Category Archives: MATTHEW FISHER
The self-titled album from 1980 is a superb album, full of heartfelt ballads. ‘Anna’, for example, combines the slightly folksy singer-songwriter image with big, bold, and slightly epic arrangements that give you the ‘small man on a big stage’ feel that would, for example, be so successful for the likes of Andrew Gold. In fact, you could draw comparisons between the two here.
Strange Days (1981) offers more power pop sensibilities with a lush production – and lots of double tracked vocals combined with the more new wave music fashion of the period. A higher energy suite of songs, in fact. This album doesn’t quite have the dramatic focus of the earlier album but there is still much to like here with a suite of light and airy songs presented with lots of energy. In mastering terms, there is a touch of compression residing within the mids but the effect is quite subtle so that the effect is used more to emphasise detail than to intrude upon the whole soundstage.
Hi-Fi World (April 2018)
Twofer featuring solo albums Matthew Fisher originally recorded and released in the 1970s. Although still mainly known as one of the founding members of the iconic band Procol Harum, this release will hopefully open up people’s eyes and ears to Fisher’s entire career. After leaving Procol Harum, Matthew opened a very successful recording studio (Old Barn Recorders) where he worked with many notable artists. This disc presents all the tracks from Fisher’s first two solo albums…Fisher was obviously ahead of his time in terms of songwriting and studio know how. Although his self-titled debut was not hugely successful, it did spawn two singles (“Why’d I Have To Fall In Love With You” and “Can’t You Feel My Love”). Strange Days veered off the path of straightforward pop in favor of a more stripped down sound. Two songs were co-written by The Zombies’ Chris White (who also acted as co-producer on both albums). This reissue will no doubt open the doors for a whole slew of new fans and listeners to experience Matthew’s music. In a world of throwaway pop, these tracks stand out because they’ve stood the test of time…and because they have substance.
babysue (March 2018)
Matthew FISHER begins the eighties with an eponymous album that had great success in Greece thanks to the title track “Why’d I Have To Fall In Love With You”, considered a classic. He is joined by Dave MATTACKS on drums, a member of FAIRPORT CONVENTION and session man having participated in Gary BROOKER’s albums…Tim RENWICK on the guitar, who worked with Al STEWART, THE SUTHERLAND BROTHERS and accompanied PINK FLOYD in 1987 and 1994 as well as during the ephemeral reformation in 2005 for Live8. Mick GRABHAM on rhythm guitar, ex COCHISE and PROCOL HARUM…”Can’t You Feel My Love” is the initial piece of the 1980 album and has a superb nostalgic melody, quite far from PROCOL HARUM…
On STRANGE DAYS he surrounded himself with Tim RENWICK on guitar, Peter VAN HOOKE on drums, Ron ASPREY on saxophone, ex BACK DOOR, and Alan JONES on the bass, ex SHADOWS. It starts with “Something I Should Have Known”, it has a sound close to ULTRAVOX or Gary NUMAN, rather surprising from the ex PROCOL HARUM member. The sound of synthesizers dominate, the song is perfect, having a very emotional romanticism. The album continues in a more pop vein similar to SUPERTRAMP on “Without You”, with a very beautiful vocal performance.
Highlands Magazine (Translated – March 2018)
Anyone expecting the gentle prog of Fisher’s ex-band will initially, most likely, be a little confused by the grown up pop presented on the earlier of these two releases, a slick smooth sound revealed that wouldn’t be out of place in a laid back Eagles setting, or even at the less cheerful end of Paul McCartney’s solo output. It’s classy stuff that reminds just how strong Fisher’s often overlooked vocals are and the overall standard remains high throughout. Opener “Can’t You Feel My Love” may be an overly unassuming introduction, but it is a still a cleverly paced and well constructed piece that happily sits on a reserved groove. Things pick up with “Give It A Try”; a more insistent and forceful slice of organ induced pop that, while of its time, possesses more than enough of a classy 70s sheen to have more depth and believability. It also sets the tone for the rest of the album, the strong mix of accessibility and intricately structured melodies carrying “Only A Game” and “Running From Your Love” deep into the memory…
The biggest shock that arrives when track eleven on this disc kicks in – track one of the Strange Days album – is the short period of time between it and its predecessor. From the smooth, yet crafted 70s pop and rock of the previous album, the leap into austere 80s inspired electro shimmers of “Something I Should Know” suggest the passing of decades, rather than mere months…”Living In A Dream” thriving on simple pop hooks and trilling saxophone, while “Desperate Measures” repeats the process in a rockier and harder hitting setting…Strange Days is more a mixed bag than a failure and there’s more than enough to keep you sticking with it. However there’s no doubt that it’s the first ten tracks on this disc from the Matthew Fisher album that will continue to draw you back for more.
Sea Of Tranquility (February 2018)
This shadowy figure is best remembered these days for his invaluable contribution on Hammond organ to Procol Harum’s ‘A Whiter Shade Of Pale,’ and the fact that it took several decades of serious litigation before he was finally granted a co-writing credit to this classic 1967 hit in 2009. Fisher’s solo career continued on a fairly intermittent basis in the interim, and Angel Air’s latest CD re-issue focuses attention on two of his unjustly overlooked offerings from the early eighties. The results veer much closer to mainstream pop than the classically inspired prog-rock of his Procol Harum days, with “Anna” and “Why’d I Have To Fall In Love” emerging as the best of a strangely affecting bunch.
Kevin Bryan, regional newspapers (January 2018)
…by the time that this album was released in 1994 he’d jettisoned the instrument which had earned him so many critical plaudits to assemble a selection of painfully insipid synthesised instrumentals whose appeal is unlikely to extend beyond the most fanatical of Procol Harum devotees.
Although Matthew Fisher will go down in musical history as one of the founding members of U.K. progressive rock icons Procol Harum, his career as producer, keyboardist and singer-songwriter is equally intriguing.
…One nearly forgotten album that Fisher recorded in 1994, A Salty Dog Returns has finally come out as a CD on Angel Air, Amazingly, the 16 track album is completely instrumental and features Fisher playing everything while covering a wide breadth of instrumental sounds—from Procol inspired rock symphonic edges, to Fisher-esque instrumental covers of Bach played prog-rock style, soundtrack type interludes and there’s even a very cool, surf-inspired Shadows tribute track here called “A Tribute To Hank”. Who knew Fisher was so adept on both guitars and drums too?
A musical pioneer and trendsetter back during the Summer of Love, Fisher was quite instrumental in helping develop Procol Harum’s orchestral rock side—the central fascination being his church-like Hammond B3 organ sound. That side of Fisher, along with a whole lot more can be found on the most welcome rediscovery / reissue of A Salty Dog Returns.
Fine, in depth liner notes by Henry Scott-Irvine written in 2012, fills in the missing pieces behind Matthew Fisher’s once, but no longer, long lost instrumental rock masterpiece.
MWE3.COM (April 2012)
…The master jokes manifest themselves in Fisher’s humorous play on the Henry Mancini and John Williams’s themes in, respectively, cinematically sleazy “Peter Grump” and the six-string-driven “The Rat Hunter” that connoisseurs may latch onto, whereas PROCOL fans will find a welcome glance back in the transparent flow of “Pilgrimage” with its Celtic motif, and the title track.
But the artist also pays tribute to his previous ensemble in “The Downliners Sect Manifesto”, full of pop innocence which contrasts a tasteful suspense of “Sex And Violence”. Such a variety keeps this album from becoming a bore even though there’s a shade of pale in there… which is clearly a part of its concept and intent. ***1/2
DME Music Site
A gentle piece, despite the sometimes dated feel, the album spans a variety of styles that gives it a scrapbook atmosphere. Procol Harum fans will find it intriguing.
Hi-Fi World (October 2012)
The eclecticism of this collection (as well as quotes of Fisher and the casual photos found in the accompanying booklet) leads us to believe these recordings were meant to be demos and sketches rather than a final product. “G-String” and “Linda’s Theme” certainly support this…this reissue features three bonus tracks similar to the rest in their breezy, computerized vibe.