fish’s war stories, and period recollections fill 50 intriguing pages of liner notes. An often overlooked album, Fellini Days has aged gracefully.
As Fish himself acknowledges in his extensive, insightful and heartfelt liner notes in this new version of Fellini Days, the latest in his rather wonderful, 3CD each, back catalogue reappraisal, the turn of the millennium was not a great time for the big Scottish singer. An ever changing band line-up on his recent tours in support of Raingods With Zippos had led to false assumptions of substandard shows and accusations his voice wasn't what it once was. Add in that follow up album Fellini Days was recorded against a backdrop of personal turmoil and impending financial ruin (debts heading towards seven figures all of which is detailed in the aforementioned liner notes) and the perception at the time was that Fish's career was on the ropes. However, Fellini Days, as Raingods and Sunsets On Empire had before it, proved strongly otherwise. The writing sessions may have been disjointed and ended up with eleven contributors, but inspired, as ever, by the events around him Fish somehow used his tribulations to inspire a quite remarkable set of lyrics. The theme and album title revolving around those magical days where happenstance, coincidence and split second decisions can results in the most glorious of times, or indeed in one case the avoidance of a near death experience.
Musically John Wesley (Porcupine Tree) was holding down the guitar slot, although partly due to the financial issues a revolving door of drummers, bassists and keyboard players was in operation for the writing and recording sessions and subsequent live shows. Although old hands Steve Vantsis (bass) and Dave Stewart (drums) were in their usual places alongside new keyboard player John Young for the album itself. Hence that Fellini Days came to life through a familiar, but different sound didn't prove too much of a shock. There's no doubt that this album sounds like Fish, in fact it couldn't be anyone else. However, the dark heart that beats at the core of these songs, even from a singer known for angry, revealing lyrics that show a world we all know exists but often pretend doesn't, was quite a shock. "3D" opens proceedings in that enigmatic style, a swirl of guitars making way for an intense bottom end where the bass seems more of a threat than a mere song foundation, as Wesley tears out a rabid, yet tender solo. The songs link together through clips and movie noises that allude to the fact Fish had actually wanted the album to sound as close to being an actual Fellini film as he could get it. However, often the ambient noise, which due to corrupt files couldn't be altered for this remaster, overpower some of the more subtle aspects on show and at their most cluttered actually have you leaning into the sound to try and hear past some of the more muddled sections, something the otherwise masterful "So Fellini" certainly suffers from. However the brooding celebration that is "Tiki 4" is the perfect response, biting and clear, the album's second sing along selection (I defy you not to sing 'Sooooooo Felliiiiiiiiiini' for days after you've heard that song) a real joy. Unlike its predecessors, Fellini Days does suffer from a couple of less memorable moments and while "Our Smile" and "Dancing In Fog" are hardly making up numbers, neither do they make a lasting mark. Although the sharp niggling rhythm of "Long Cold Day" is Fish at his best, reminiscent of "Credo" from the Internal Exile album in its eerie, threatening atmosphere, although this time the subject matter is much closer to home. The honesty and integrity behind "Obligatory Ballad" moves it million miles from what its name ironically suggests, before the album closes on the amazing crescendo of "The Pilgrim's Address", which barely conceals its anger, and the absolutely monumental "Clock Moves Sideways", which like most of this album seems intent on entering your head and disorientating you as much as possible; it's dense arrangement and female backing vocals proving the most ambitious and rewarding on the album.
As with the other releases in the reissue series, two discs accompany the main event, one a full collection of album demos, the other the album relived, minus "Dancing In Fog" and "Obligatory Ballad", in a variety of live settings, although we do have the bonus of "So Fellini" and "The Pilgrim's Address" in more than one guise. Even with the ever changing cast in the Fish live band, the standard never drops, however for most it will be the demos that hold most interest. The majority this time come in early, lo-fi instrumental form, although the opportunity to hear the songs in such embryonic form is more than welcome. Especially when you factor in that "Aggro", which lyrically morphed into "Square Go" a few years later, "End Of The Line" and "Federico" are all songs that never made the final cut. Add in an annoyingly thumpy remix of "Dancing In Fog" and wonderful acoustic take of "Our Smile" and this truly is an exhaustive reissue of yet another of the excellent albums in the impressive Fish catalogue.