I was plugging along at the gym this afternoon, you know, maintaining my (I’m wild about my Jelly, ’bout my sweet) Jelly Roll (Blues), and my Sony iPod like device began to blare the song “Wrong” by School of Fish. I was absolutely digging this tune. I have about 1600 or so songs on this particular device and they play alphabetically. “W” comes up about every five months now I’m working out an embarrassing two days a week until I feel comfortable that I’ve built a business I can rely on. I’m in sales and all we do, at this level, is stress our brains out until the ink is dry on the signature. Those of you who are in this game know just what I’m talking about. The money is good, no doubt, but I would think playing CF for the New York Yankees would be more enjoyable in terms of pressure. As a consequence, working out is on the back burner. Instead of running through 75 songs a week at the gym I’m barely getting through 30. I’m not fat, but I’m definitely not thin…which of course means I’m fat by definition. At my advanced age and after all the crap I’ve put my body through; all the Buffalo wings, the pizza, the meatball subs, the cream cheese, the sugar in my coffee, my love of condiments, the alcohol and everything else that I’ve done since I was a rail thin 145 lbs in 1982 it doesn’t look real promising for our hero. Maybe I should take up cigarettes huh? I would have done a lot better in the Rubenesque Age. I’d have probably be too thin for those women though. Tell you what though; I’m going to battle until the end of my days on this front. It ain’t over ’til it’s over right Yogi?…
Where was I? Oh yeah, School of Fish. On April Fool’s Day 1991, School of Fish released it’s debut CD just called School of Fish. The first song was a quasi two parter called Intro/3 Strange Days. I was instantly attracted to this song. It had angst, confusion, dull observation and it told a story that made absolutely no sense unless it was a reference to a three day drug induced fog. Know what? Johnny Clueless (Hey! That’s me!…or maybe the singer’s self named alter ego representing his irresponsible side) was there with his simulated wood grain (alcohol?) so how bad could it have been? I’m not much for acid or “trips” so I can’t really relate other than to say I’ve misplaced a few hours in my own life. Trouble is, not only can’t I get them back, I probably wouldn’t have felt much like writing about it after I regained consciousness. Whatever School of Fish’s vision for this song it kicked my ass all over the road. It gets played on our local Alternative Rock station on a program called “Leftover Lunch” about once every six months. But don’t try getting through a week without hearing “Girls On Film” by Duran Duran or worse, something like “True” by Spandau Ballet. Geesh. What happened to the Rock in Alternative Rock? “3 Strange Days” was a fantastic Alternative Rock song and should be remembered as such. When I hear it come on the radio or see while I’m trolling through my jukebox software I instantly reach for the volume circa 11. As 90′s one hit wonder songs go, “3 Strange Days” is right up there at the very top in my book. I bought the record without hesitation.
School of Fish was basically a duo, Josh Clayton-Felt and Michael Ward, accompanied by a drum machine and a pre-programmed bass machine. They eventually had real live performers at some point, but they were transient at best. They set up shop in Los Angeles and made a name for themselves. Capitol Records took a shot at them and their debut CD sold very well thanks to folks like me. Their second CD, 1993′s Human Cannonball, tanked and the band was done by 1994. They had been together maybe five years. Josh Clayton-Felt tried to make a go of it as a solo artist, but he was dropped by his label almost immediately. His story unraveled even further when he was diagnosed with inoperable testicular cancer. He passed away in the year 2000 at a disgustingly young age. Problem is our friends at Wikipedia say he was born May 18, 1976 and died January 19, 2000. My math isn’t so hot, but since they say he died at 32, I’m guessing May 18, 1967 was his real birth date. Whatever the case, Josh has a hand in at least three greats tunes by my count. That’s three more than I’ll ever write. I’m getting an education about writing songs by reading the Keith Richards’ bio that just came out. It’s more interesting than I ever dreamed it would be, but as I’ve noted in the past, I’m not exactly unbiased with my love of The Rolling Stones. Still, the Richards book is excellent reading if you are so inclined.
Michael Ward, Clayton’s partner in crime for a time, went on to play with John Hiatt, an artist I absolutely love, and The Wallflowers, who had their moments in the sun despite the expectations of having the legendary Bob Dylan’s offspring in the band. Not much else is known about School of Fish, but frankly, that adds to the mystery of why they never really got over the hump. Sometimes over analyzing moments in time like these can kill the spirit of what took place. I’d take these guys over a ton of so called hot bands that have materialized since. It’s hard to believe we’re coming up on 20 years since their first record came out. Pretty soon it’ll be 3 Strange Decades if we don’t mark the time. I’m leaving you with their three biggest “hits” and great three hit wonder fodder for your iPods. Enjoy.
Buy or Download School of Fish From Amazon Here.