The first Fish Co album, Can’t Be Bad , is like a bus-ride through a small town inhabited by innocent early twenty-somethings who spend too much time hanging out in a sepia-flavoured café, not unlike the one on the cover. Fairnie & Rowles take a nostalgic look at the sixties peace and love credo, wondering long and hard how on earth it could apply to the harsh realities of the crisis-strewn seventies.
The songs themselves are a mixture of observation, self-analysis and declarations of faith. Fictional characters a-plenty, everyman’s quest for a happy life is dissected and the true recipe for satisfaction revealed (“Poor old Matthew can’t you see, life isn’t Guinness and an old TV…”).
Rowles is caught in mid-existential crisis on stand-out track A Line Must Divide, the kind of song on which Wings-era McCartney and Imagine-era Lennon could have collaborated, had they been on speaking terms at the time… A melody to die for, haunting piano chords and a sparse arrangement which knows just where to stop.
Elsewhere, the sheer delight of having something to say is shared on Beautiful Secret, Goodnight Brothers is an unpretentious knees-up of a sing-along that could never fail to raise a smile, while Precious Lord is the work of true believers, proud and thankful to be where they are, and willing others to join them.
Musically young, carefree and totally infectious, with the kind of vocals you wish lived next door, Steve & Steve audibly knew each other inside out by the time they hit the recording booths. With the added bonus of some fine saxophone work and consistently imaginative lead guitar playing, illustrating the tunes in the way only 70s session musicians knew how, Can’t Be Bad is a classic remnant of a by-gone era.
Produced by John Pac
Recorded and reduced at Morgan Studios
Engineers: Mike Bobak, Martin Levan, Mike Silverstone, Jeremy Stenham
Mastered by George Peckham at the Master Room
Art Direction and Cover Concept: Steve & Steve
Cover Photography and Lyric Sheet Illustration: Beverly Sage
All titles by Steve Rowles & Steve Fairnie (except ‘A Line Must Divide’ by Steve Rowles)
Acoustic Guitars & Vocals: Steve Rowles & Steve Fairnie
Bass: Nick Ryan
Drums: Steve Jones
Lead Guitar: Mo Witham, Pete Watt
Backing Vocals: Mo Brown, Maureen McCafferty & John Pac
Sax: Albie Donnelly
Piano on ‘A Line Must Divide’: Steve Rowles
Piano on ‘Soup and Whisky’: Noel (Cream of Chicken) Campbell
Dog on ‘Matthew’: John Pac
De-tuned banjo on ‘Goodnight Brothers’: Steve Fairnie
Backing Vocals on ‘Goodnight Brothers’: Sue (Won’t you come out of that field and stop writing poetry) McClellan, John Captain Starship Basil B’Russell, Peter ‘Jess’ Yates-Round Table Cap Nhoj, Cream of Chicken, Peter (What’s wrong with my banjo anyway) De Fairnio, Kathie Kirby and last but not least, Mr John (Bristol City No.9) Cocoa-Mo Bowles, Plaster cast of thousands.