Wire frontman to reissue three classic solo 80s albums this October via his own new imprint Sentient Sonics!
COLIN NEWMAN – ‘provisionally entitled the singing fish’
Single Vinyl (SS03 LP) // Double CD (SS03/04 CD)
A collection of imaginary soundtrack pieces in the manner of Brian Eno’s ‘Music For Films’, ‘provisionally entitled the singing fish’ is a diverse collection of instrumentals, encompassing the atmospheric, the abstract and the thrillingly propulsive. Now, for the first time, this album has been completely remastered and augmented with a whole disc of additional tracks, including alternate vocal versions, B-sides and demo recordings.
Sounds described it as “Wonderfully cinematic”. And it’s not hard to see why. Witness the misty, ambient marshes of ‘Fish 4’, or the tripped out Morricone-esque soundscape of ‘Fish 11’. But there are moments of intensity here too. Check out the deliriously insistent krautrock of ‘Fish 7’, or ’Fish 9’, where Newman speeds up the rhythm tracks to dadaist effect. The album as a whole displays a true desire to endlessly experiment.
Newman’s first self produced set, its ambition and scope show why he would go on to become producer of choice for post punk luminaries such as Minimal Compact and Virgin Prunes.
The CD only bonus disc presents an additional 20 tracks, only 5 of which have previously seen the light of day. There’s a number of fascinating vocal versions of the Fish tracks, including the wide eyed ‘No Doubt’ (‘Fish 1’)and the skeletal psych of ‘You And Your Dog’ (‘Fish 11‘). Meanwhile, Newman’s home recordings from the era reveal that aside from experimenting with more abstract soundscapes, he was also simultaneously developing a set of vocal songs. Of particular note are the fuzz bass driven ‘Is It Worth Repeating?’ which features one of Newman’s most relaxed vocals and the airy Canterbury Scene stylings of ‘Crystal Clear’. In contrast, the menacingly insistent ‘Vox Pop’ sees a snarling vocal riding atop waves of pulsing distorted guitars.
In the late 80s, numerous artists as diverse as Barry Adamson and In The Nursery would go on to release so called imaginary soundtracks. But with 1981’s ‘provisionally entitled the singing fish’ Newman proved that, as ever, he was well ahead of the curve.
‘provisionally entitled the singing fish’ artwork:
provisionally entitled the singing fish – Vinyl & CD disc 1 track list:
1. fish1 /2. fish2/3. fish3/4. fish4/5. fish5/6. fish6/7. fish7 8. fish8/9. fish9/10.fish10/11.fish11/12.fish12
provisionally entitled the singing fish – CD disc 2 track list
1. You and Your Dog / 2. Here Come the Fleeing Rabbits / 3. No Doubt 4. The Grace You Know / 5. This Picture
Home Studio Demos
6. fish 9 / 7. fish 11 / 8. Crystal Clear / 9. A Passing Parade / 10. Soft Option 11. Original Suicide / 12. You and Your Dog / 13. Is It Worth Repeating? 14. It Isn’t Quite Enough / 15. I Can Feel It / 16. Atmos 1 / 17. Atmos 2 18. Now You Know / 19. Kiora Kora / 20. Vox Pop
provisionally entitled the singing fish CD 1 Instruments, mouth noise, cover and production: COLIN NEWMAN. Engineering and facilitating: STEVE PARKER. Track 9 drums ROBERT GREY. Recorded & mixed at Scorpio Sound (London). Photographs by ANNETTE GREEN.
provisionally entitled the singing fish CD 2 Tracks 1–4 additional recording by JOHN FRYER at Blackwing Studio (London). Track 5 recorded by STEVE PARKER at Scorpio Sound (London). Tracks 6–9 & 11–20 performed by COLIN NEWMAN. Recorded in West Norwood. Track 10 performed by DESMOND SIMMONS, ROBERT GREY, SIMON GILLHAM, COLIN NEWMAN in Rob’s basement studio in Brixton.
COLIN NEWMAN – ‘Not To’
Single Vinyl (SS05 LP) // Double CD (SS05/06 CD)
Newman’s third album ‘Not To’ (1982) is probably the finest of them all. Now, for the first time, the album has been completely remastered and augmented with a whole additional disc of unreleased tracks.
‘Not To’ sees Newman developing his distinctive art-rock in a more melodic pop direction. Songs such as the gorgeous ‘Lorries‘ with its chiming Byrds-like guitars and serpentine bass line, or the reflective ‘Remove For Improvement’, contribute to an album with a strong psychedelic sensibility – complete with an unexpected Beatles cover – a deeply woozy take on George Harrison’s ‘Blue Jay Way’.
Other highlights include the beautiful, meditative title track and the minimalist stream of consciousness of‘Truculent Yet’. Where Newman’s previous albums had foregrounded studio experimentation, ‘Not To’ keeps the focus clearly on the band dynamic. For this reason, the collection of songs has a timelessness which many albums of the period lack. Contemporary reviews were unstinting in their praise. NME called it “icicle-cool pop”. Hot Press described it as “Newman’s most commercial offering to date… this man could be a major force.”Whilst Melody Maker summed it up even more neatly; “Originality and a determined lack of compromise…what more could you want?”
The additional disc presents the luminous single ‘We Means We Starts’ alongside 21 previously unreleased songs, which essentially constitute the demos for what would have been Newman’s 4th solo album. And it turns out it would have included some absolute gems. ‘But Either Way’ wouldn’t have sounded out of place on Wire’s ‘154’, whilst the fizzingly optimistic ‘You Must Decide’ is up there with Newman’s finest songs. Some of the demos also feature early sequencer work which point towards both Wire’s mid-80s incarnation and the ideas Newman would develop in his later solo work. Another treat is an early incarnation of the ‘Not To’ track‘1, 2, 3, Beep Beep’ . Far superior to the quirky album cut, here it comes across as much more intense, yet also far more melodic.
What shines out from both ‘Not To’ itself and these demo recordings is an abundance of ideas and approaches, showing an artist with an ever evolving creative drive.
‘Not To’ artwork:
Not To – Vinyl & CD disc 1 track list:
1. Lorries / 2. Don’t Bring Reminders / 3. You, Me and Happy 4. We Meet Under Tables / 5. Safe / 6. Truculent Yet / 7. 5/10 8. 1, 2, 3, Beep, Beep / 9. Not To / 10. Indians! / 11. Remove for Improvement 12. Blue Jay Way
NotTo –CD disc 2 track list:
Home Studio Demos
1. Truculent Yet / 2. Remove for Improvement / 3. You, Me and Happy 4. 1, 2, 3, Beep, Beep / 5. I’m Still Here / 6. It’s Just My Heart 7. If Time Had Been / 8. Hello Mr. Sandman / 9. Greensleeves / 10. This Time 11. Keeping It to Myself / 12. You Must Decide / 13. Don’t You Disagree? 14. Lunaris / 15. At Rest / 16. A Word in Your Ear / 17. Where Was I? / 18. Wo Hoe 19. But Either Way / 20. We Means We Starts / 21. Ye Rama Dabble Am
22. We Means We Starts
Not To CD 1 Music performed by DESMOND SIMMONS, ROBERT GREY, SIMON GILLHAM, COLIN NEWMAN + BRUCE GILBERT (guitar, Track 10 ). Produced by COLIN NEWMAN. Engineered by STEVE PARKER. Recorded & mixed at Scorpio Sound (London). Cover by ANNETTE GREEN.
Text tracks 3,5 & 7 GRAHAM LEWIS, track 11 BRUCE GILBERT all other tracks COLIN NEWMAN.
Not To CD 2 Tracks 1–21 performed by COLIN NEWMAN + ROBERT GREY (drums, Tracks 3, 4, 6, 7, 9–12, 14, 17, 19, 21). Tracks 1–4 recorded in West Norwood. Tracks 5–13 recorded in Chalford, Gloucestershire. Tracks 14–21 recorded in West Norwood. Track 22 performed by SIMON GILLHAM, CHARLES ARTHUR, TOM MORLEY, COLIN NEWMAN. Engineered by STEVE PARKER. Recorded & mixed at Scorpio Sound (London).