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Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This is not a prog album per se but a string of cover songs which FISH decided to make his own. Some of them turn out better than others but overall, I found quite a few that actually sound better than the original versions. At the very worst, they give you a different perspective on tunes you've long relegated to your old 'pop' days such as the MOODY BLUES "Question", PINK FLOYD's "Fearless", GENESIS' "I Know What I Like", MARC BOLAN's "Jeepster" and DAVID BOWIE'S "Five Years', to name the ones I prefer. Even if this could be deemed a pop album, the professionalism displayed on it is beyond reproach. You can also tell FISH is having fun, here. If you keep in mind that the man did not intend to make any profound intellectual statement with such an album, you'll be able to enjoy it for what it is. Thanks for the breath of fresh air, FISH.
Report this review (#25063)
Posted Thursday, April 29, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars This is the third studio album from Fish and the band and was the last deal with Polydor before he made a label of his own. As the album title, this represents cover version of other rock stars: J. Hayward of Moody Blues, Alex Harvey, Pink Floyd, Genesis, Argent, Marc Bolan, The Kinks, The Who, Bowie and Sandy Denny. It contains Fish' interpretation and appreciation of those rock stars of the 70s. It represents almost all genre: glam rock, classic rock, and progressive rock (was called as art rock). Honestly, I'm not familiar about the glam rock era until I watched a movie "VELVET GOLDMINE" that covered the period when glam rock was born with Bolan and Bowie as super stars at that period.

I don't recommend this album to most of you who never heard of Fish with Marillion or as solo artist. This album has nothing but appreciation of rockers. I only recommend this album for collectors / fans only unless you are in the stage of exploring Fish works (having observed his work with Marillion). Don't get me wrong with the rating because as a fan of Fish I like this album. Three reasons why I like this album: First, I love Fish' voice - even though his voice quality is not top class (as many of my friends say it so) but he has a strong character in his singing style; he can stimulate a positive energy with his voice. He even can sing with his heart as he appreciates the song writers of this album. I really enjoy his voice. His voice is not the same as Gabriel, but it's nice.

Second reason, I like almost all of songs featured in this album (except those from glam rock era that I'm not used to listen). "Hold Your Head Up" was my favorite when I was a childhood - it's a very energetic and uplifting track. "Boston Tea Party" is also nice song. Pink Floyd's "Fearless" was my favorite as well. What else? Of course Genesis's "I Know What I Like" who has been composed differently from original version. It's good for a change - it's much more disco style, but it's OK. Third reason, I like the overall performance of Fish and the band in this album; excellent! This includes the sonic quality of the CD produced - I can hear all details pretty clear in my ears. Great production!

Well, even though I love this album , but I don't recommend to all of you to have it instead. Why? It's for collectors / fans only. If you are a fan, this album is probably excellent for you. I leave it up to you to decide. Rating 2/5. GW, Indonesia.

Report this review (#25064)
Posted Monday, August 30, 2004 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars Party pieces

For reasons best know to himself, but on the face of it unabashed self indulgence, Fish decided to record an entire album of cover versions. The songs chosen are among his favourites, but that does not necessarily mean they are suitable for his style.

The opening track, "Question" was a hit single for the Moody Blues in the early 70's, also appearing on their "Question of balance" album. It's a wonderful song, which requires the melodic tones of Justin Hayward to work. Fish has a very distinctive vocal style. He can at times sing quieter passages with great delicacy, but his delivery on up-tempo songs is less melodic. Thus, while his performance on the middle section of "Question" is adequate, the faster sections at the start and end are poor.

The Sensational Alex Harvey band's "Boston Tea Party" is a more appropriate choice in terms of suitability, although even here, Fish does not offer anything other than a faithful cover of the original. Argent's "Hold your head up" also holds up better, the chorus becoming a multi-tracked chant. It lacks Rod Argent's excellent organ solo though.

Elsewhere "Fearless" (Pink Floyd) has a good guitar riff, but lacks the distinctive football crowd ending. Tracks such as "Jeepster" (T Rex), and "Five years" (Bowie) are reasonably faithful to the originals.

What we do get is the opportunity to hear Fish performing a Genesis song, and thus the chance to compare his delivery with that of Peter Gabriel. The choruses of "I know what I like" do find Fish sounding very Gabrielesque, probably deliberately.

One has to "question" the purpose of this release. The songs are all very familiar, the definitive versions of each being the originals. If anything, all the album goes to show is that Fish is not that great a singer. He's fine within the bounds of his own material, but here he sounds like a so-so night-club performer, the versions he presents on this album are little more than his party pieces.

Report this review (#25065)
Posted Monday, February 7, 2005 | Review Permalink
1 stars When Fish left Marillion in the late eighties and started a solo carreer you would think he had great plans for instance where the songwriting is concerned. His third album contains only covers. Need I say more ? This is very disappointing ! I don't like covers. It's usually poverty, a lack of inspiration in your own songwriting when you use covers. Especially in a genre (progrock) where compositions and writing your own songs are essential elements I think it's at least poor and actually unforgivable to do this. In fact it doesn't matter anymore to me if the covers are nicely done or whether Fish delivers a good performance or not. Maybe I'm too harsh here but I can only give this one star.
Report this review (#145209)
Posted Wednesday, October 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars This is course a particular album in Fish's discography. Prog is not even next door. But that's what it was all about. To perform some great songs (but not all of them) from great artists (but not all of them are great IMO).

To start this review, I would think that one of the least probable song here is "Solo" from Sandy Denny. The great folk female vocalist who was backing Plant during "The Battle Of Evermore" (Led Zep, would you believe!). This interpretation is one of the good moments of this album.

During my mid teenage days, I was a fan from "The Sensational Alex Harvey Band" and even if "Boston Tea Party" is pretty well executed, it doesn't have the grandeur of "Faith Healer" of course. But most of these covers don't dig in the best repertoire of the artists featured (maybe a royalty issue?). "Fearless" (without You're Never Walk alone) from the Floyd being a wonderful example.

And even if the version of "Apeman" might sound funny (The Kings), it is far from being great. A typical "Press Next" T song. And the "Argent" cover does sound too much like a weak Collins one to be interesting.

With the last four songs, Fish is touching some other big, very big names (but remember, he already covered "The Kinks", and Floyd). As one could have expected, the "Genesis" cover won't be "The Musical Box" nor "Watcher" nor "Firth". Just their most commercial song (still great of course) : "I Know What I Like". His interpretation is good of course. Funny to hear Fish singing a Genesis number (but the closing part is quite difficult to bear).

In the early mid-seventies, I was quite in the glam rock fantasy; and T-Rex was of course a fave of mine. This version of "Jeepster" is probably not as good as the original but not too bad at all.

You might have understood for about fourteen months and some 1,400 reviews (although I do not relate too much of him here) that I have a special relation with this great man (?). Since I was fourteen. Yes, it all started in 1973. And it never stopped. This version of "Five Years" is a good one but the choirs are a bit too much. Not on par with the original IMHHO (you know the humble and honest affair, I guess). I just LOVE this song and I believe it is one (out of plenty) out of the greatest Bowie wrote.

A good closing number but if you sincerely listen to each song, there is little to write home about here. I am rating this album with three stars, not due to Fish's great interpretations, but more to some excellent original songs. And most of them are so closely related to band s I appreciated so much.

Three stars.

Report this review (#163398)
Posted Friday, March 7, 2008 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
2 stars Songs From The Mirror was Fish´s third solo album and it seems to be released as such to fulfill his contract with Polydor. That may explains why he did an entire CD of covers so early in his solo career and not a so good one. The title is a reference to the songs he used to sing in front of the mirror as a youth, dreaming on becoming a rock star. However, the selection is hardly prog at all and also does not exactly fit his voice.

The tracklist is quite varied (covers of Bowie, T-Rex. Moody Blues, the Kinks and others, but he did not exactly chose the best from those either), the band is of course full of good musicians, and Fish, well, he is one of prog´s best singers to appear on the scene since the early 80´s. But Fish´s talent lays much on his poetry and the way he sings his own stuff. As a covers singer he would stand very little chance: he lacks the vocal technique and training to really bring up something new to this repertoire. Besides, the whole record seems to be rush recorded and released. It is very short and the best version (The Who´s The Seeker) is a bonus track. That tells it all, doesn´t it? Even his interpretation of Genesis I Know What I Like sounds forced and unnatural. It looked like he did it just satisfy people´s curiosity (after all those comparisons with Peter Gabriel when he was in Marillion)

As much as I love this guy and his work (with Marillion, solo and with others), this is one of the very few true disappointments I found in his discography. Sad to say, it is also the only of his CDs I ever got rid of. He may had his reasons to do it as he did. Still, it´s too far removed from the quality stuff he recorded thus far to justify even a three star rating. This is for hardcore fans, collectors and completionists (which Im not). Two stars.

Report this review (#290522)
Posted Friday, July 16, 2010 | Review Permalink
1 stars I've put this on now in a pique of curiousity, for the first time in about ten years, with only two questions on my mind. Is it as awful as I remember it being when I first bought it? Is it still a one star album from one of my favourite artists of all time?

Regrettably, the answer to both of these questions is yes. If ever there was a contender for worse prog or prog related album of all time, then this is it. This was the last album Fish made for his then record label, and I've never been altogether sure whether a covers album of undoubted classics was his or the label's idea/fault in trying to resurrect some badly needed commercial success. It didn't work, and this album represented the true nadir of a great man's career, although, thankfully, he was able, later, to turn it all around and release some exceptional neo prog original work.

About the only credit I can give this album is that at least, in the main, he went for some of the more obscure titles from some of his favourite inspirations. Regrettably, he and his band murder each and every one of them, so much so that I haven't got the energy to review the tracks individually.

Utterly devoid of imagination, feelings, managing to make even Fearless (an exceptional Floyd track) sound like the sort of track the BBC used to put out on Sunday Night Light Programme for your great grandmother's delight, surely a feat in itself, there is not a kind word to say.

In fact, this review should be left at that. Avoid at all costs, even if you feel that you have to have all of his albums. It is not a true Fish LP. It must have been the work of an imposter.

Report this review (#340836)
Posted Thursday, December 2, 2010 | Review Permalink
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
2 stars I didn't realise that it was an album of covers. When I saw it in a music shop I just bought it. Vigil was a good album and Internal Exile wasn't too bad. I wasn't very passionate for the new Marillion so I didn't read the song's titles.

When making covers an artist has two choices: stay as much as possible close to the original or change everything and make it a new song. I really like the reaggae version of Dark Side Of The Moon by "Easy Stars All-Stars" to make an example.

Unfortunately Fish remained in the middle: not too different and not too close. In a word: "useless", at least for the songs that I already knew.

There are some that I never heard before and of which I still don't know the original versions. They are: Boston Tea Party, Hold Your Head Up and Solo.

About "I know What I Like", I don't like the original, too.

The only highlight is Fearless. I like as it has been arranged and even if this version doesn't add anything to the original is the only very enjoyable song of the album.

This is nothing more than a fan's item. A curiosity, let me say.

Report this review (#434426)
Posted Saturday, April 16, 2011 | Review Permalink
2 stars It doesn't matter whatever reasons had been thrown in the ring to put out this album, they never justified it at all, it's nothing but a compromise that the artist needed to make for the record company he was so hugely in debt with since Polydor had bought him out of the EMI-contract. And it was an ill-advised compromise as well, though, if you like tribute-albums, you may enjoy "Songs from the Mirror", cause that's what it is, Fish is paying tribute to some of his heroes by covering some of their songs. He doesn't destroy them, but who in the world has needed this when Fish would have needed to come back with another original album made to convince the audience that he still can write songs that appeal to a larger audience ? Why withdraw faith from the artist when one album doesn't quite sell the way it was expected ? It was faith that he needed, not this step on a deceptive "secure" side with well known songs that - singled out - if anything were welcome additions/encores in a live concert but also ones he could only fail to improve on record !!! I'm a big T. Rex fan and I'm sure that Fish is, too - and that's why "Jeepster" is amongst the chosen tracks. It's a very good example for this album. It's okay - but there was no need to do it, it's hats off to Marc Bolan and nothing more, not even the fun it may have been in concert. The original is miles above and I'm sure that Fish will agree. The problem is - Fish, at his best, can see eye to eye with Marc ( imo ), so why present yourself below your own artistic merit and credibility ? Worse to that... why give food to those who never saw anything else than a Genesis-Clone in Marillion and, in particular, a Peter Gabriel-clone in Fish by covering "I know what I like" ? Someone should have stepped in to cancel this project, really. To me, it was as superfluous as can be and it only gets a second star because it doesn't cause me too much pain to listen to it and, what's best about it, it doesn't take too long ( and my old mate Manfred appeared to like it ). Apart from that. "Songs from the mirror" is the last album before Fish had severe problems with his voice, and though I've heard he got over that by taking singing-lessons and training it in the meantime... to me it's never been the same anymore. I simply lost interest after a while, having had several listen-ins to later releases I couldn't see myself buying one, so this has to be my final review to one of his albums - sorry, Derek, but all the best !
Report this review (#610441)
Posted Sunday, January 15, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars Recorded in 1992, Songs From the Mirror was a product of a tough time in Fish's life. Not only had his long-standing manager and close friend Andy Field died at the start of the year, but a string of business setbacks put his career in a very fragile state. Worse yet, Internal Exile had underperformed on the market, and Polydor were no longer so excited to have clawed him away from EMI.

Fish and his band were already workshopping the material which would eventually become the Suits album, but they needed more time to finish the job - but Polydor wanted new product. In the extensive liner notes of the 2017 reissue, Fish explains the catch-22 situation which ensued: Polydor wanted a new album, and soon, but Polydor didn't want to pay the money which would have been necessary to finish Suits, but at the same time they were dismissive of Fish's alternative idea - an album of cover versions that could be put out as a stopgap whilst work on Suits continued. He even offered to restructure his contract, locking himself into Polydor for Suits in return for less advance on that, if they agreed to the cover album plan.

They didn't bite - but eventually they agreed to accept the cover album, which Fish duly delivered. Songs From the Mirror is that album, and it's appropriate that Fish chose not to have it bear a Mark Wilkinson cover (the only studio album in his discography not to have one!) because, much as this doesn't look like a typical Fish album, it doesn't sound like one either. Though there's a few prog selections on the track list, he very much takes the same approach that David Bowie did on Pin-Ups here, picking out old songs which had inspired him in his earlier days rather than trying for material that was particularly close to his usual style, so it's really more of a straight down the line pop- leaning art rock release.

That said, it's as bad as people make it out to be - Fish and his band offer a perfectly competent, serviceable runthrough of some nice selections, a few of which are "big" songs which were very popular in their day but others representing deeper dives. Bowie's "Five Years" (which Fish actually tried to get Bowie to play the sax solo on, since Bowie happened to be in Scotland at the time, only to be rebuffed by Bowie's management) is an interesting choice for two reasons: the 1992 recording sessions would mark some 5 years since the release of Clutching At Straws, Fish's Marillion swan song, and 5 years before the release of Sunsets On Empire, often regarded as Fish's artistic comeback album.

If you are very, very invested in the prog side of Fish's work and the idea of him producing an album of mellow rock numbers performed in a fairly straight-ahead (if well-polished) style would be deeply annoying to you, well, you're going to be annoyed by Songs From the Mirror. For my part, I think this was probably a necessary detour to recharge his creative batteries, and the least bad outcome of his professional crisis of this era. At the end of the day, it meant he'd met his contractual obligations to Polydor and was then free to make Suits his first indie release, and as the aforementioned liner notes make clear, whilst dropping out of the major labels had its disadvantages things could have gone much, much worse.

On top of that, I think many artists benefit in the long run from moving a bit outside of the genres they are usually associated with in order to expose themselves to a wider set of approaches which they can then bring back to their more usual stamping grounds. Consider how Fish's former bandmates in Marillion would move away from prog for a bit before making an emphatic return to proggy territory on Marbles, which was as good as it was in part because they'd taken the time to get some distance and try some new things. Consider, for that matter, how Fish himself would work with Steven Wilson to blend elements of more modern musical genres into Fish's sound on Sunsets On Empire some years later.

All that said, whilst I don't think this album deserves some of the brickbats thrown at it, I can't say it's on the absolute top rank of Fish's work. Call it three and a half stars or so - but knock a star off if you are simply not interested in Fish putting out a non-prog album.

Report this review (#2600232)
Posted Thursday, October 7, 2021 | Review Permalink

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