Ralphy's C.D. Reviews

Review date 16-06-1999: Fish - C.D. Raingods with Zippos

More than 10 years after his departure of the band Fish is still best known (to the general public) as the former singer of the legendary symphonic rock band Marillion, but "Raingods with Zippos" is already his 6th solo-studio-album (not counting samplers like Yin and Yang). I have been (and still are) a great admirer of Marillion since their early beginnings and have followed both the band (See their Reviews) and Fish after their unfortunate split-up in 1988. I was very anxious to hear Fish's latest musical exploits, because his previous album "Sunsets on empire" was (to me) his best work since his solo-debut "Vigil in a wilderness of mirrors". (A short note in between, I still consider "Clutching at straws" Marillion's last release with Fish one of the best albums of all times).

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Fish himself considers "Raingods with Zippos" and especially the last track on the album "Plague of ghosts" (a concept song consisting of 6 different components) his best solo-work up-to-date. I'm afraid I cannot agree with that, in fact maybe due to my high expectations I found the album to be a bit disappointing. I don't know exactly why, but this album just didn't give me the feel I got from his last effort or from "Vigil". The lyrics are spectacular as ever (Fish is probably the best lyricist in the world) and deal with controversial topics like landmines, comatose patients, new starts, everyday troubles, drifting apart and cheating (in his own relationship?), but the music doesn't press my buttons. The first single "Incomplete" (a duet with unknown Elisabeth Antwi) should probably have been a warning to me, beautiful lyrics, but not that tingling I get from Fish's classic ballads like "A gentleman's excuse me", "Cliché" or "Just good friends". Don't get me wrong, this is not a bad album, it's just that my standards for Fish are a bit higher than for most artists, since some of his work has been so brilliant in the past. Oh well, at least 2 of his 6 albums were brilliant.

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The opening song "Tumbledown" starts with a classical piano piece that represents 'that beautiful wake-up feeling in the morning' and then suddenly turns around meaning 'the remembering of the shit you have to deal with the rest of the day'. This type of musical changes are brought to you throughout the album ("Rites of passage", "Plague of ghosts"), but the transfers in between these changes aren't really subtle and thus sometimes annoy me and (again to me) defeat their purpose. "Digging Deep", one of the 6 components of "Plague", reminds me a lot of the Peter Gabriel song "Digging in the dirt". The best pieces on the CD are "Mission statement" (co-written a.o. with 80's popstar Rick Astley), the Alex Harvey band cover "Faithhealer" (I didn't know the original) and the last 2 components of "Plague of Ghosts". Loyal and dedicated Fish-followers probably won't apreciate this review very much, but I have confidence that he will be 'brilliant' again and a 'not-so-good' Fish CD is better than most artists in the business could strive for. I rate the album with a 6.5 .

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