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Provisionally Entitled the Singing Fish / Not To - EP

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Album Review

Like bandmates Bruce Gilbert and Graham Lewis, Colin Newman pursued his own recording projects when Wire went on hiatus in 1980. Originally released as separate albums in 1981 and 1982, Provisionally Entitled the Singing Fish and Not To were Newman's second and third solo ventures respectively. Although his solo debut A-Z had been a foray into moderately mainstream territory, The Singing Fish was an about-face. Written, produced, and performed almost exclusively by Newman (Wire's Robert Gotobed contributes to one track), the album is virtually instrumental, comprising minimalist interludes as opposed to conventional songs. The Singing Fish was not conceived as a pop album but as a record of functional music that might lend itself to use in other media, such as television or film. Taken on those terms, it makes for diverse, engaging listening that juxtaposes eastern nuances, cartoonish quirkiness, ambient textures, sparse piano melodies, hypnotic grooves, and, in places, a kind of rigid austerity reminiscent of Joy Division. Not To is another kettle of fish entirely, as Newman returned to a conventional song-oriented idiom and to a group line-up. Like A-Z, Not To emphasizes his knack for intelligent semi-pop tunes. This is particularly evident on Newman's renderings of several numbers that had originally been performed live by Wire in 1979 and 1980, although not recorded in-studio. New versions of "Safe" and "Remove for Improvement," for instance, are eminently catchy, and "Lorries" is reworked with a chartworthy rhythmic and melodic sensibility. Unfortunately, like the other standout, "You, Me and Happy," it never came out as a single. While Provisionally Entitled the Singing Fish and Not To may not be landmark releases, they nevertheless underscore Colin Newman's versatility in markedly different genres and anticipate subsequent, more fully developed albums such as It Seems (1988) and Bastard (1997).


Born: 16 September 1954 in Salisbury, Wiltshire, England

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Although Colin Newman is most readily associated with Wire, like bandmates Bruce Gilbert and Graham Lewis, he has undertaken numerous additional creative endeavors. Across a range of projects, the Wire guitarist/vocalist has consistently reinvented himself, venturing from post-punk art pop into ambient, electronic territory, along the way producing other artists and setting up his own label. Newman was born in Salisbury, England, in 1954 and attended Watford School of Art, where he studied under...
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Provisionally Entitled the Singing Fish / Not To - EP, Colin Newman
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