Monday, February 14, 2011

Fish Co - Beneath the Laughter

Fish Co. Beneath the Laughter. 1977. Producer John Pac. Grapevine 114.
Last time I discussed this classic Grapevine album it was on the basis of a couple of sample tracks.

Now a full download has become available on the web at Electric Psalms. I think the download is legitimate - in that there's no effort under way to market CDs or paid downloads from Fish Co, so far as I can tell. And the tribute site,, links to downloads of later incarnations of this band, such as Writz and Famous Names.

At the time I commented that Grapevine picked up a band that was undergoing rapid evolution. Having heard the full album now, I can report that the combination of Fish Co, Steve Fairnie and John Pac indeed produced something utterly remarkable.

The album morphs from acid folk to something that only be described as punk folk. The title track, Beneath the Laughter and much of the album have a lush electric folk sound, reminiscent of Shamblejam. But Fish Co were heading in a different direction to Parchment, who returned to a more acoustic, rootsy sound in Rehearsal for a Reunion, while Steve Fairnie and his bandmate Steve Rowles stayed close to the rapidly changing tastes of the late 70s and early 80s.

With the exception of John Pac's production there was no cross over in performers - and in fact the album features Pete Banks, of After the Fire on keyboards. So by the end, the band is experimenting with funk and then, in the song Super Heroes, with the new sound of punk - yet still overlaid with the lush female backing vocals of Bev Sage (Mrs Fairnie).

As with many Grapevine albums, copyright was attributed to Parchment Ltd.

Full tracklisting:
Beneath the Laughter
Never Feel Alone
Two on the Street
Across the Table
Miss Esther Lauden
Seventies Children (funk)
Harbour Mouth
Sail Away
Super Heroes (punk)