What does it sound like?:
This is the final studio album by Fish, as he gradually slips into a well earned retirement from the music business. There will still hopefully be some live shows at some point in the next year, presumably followed eventually by a live album, but as far as new material goes, this is it. After a somewhat up and down solo career, he has produced his best and most consistent work since his 1990 debut Vigil In A Wilderness Of Mirrors. Indeed, he’s managed to end his career on something of a prolonged high after his previous two excellent records, Thirteenth Star and Feast Of Consequences, showed he was on his way back to his very best. This two cd set is one where the lyrics perhaps carry more weight than the music, covering deeply personal issues such as the death of his father, his mother slowly slipping into the clutches of dementia and his own serious health problems. The lead off single Man With A Stick was voted Planet Rock single of the year by its listeners in 2019, but for me it is surpassed by a more recent single, Garden Of Remembrance, which deals movingly with his mother’s deteriorating health. The stand out pieces though are the longest ones, where the lyrics really have time to develop and tell their story and the music has room to breathe and expand – Little Man What Now (about his late father), Waverley Steps (about how easily a life can unravel), and the album’s centrepiece, the epic Rose Of Damascus, which clocks in at almost fifteen minutes and at times puts the listener in mind of the early sound of Marillion. The album closes with the title track as Fish rages against the state of the world in a song that can almost be seen as an update on Market Square Heroes, the burning rage of youth perhaps somewhat tamed now, but still smouldering nonetheless – a fine way to end both the album and his recording career. This very personal, even intimate, album may just be the crowning glory of forty odd years of plying his trade – the big man has gone out with a bang, not a whimper!
What does it all *mean*?
Hopefully we will in the not too distant future be seeing deluxe reissues of Vigil and Internal Exile now Fish has regained the rights, with similar treatment also being afforded to Marillion’s Fugazi album.
Goes well with…
Last orders – draining your glass one final time in celebration of a great career and some fine music over the years – thanks for the memories.
Might suit people who like…