Fish On Friday – Black Rain

2020 (Cherry Red Records)

1: Life In Towns (5:45)
2: Murderous Highland Highway (8:13)
3: Black Rain (4:53)
4: Mad At The World (4:57)
5: Letting Go Of You (6:48)
6: Angel Of Mercy (4:48)
7: We’ve Come Undone (5:08)
8: Morphine (3:08)
9: We Choose To Be Happy (3:25)
10: Trapped In Heaven (4:04)
11: Diamonds (4:22)

Originated from Belgium Fish On Friday takes its name from the Catholic tradition not to eat meat but fish on Friday. With this band the vitamins are quite differently. What we get for some years is a delicious meal of progressive pop with the dreaminess of Blackfield, a tasty bite, that may warm-up the inner man, preferably daily.

The reviewed “Black Rain” is the fifth album by the band and however the history of the band isn’t really spectacular until now, they deserve to be given credit. Founded in 2009 by singer/keyboardplayer Frank van Bogaert en the also keyboard playing William Beckers, Fish On Friday is for some years a project. With the help of some guest musicians and brilliant cover designer Michal Karcz, they drew attention with two self-published albums. On their third album “Godspeed” (2014) Fish On Friday profiles themselves not as a project but as a band. Fantastic bassplayer Nick Beggs, the Californian guitarplayer Marty Townsend and drummer Marcus Weymaere really made promotion. In this line-up they made album number four “Quiet Life” in 2017 with a small part from Alan Parsons as producer of one track. After this album Beckers leaves the band and they release by the name FOF their most progressive album till now “Black rain”.

The album has a light concept with lyrics about the quickly changing world we live in. It deals about our environment, the many war refugees and global political madness. However the album has its dark moments, there is also room for positivity and happiness. As for the latter besides some sentences, mainly the contributions from the guest musicians are responsible for the sparkles. Take the frivolous playing of Theo Travis on saxophone, clarinet and flute or the backing vocals of Nina Babet and Chantal Kashala. Lula Beggs impresses most, with her wonderful voice, she lays a golden layer on five songs. She sings as genius as her father plays the bassguitar.

You can hear everything in the eleven songs on the album. There are no really weak songs and the assertion that each song is either good or very good can be made quiet lightly. The statement that the songs are not bursting with variation can easily be blown away since every song stands out with wonderful melodies and vocals that each has their own DNA.

The first three songs can be categorized as very good and makes you eager for what’s coming next. Opening track Life In Towns has the perfect atmosphere that is admittedly very Blackfield-ish, still this doesn’t do the song any damage. On the contrary, the beautiful melodies thrive wonderfully. With the next song Murderous Highland Highway the atmosphere continues effortlessly, certainly in the long instrumental interlude. After this sizzling piece of work, title track Black Rain is next. We can hear the sound on this song can, many times, be associated with the new wave en pop music of the eighties. It is blissful, especially the choruses strikes you, in particular the voice of Lula Beggs in the backing vocals pops out. Especially with this song, but surely also the two previous tracks, the band creates a very high credit on which the whole album profits, not that the music needs this.

Like being said there are only good tracks. There is a continuously joy hearing the songs Mad At The World, Angel Of Mercy and Morphine,  the more up-tempo tracks We’ve Come Undone and We Choose To Be Happy are drawing the same line. The biggest pearl however is Letting Go Of You on which Lula Beggs superbly shines in a pearly background while the closing songs Trapped In Heaven and Diamonds with their guitar solo’s are also shimmering to you.

“Black Rain” is a beautiful, if not a wonderful album. Speechless cool class.

Nick Beggs: bass, Chapman stick, backing vocals
Frank van Bogaert: keyboards, acoustic guitar, vocals
Marty Townsend: guitar
Marcus Weymaere: drums, percussion

Nina Babet: backing vocals (2,3,5)
Lula Beggs: vocals (3,5,7,9,11)
Chantal Kashala: backing vocals (2,3,5)
Jef Marinus: lap steel guitar (9)
Theo Travis: saxophone (5), clarinet (5), flute (6)

© Dick van der Heijde 2022