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“13th Star” by Fish

Artist: Fish
Title: “13th Star”
Label: Chocolate Frog Records
Release Date: 4/8/2008
Genre: Progressive Rock
Rating: 4.5/5

Before I begin this review I have to admit that I had lost a little of my gung-ho steam in following the solo career of Fish as not only are his releases sometimes hard to come by, but the last couple were not doing for me what it had done in the beginning of his efforts and had left me wanting a little bit more since around the time of “Sunsets On Empires”. I enjoyed his life concert release “Return To Childhood” as the singer poet revisited some of his most stunning work with Marillion but as far as solo music I was seeking a little more. This view would change the moment that I heard the beginnings of “13th Star” for while it’s arrival would come at the cost of many upheavals in the singers personal life it is true that while tragic, these pitfalls of life often make for the best song-writing. At least when it comes to Fish it does. The album comes after the very public engagement and breakup of the singer and Heather Findlay from Mostly Autumn and it is clear that this is one of the key motivators behind the often dark and angry passages we find on the release. Fish mixes it up in terms of tempo and while he is expressing discontent at times this is not an angst laden release but instead one that often finds him mulling over the past happenings.
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“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.
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