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it’s been a strange last couple of weeks as everything and nothing happened at the same time. It felt like I wasn’t doing anything some days then when I checked the “to-do” list end of day it was scrawled in ticks and added to with an extra “done” list!
The garden took up a lot of time and energy and I’ll deal with that in a “4 Green Fingers” Blog but the business and organisational side was more than just ticking away as a whole plethora of demands butted in.
Dealing with the ‘Misplaced’ releases has been a challenge as numbers changed and grew and I had to keep a firm hold on where our allowances from Parlophone were. Everything sold is covered and I’ve kept back some extras as safeties. I had to remove thew vinyl from sale a couple of times as there were questions on whether I could get extra units.The stock arrives next week and I’ll be scribbling away as Elspeth and Simone stick the units into the new packaging we’ve ordered in that should cover all the bases.We are well prepared.
Steve Vantsis left after a hugely successful time up here and although we didn’t get any writing done we conquered a couple of massive mountains and the rest regarding the remasters.I retired into research mode and burrowed my way into old ‘Company ‘ fanzines as the early 90’s aren’t covered on the website.
The entire era between 92 and 95 is very confusing to write about as ‘Songs from the Mirror’ and ‘Suits’ twist around each other and are in some ways inseparable. Trying to unravel the 2 projects is proving difficult and although I don’t want to duplicate sleeve notes the threads are impossible to ignore.
It hasn’t helped that I am missing Company Fanzine 14 which came out between September 93 and August 94. If anyone has a copy handy can you post below and I will PM you. It’s an important period as that was when I moved on from Brian Lane and went back to self management as well as firing up the Dick Bros Record Company. I know most of it but there’s some dates and events I need to check out.The old fanzines have proved invaluable in filling in some memory gaps so if anyone can copy me with the relevant pages in Issue 14 I’d be grateful.
The 12 track Akai demos from the ‘Vigil’ and ‘Exile’ sessions are now being transferred but I am still looking for the missing reel from the ‘Suit’s’ masters.This is proving the most frustrating issue just now.
Calum Malcolm is set up for recording the 5 new songs for the ‘Mirror’ remaster and we will be working here the first week of October with Calum mixing both that session and the SAS live material in the following weeks.
All things going well ‘Songs from the Mirror’ and the ‘Suits’ remasters will be available at the beginning of December just as the UK tour starts.
Tour rehearsals are currently scheduled for the second and third week of November with a further couple of days and a potential warm up gig immediately before the tour.
I’ve had to accommodate Robin Boult who has sessions with Howard Jones around that time and I want him with us when we go out.
He’ll be joined by John Beck who is coming up to the studio in the summer to start writing with Steve Vantsis and I. Robin will also be involved in between his touring commitments. I’m really glad John is involved in the ‘Weltschmerz’ sessions as I’ve wanted to write with him for a while and I know his experience and huge creative talent will be invaluable to the project.
Yatta is up here in the next few weeks to go through the touring organisation as although he won’t be on the road with me he will be helping with all the background logistics.
Everything is coming together slowly but surely but in all honesty I could have done without the recent health issues.The beta blockers aren’t helpful and the sooner I am off them the better. It feels very unnatural to be calm in moments of turbulence.
It’s not helped that after waiting a month for contact I was told yesterday that my next appointment is scheduled for September 14th with another probable 3 month wait on any surgical remedy. As with my back I can’t hang around as it infringes on the tour. As I haven’t worked a stage since last April I can’t afford to hang around and once again I have to elect for private treatment. With a tax bill that smarted landing in my mailbox yesterday it sticks in my craw that I’m going to have to fork out again for medical treatment if I am going to get back to work.It would be easier to swallow if it was deductible but it’s just going to be yet another unexpected cost this year. Thankfully the Yang to balance it out came in the form of the ‘Misplaced’ issues which you will probably agree has a certain irony to it!
I’ve done a few interviews for Parlophone to support the project and i have to admit it’s been an extra bonus as I’m obviously talking about my own titles and projects as well as the ‘Misplaced’ releases. With recent full page adverts in Prog Magazine and another couple in Classic Rock due in the coming months my profile is bubbling away and the remasters and live albums are still slowly moving out in the post from here.They’ve been aided by a promo campaign in Germany with similar ads in Eclipsed and Goof Times magazines as well as a series of reviews across the board.It’s all been positive.
Mark Wilkinson and I have a very clear idea now on the imagery we want on the ‘Weltschmerz’ album and that is driving my own lyrical ideas. The string for the pearls is being fashioned.
It does feel like the quiet before the storm and there’s a very loud clicking of things falling into place across the board.
This last week Steve Vantsis and I have been digging in the tape cupboards, the attic and various other hidey holes for tapes that hold some sonic nuggets. We’ve been putting together the material for the next 2 planned remasters and in fact got quite ahead of ourselves.
Not only have we completed the 2 CD’s for ‘Suits’ to go with the intended remixed original CD but also the second CD for ‘Songs From the Mirror’ with the original remaster being CD1 and CD3 the SAS live recordings and the 5-6 new studio recordings scheduled for October.
While I was rooting around in boxes I came across a whole trove of other material I never knew I had including the ancient Akai MK20 12 track tapes from the ‘Vigil’ and ‘Internal’ writing sessions and a rack of ‘Suits’ demos as well as early run throughs of ‘Songs from the Mirror’ material.
I also opened up the live DAT cases for the first time since I moved into The Studio in 2001 and discovered hours of material from across the years.
Most of the tours and the line ups are pretty well covered but some of the quality is dubious. A lot of the 90-91 period was covered by the first of the Official Live Bootleg’ series that funded the start up of the Dick Bros label in 94 and those titles contain most of the best versions of the material I’m looking at.
However we have found alternative diamonds in the rough and have built up a great selection of material particularly from ‘Vigil’ and ‘Internal’ as they offered the most choices being the oldest albums.
The 12 Track tapes head South on Monday for transfer to WAV formats so we should be able to discover what we have and can work with by the end of this month.
One downer is that I cannot find one of the master reels for ‘Suits’ that James Cassidy wants. And it had to be the one with the ‘Lady Let it Lie’ and ‘Mr 1470’ multi tracks!
I’m still hopeful and my head gets twisted every night trying to figure out where it could be as there’s no way it could have been thrown out.
Apart from the extra ‘Songs From the Mirror’ material that won’t be together until the end of October and the potential remix of ‘the ‘Suits’ album Steve and I should have all the other content for the 4 remasters ready by the end of next month.
Dave Barras is starting the interview sessions for the ‘Vigil’ album documentary in the next weeks but that particular title ( with ‘Internal Exile’) is not intended for release until next February/March to support the ‘Weltschmerz’ album recording.
I have a lot of work at hand with 4 sets of sleeve notes to write in that time and another wade through the photo archives to get material for Mark Wilkinson to work with.
My cloth is cut.
Just to let you know the office will be closed from tonight until Friday 16th June and we will not be processing any orders.
Sorry for any disappointment but Elspeth is on holiday and Simone is visiting family in Germany this next week. I am working with Steve Vantsis in the studio.and hopefully creating some sparks to fire up the ‘Weltschmerz’ writing process.
Another SAS show added in Sturminster Newton at the Exchange the night before the Portsmouth Guildhall gig on the 12th. Ticket details on the website on the attached poster
I’m sorry to say I have to stop the preordering on both the ‘Misplaced Childhood ‘ deluxe versions for now as Parlophone cannot guarantee me numbers I want and we are now sold out of our ‘allowance’. I’ve been told that perhaps I can get more if there is remaining stock left over from European sales. Needless to say I am unimpressed by all this.There’s still 50 days till the release date :-0
With this being Facebook and all; well of fake news and font of conjecture I thought I’d nip this in the bud in case some people got genuinely upset. Despite some rumours filtering out I’ve not had a heart attack and am most definitely not dead yet.
Last night I was in the Royal Edinburgh hospital with Simone just after 11pm. That morning I’d had breathing difficulties in the gym and on the way to the car. On the Sunday I had the same problems shortly after potting up a tree for my Mum and had to hang onto the Volvo for a few minutes to catch myself.
Simone and I had been having a quiet night in front of the TV (‘American Gods’) and she brought out her blood pressure monitor as she was concerned. My blood pressure was relatively normal but my pulse rate was 153. She redid the test a number of times and the pulse rate never fell below 143 while my blood pressure remained pretty stable.
A call to the NHS hotline later we were on our way to the accident and emergency room in a taxi having been told to be there in the next hour by the call centre. The A and E dept were waiting on me and after a fairly short while I was hooked up to and ECG machine and bloods being drawn from an arm that was soon to have the first of three bags of fluid attached to a valve pinned in my vein.
It was an unusually busy Tuesday night but not overwhelming. The staff were really helpful and eventually found us a curtain walled room which would be my bolt hole for the next couple of hours.Simone didn’t want to leave but had been told she couldn’t stay in the ward overnight and as her son Liam was at home and had school commitments only hours later she had no choice. She left at 2am just after I was wheeled back from X Ray. I admit to putting on a very brave face as we said our goodbyes.
I was eventually moved to a dark ward and the beeping machine I was plugged into said my pulse rate was still 144. It wouldn’t move below 140 until 2 the next afternoon. More blood was taken and I was told it was to check for blood clots. This sent a shiver of fear through me as it was a clot that took out my Dad just over a year ago. At the time I had no understanding of why they had to check for blood clots. My head was birling and not in a good way.
Again and again I’d be visited by doctors and registrars all saying the same thing. They had no idea what was causing this but from the ECG’s they knew I had a ‘fluttering’ heart and the valves were slightly out of synch.I didn’t know what that meant.
The good news was that all the tests for liver, kidney, blood infections, lungs etc etc came back negative and eventually even the clot scan was cleared.
It was a restless night. I was woken twice for tests and consultations and both times revealed us no further forward.
The weird thing was I felt fine and all this talk about fibrillating hearts I couldn’t quite relate to. I tried to sleep as much as I could under the thin sheets. I was still wearing my jumper in bed as I hadn’t thought of bring anything in, not expecting an overnight stay. My teeth were furry.
I was rudely woken by a gaggle of various nursing entities who were listening to the Malaysian woman interrogate a still drowsy patient who was repeating the same build up of events, symptoms and experiences as he had the last 5 or so times.The Registrar in charge came across as slightly surreal given my semi conscious state and I heard her tell me they would be considering giving me electric shocks to knock the heart back into normal rhythm and get me singing and dancing again. No sooner had they all flooded into my space than they all left. TBH I was none the wiser as to my current state and the remedy required
It wasn’t until the cardiologist arrived that everything became a lot clearer.. I apologise here as I cannot remember his name as he was the star of my otherwise weary and battle fatigued existence in the eternal waiting room.
I hadn’t had a heart attack, I was remarkably healthy and fit, I had a condition that was relatively common and can appear for no known reason. The electric shock therapy was a short term solution and could lead to a recurrence of a more dangerous type of the condition and there was another long term option involving a minor operation carried out through veins and arteries with great results on very decent odds – and he could probably pull it together in the next 2 months.
He told me the greatest danger with the condition, which I now know as atrial fibrillation (AF) was with blood clots as the fast moving valves don’t clear the heart chamber correctly and clots can be formed and washed out into the blood vessels. Now it started to make sense.
He made me feel a lot more at ease and I knew what I was facing. I was prescribed anti coagulators and stronger Beta blockers one of which I’d taken earlier and seen my heart rate slide to below 90 an hour after the dosage.
Although I wouldn’t have chosen to hear all this my attitude was that I now knew why I’d been having so many restless nights as my heart was flying while my body tried to sleep. I could rest a bit easier knowing that those shallow breathing occasions with chest thumping beats weren’t an oncoming cardiac arrest. A lot of subconscious Fear got swept away and I knew what I was dealing with. So a huge thanks to the man whose name I won’t forget when I see him next time.I hope it’s not too long.
The last ‘specialist’ I had to talk with was the pharmacist. He was a cool, non assuming, friendly bloke and he put the wind up me as he went into great detail of the dangers of the anti coagulant I was going to have to learn to rely on. I have to carry a card telling any potential 3rd parties who could be dealing with me in a potential accident that I did not have the ability to naturally stop bleeding and was borderline hemophiliac. The slightest cut will bleed freely and any knocks , especially head ones have to be taken very seriously as internal bleeding could become a fatal problem. This was the only part of the “new bargain” that caused me concern.The Beta blockers were pretty straightforward and would probably deliver me dreamless sleep for a while as my body can finally rest and I can wake refreshed in the morning.
I could finally get home.
All I had to do was pick up my meds and the paperwork and get a taxi to the Studio. Just as I was about to pull on my jacket I remembered that I still had the valve in my arm. The nurse duly attended, removed the needle, bandaged and taped the entry point and I pulled on my jacket.
A few minutes later I was standing at the reception desk and felt the warm wet trickle down my forearm under my jacket. Only 5 minutes after being told about the dangers of the anti coagulant there I was standing dripping blood onto the ward floor from my jacket sleeve. The nurses cleaned me up, I apologised for the mess and pressing the small bandage tightly onto the wound thanked the staff for looking after me through the night.
I could still feel my wet jumper sleeve as we drove through the sun strewn East Lothian countryside back to our home. This was going to be yet another new challenge.I’ll remember the rules next time.
The mobile pinged as messages came through of sympathy. I’d been recognised by quite a few people as I was trundled through departments on a wheelchair. Quite a few of the porters knew me as did some of the nursing staff.One guy ‘Steve’ (?) who I met while waiting on a scan was an Uber fan with tickets to Glasgow, the remasters and an FB knowledge. He was a really nice guy and we talked briefly about predicaments as we sat on our respective wheelchairs. (He had an horrendous lung infection and carried an oxygen bottle like a trophy). I’m always ‘Derek’ in any hospital but it’s ‘Fish’ that’s always obviously recognised.
Funny moment was when I asked the technician from one of the heart scanners for the sound recordings on a stick as I thought they could work somewhere on ‘Weltschmerz’. She looked at me strangely and then said’ I knew you weren’t a Derek, you looked like someone else I know.”
The sound of cascading pennies and laughter as the 2 porters with my wheelchair chimed in
“He’s Fish”! We were just talking about him in the staff room!”
And the texts kept coming in the taxi.
I would perhaps have not written this post but for a memory I had when I stepped off a boat after a swamp tour in Florida in 2002 to face a barrage of calls from the UK as the rumour had taken hold that I’d died in a car crash. Some close friends were seriously upset and it was strange calling people up to declare I was still very much alive.
As I said I decided to nip this in the bud before it grew legs.
I’m ok. The shoulder is well on it’s way to healing and I will miss the gym sessions over the next couple of months. I’ll be totally ready for stage work in December. The back is also so much improved and my general fitness is better than it’s been for a while. The big picture looks great!
I didn’t have a heart attack and am not at Death’s door yet.
I have a treatable atrial fibrullation that means my heart is working in weird time signatures just now. What more would you expect from a Progressive rock singer! 🙂
Before I go I just want to thank all the nursing staff and technicians at the Royal in Edinburgh who looked after me. You guys deserve a lot more appreciation and support for making an incredibly difficult job look so easy and still carry on smiling.
And to my lady who got a Bear into a taxi after convincing him that something had to be done after recognising that there was a serious problem. There could have been and because of you there isn’t. Thanks for being here darling and for looking after me. Love you so ganz arg xx
I received this on an e mail this Parlophone today which puts a bit of a new pressure on us all as we both have to gauge the pre orders.
“Just so you are aware, this is a limited product so we are only doing one factory run! Once it’s gone, it’s gone – as they say! ”
I am ordering them from the label as not being shrink wrapped in order to save time when I sign them. Just so you know.
A few people have been asking about why they haven’t had confirmations of their purchases on fishheadsclub.com
It seems there have been a few occurrences where orders have been taken but due to the switch over of the server the e mail confirmations weren’t automatically sent out. John Reid arriving at the weekend as we are having a couple of days brainstorming for the new web site and meeting with designers.When he is here he is going into the mail order files and intends to send out a blanket e mail covering everyone who’s ordered and we can find out if there are any missing orders.It should iron out any problems. I’m pretty confident everything is ok this end and any potential problems can be sorted when he is here.
There have also been a couple of questions on the security of the store.The security certificate hadn’t been acknowledged and wasn’t showing on the URL. The site however is secure and the certificate will now be showing on the shop.
On another note we are also looking at the problem we have with some returns due to wrong addresses being given or requests for signed deliveries being sent back as there’s no one to accept them. This is a particular problem in Poland as packages move from UK Royal Mail to other delivery services who immediately send packages back to us rather than store them at depots and leave messages of failed delivery with the intended recipients. We cannot afford to cover the cost of resending items and will have to come up with a solution to this.
We can send tracking information but it’s no use if the service it moves to doesn’t provide any more info when it enters Poland.
Please make sure when you give your delivery address that it’s valid and correct and that you have added the correct e mail address or contact details as well with your order.It all helps keep our service to you as slick and fast as possible and racking up office hours chasing down missing orders. We’re always trying to do our best to provide a great service as your help and support is sincerely appreciated
Just to let you know I’ve booked this in as a one off on September 6th. It’s the same day as SAS rehearsals and as I had a night free in the ‘Big Smoke’ it made sense to take up the offer from my old friend Steve Blacknell who you may remember interviewed me over my record collection for the Old Grey Whistle Test at my old gaff in Aylesbury years ago. I won’t be playing on the night but it’ll be a 2 hour interview/ conversation with both Steve and audience members and I’ll be signing stuff after.There’s only 70 tickets available so it will be quite an intimate affair and as it’s Steve’s birthday on the night I reckon it could get pretty loose 🙂
I’ve been thinking a lot about how I’m going about things recently and trying to improve on how I deal with my career especially with regards to social media. Although I’m a reasonably prolific writer and there are a lot of subject matters the content isn’t really getting out beyond the converted.
After discussion with John Reid, who deals with all things IT for me we have decided to completely change our set up starting with the website.
I recognise that there should be a lot more content and interaction and we need to get people to delve around and discover not only what’s happening now but also my history. Amalgamating the old ‘Company’ website with the new one is a must. I use the old blogs and tour histories as well as the discography a lot when compiling the re masters and even I was I’ve been thinking a lot about how I’m going about things recently and trying to surprised at just how much is over there on that web site.
John and I are already in discussion with third parties to help us out and our aim is to get a completely new all singing and dancing website together in the Summer so that we can reach out to a wider audience and get them interested in what I’ve done and what I am doing.
I also have to get refocused on the next re masters and have decided that ‘Suits’ and ‘Songs from the Mirror’ are up next. I want to schedule these for late October so they are ready for when I go out on the December UK tour. I’ll be working on ’Vigil in a Wilderness of Mirrors’ and ‘Internal Exile’ throughout that time and aiming to get these released next March. As they are the oldest albums there’s a lot more material to sift through and especially with ‘Vigil’ a lot of options to take it to a higher plane regarding content.
With ‘Suits’ I have been in discussion with the original producer James Cassidy and he is very much up for a complete remix and revisit of the material. Not only have I discovered the original master tapes but also a collection of multi-track demos from that period. It all depends on cost and the quality of the tape but I am confident that we can create something very special from the material.
I want to have ‘Songs from the Mirror’ follow in the same 3CD hardback packaging as the other re masters to continue the theme but there isn’t as much material to choose from. The 1993-4 tour was pretty much captured on the ‘Sushi’ album (since deleted) but there wasn’t that much material from ‘Songs from the Mirror’ played live. There are a couple of cover versions that can be included but I’m still short of 3 CD’s. After a discussion with Spike Edney he’s given me access to some SAS band material and as I am playing with them in September we are going to set up a live recording of about 5 tracks at Portsmouth Guildhall and at the proposed warm shows and rehearsals. That still leaves me with space on disc 3 so the idea is to record about half a dozen new cover versions here at the studio in the summer when I have a band together working on the new ‘Weltschmerz’ album. It gives me a chance to try out new musicians in the studio and to play around with ideas at the same time. Songs by Nick Drake, Leonard Cohen, John Martyn, The Who, Elton John and some others are already up for consideration and that would give me a re mastered album with some hefty and hopefully attractive content.
With ‘Vigil’ I have a lot of options and will be interested to getting feedback on this. Back in the day I shot a lot of footage on Super 8 film. I have coverage of the move here, the first writing and band rehearsals as well as Townhouse studio and then the touring itself. David Barras and I will be going over this material with a view to perhaps putting together a film documentary of that period. As always it all depends on the cost of creation and whether I can cover it with sales. As EMI own the copyright to this album and the associated studio material I have to license it and get their ok on the finished product. I would have preferred to have owned it but it’s not for sale. As I said with it being the oldest solo album there’s tons of live stuff never before released as well as acoustic versions from the Fishheads club tour and beyond. There’s a possibility of putting together a multi disc version bigger than the others in the re master catalogue. One idea is to go for a super dooper deluxe version with a standard 3 disc version as the other cheaper option. The same could be used for ‘Internal Exile’. If there’s enough interest in this type of format then I can seriously look at the possibilities.
The question of vinyl is repeatedly asked. The problem is that vinyl is very expensive to produce in small numbers and the outlay just now cannot be justified. Having thousands of pounds worth of stock sitting there when I need to fund the new album and the rest of the re masters can’t be justified just now especially since my health issues have meant I had to delay all my touring activities this year.
Once I have the new website up and running I’ll create a section where people can offer commitment to buying the vinyl albums. Once I get an idea of numbers then I can commit to a production run. That seems the most sensible way of putting it all together and making it finally happen.
By next Summer I’d like to have the ‘Weltschmerz’ album released and the entire solo catalogue available as re masters ( apart from ‘Feast’ and ‘’13th Star’) with a website that fits the bill that I can populate with material from the studio and the following tour.
There’s more than enough to do in the following months and this is the plan I would like to follow as a guideline.
I’m genuinely interested in your feedback on all these ideas and once the new web site is online I will be looking for other contributors and involvement from you the fans.
Thanks for supporting me with all the re masters and releases and I’ll do my very best to maintain the quality and the pricing as well as the service provided by our mail order shop.
It’s going to be an interesting next few months of that I am very sure.
Take care and stay alive
As announced yesterday the new deluxe versions of ‘Misplaced Childhood’ are now available to pre order from the fishheadsclub.com shop.
I’ve kept the prices especially on the vinyl as keen as I can and all pre orders will be signed by me.
With the 4x 180g vinyls in a box with the booklet the postage is eye watering with some options and we will be swallowing the costs of the actual packaging ourselves. We have a new cardboard box we are confident will stand the rigours of the postal services and get your order to you in perfect condition.
Please remember that these titles will not be available until 21st July so even if you get a notice that your order is completed it will not be sent out until that date onward and all orders will be processed in sequence, first come first served.
If you are placing mixed orders, for example remasters and the ‘Misplaced Childhood’ deluxe versions the other elements will be dispatched as we receive that order and the deluxe order will be sent out after the 21st July.
We have enough time to prepare packaging to be filled with the albums when they arrive here so we should service orders pretty quickly after that date as some of you already know from your experience with the ‘Farewell to Childhood” live CD/DVD.
Your support on this is sincerely appreciated here
Thanks for being out there