Fischer-Z

Fischer-Z was an English New Wave/electro-rock band that released three albums on UA/Liberty between 1979 and 1981, splitting thereafter so that frontman/songwriter John Watts could focus on his solo career. In 1987, he resurrected the Fischer-Z nameplate with a new lineup, releasing albums at sporadic intervals during the subsequent three decades.

Members: John Watts (lead vocals, guitar, keyboards), David Graham (bass, vocals, 1976-81, 2004), Steve Liddle (drums, 1976-81, 2004), Steve Skolnik (keyboards, 1976-80, 2004), Steve Kellner (drums, 1987-94), Ian Porter (bass, keyboards, percussion, 1987-91), Jennie Cruse (vocals, 1987-91), Alan Morrison (guitar, 1987-88), Denis Haines (keyboards, 1987-88)


Background

Fischer-Z formed in 1977 when musician and songwriter John Watts, then studying clinical psychology, teamed with keyboardist Stephen Skolnik. They were soon joined by bassist David Graham and drummer Steve Liddle. After gigging in an around Uxbridge, Greater London, they signed to United Artists and released their first single, “Wax Dolls” (b/w “Angry Brigade”), in September 15, 1978.

A: “Wax Dolls” ()
B: “Angry Brigade” ()


Word Salad

Fischer-Z released their debut album, Word Salad, on May 4, 1979, on United Artists.

1. “Pretty Paracetamol” (aka “First Impressions”) (3:57)
2. “Acrobats” (Watts, David Graham) – 2:42
3. “The Worker” – 3:36
4. “Spiders” (Watts, Steve Skolnik) – 1:42
5. “Remember Russia” – 3:29
6. “The French Let Her” (Watts, Steve Skolnik) – 3:21

7. “Lies” – 3:57
8. “Wax Dolls” – 2:46
9. “Headlines” – 3:21
10. “Nice to Know” – 2:52
11. “Billy and the Motorway Police” (Watts, David Graham) – 2:11
12. “Lemmings” (Watts, Steve Skolnik) – 3:02

Studio Eden Studios, Chiswick, London; Wessex Sound Studios, Highbury, London
Producer Mike Howlett
Gary Edwards, Aldo Bocca – recording engineer

John Watts – lead vocals, guitar
Steve Skolnik – keyboards, vocals
David Graham – bass guitar
Steve Liddle – drums, percussion

John Pasche – art direction, design
John Wedge – photography

23 Feb 1979
A: “Remember Russia”
B: “Bigger Slice Now” ()

18 May 1979
A: “The Worker”
B: “Kitten Curry” ()

10 Aug 1979
A: “First Impressions”
B: “High Wire Walker” ()


Going Deaf for a Living

Fischer-Z released their second album, Going Deaf for a Living, in May 1980 on UA.

1. “Room Service” (3:41)
2. “So Long” (4:59)
3. “Crazy Girl” (4:26)
4. “No Right” (2:36)
5. “Going Deaf for a Living” (3:31)

6. “Pick Up/Slip Up” (2:37)
7. “Crank” (3:06)
8. “Haters” (4:07)
9. “Four Minutes in Durham (With You)” (4:00)
10. “Limbo” (2:14)

Studio The Manor, Shipton-on-Cherwell, Oxfordshire
Producer Mike Howlett
Richard Manwaring – engineer

John Watts – lead vocals, guitar
Steve Skolnik – keyboards
David Graham – bass
Steve Liddle – drums

John Pasche – sleeve, art direction, design
Phil Jude – cover photography

14 Mar 1980
A: “So Long”
B: “Hiding” ()

26 Sep 1980
A: “Limbo”
B: “The Rat Man” ()

In Germany, UA lifted
A: “Room Service”
B: “Pick Up / Slip Up”


Red Skies over Paradise

Fischer-Z released their third album, Red Skies over Paradise, in March 1981 on Liberty.

1. “Berlin” (4:32)
2. “Marliese” (3:52)
3. “Red Skies over Paradise (A Brighton Dream)” (4:32)
4. “In England” (2:43)
5. “You’ll Never Find Brian Here” (2:08)
6. “Battalions of Strangers” (5:03)

7. “Song and Dance Brigade” (3:02)
8. “The Writer” (3:20)
9. “Bathroom Scenario” (3:47)
10. “Wristcutter’s Lullaby” (2:46)
11. “Cruise Missiles” (4:15)
12. “Luton to Lisbon/Multinationals Bite” (5:34)

Recorded December 5–15, 1980
Studio The Manor Studios, Shipton-on-Cherwell, Oxfordshire
Producer John Watts, Richard Manwaring
Steve Parker – mix engineer

John Watts – lead vocals, guitar, keyboards
David Graham – bass, bass pedals, backing vocals
Steve Liddle – drums, backing vocals

John Pasche – art direction
Philip Dunn – artwork, painting

27 Feb 1981
A: “Marliese”
B: “Right Hand Men” ()

22 May 1981
A: “‘Cutter’s Lullaby”
B: “You’ll Never Find Brian Here” ()

Fischer-Z Over Germany
EP released to coincide with their March-April 1981 German tour
A1: “Battalions of Strangers”
A2: “Berlin”
B1: “So Long”
B2: “Remember Russia”


Discography:

  • Word Salad (1979)
  • Going Deaf for a Living (1980)
  • Red Skies over Paradise (1981)

Sources:

1 thought on “Fischer-Z

  1. This band perfected a mix of technical lavishness and modernist austerity on their first three albums.

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