Sunday 20 September 2015

Fish Co.'s 1978 Beneath the Laughter, a wonderful pop-prog album

I've been listening nonstop to some of the songs from this record since my friend sent me a copy.  I see that it's quite well known already online and there is a lot of information to be found regarding the creators.  It should be mentioned straight off (but sometimes isn't) that the lyrics are christian based.  Here's a good review, from 2011, parchment music:

"...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)."

I believe this is the artists' own site here promoting the record.  Note that this blog presented the album this past summer without review but mediafire download again.

Anyways, here is the song that threw me off my chair when I heard it, it's called Across the Table, and it should have been-- it must have been-- it had to have been-- a seventies AM radio hit, even more than other songs like Defrates' Saturated, it so deserved it:

You've been talking out for years without an answer
but your problems keep on growing like a cancer:
I can see it in your face-- 
you need a miracle of grace--
then you can begin 
to start again, to start again...

Isn't it beautiful?  That hook is simply unforgettable.  Everything is perfect: the lyrics, the backing gospel style vocals, the upgoing chord structure, etc.

Discogs information.


  1. Check

  2. They posted the previous album there as well, which is not as good, for those who are curious, as I was:
    Many thanks to that uploader!

  3. From sosgotcha:
    hi Julian
    This one is a killer pop prog album ! Thank you very much !
    In the style of pop prog I like also very much NEW ENGLAND Explorer suite.
    [commetn deleted by mistake]

  4. Its a fabulous album - as a drummer quality of the drum recording is the best of any Christian recording of the seventies i can think of. And the songs, laid back soft-rock yes, but as good as it can be done, but still pointing to the future post punk incarnation of the band .Its a end marker yes, but one of the best ever.