Field of Crows - The Remasters: Deluxe Edition
Field of Crows - The Remasters: Deluxe Edition
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Field of Crows - The Remasters: Deluxe Edition

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Field of Crows was originally released in December 2003 and then to retail in May 2004. The album was mainly cowritten with Bruce Watson from ‘Big Country and Irvin Duguid (Stiltskin). This 2016 version has been completely remixed by Chris Kimsey (Marillion Misplaced Childhood, Clutching at Straws and Fish's solo album 'Internal Exile') CD1 is the remixed original album with CD2 and CD3 containing previously unavailable demos and live tracks. The CD’s have all been mastered by Calum Malcolm and make up the definitive version of this album which comes in a hardback book with 48 pages of photos and illustrations and 8000 words of sleeve notes by Fish
Deluxe Remaster Edition

Disc 1 (Studio Album)

01 The Field Dick/Watson 8:48
02 Moving Targets Dick/Watson/Duguid 5:45
03 The Rookie Dick/Watson 5:33
04 Zoo Class Dick/Watson/Duguid 5:26
05 The Lost Plot Dick/Turrell 5:15
06 Old Crow Dick/Watson/Duguid 5:21
07 Numbers Dick/Watson/Usher 5:39
08 Exit Wound Dick/Watson 5:58
09 Innocent Party Dick/Watson/Duguid 7:41
10 Shot the Craw Dick/Watson/Duguid 6:21
11 Scattering Crows Dick/Watson/Turrell/Duguid 5:08
Total 66:53

Fish - Lead Vocal
Bruce Watson - Guitars and E bow
Frank Usher - Guitars, Slide Guitar
Steve Vantsis – Bass
Mark Brzezicki – Drums and Percussion
Tony Turrell – Keyboards
Dave Haswell – Percussion
Danny Gillan - backing vocals on 1/2/3/4/6/11
Richard Sidwell - Trumpet and Flugel Horn on 1/4/6/8/10
Steve Hamilton - Saxophone on 1/4/6/8/10
Irvin Duguid - Clavinet on 6
Yatta and Lars K Lande - Crowd Vocal on 1

Recorded at the Studio, Haddington, East Lothian Autumn 2003
Engineered by Elliot Ness. Re Mixed by Chris Kimsey 2014


Disc 2 (Demo’s & Live)

01 The Lost Plot (Demo) Dick/Turrell 6:20
02 Scattering Crows (Demo) Dick/Watson/Turrell/Duguid 4:59
03 The Field (Demo) Dick/Watson 8:46
04 The Rookie (Live 2004) Dick/Watson 5:41
05 Moving Targets (Live 2004) Dick/Watson/Duguid 6:14
06 Innocent Party (Live 2004) Dick/Watson/Duguid 6:46
07 Zoo Class (Live 2004) Dick/Watson/Duguid 5:06
08 Numbers (Live 2004) Dick/Watson/Usher 5:55
09 Old Crow (Live 2004) Dick/Watson/Duguid 5:34
10 The Lost Plot (Live 2004) Dick/Turrell 6:18
Total 61:38

Fish - Lead Vocals
Frank Usher and Bruce Watson – Guitars
Tony Turrell – Keyboards
Windsor McGilvray – Drum
Steve Vantsis - Bass,
Danny Gillan - Backing vocals and Acoustic Guitar
Tracks 9/10 recorded live at Oslo Rockefeller 5/3/04
Fish - Lead Vocals
Andy Trill and Bruce Watson - Guitars,
Tony Turrell – Keyboards
Windsor McGilvray – Drums
Steve Vantsis - Bass,
Danny Gillan - Backing Vocals and Acoustic Guitar
Tracks 4/5/6/7/8 recorded live at Bilston Robin 18/2/04


Disc 3 (Live)
01 The Field (Live acoustic 2006) Dick/Watson 8:19
02 Shot The Craw (Live acoustic 2006) Dick/Watson/Duguid 5:23
03 The Lost Plot (Live acoustic 2006) Dick/Watson/Duguid 4:53
04 Scattering Crows (Live acoustic version 2006) Dick/Watson/Turrell/Duguid 5:22
05 Innocent Party (Live 2005) Dick/Watson/Duguid 5:08
06 Moving Targets (Live 2005) Dick/Watson Duguid 7:08
07 The Rookie (Live 2004) Dick/Watson 5:56
08 Zoo Class (Live 2004) Dick/Watson/Duguid 5:01
09 Numbers (Live 2004) Dick/Watson/Usher 5:36
10 Moving Targets (Live 2004) Dick/Watson/Duguid 5:42
11 Innocent Party (Live 2004) Dick/Watson/Duguid 7:08
Total 65:34

Tracks 1/2/3/4 recorded live at St Mary’s Church, Haddington 26/8/06 (originally released on ‘Communion’ album) engineered, mixed and produced by Calum Malcolm
 
Fish - Lead Vocal
Frank Usher and Andy Trill – Guitars
Tony Turrell – Keyboards
Steve Vantsis – Bass
Gavin Griffiths - Drums,
Dave Haswell – Percussion
Backing vocals - Angela Gordon, Anne Marie Helder and Heather Findlay
 
Tracks 5/6 Amsterdam Paradiso 15/11/05 (originally released on ‘Return to Childhood’ DVD) mixed and produced by Calum Malcolm
 
Fish - Lead Vocals
Frank Usher and Andy Trill – Guitars
Tony Turrell – Keyboards
Steve Vantsis – Bass
John Tonks - Drums,
Backing Vocals - Deborah Ffrench
 
Tracks 7/8/9/10/11 recorded at Bradford Town and Country Club 6/4/2004 (originally released on ‘Scattering Crows’ DVD)
 
Engineered by Chris Archer & Elliot Ness, mixed and produced by Elliot Ness
 
Fish - Lead Vocal
Guitars - Frank Usher and Bruce Watson
Keyboards - Tony Turrell
Bass - Steve Vantsis
John Tonks – Drums
Danny Gillan - Backing Vocals and Acoustic Guitar


From the Sleeve Notes:
 
“The album title had come to me in Kosovo in 2000 during our short tour there for the Combined Services Entertainment organisation where we played 3 shows in a large sports hall in the capital Pristina to British army units stationed in the country as part of the UN KFOR peacekeeping force set up the year before.
We were taken out during the day from our hotel on trips to visit outlying small military bases and drove through what I can only say was the most dismal and depressing landscape I had ever witnessed. The terrain we moved through was flat, dusty and devoid of colour. The barbed wire fences that enclosed empty fields were covered in tattered windblown plastic bags under pallid skies. In the distance were the green hills of neighbouring Serbia whose armed forces had been forced out the previous year by NATO. The Serbians saw Kosovo as their sovereign territory but a nationalist movement backed by the Albanians thought otherwise. This was the former Yugoslavia and like the Bosnian situation I’d previously encountered very complicated and brutal.
On one particular foray in country we were taken to Kosovo Polje, the site of a famous battle in 1389 between an allied Christian army led by the Serbs and the Ottoman empire which ended with both armies losing their commanders and most of their men thus temporarily ending the conflict as there was no-one left to continue the fight. Tens of thousands of soldiers on both sides were left dead and dying on the field of battle and both sides claimed victory, the Serbians lauding it as a great national historical event when they repelled the Muslim advance on Europe. It turned out to be only temporary in the grand historical scheme of things but the battle was a powerful part of Serbian heritage and despite Kosovan and Albanian claims the Serbs insisted the field and the country was theirs. No matter, it was a pyrrhic victory for both sides and the people would continue to suffer and die in the name of their respective religions and nationalities for centuries to come.
The literal translation for Kosovo Polje is ‘field of blackbirds’ but as I imagined and as I was told by locals the bodies of the dead were so profuse that the area was heavily populated by crows feasting on the corpses for months afterwards, not by sweet singing blackbirds. In 2000 this dark observation hit a chord.
I remembered my childhood and weekends on a farm in Lauder where crows were shot and tied to fence wires during lambing season to deter others, the alleged myth being that they would peck the eyes from newly born lambs. It was a disturbing nightmare I had as a young boy.”

      
“I obviously knew Tony well from the ‘Raingods with Zippos’ album and was confident he could step in and contribute on a number of levels. I thought the album was still light and that I needed another couple of songs as well as a bit of “plastering” on some holes we had in the existing arrangements. Like Mark he found us the time and he came up in October to add his contribution to an album that had started out so well but had meandered, stalled and spluttered back into defiant life in that Autumn of 2003.
Mark Brzezicki with Steve on bass beside him in the studio completed the drum tracks in less than 2 weeks. The guitars were sorted by October apart from a couple of Frankie solos and I brought up Richard Sidwell and Steve Hamilton from the SAS band to add some brass. The session for ‘Shot the Craw’ was amazing as they added more and more overdubs and after a few beers Elliot and I just let them play until they literally fell over. Truly wonderful players they really added some magic to the album on the day they were here with flugel horn and trumpet from Richard and saxophone from Steve on 5 songs.
Most of the keyboards we had apart from on the demos were ‘guides’ and with Mark and Steve creating new track rhythm beds we decided to completely replace Irvin’s keyboards saving only a clavinet contribution on ‘Shot the Craw’.
Bruce and I had written most of the album together with Irvin co-writing earlier tracks like ‘Moving Targets’, Zoo Class’, ‘Old Crow’, ‘Innocent Party’ and Shot the Craw’. Frank Usher had a rare writing contribution on ‘Numbers’ with Bruce and I and Tony stepped in to give me “The Lost Plot” and to add the first main section of ‘Scattering Crows’. The vocal for ‘Lost Plot’ was recorded at Ca Va studios in Glasgow during the mixing sessions as the final piece of the puzzle.”

                  
“Mark Wilkinson was on the team from the beginning but we hadn’t settled on any fixed idea until late into the project. We wanted something different from the airbrush and digital look of previous album art, as this album symbolised something of a new start in my life. There was an initial idea for Mark to create the cover artwork using a ‘Van Gogh’ filter in ‘Painter’ - the digital paint programme Mark was using at the time. However, this proved to be quite ineffectual, there was a lot of digital art out there using this technique at the time too so Mark decided to avoid it as it felt gimmicky. He experimented on a portrait of me in the early stages. A beautiful piece painted on canvas - but it took him a lot longer than expected. He hadn’t used impasto paint techniques since art school so felt a bit rusty. He wanted to generate an oil painting effect using acrylics (as they dry so much quicker than oils) based on photographs he planned to take during the recording sessions here at the Studio. In the end, he did, in fact use airbrushed acrylic ink for the face only, to get the detail he wanted, but the rest was all in acrylic paint, applied thickly and occasionally, as Van Gogh himself did, with his fingers. The crows in particular were painted like this as we both remembered the wheat fields scene in ‘Lust For Life’ - the biopic with Kirk Douglas playing Vincent.
I’d seen ‘Wheatfields under threatening skies with crows’ in 1982 at the Vincent Van Gogh museum on a “lost weekend” in Amsterdam while taking a break from the “star making machinery” that was Marillion. That picture is still one of my all-time favourite pieces of art but at the time I knew nothing about its history. It was one of Van Gogh’s final works from 1890 and is sometimes seen as a “suicide note” because of the sense of loneliness and despair it conveys. “The Field” where Mark took the reference photos is on the farm at the back of the studio and where I would often take long solitary walks with my German shepherd dog during the dark final days of my crumbling marriage. For me those walks in the wheat fields were the first steps into a new beginning in my life. I wanted the cover to be in the style of Van Gogh and for it to be an homage to him.”

      
Discography
Field Of Crows ‎(CD) Chocolate Frog Records CFVP017CD 10 December 2003
Field Of Crows ‎(CD) Snapper Music SDPCD221 2007
Field Of Crows ‎(3xCD) Chocolate Frog Records FHC009CD 2016

      

Reviews

Louder.com review

Though underrated and overlooked on its release in 2003, time has been kind to Fish’s Field Of Crows. Though there was much to like about 2001’s Fellini Days, Field Of Crows sounded like the work of man who’d just discovered his mojo kicking back in. Judging by some of the subject matter, his personal life was still as ruinous and troubled as a Michael Bolton ballad, but broken hearts are the grist to Fish’s peculiar mill and he made heartache fly in songs like the trembling Exit Wound and the down-at-heel Shot The Craw.
That came as no surprise on a Fish album, though what did was the singer’s newly-found strut. Funk and horns rattled the album’s songs, Fish rapped and scatted like David Lee Roth, if the Van Halen singer had ever spent time in Leith, rhythm was at the album’s heart and its trump card.
He sang too, in fact, he thundered, especially in a song like Innocent Party, showcasing Fish at his lambasting best: ‘Don’t talk to me about justice, freedom, truth and democracy’ he remonstrates.
The only thing that perhaps hampered Field Of Crows’ progress on its initial release was the curiously underwhelming mix, but even that’s been addressed (or was originally in 2014) by Chris Kimsey’s handiwork: the album positively booms.
As with the ongoing Fish reissues campaign that launched last November, this one has extra discs of demos and live material. Sadly, the demos number only three this time around, but Fish’s extensive liner notes (a 48-page booklet made for each new reissue) on every song gives an industrial-strength insight into how each made the transition from notebooks and rehearsal spaces to studio and stage.
It’s another snapshot of Fish’s still evolving musical story – a new album is expected this November before he hangs his hat up – and one image that maybe we should have all lingered a little longer over at the time.

Sea of Tranquility review

After the somewhat dissapointing Fellini Days, Fish returns with the powerful Field of Crows, an engaging collection of crafty songs that sees the singer return to the more basic and hook-laden songs of his early-mid 90's material. This seems to be what Fish does best, create songs that tell a story and deliver the goods with tight instrumentation, and there are plenty of winners in this fashion all over Field of Crows.
You want catchy, you got it with "Moving Targets", a great sing-along piece that lets us know that we are all basically victims, or moving targets. Fish's voice seems in better shape throughout than on the last few albums, as he gets in some moments of angst on the fiery rocker "The Rookie", and some smooth Scottish drawl on "The Field." A full horn section is featured on the bluesy "Old Crow", and the band gets funky on the pulsing rocker "Numbers", a song that shows off the talents of guitarists Bruce Watson and Frank Usher. One of the real standout cuts is the jazzy "Exit Wound", a somber tune about the scars left from a broken heart, punctuated perfectly by Fish's passionate vocals and the haunting sax of Steve Hamilton. The futuristic keyboards of Tony Turrell add a nice symphonic twist to the otherwise hard rock crunch of "Innocent Party", while his majestic piano adds an elegant flair to the emotional "Scattering Crows", a tune also punctuated by a gut wrenching vocal performance from Fish.
The booklet is nicely done by Mark Wilkinson, and inspired by a painting originally done by Vincent Van Gogh. Those into albums like Vigil In a Wilderness of Mirrors, Internal Exile, and Sunsets on Empire should really dig this latest platter from Fish. While his voice may lack the overall power and range that it did 15 years ago, the entertaining Scot still knows how to weave a good song, and Field of Crows is filled with plenty of them.

Dprp.net review

Where Fellini Days was one big, dragging non-prescription narcotic, this album bursts with energy, great melodies and rhythms. If Felinni Days was a rather tasteless Italian pasta, Crows is a spicy Mexican dish. Most of the albums since Vigil had a few very questionable tracks. This is the first CD since Vigil that hasn't got any tunes I really dislike. Okay, Shot the Craw is a bit mediocre, but not really annoying.
Field of Crows isn't a really progressive album, it's not as experimental as Sunsets and Plague of Ghosts were. It doesn't have a lot of things that the big Scot hasn't done before, still that is probably what makes this such a good album. Field of Crows combines some of the best things of Fish's 15 years as a solo artist in 11 fine new tracks. Of course, there's some veterans from Fish's previous bands that help create the solid sound, like Mark Brzezicki (drums), Frank Usher (guitar), Tony Turrell (keyboards) and Steve Vantsis (bass). Maybe the fact that besides Watson all of these are veterans help make this a real Fish album, compared to the many line-ups of newbies between Sunsets and this album.
What Fish needs most to make a good album is a good band and creative co-writers for the songs. On Field of Crows he clearly teamed up with the right people and co-writing with Bruce Watson of Big Country works remarkably well, unlike the work Fish did with John Wesley. It's even good to hear Frank Usher's growling guitar again, something which I got a bit fed up with in the mid nineties.
Field of Crows also shows that a good song doesn't have to be longer than 5 minutes and the tracks don't outstay their welcome like on Fellini Days. There's an excellent balance between uplifting, 'happy' tunes, aggressive and dark songs and emotional tracks. There is a lot of musical diversity on this new CD, while at the same time it sounds comfortably Fish-like. The usage of brass instruments like trumpet and saxophone - the first major return of horns since the Vigil album - really add to the overall sound, power and colourfulness of the CD.
There's a clear line running through the album with the symbols of The Field and Crows, which appear in most of the songs. And of course everything is very symbolic, though I often wonder exactly what or whom a song is about. Lots of symbolism and parables for all the lyrical aficionados.
This is the best album since Sunsets and I'm still trying to figure out which of these two, Field of Crows or Sunsets, should be on the second position in my Top 3 of Fish albums, right after Vigil. Time will tell.
Ladies and gentleman, Fish is back ! With a vengeance ! Faith has been healed. I'm off to get tickets for the next tour.