Monday, January 29, 1990

Fish released first solo album, Vigil in a Wilderness of Mirrors

First posted 4/25/2010; updated 1/23/2020.

Vigil in a Wilderness of Mirrors


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Released: January 29, 1990

Peak: -- US, 5 UK

Sales (in millions): -- US, -- UK, -- world (includes US and UK)

Genre: neo-prog rock

Tracks: (Click for codes to singles charts.)

  1. Vigil [8:43]
  2. Big Wedge [5:19] (12/27/89, #25 UK)
  3. State of Mind (Dick/Lindes/Simmonds) [4:42] (10/16/89, #32 UK)
  4. The Company [4:04] (7/18/90, single)
  5. A Gentleman’s Excuse Me [4:15] (3/5/90, #30 UK)
  6. The Voyeur (I Like to Watch) [4:42]
  7. Family Business (Boult/Dick/Lindes/Simmonds/Usher) [5:14]
  8. View from the Hill (Dick/Gers/Gessle) [6:38]
  9. Cliché (Dick/Lindes/Simmonds) [7:01]

Songs written by Derek Dick/Mickey Simmonds unless otherwise noted.

Total Running Time: 50:38

The Players:

  • Fish (Derek W. Dick) (vocals)
  • Frank Usher, Hal Lindes, Janick Gers (guitars)
  • John Giblin (bass)
  • Mickey Simmonds (keyboards)
  • Mark Brzezicki, John Keeble, Luis Jardim (drums/percussion)
  • Davy Spillane, Phil Cunningham (pipes/whistles)
  • Gavyn Wright, Alison Jones (violin)
  • Carol Kenyon, Tessa Niles (backing vocals)


4.191 out of 5.00 (average of 8 ratings)


About the Album:

“Following Fish’s acrimonious split with Marillion in early 1988, wheels were set in motion for a full-on U.K. press inquisition. Pitting band vs. singer in a classic tabloid war of words, mud was flung, lawyers were hired, lawsuits were filed, and Marillion quickly moved to hire new vocalist Steve Hogarth. Soon thereafter, the band released the excellent Season's End to much critical and commercial acclaim.” JF

“From a fan’s point of view, it’s important to keep in mind that any time a band of Marillion’s stature splinters into two factions, anticipation for new product from both sides is always enormous. And much like the Van Halen/David Lee Roth divorce, each respective singer sought out counterparts/collaborators that would at least equal or better their band mates (not an easy feat by any stretch of the imagination).” JF

“Unlike Roth’s ‘let's pick the best session cats money can buy’ campaign, Fish had other ideas. Taking baby steps, Derek Dick (aka Fish) took a more organic approach in enlisting the services of keyboard man Mickey Simmonds to help with the creative process. But unlike David Lee Roth, Fish already had a few ideas kicking around. One of these included the genesis for Family Business (originally intended as the music bed for a track that would later be called ‘Berlin’ on Season's End).” JF

“Also under wraps was as cut titled The Company written at the request of producer Bob Ezrin after a meeting at David Gilmour's house just prior to the post-Clutching at Straws writing sessions (which would put the final nail in the Fish-led Marillion coffin).” JF

“As tracking for Vigil got underway, Fish handpicked Big Country drummer Mark Brzezicki and Dire Straits guitarist Hal Lindes to join his team. Vigil would also feature an array of special guests including…backing vocalist Tessa Niles (who also appeared on Clutching at Straws). Impeccably produced by John Kelly, Vigil in a Wilderness of Mirrors is not only a worthy debut, it's also Fish's best solo effort.” JF

“One of Vigil’s greatest strengths is that it not only features epics like the album’s title track and the magnificent A Gentleman's Excuse Me, it also showcases some super-commercial (not cheesy) material like Big Wedge and The Voyeur (I like to Watch).” JF

“It’s also no surprise that the more Marillion-sounding songs turn out to be the album’s cornerstones. First, there's the moving View From a HillJF which featured “future Iron Maiden guitarist Janick Gers, responsible for the main riffage.” JF

Then there’s Cliché, which “is not only one of Fish’s greatest love songs, it’s also one of his most emotional.” JF

Vigil never reaches “the depths of despair of Marillion classics like Fugazi or Script for Jester’s Tear, [but] it’s equally compelling. As Fish veers in and out of Pink Floyd territory on the aforementioned tune, one thing becomes clear as day. Artistically, it would be quasi impossible to top Vigil. But more drastic, still, from this point forward, Fish would be fighting for his life to retain his commercial status. As his financial problems spiraled out of control, so did his popularity. As Marillion took the more commercial path of the two acts, Fish’s voice and passion would be sorely missed. And if there was ever any doubt as to how integral Derek Dick was to Marillion’s sound (the lyrical content goes without saying), Vigil provides all the proof listeners will ever need.” JF


A 2002 remastered edition added bonus tracks “Jack and Jill,” “Internal Exile,” “Whiplash,” and demos of “The Company” and “A Gentleman’s Excuse Me.”

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Saturday, January 27, 1990

Coleman Hawkins charted with “Body and Soul” 50 years ago today (1/27/1940)

First posted 1/27/2013; updated 4/12/2020.

Body and Soul

Coleman Hawkins

Writer(s): Johnny Green/Ed Heyman/Robert Saur/Frank Eyton (see lyrics here)

First Charted: January 27, 1940

Peak: 13 US (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): -- US, -- UK, -- world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 1.0 radio, 2.10 video, -- streaming


About the Song:

“Body and Soul” is “an all-time classic torch song” SF and “the most recorded jazz standard.” WK The song was originally written for actress and singer Gertrude Lawrence to sing for the British Broadcasting Company. MM Then Libby Holman introduced it in the United States through the 1930 Broadway revue Three’s a Crowd. Paul Whiteman, with vocal by Jack Fulton, hit #1 with his version that year. It became one of the top five recorded songs from 1890-1954 with fourteen charted versions during that time, including takes by Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman, Ozzie Nelson, Leo Reisman, and Art Tatum. PM John Coltrane, Ella Fitzerald, Billie Holiday, Etta James, Charles Mingus, Frank Sinatra, and Sarah Vaughan are among the others to tackle the song. WK

However, in an unusual twist, the highest-ranked version of the song is neither the first nor the highest-charting version. Coleman Hawkins, who has been called “the father of the tenor saxophone” NPR’09 for his role in establishing the tenor sax as a jazz instrument, NPR revived the song as an instrumental in 1939, showing how “it was possible to modernize well-worn Tin Pan Alley standards.” NPR It “became one of the most important jazz recordings of all time” JA as one of the genre’s “most influential performances” NPR’09 and one of its best-known performances in history. NRR

His recording was unique because it only hinted at the song’s melody in his recording, focusing instead on two choruses of improvisation. WK When “Body and Soul” came out, people continuously told him he was playing the wrong notes. NPR He had been playing in Europe and upon returning to the United States, Hawkins was surprised jazz artists hadn’t changed styles. NPR Swing bands still ruled at the time, but “the early tremors of bebop” were in the air. NPR

He “replaced blues-based riffing with brisk arpeggios, sharp-cornered phrases and endless lines that were the jazz equivalent of run-on sentences. He danced at the upper extremes of chords, foreshadowing the altered harmonies that later were so important to bebop.” NPR Hawkins made the song “a standard for tenor sax players, with many later recordings referencing parts of Hawkins’ solo and playing in the challenging key of D flat.” NRR

The song has shown stamina. In 2011, Tony Bennett charted with a duet with the late Amy Winehouse. It won the Grammy for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance.

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Tommy Dorsey landed at #1 with “All the Things You Are” fifty years ago today (1/27/1940)

Updated 4/12/2020.

All the Things You Are

Tommy Dorsey with Jack Leonard

Writer(s):Jerome Kern, Oscar Hammerstein II (see lyrics here)

First Charted: December 16, 1939

Peak: 12 US, 12 HP, 1 GA (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): -- US, -- UK, -- world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 0.11 video, -- streaming


About the Song:

“All the Things You Are” was introduced in the Broadway musical comedy Very Warm for May in November 1939. SB It was sung by Hirma Sherman, Frances Mercer, Hollace Shaw, and Ralph Stuart. JA The show was the last hurrah for famed composer Jerome Kern. Despite delivering what some considered his finest score, script rewrites demanded from producer Max Gordon destroyed the play’s plot. It was a commercial failure, closing shortly after New Year’s Day after only 59 performances. By the second night, there were only 20 people in the audience. SB

Kern didn’t have high hopes for “All the Things” being popular, thanks to its unconventional structure and twelve-note range. MM However, three versions of the song charted in 1940. It became the twelfth of Tommy Dorsey’s seventeen trips to the summit. It featured vocalist Jack Leonard, who would also sing on the chart-topping “Indian Summer,” which hit the charts a week before “All the Things You Are,” but reached #1 after “Things.”

Artie Shaw (#8) and Frankie Masters (#14) also found success with the song in 1940. Four years later, the show was adapted for the film Broadway Rhythm JA and in 1945 it was used in the romantic comedy A Letter for Evie. WK Tony Martin sang it in Kern’s 1946 biopic Till the Clouds Roll By and it was crooned by Mario Lanza in the 1952 film Because You’re Young. JA

It became a standard covered by Dave Brubeck, Miles Davis, Placido Domingo, Ella Fitzgerald, Erroll Garner, Dizzy Gillespie, Stan Kenton, Wes Montgomery, Willie Nelson, Oscar Peterson, Charlie Parker, Frank Sinatra, and Barbra Streisand. A survey done by identified “Things”as second only to “Body and Soul” for appearances on jazz albums. SB Parker said the song contained his favorite lyrics. WK In a 1964 Saturday Review poll, more composers named “All the Things” as their favorite than any other. TY

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Saturday, January 20, 1990

Sinéad O’Connor charted with “Nothing Compares 2 U”

First posted 1/20/2013; updated 4/8/2020.

Nothing Compares 2 U

Sinéad O’Connor

Writer(s): Prince (see lyrics here)

Released: February 11, 1990

First Charted: January 20, 1990

Peak: 14 US, 13 CB, 13 RR, 2 AC, 23 AR, 11 MR, 14 UK, 15 CN, 18 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 0.6 UK, 1.79 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 229.19 video, -- streaming


About the Song:

In the mid-‘80s, Prince was such a hit-making machine that he gave some away. Chaka Khan, Sheila E, Sheena Easton, and the Bangles all took Prince compositions to the U.S. top 10. One of the songs that got away, however, was “Nothing Compares 2 U,” a song Prince wrote for the Family in 1985. RS500 The group’s most notable success came as past and future members of Prince’s backing bands. TB

Unlike the R&B and pop leanings of other artists who’d had hits with Prince songs, Sinéad O’Connor was an Irish alternative rock artist with one album under her belt which hadn’t produced any U.S. pop hits. When she covered “Nothing Compares 2 U,” no one could have predicted how huge it would become, much less that it would be the #1 song of 1990. RS500

Her performance is what made it a blockbuster. O’Connor holds back as if she can barely contain the emotion behind her voice. CR Within the same line, she sounded like she might “trail off into a breathy near-sob or let loose with a heartbroken wail.” AMG The “intensely heartfelt performance” TB was accented by a stark video which keyed in on O’Connor’s face. Four minutes in, she sheds a single tear, which she told VH1’s 100 Greatest Songs of the 90s, was evoked by the line “All the flowers that you planted, Mama in the back yard/ All died when you went away,” and the feelings it stirred regarding her complicated relationship with her late mother. WK However, she has also cited as a split just two days before with manager Fachtna O’Ceallaigh as the reason. KL

Either way, there is a sincerity in the moment that captures the purity of the song. Even Prince himself couldn’t top it. In 1993, he released a live-in-the-studio duet with Rosie Gaines for his 3-CD The Hits/The B-Sides collection, but it didn’t have the quality that made O’Connor’s version definitive.

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