Released: May 2, 2001
Peak: -- US, -- UK, -- CN, -- AU
Sales (in millions): --
Genre: neo-progressive rock
Song Title (Writers) [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.
Songs by Dick, Wesley, and Young unless noted otherwise.
Total Running Time: 57:07
2.985 out of 5.00 (average of 12 ratings)
About the Album:
Previous album Raingods with Zippos, while seen by some fans as uneven, seemed to be universally embrace when it came to its 25-minute epic “Plague of Ghosts.” Fans hoping for a follow-up that played on that, had to be concerned at the departure of Steve Wilson. As the frontman of neo-prog rock band Porcupine Tree, he’d guided them to a sound that owed a debt to Marillion, the group Fish fronted in the ‘80s.
However, for Fellini Days, Fish pursued a more straightforward rock sound, bringing in some new players. “The roughness of guitarist John Wesley and the melodic skills of keyboard player John Young…seemed very interesting at first thought.” JJ In regards to the latter, Young had composed some stuff for John Wetton ES and “adds some nice touches (‘Dancing in Fog’, ‘Our Smile’),” MS but largely “passes by almost unnoticed.” ES “He seemingly wasn’t much involved in the writing process (almost all of the songs are credited to Fish & Wesley) and the keyboards mainly play a supportive role on the album.” ES “Because of the lack of piano, the album misses a certain emotion.” ES One wonders if “he’s only there to start the sound-effects or the drum-machine.” JJ
While Young may not have been used enough, the opinion seems to be that Wesley was used too much. As one reviewer said in seeing Wesley perform with Fish prior to the album’s release, “all of the subtle and emotional guitar parts were destroyed and mangled into one unpleasant layer of noise.” ES
That assessment seems to mark the biggest criticisms of the album as well. First off, “Wesley might make a fine rhythm guitarist but he hardly plays any decent lead guitar part on the album.” ES His “overall performance on Fellini Days is below par.” MS
Second, “that same layer of noise [that hampered the live performance] returns on Fellini Days.” MS While Elliot Ness seems to be well-regarded for the job he did in producing the Raingods album, “the production and mix on Fellini Days is a mess. As mentioned, the music often just turns into a wall of noise, with some instruments becoming almost inaudible,” ES “mixed to an awful instrumental jumble, as at the end of ‘3D’ and during the chorus of ‘So Fellini’.” MS Also representative of the production is the fact that “the album opens with a projector starting, a sound that keeps up through out the entire album.” RS “It is especially irritating during the quieter parts, as in ‘Obligatory Ballad’ or the start of ‘The Pilgrim's Address’.” MS
“The idea of using the famous film-director Fellini as a source of inspiration, seemed very interesting” JJ and it “has been woven into and between the songs.” JJ
“Fish’s performance is fine as usual, though he misses the edge displayed on earlier albums.” MS “Most of the melodies and ideas on the album are not that bad, and some of them are even very enjoyable. However, most of these ideas are far from original” ES as “the lyrics consist of many expressions and themes you will probably recognise from other Fish (and early Marillion) albums.” HS In addition, all too often there is a “melody which in itself might be quite pleasing [but] is just stretched out and repeated far too often.” ES
3D is the album opener and “Fish’s vocals are quite okay here, dark and warm, but somehow the interplay with the background vocals is not perfect,” RS giving “the song a rather chaotic, out-of-tune sound.” HS “The composition definitely is strong” RS with some “very good verses, but the chorus doesn’t impress.” MS “The guitar work could have been smoother;” RS it is “played using an effect which makes it almost sound out of tune.” HS In addition, the keyboards have unappealing “easy listening-like vibes.” HS
So Fellini is “a rich-sounding track with lots of howling Hammond and other keys.” RS “Nice, rocky guitars and a pounding drum rhythm set the scene.” HS “The simple chorus works very effectively” HS and an “addition at the end of the track of a whole venue full of Fish fans singing the chorus is a nice and original touch,” HS although another reviewer said “the sing-along bit has by now been done to death.” MS “A good composition, although quite repetitive. The same can be said about the lyrics.” RS “Fish obviously hasn’t got the vocal skills he had ten years ago, but he manages to avoid…risks.” RS
Tiki 4, an “ode to chilling out,” HS “leans back on the days of Internal Exile and Songs from the Mirror, combining Fish’s rock sound with more traditional folk composition.” RS “Fish’s vocals are sounding off key every now and then, whereas the backing vocals give the track an even cornier atmosphere than it already had.” HS While “it has some impressive instrumentation and a strong end sequence,” MS it “excels in repetitiveness…And it goes on for seven-and-a-half minutes!” RS
“Our Smile is enjoyable,” MS but “is a typical Fish ballad.” RS The lyrics “are really good and heart-felt, but the music sounds a bit too ordinary.” HS “This could have been on any previous album as well. Redundant track and irritating guitar.” RS
“A great, raw guitar intro sets the scene perfectly” HS for the “pleasantly nasty” MS Long Cold Day.” HS Fish “is quite good…and delivers the track with feeling and emotion.” RS He “is angry at someone (someone he loved) who has betrayed him and brilliantly makes that clear in the intensity of his vocals. At the end they are almost drowned out by the backing vocals, though.” HS
“The beginning of Dancing In Fog seems to be the prelude to an exciting song, but after the intro the song changes into a rather average, somewhat boring track.” HS It “has a bit of a dance beat, like some of the ‘Plague of Ghosts’ sections,” RS but “can’t live up.” MS “The melody line is nothing special and very repetitive.” RS In addition, “the raw sounding guitar interlude brings a few sparks back into it, but the music calms down again soon after. For some reason, there are bongos on this track as well.” HS
“Obligatory Ballad is a track that you either hate or love. The idea is good, but it could have taken another recording since the very first word Fish sings (Time), is not sharp but shakes…This one works excellent if his voice is in order…On the album it is marginal.” RS “The metallic guitar sound (the electric guitar is the only accompaniment of the vocals during most of the song) does not really help and only tends to underline the false notes.” HS “The personal nature of the lyrics almost beg for a gentle, fragile approach, but here the nasty guitar-sound doesn't create the right atmosphere.” JJ It “would have been much better if it would have been piano/vocals-only instead of piano/electric guitar-only.” ES
“Pilgrim’s Address is another ballad, and starts almost acoustic. A Dylan-esque protest song, this one takes us a long time back! It is not a bad idea of Fish at all to wander around Dylan’s tracks once in a while. From a musical point of view this is not the most exciting part, but at least he knows how to put his feelings and thoughts on paper.” RS He “brings the fate of the many half-forgotten soldiers all over the world into the limelight, [but] the song is way too long for its rather unvaried structure.” HS
“A drum machine, some more raw guitar and a haunting keyboard line create an eerie atmosphere on Clock Moves Sideways.” HS “With some really interesting bridges and climax-building, this is absolutely the highlight of the album.” RS “if you can live with the digitized percussion,” MS which “is way too high in the mix.” HS It “contains some interesting ideas that actually work.” ES “With a bit depressing New Age-like chord sequence, it reminds a bit of the final sections of ‘Plague’, and Wilson’s efforts.” RS This song “also gives us a good-old angry Fish” ES as he “finally finds the guts to scream his lungs out, for the first time on the album.” RS His “sneering vocals fit in perfectly. The chorus is a great outburst of thundercloud-like threatening sound.” HS
In conclusion, “the album is too full of raw guitars (although it works in ‘Long Cold Day’), and Fish's voice is at some points too low in the mix.” JJ “Fish still is a skilled songsmith…but most of these songs have some shortcoming in them,” JJ making for “an album of very variable quality. Some tracks are good like the first two, some are mediocre, or even boring, and there is one killer (the last one).” RS It is really “Fish’s most disappointing studio album to date,” ES “his only bad album so far, in that it mostly contains songs of meagre quality.” MS
Notes: A bonus disc included alternate versions of most of the songs, including five live cuts, three remixes, and one acoustic recording.
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Last updated 6/13/2021.