well, as many of my friends and regular readers will not need telling, one of my favourite albums of all time would be the astonishing Misplaced Childhood by Marillion. it is a masterpiece, but elsewhere on this blog lurks a length discussion of it for you to find if you so wish.
i was very interested to learn, then, of Fish taking the album out on tour and releasing a recording of it - Return To Childhood. as you can see if you click on the link there, it is not a cheap release, far from it. i mention the price purely because of the shocking quality and nature of this release!
i may be no musical expert or fundi as such, but i know a shoddy quality recording when i hear one, and this - very sadly - is one. the best way i can describe it is as sounding like it's been recorded to tape off an FM mono signal with the bass turned way down, the treble all the way up to 11.
the performance is somewhat dubious too, it seems. i am not going to get into a Marillion vs band that Fish put together for this, but anyone listening can hear that it's either Fish missing cues to come in, or the band "misleading" him to start singing which comes to an abrupt stop. and i have absolutely no idea what song the band thinks it is playing when they should be playing the finale, White Feather, but i can tell you that it isn't White Feather!
the rather bizarre backing vocals hardly help either. whereas i have no doubt that the backing vocalist, Ms Deborah French, is highly talented, the bewildering, ad hoc random nature in which she chips with a line every now and then is almost distracting as the fact that there are backing vocals in the first place.
now, i am led to believe that Fish was rather ill during this tour, but insisted on pressing on with the concerts to mark the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the album. very admirable indeed, but with clearly flawed performances, should they still have gone to the extent of releasing this?
a quick browse around the net suggests that i might be in a minority with this negative review of it. i find that rather odd, but there you go - i too am in the minority with things like seeing Avatar as a load of rubbish. i just get terribly frustrated by the fact that Misplaced Childhood appears not to have a proper, live recording anywhere out there.
the only other album you can compare it to, the brilliant Tommy by The Who, is well documented live on a number of discs and films, in particular the deluxe edition of Live At Leeds. the only release i am aware of which features Misplaced Childhood is Marillion's The Thieving Magpie, and this too is flawed.
whereas The Thieving Magpie sounds rather better than Return To Childhood, the problem is that it sounds too good. again, i am no expert, but there are telltale signs that the recordings were "touched up" a bit in the studio before release. and yes, i used the plural there with good reason - the album is not a full concert as such, they have picked and chosen the "best" versions from a number of different concerts.
as frustrating as this is, if someone offered me the chance to actually go and see Fish do Misplaced Childhood, only that Fish would be drunk and suffering with laryngitis, i would jump at the chance!
in the mean time, i guess i will have to just huddle in the safety of the studio version of the album.
be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!