Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Bizarre Song Titles

With well over 300 tracks available to download on their official website, Dayglo Fishermen have created an incredibly varied back catalogue of music. It's a tremendous collection of emotive, inspirational, serious, haunting, and more often than not, bizarre compositions that can impress and bewilder in equal measure. And that is probably the intention.

But it's not just the content of the songs that can leave the listener perplexed. Some of the song titles can have the same effect, and more often than not seem utterly disconnected from the lyrics or music. Here are some of the strangest, and the story behind them (if there is one).

Blue Container

The song 'Blue Container' is the opening track of the band’s debut album, 'Drenched'. Released in 1990, the track is the aural equivalent of Red Bull, and a highly potent way to kick off the band's first ever release.  It's also likely to be have been the first experience of Dayglo Fishermen's music for many.

The Italian/piano house-influenced track begins with someone arriving at the door asking about a party. Judging by the echo the party is in a large stone building, maybe a castle - a premonition perhaps of the band's first live event at the ancient Moot Hall in Hexham the following year.

A blue container, photographed by the band on the Northumberland coast in 1990, shortly after the release of the 'Drenched' album

The unusual name of the track has no deep meaning at all. It is simply a variation of 'Black Box', the name of a popular house music group at that time. Apparently the band thought the piano on the track was very similar to that on on the song 'Ride on Time', which indeed it is.


Like all the band's early albums, the album 'Strange Plaice' contains many bizarre song titles. One of the oddest is 'T.E.S.'. The track features lengthy samples of tribal singing, recorded by chance as the band flitted through radio stations searching for inspiration. The samples are underpinned by a melodic reggae-style bass and guitar rhythm, and pan pipes.

Tribal singer

Dayglo Fishermen had no way to translate what was being sung, and to this day the language of the tribe remains unknown. Without inspiration from the lyrics the band had no choice but to name the song 'T.E.S.', which is apparently an abbreviation of 'Token Ethnic Song'.

'F' Creeky Siren Nook

The band's third album,'Fresh Gin', is by far the band's strangest, with almost every song and title oozing oddness. ''F' Creeky Siren Nook' has to be the strangest song title on the album.

It's almost impossible to figure out where such a name would come from until you realise that the backing music of the track is simply the band's earlier song 'Free Roky Erickson' played backwards. The title, in case you haven't guessed, is an anagram of that song's name.

But Where Were the Mice?

'And So It Is' is a short album, recorded over a very brief period in January 1992. Despite that, Dayglo Fishermen managed to create one of their most iconic songs during that session: 'But Where Were the Mice'.

Most of the lyrics were written with relative ease, but the band struggled for a while with the last line of the second verse which required a suitable rhyme for 'ice'; one that would be a fitting end to the story being told. Eventually, and in true Dayglo Fishermen style, the rather perplexing line 'Salvation was his, but where were the mice?' was chosen. After that the most appropriate title for the song must have become glaringly obvious.

Welcome to the Pteranodon

The 'What the Hell' album, released in 1992 was in many ways a transitional album. After the tense and often torturous recording experience of the previous 'dark' album, 'Magic Organ' (see the article 'The Art of Darkness'), only Peter and Richard managed to stay on as band members. The new album was lighter, fresher, and devoid of the harsh synths and guitars of its doom-ridden predecessor.

The album's final song is 'Welcome to the Pteranodon'. It has a relentless and hypnotic quality, due mainly to the heavily delayed drums, random radio tuning sounds and melodic guitar. Only the chorus contains lyrics which state 'I'm looking for the perfect life'.

A Pteranodon such as this should indeed be welcomed

Unfortunately there is no clue from either the music or the lyrics as to why the song was given its title, and certainly the countdown at the end, and the massive explosion that follows, further clouds the issue. There could well be some unfathomably deep meaning in the name somewhere just waiting to be revealed. Perhaps the Pteranodon, a huge flying prehistoric reptile, is intended as a metaphor for 'the perfect life'? That is something to be pondered.

Nag Lisa

Why 'Nag Lisa' has such a title is unknown, which is a shame as the track (featured on the 1993 album, 'Animate') is one of Dayglo Fishermen's greatest instrumentals. With a powerful non-sequenced synth line and guitar playing off each other through much of the track, and a spacial and rather dreamy mid section with its echoing piano and strings, it delivers an almost symphonic experience.

It's a truely epic composition.

'Nag Lisa' proved so popular it spawn two sister tracks on the 'Big Spoon' album the following year: 'Lisa' and 'Lisa Composed', with the original making a reappearance six years after that on the 'Dayglo Pizza' album.

Space Dog

In 1997, after a long break following their relocation to London, Dayglo Fishermen released the much anticipated 'Space Dog' album. With a new vocalist, Ginny, on board, the album took the band in a new but no less interesting and unusual direction.

The album's title track, 'Space Dog', is a bizarre tale about an interstellar dog, much revered throughout the galaxy, that travels to Earth and lands in England during a particularly cold winter. She is compelled to head north, enjoying 'a chilling place of mirth' on the way. But her visit is brief. She soon departs from what appears to be the far north of England and heads back into the void.

Space Dog

Unusually the image for the album cover and the album's title were decided long before most of the tracks were even written and recorded. The song 'Space Dog' was written to fit in with the image, which has become one of the band's most loved and recognisable album covers.

Irritating Cliché

Dayglo Fishermen's classic 1998 pop album, 'Painting Aliens' contains some of the band's most recognised songs, but the album's final track, 'Irritating Cliché', is often overlooked. This is a shame as it's another one of the band's great instrumentals.

Beginning with a deep and almost vocal synth it quickly builds to a crescendo of orchestral keyboards and guitar, before falling back to mellow and slightly melancholic second part played at half the tempo.

The original name for the track was actually 'Irritating Chloe'. Apparently it was written to intentionally annoy a local newspaper reporter who was not too complementary about Dayglo Fishermen's music. The band eventually decided against it and altered the name, perhaps because it would not be so annoying to her after all.

The music was used to great effect on the opening titles and closing credits of a short animation film, 'The Creature from Devil's Gorge'.

Nerdlinger One

The 'Comet Nerdlinger' album, released in 2001, featured a couple of unusually named songs, but 'Nerdlinger One' is certainly the oddest one.

The album name was decided during a visit to a pub not far from Dayglo Fishermen's Buckinghamshire production facility. The album was about half way through the recording process at the time. A group of grey, bearded and slightly unkempt men were seen entering the pub, and the band joked that they were there to celebrate the discovery of a new comet. The name 'Comet Nerdlinger One' was given to that fictitious comet.

Comet Nerdlinger One - the original image for the album cover that was eventually replaced by a lighter version

After a sample-filled intro of unusual sounds and the voices of child and of something not human, the track thumps to life with a high tempo bass and drum pattern and mellow synths and guitar. Those instruments soon build to a harsher sound, dominated by guitar, and then everything drops away as a spoken vocal tells the story of the comet's approaches Earth. But it's no ordinary comet. As our planet passes through the comet's tail microscopic alien life forms rain down, infecting all human life. We evaporate, and rise up to join with the comet.

Chilling stuff...

(J) Hoedown on Mars (Marsbard)

This final song title is definitely the most peculiar and surreal of them all, and we need to go all the way back to the 'Strange Plaice' album to find it.

'(J) Hoedown on Mars (Marsbard)' begins in a dreamy fashion, with the Korg M1 keyboard's signature 'Universe' sound, before a high-tempo drum and base rhythm kick in. A voice begins singing a song that is obviously unrelated in any way to the backing music. The song, sung by a local folk vocalist, is actually Plasir D'Amour by John Baez.

The track is an incomprehensible mash up of genres that must be baffling even to hardcore Dayglo Fishermen fans (and even to the band itself).

The song finishes with cheers, shouts and a round of applause from a very excited audience. Whether that's for the performance of the vocalist, or for the bravery of the band to close the album with such a song is up to the listener to decide.

It's a classic early Dayglo Fishermen experience.

There are many more bizarre song titles in Dayglo Fishermen's vast collection of music. Most of those are to be found on the early albums, but the later albums also have their odd moments. Visit the music page on the band's official website and see what you can find.

Saturday, 27 May 2017

The Live Albums

In April 2017 Dayglo Fishermen released their latest live album, 'Midnight Souls Come (a)Live'. It's the third time a recording of one of their Limelight Theatre concerts has been released (and also the band's first DVD release). Now would be an excellent time to discuss those three releases.

In the Limelight (2008)

It had been nine years since the band's previous concert at The Rock Garden in London, a period where Dayglo Fishermen had been focusing totally on their studio recordings. It was a time of fierce creativity during which the band released three albums of new material, 'Comet Nerdlinger', 'Queen of the Sunset City' and 'I Can See a Boat ... It No Longer Floats'.

With so much new material it was certainly time for a live performance, and when that performance finally happened in February 2008 at the Limelight Theatre, Aylesbury, UK, it was one that exceeded all expectations. For the first time the band felt compelled to release a live album.

In the Limelight CD cover image

And so it came to pass that Dayglo Fishermen's first ever live album, 'In the Limelight', was released in the summer of that same year.

The album captured the atmosphere and energy of the concert perfectly, and was well received. For many it was the first time they had ever heard the band perform live. The front CD cover image focuses on the audiences point of view, with the band seen in the distance rather than close up, directly appealing to those that were there on the night. The red colour scheme is a further reminder of the energy of that event.

In the Limelight - full CD cover artwork

The album's success was certainly the reason why the band did not hesitate to release another live album when the next opportunity arose.

260311 (2011)

In 2010, two years after their first Limelight Theatre concert, Dayglo Fishermen released a new studio album, 'Moons That Cast Their Light'. As usual it was a steady evolution of the band's quirky and often retro sound, with some of the tracks perfectly suited for live performance. It was therefore no surprise to anyone when the next concert date was announced. In March the following year Dayglo Fishermen performed at the Limelight Theatre once again.

This time the audience was even larger, and the band responded to that with a truly engaging performance, one that managed to exceed even the heightened expectations of those that had been present at the previous concert. It proved to be an enthralling evening.

260311 CD cover

The live album of the event, '260311', was released only three months later. Such a release so soon after a concert is quite unusual, but it was most welcome. Everything about the album was kept simple. The name is just the date of the performance, and the cover image is a straight shot of the band performing.

260311 - full CD cover artwork

It's a raw and very honest portrayal of the event, a perfect reflection of the atmosphere and nature of that night.

Midnight Souls Come (a)Live (2017)

In 2015, after five years of development, Dayglo Fishermen released their latest studio album. Titled 'Midnight Souls Still Remain', the album features a powerful set of pulsing synthesiser and guitar songs layered with some of the most haunting and evocative vocals every recorded by the band.

The band were now ready to perform live once again.

Midnight Souls Come (a)Live DVD cover

In September 2016, almost a year after the studio album's release, Dayglo Fishermen performed at the Limelight Theatre for the third time. The concert featured five tracks from the new album, and included some of the regular 'Painting Aliens' classics that had featured at all the Limelight concerts.

The live DVD album was released seven months later in April 2017. It's name, 'Midnight Souls Come (a)Live' is a deliberate link to the 2015 studio album that featured heavily during the performance.

Midnight Souls Come (a)Live - full DVD cover artwork

Unlike the previous live albums the front cover image does not feature the band in performance. It's an image of a face, serious and contemplating; a soul forming into a physical being from the surrounding elements.

It is a truly thought-provoking piece of art.

If you have been unable to experience Dayglo Fishermen live then any one of these albums from the Limelight Theatre trilogy is the next best thing to being there. Listen to them now on the music page of the band's official website.

Sunday, 1 January 2017

The First Dayglo Fishermen Performance

It's 25 years since Dayglo Fishermen first performed live.

On 21st December 1991, during a typically frigid evening in the far north of England, five of the band's members: Peter Fothergill , Richard Burton, David Fothergill, Eamonn Maddock and Sean Wills, came together at an ancient venue in Hexham, Northumberland, to perform their music for the first time.

The teaser promotion image for the gig from the cassette inlay of the band's 'Fresh Gin' album

Formed in the spring of the previous year, the band had already released three albums,and we're working on their fourth. Such a prolific spate of composition was the result of the ferociously creative energy that encompassed the band at that time. But the moment had arrived for Dayglo Fishermen to emerge from the studio and unleash their unique talents upon a live audience.

The promotional material for the band's first Moot Hall gig - left: teaser poster, right: main poster

The chosen venue was Hexham's Moot Hall. At more that 600 years old, the medieval tower was the gatehouse to the town's old gaol. It was a perfect contrast to the band’s very modern and unique electronic music.

The building's Lockhart Room on the second floor, where many centuries before the local bailiff had entertained guests, was the largest room available. With its thick stone walls and the heavy old wooden ceiling high above, the room provided the space, acoustics, and also the intimacy, that the band craved for its first performance.

The Moot Hall, Hexham - the imposing venue for Dayglo Fishermen's first ever live performance

The audience were mainly local inhabitants, along with a few curious media representatives. All were there to see one of the most original bands in a generation, a welcome departure from the usual school band rock that had saturated the local music scene.

The concert opened with something very unusual: 'Fly's Eyes', a remarkably odd instrumental track from the band's equally odd third album, 'Fresh Gin'. Somehow the music manages to create feelings of calmness, paranoia, tension, and even mild panic, and almost all at the same time. A quite astonishing way to begin a concert.

And then Dayglo Fishermen's first ever song, 'Fish', began. It's the first of seven tracks from the band's debut album, 'Drenched' that are played that evening, and at that moment in time their best known. Most bands would have left such a song for the encore. Starting with their most famous track was yet another example of the band's quirkiness, and perhaps a subconscious refusal to conform. With new synth and guitar lines, the live version differed quite significantly from the studio version, but retained the core drums and bass that fans would have wanted.

Dayglo Fishermen performing 'Fish'. Left to right: Eamonn, David and Peter

Next came 'Snatch', a sample-saturated dance track that raised energy levels even higher at the historic venue. Taken from the band's second album, 'Strange Plaice', the track pumped out its rhythm relentlessly, with live vocals appearing in the choruses for the first time that evening. The song ended in a very mellow manner, where the chatter of dolphins echoed in and out of a wash of soothing live synth tones, enhanced by the venue's natural ambience.

'Blue Container' kicked in almost immediately after. The track, Dayglo Fishermen's brilliantly executed piano house masterpiece, featured new guitars, piano and vocals, and kept the audience moving until its final notes. It was the last dance track for a while as the more synth-loaded music took a break.

The track, 'Get On', came next. The backing is simple drums and bass, giving the guitars prominence for the first time that evening. The samples of the verse on the studio version are replaced by live vocals, which gave the song new depth.

Peter, Sean and Richard fill the Lockhart Room with a dense texture of guitars and synths 

Another mainly drums and bass song followed. 'Free Roky Erickson' began with its cheesy off-beat organ riff, but without the band's now legendary psychedelic echoing voices (the band surely now wish they had left them in). With the organ enhancing the mid tempo rhythm, Peter and David sang the song as a duet - to date their only live vocal performance with the band. Looking back it was a special moment indeed.

'T.E.S.' followed. Standing for 'Token Ethnic Song', the easy reggae-style rhythm track and guitars perfectly complemented the tribal singing and animal noise samples that echoed around the venue. For some reason most of the band abandoned the stage leaving Richard to carry the song largely on his own, which he managed with ease.

Richard was the lead vocalist during the gig, and on many of the studio albums that followed

The dance tracks return. 'Words and Pictures', another track from the 'Drenched' album, raised the energy levels as it pounded out its heavy synth rhythm. The studio version is largely instrumental, with its choruses filled with a John Candy monologue from the film 'Planes, Trains and Automobiles'. The live version replaced the sample with a vocal performed by Richard - a wise decision.

'Alien Wave', another sample-filled dance track, came next. It's short, but kept the audience entertained, and probably confused, with the seemingly meaningless string of voice extracts. The track, one of the band's most popular early works, went on to have two new versions recorded for the 'Keep to the Path' and 'Animate' albums, both of which were released in 1993 (during the band's most prolific recording era).

Up next  was 'Drenched', an unusual choice for live performance, but it worked well. It's the title track of Dayglo Fishermen's first album, and largely instrumental. The studio version features a digital voice generated by a Commodore Amiga computer, quite a revolutionary idea at the time. The live version omitted it, which was a shame, but the new funky guitar riff lifted the track sufficiently to make it a worthy addition to the set.

Incredible concentration...

And then the strange and hypnotic 'Funky Toaster' was performed. It was yet another unusual choice for a live set, but also a clever one as it fitted in well with the band's image at the time. The audience were clearly amazed. The studio version once again included the Amiga computer voice, this time cleverly manipulated to give the impression it's in a drug-induced haze.

In a completely unexpected move, the band then performed the Queen song 'We Will Rock You' - a tribute to Freddy Mercury who had passed away less than a month before. As Peter performed the drums live on his keyboard, and with Richard on guitar, two guest artists sang the song to what must have been a very awe-struck crowd. It was compelling to watch.

Performing 'We Will Rock You' (during rehearsal)

'Keep to the Path', another pounding synth dance track, was the gig's penultimate track. Layered with hard guitar riffs the track resonated power throughout the venue. Yet again, the Amiga computer voice present on the studio version was omitted. It would have been good to have included at least the final line which is spoken in a mildly creepy Geordie accent.

And then the finale, 'Mondrian', began. Building quickly, the song became a wall of guitars and drums, punctuated with light pipe organs. The whole band lined up on stage, which visually reinforced the 'wall of sound' effect. It was a truly great ending to what had been an outstanding and memorable performance. Unfortunately the live version was not recorded and so will forever exist only in the memories of the band and the select audience.

The final song, 'Mondrian' - a wall of musicians unleash a wall of sound

That first live performance by Dayglo Fishermen was a groundbreaking event in the history of entertainment in Hexham. Its infectious energy and enthusiasm, its eccentricity and originality, and its divergence from normality, certainly affected the lives of all who attended. It was a unique evening, and something like it will never be seen again.

To commemorate the 25th anniversary of the concert a live album has been created with the memorable title 'Live at the Moot Hall 21 Dec 1991'. This is the first time the recording of the performance has been released. You can download it now from the official Dayglo Fishermen website.

Cover image for the commemorative 25th anniverary album of the first Dayglo Fishermen live performance 

The band returned to the Moot Hall two years (and an incredible six albums) later for one more performance at the venue.  By then the band had transformed into something different, and something a little more structured. Only Richard and Peter were in the band at that time, and they were joined on stage by the eminent Scottish artist and trumpet player J. Lorne Inglis. Sean Wills also joined the band on stage with his vintage synthesiser (Sean had left the band after the 'Magic Organ' album in 1992 and became a regular guest artist until he finally rejoined the band in 2011 to work on the 'Midnight Souls Still Remain' album).

Dayglo Fishermen have recently performed live once again in 2016, very nearly quarter of a century later. And the band still includes three members who performed at that very first gig.

If or when they'll play again is unknown, even to the band. Such forward planning is not really their thing. There'll be at least one new studio album before then.

After that, who knows?