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Fish - Thirteenth Star CD (album) cover

THIRTEENTH STAR

Fish

 

Neo-Prog

3.84 | 206 ratings

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tszirmay
Special Collaborator
Crossover Team
4 stars I, like most fans, sort of reluctantly fell off the Fish bandwagon, even though I was (and still am) befuddled by the memory of the "Sunsets on Empire" recording and tour (what a show that was!). I admire the man immensely, putting up with so much cow dung from seemingly every direction (managers, record companies), all trying to screw him over. His personal relationships have known some ups and downs (no, I am not a gossiper but creativity and inspiration seems easier when in the bluesy doldrums) I guess good guys are prime targets for the sharks! He is a Fish after all! After Raingod with Zippos, to which I didn't really give a decent return visit, I just felt that the thrill had gone! The 2 following studio albums have not elicited my hunting interest either. Bizarre? Not really, it seemed that Fish was becoming the subject matter of the famous Traffic tune "Sometimes I feel so Uninspired", unsure whether to return to being a balladeer, a rocker or an actor. This indecision, knowing that he would excel at all three, is what ultimately is so frustrating. I purchased this album having read (where else but ON THIS SITE) that his wedding to the ravishing Heather Findlay of Mostly Autumn fame was deep sixed a few weeks before the climb to the altar. Talk about being inspired, the rage and the sadness through all those tears must have been unreal. In my mind, most recordings are the musical expression of the artist's real life feelings, so there is definite correlation there. Lyrically, he has always been at the forefront of contemporary rock, a quick witted researcher of the human condition with a pen that could unleash poison and/or panacea. The entire record is a trembling bucket dripping of blood, sweat, tears from lost love; a diary of pain and frustration at was once vibrant and magical, now gone. "Thirteenth Star" features new writing partner Steve Vantsis (he held the bass at the show I saw), whose wobbly licks kick off "Circle Line" and has our wild Scotsman in fine vocal form, a dreamy atmospheric piece that has a brooding menace ("I try to kid myself that I am still alive"), as well as some fine soaring guitar from Frank Usher. "Square Go" rocks harder, Vantsis again doing his best Mick Karn bass imitation, with both guitarists (the other being Chris Johnson) laying down colossal riffs, string synths from the much-maligned Foss Patterson and some more introspective lyrics from Mr. Dick. Graceful piano introduces "Miles de Besos" (Thousands of kisses), a tremendous blues-jazz platform for Fish to muse supremely, as only he can, about the grooviest track he has ever recorded and a big wedge of surprise, here. The song ends with these words and you can guess who they are for! "Did you think that it meant nothing to me that when you disappeared I could walk away? Did you know that you broke my heart and left a scar that will never fade away." Pretty direct no nonsense words, no? I am stunned, a lump in my throat. "Zoe 25" continues on the melancholic train, a bleak reflection on life's injustices and how we spend our entire lives chasing illusions. The grandiose "Arc of the Curve" veers into a tentative hopeful remembrance, ultimately swerving back into memories of what was and could have been. "I could never contemplate that you would ever walk away". I have not witnessed such musical heart break since Jerry Hall left Bryan Ferry (the Roxy romantic wrote a boat load of primo material for decades, ending with Kiss & Tell). "Manchmal" seduces the rage back into the fold, where anger and bitterness weave the rhythmic spiral, a sometimes brutal steamroller (that should be a blast live), full of impending and intuitive doom, as if Fish knew that the crap will eventually hit the fan. It did. I can relate Derek, as I had a 32 year relationship that was eternally on the edge. "Dark Star" is a highly atmospheric number, a simple rhythm, swirling faraway synthesized winds that explodes into a guitar-led chorus, Fish looking now for escape, away from the blistering dullness of the pain, "I want to be a meteor". A fascinating track full of musical substance. "Where in the World" is so sadly sung, trembling it seems, it is almost unbearable in describing the thrill of impending wedlock (we were going home) , the bewildering lyrics poignant beyond belief , a cry from the shards of a shattered heart, prog will never be as personal as this. "Where in the world do I go from here?" Just must move on and survive, that's all you can do mate. The title track puts the spleen to rest, a gentle lullaby, an ode to the spirit of survival, the tenacity of healing and the will to fight on, hoping for another better day. Life is no piece of cake, some of us know. The affairs of the heart are what make some of us human after all. "Toujours l'amour. L'amour toujours". I will follow the thirteenth Star. Such sincerity is to be applauded. Incredibly moving, 4.5 tear shaped STARS.
tszirmay | 4/5 |

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