School Of Fish

School Of Fish

Capitol Records, 1991

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 01/28/1998

Often when I walk the aisles of the Pierce Archives (50 percent off of Green Bay Packers merchandise), I'm struck with a feeling I can only call "Where-Are-They-Now? Syndrome." So many bands have come, made a strong impression on the music world, then disappeared without a trace.

Of course, when I go back to listen to some of these groups, I can understand why they've disappeared into the netherworlds. One such band is School Of Fish, who released two albums on Capitol before being eaten up by the musical equivalent of the Loch Ness Monster. (Memo to the Spice Girls: You're next.)my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

And while their self-titled debut album does contain some great numbers, for the most part it is filled with unimpressive rock that is indistinguishable from countless other acts.

Led by Josh Clayton-Felt and Michael Ward, School Of Fish first grabbed our attention with "3 Strange Days," a quirky little number that works in some mild Middle Eastern influences with a snappy drum beat provided by M.P. and a crunching guitar riff that is instantly addictive. As for the lyrics, I have no clue what Clayton-Felt is talking about -- maybe this is all he remembers after going on a three-day bender, I don't know. But the fact that this song still gets airplay is testimony to how fresh it was in 1990.

The other highlight here is "Speechless," a number which sounds like they're using baritone guitars -- the rhythm lines are a little deeper and richer than a normal guitar sound, and add a special texture to this one. Clayton-Felt again puts in a great vocal performance -- and one wonders what the fate of this band would have been had this track been released as a single and heavily promoted.

But after that, School Of Fish takes a turn for the worse and fills the remainder of the album with the same effluvia on both sides. "Rose Colored Glasses" and "Under The Microscope" both sound pretty similar, while "King Of The Dollar" and "Wrong" are both failed attempts to master two different styles of rock -- one all-out, one psychedelic... and don't think I didn't catch the mild lift of a riff from The Rolling Stones for a second.

Surprisingly, the album's closing number "Euphoria" restores a little of my faith in this band, and makes me wonder why they didn't explore this musical road a little more. It sure wouldn't have hurt matters.

School Of Fish disappeared after their second album Human Cannonball stiffed - kind of a shame, because for all the mistakes I've pointed out, Clayton-Felt and crew did show signs of brilliance on School Of Fish. Too bad those moments were not enough to save this album from relative obscurity.

Rating: C+

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