Friday, September 25, 2020

Fish: The final album?



Released: September 25, 2020

Peak: -- US, -- UK, -- CN, -- AU

Sales (in millions): --

Genre: neo prog rock


Song Title [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Grace of God [8:19]
  2. Man with a Stick [6:27] (9/21/18 on Parley with Angels EP)
  3. Walking on Eggshells [7:18]
  4. This Party’s Over [4:22] (9/11/20: video)
  5. Rose of Damascus [15:45]
  6. Garden of Remembrance [6:07] (7/24/20: video)
  7. C Song (The Trondheim Waltz) [4:41]
  8. Little Man What Now? [10:54] (9/21/18 on Parley with Angels EP)
  9. Waverly Steps (End of the Line) [13:45] (9/21/18 on Parley with Angels EP)
  10. Weltschmerz [6:51] (3/13/20: video)

Total Running Time: 84:30

The Players:

  • Fish (vocals)
  • Steve Vantsis (bass, guitar, keyboards, programming, sequencing)
  • Robin Boult, John Mitchell (guitar)
  • Craig Blundell, Dave Stewart (drums)
  • David Jackson (saxophone)
  • Doris Brendel (backing vocals)
  • Liam Holmes (keyboards)
  • Scottish Chamber Orchestra (strings)
  • Mikey Owers (brass)


3.545 out of 5.00 (average of 8 ratings)

Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

“And so this is it. The end…The old warrior-poet is draining his glass one final time, proud of everything he’s achieved by aching-boned and world-weary.” LS Fish first gained attention in the ‘80s as the front man for the British neo-prog group Marillion, most notably with their 1985 #1 UK album, Misplaced Childhood. After four studio albums with them, he embarked on a solo career, starting with 1990’s Vigil in a Wilderness of Mirrors. This is, according to Fish, the last hurrah on a career than began more than 40 years ago.

Fish announced five years ago Weltschmerz would be his parting shot. The double album was more than three years in the making. FM At times, it looked like it wouldn’t happen, thanks to “ailed romances and family bereavements,” LS which included the death of his father Robert from bladder cancer at 87 years old. HD Fish also underwent surgeries on his spine and shoulder and went through two potentially deadly bouts of sepsis. HD It makes sense then, that the album’s title is a German word which means “a feeling of melancholy and world-weariness.” DS

His website says it “is being acclaimed as the finest work of his long and illustrious career” FM and that “it is a truly exceptional collection of music worthy of this accomplished artists farewell album.” FM Dave Everley’s review at echoes that sentiment. He calls it “the best album of his solo career, one that it is lush and expansive, yet intimate and personal, sometimes angry, sometimes dejected, but never anything less than magnetic.” LS

Long-time collaborators Steve Vantsis and Robin Boult assume the roles of co-writers. John Mitchell also lends a hand on ‘Garden of Remembrance’ and Foss Paterson assists as well. FM The album is produced by Calum Malcolm, who also produced Fish’s Feast of Consequences and 13th Star, and Vantsis, who also did the principal engineering. FM The artwork and sleeve design are done by illustrator Mark Wilkinson, whose work with Fish dates back to Marillion days.

The album is “entirely self-funded, marketed, created, and distributed” from his home in Scotland. HD As such, that makes the album ineligible to chart in the UK as their rules require album “distribution through official channels.” HD Fish, however, claims that his album would have debuted at #2 if such barriers weren’t in place. HD Fish said, “I’ve been operating as an independent artist since the mid-‘90s and we have adjusted to living without the machinery of the major music business.” HD

“Grace of God”

Opening song Grace of God “sets the scene nicely with a haunting intro” DS in which a doctor is assuring his patient before an MRI scan. Fish “conjures images of…a body ‘pinned down on a table at the mercy of machines.’” LS Halfway in, “the song opens up into something grander and more cinematic, all sweeping strings and intricate production.” LS

“Man with a Stick”

Man with a Stick, which was first featured on the 2018 EP A Parley with Angels, was voted the best single of 2019 by Planet Rock Radio. FM The song is “an on-the-money takedown of police brutality” LS talking about how a stick can be misused when handled by those in power, but it also explores other uses a stick can have, such as “lending support to a frail, elderly person.” DS

“Walking on Eggshells”

“The deceptively sparkling Walking on Eggshells updates the themes of toxic co-dependency and volatile relationships he first mined…[with] Marillion.” LS

“This Party’s Over”

Clearly the title can be interpreted as Fish’s farewell. The song “combines early Peter Gabriel with Celtic sounds” AD and “has a melodic theme played on tin whistle.” DS It is also the most commercial and, probably not coincidentially, the shortest song on an album loaded with epics.

“Rose of Damascus”

This epic song “focuses on one character, Rose, “and her attempts to flee the war-torn area.” DS I’f ever a song portrayed the pight of Syrian refugees, this is the one.” DS It “has six sections, weights in at a hefty 16 minutes, and contains a lengthy spoken-word section.” AD It “ties together geo-political upheaval, religious fundamentalism, terrorism, immigration, and Fish’s newfound passion for horticulture (at least half of the album’s songs reference flowers or gardening). It’s a grand suite of a song, built on shifting musical and emotional sands, but it’s a world away from the bloated self-regard that sometimes come with the territory.” LS

“Garden of Remembrance”

Garden of Remembrance is “a beautiful, piano-based lament to the tragedy” DS of “absence and loss inspired by his mother’s dementia.” LS “it is probably Fish’s most poignant vocal-delivery ever. The lyric on the chorus encapsulates the hearteach of witnessing a loved one losing their memory: ‘He’s lost between the here and now/ Somewhere that he can’t be found.’” DS It “sounds like the closing chapter of a book that opened with 1990’s ‘A Gentleman’s Excuse Me.’” LS

“C Song (The Trondheim Waltz)”

“Fish rallies against troubles and injustices but his positivity is encapsulated” DS here with lines such as “I won’t let you bring me down/ I don’t want to buy into your sadness.” DS The song “benefits from a gentle accompaniment on accordian.” DS

“Little Man What Now?”

“The brooding, nocturnal Little Man What Now? addresses the death of Fish’s father and the bleak emptiness that followed.” LS It “draws on the work of a Weimar Republic-era German author to describe a man crushed by the ‘system.’” AD

“Waverly Steps (End of the Line)”

“Depression informs Wavery Steps, the tale of a life unravelling that the singer has implied could easily have mirrored his own.” LS The song is “almost as long and even more challenging” AD as “Rose of Damascus.”


The closing title track, “a call to peaceful revolution,” DS is the “musical highlight.” AD It “starts off like a Muse track before the vocals take over with a blend of weariness with stirring defiance.” AD It finds Fish “railing against the state of the world” LS in what “is pretty much ‘Market Square Heroes’ 40 years on, the blazing fury of youth tamed but still burning,” LS calling for people “to rage against the injustices that are perpetrated and to ‘stand tall.’” DS “Maybe it’s a deliberate closing of the circle, maybe it’s not. Either way, it’s a hell of a way to finish an album. And a career.” LS

Notes: Three of these songs (“Man with a Stick,” “Waverly Steps,” “Little Man What Now”) were first released on the Parley with Angels EP in 2018.

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Last updated 6/12/2021.

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