“Communion” by Fish

Artist: Fish
Title: “Communion”
Label: MVD Audio
Release Date: 2/18/2008
Genre: Progressive Rock
Rating: 4/5

Progressive Rock fans worldwide all know and love the accomplishments of Derek Dick, the man most affectionately referred to as Fish and this adoration comes not only because of his stellar contributions while a member of Marillion but also for his output as a songwriter during a truly prolific solo career where he continued his presentation of life’s poetry and pitfalls put to music. Fish recently completed a tour where he performed the entire Marillion classic album “Misplaced Childhood” and it might surprise many to find him issuing another live release so soon after that last one but once this is placed in the stereo you will immediately realize how different it is. This time around Fish performed in St. Mary’s Church Haddington which is located in East Lothian, Scotland and while he had performed there in the past he had not done so for awhile for reasons that he lines out in the albums narrative notes. The release is primarily an acoustic set that offers the listener something completely different from the “Return To Childhood” recording by omitting all numbers from the “Misplaced Childhood” album and instead opts to focus on his solo catalog with a surprise or two tossed in for good measure. There are those who would agree that his voice is not as vibrant as in the past and what singer can claim that after a couple of decades in the business. Yet in this setting we find Fish coming off quite strong once again and presenting the tracks with an impassioned delivery that made us all fans so long ago. The singer has a full band behind him and the vocal assistance of Heather Findlay, Angela Gordon and Anne Marie Helder (all from Mostly Autumn) and his daughter Tara. The female vocal presence working in tandem with Fish adds a little bit of new life to some of the songs we knew from his earlier years such as “Just Good Friends”, a track that has remained one of my favorites since first hearing it on “Internal Exile”. “Lady Let It Lie” is great but “A Gentlemen’s Excuse Me” might cause the more emotional listener to reach for the tissue box given its delivery of vocal and piano alone. I also rather enjoyed the vibe of “Shot The Craw” and “Tilted Cross”. In this setting the tracks that we have such an idea of almost becoming new versions which makes each listen something fresh and warm. The beginning of the album also seems to stick with the slower numbers but the set of material does get a little livelier on the second CD and even pumps up the volume a notch or two more.

On the second act of the performance Fish delivers a truly magnificent version of the Marillion staple “Slainthe Mhath” from “Clutching At Straws” and then a deep reach into the hat for “Chelsea Monday” from “Script For A Jester’s Tear”. It’s great to hear Fish singing the classic Marillion numbers as I have missed his sound in them and in today’s music world we hardly find Marillion playing anything from the “Fish Era” anymore. “Scattering Crows” is a powerful number that might have the living room listener rising to their feet as it leads them to the shows closing but it is during “Tara” that we find Fish himself quite moved as his daughter joins him for the song that he had actually written for her. There is quite a bit of reflection heard across the album and while Fish is often known for long stories during his shows the album finds none of that present. The booklet enclosed offers up some solid insight into the singer’s motivations and designs about the show itself and what it had meant to him to do this performance and offer up the recording for his fans. I really enjoyed this one and was glad I had the chance to get a copy to tell the Fish fans of the world about. If you are a fan of his already then this is a must have but even if you are not this is something that is rather extraordinary.

Track Listing:
1. The Field
2. Jumpsuit City
3. Favourite Stranger
4. Shot The Craw
5. State Of Mind
6. Tilted Cross
7. Fortunes Of War
8. Just Good Friends
9. Incomplete
10. Change Of Heart
11. Lady Let It Lie
12. A Gentlemen’s Excuse Me
13. Rites Of Passage
14. The Lost Plot
15. Slainthe Mhath
16. Chelsea Monday
17. Scattering Crows
18. Tara
19. Raw Meat

Official Website: http://fish-thecompany.com/

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