For Fish, the vinyl revival started after he got the builders in. “All my vinyl used to be on a very tall shelf”, he says. “And when it got to two o’clock on a Saturday morning and you were shit-faced after a couple of bottles of wine, you’d want to get the vinyl down and it was always a pain in the arse. And I never played it as much as I wanted.
“Then I renovated one of the studio rooms and put racks up for the vinyl, and I suddenly got back into playing vinyl again because it was accessible. And I’ve been finding stuff that I never duplicated on CD.”
Below, Fish talks about the records that changed his life, some of which had a direct impact on Marillion’s classic 1985 Misplaced Childhood, the album that launched Fish into a million living rooms but ultimately signalled the beginning of the end of his time with the band.
ELP - Tarkus
One of the first Prog albums I ever heard was Emerson Lake & Palmer’s Tarkus. Somebody brought a copy into Dalkeith High School, and I quickly got into Genesis and the whole Prog thing through that. It’s an album that’s stood the test of time for me, and every now and again I’ll play it and a small spark will kick off.
Pink Floyd - Meddle
I heard Meddle before I heard Dark Side Of The Moon. I remember going up to Crieff Hydro [hotel in Perthshire] with my parents, where I used to go on nature walks. I remember sitting on a rock listening to Meddle on this mono Philips cassette deck and thinking it was incredible. It got me into Floyd, and I was also getting in to Lord Of The Rings at same time. It was my Middle Earth period.
Genesis - Selling England By The Pound
I remember listening to this on an eight-track in the back of my dad’s Volvo, again at Crieff Hydro on the family holidays. Although I’d heard Trespass and Foxtrot, Selling England By The Pound was the new album, and it’s still one of my favourites.
I’ve still got Brain Salad Surgery and Close To The Edge on eight-track, and listening to progressive rock on eight-track is a very disconcerting experience.
The Who - Quadrophenia
When I was buying eight-tracks in the little record shop in Crieff the one that was always there — and was always being reduced in price — was Quadrophenia by The Who. It was years later when I finally got the album, and it’s still my favourite by The Who. It’s got everything on it, and Pete Townsend started become a big influence, both lyrically and attitude-wise. This shows up on Incommunicado on the Clutching At Straws album.
Joni Mitchell - Hejira
This was something I picked up in the mid-80s. Lyrical genius, melodic genius, musical genius. It was the lyrics, and what she conveyed, and the story, and the way she used observations and turned them into songs.
Peter Hammill - Over
They say people tend to latch on music and albums — like everyone latched onto the Misplaced Childhood stuff — at a particular period in life. And I really got into this during my forestry days in Speymouth Forest up in the north of Scotland. I just loved the emotion on the album.
My girlfriend at the time had a major problem with Peter Hammill’s voice, and had to leave the room when I played the album. I dunno why, but his voice really resonated with me. John Lydon always cites Hammill as a massive influence on his singing, and I’ve deployed some of his vocal mannerisms in the past. I like the attitude.
Nick Drake - Pink Moon
This is just coming into focus with me at the moment, and I should have discovered it years ago. I’d known about him for years but never really listened, and earlier this year I started to listen to lots of vinyl, and the Nick Drake stuff came to me. I’m looking to do a cover of Free Ride from that album. I love the simplicity of it. The voice just stands out, and it’s emotionally very, very raw.
Yes - Yessongs
It’s a bit of a cheat, but it has all the classics from the first few albums, and because most of the tracks have the same musicians on it has more of a coherence to it. This was the classic lineup for me: Wakeman, Anderson, Squire, Howe, White.
I love the energy of the album. Everyone goes on about the progness and complexity of Yes, but the groove that existed between Chris Squire and Alan White was phenomenal. Everyone forgets about the groove they had. They were in the pocket all the time.
John Martyn - Solid Air
A fantastic voice. I love emotion and passion in singer-songwriters. John just had a huge soul, and May You Never as an anthem is just absolutely incredible.
The Beatles - Abbey Road
It’s quite a proggy album, if you look at the way it bounces through the sections. I think it may have been an subconscious influence on Misplaced Childhood, the way they moved all the little sections together. It’s an album that a lot of people ignore. It’s always Revolver or Sgt. Peppers or The White Album, but Abbey Road has always been my favourite.