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Fish - Vigil In A Wilderness Of Mirrors CD (album) cover





3.83 | 334 ratings

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2 stars Famously, Fish left Marillion after they'd already made some headway on putting together ideas for the new album - so whilst the band's musical ideas ended up taking shape on Seasons' End, Fish took the lyrical concepts he'd been working on, got new musical backing, and presented them on Vigil In a Wilderness of Mirrors.

Unfortunately, those who might hope for a more purely neo-prog direction from Fish's solo career compared to the direction Marillion were taking with Steve Hogarth were in for a disappointment with this one. Whilst the title track is a good album opener, it's also quite clearly less complex and more mainstream-inclined than any of the Fish-era Marillion albums, and it's clear that for the rest of the album Fish was intent on taking an accessible and commercialised art-pop course for this phase of his career.

The album isn't flat-out horrible if you like that sort of thing, but it's not a brilliant example of that style either. The songs are too repetitive, with Fish drawing out his ideas far longer than they can sustain, and some of the AORish touches added to them are pretty dire - the worst song in the collection is probably lead single Big Wedge, which has a horrendously cheesy brass section needlessly applied to it. Of course, Fish might have been deliberately trying to apply a big brash Hollywood-style sheen to the number because it's a protest song against the cultural influence of American capitalism, in which case he succeeds admirably at creating a nasty plastic commercial product, but not at creating something I actually want to listen to.

I guess the high regard this debut is held in by Fish fans is a consequence of two things. First, there's the natural relief that the great man's first solo album wasn't a complete disaster (and again, I stress that it really wasn't, it's just not up to the standards we've been led to expect of him over the years). Secondly, there's the poor reception of the following albums - which didn't follow a radically different direction from this one, but did so much less convincingly - which naturally prompted people to look back on this one favourable compared with them.

Overall, I think this album was as good as it needed to be at the time, but no better. Fish didn't absolutely need to bring out a masterpiece at this point in time - though it would have been nice - all he needed to do was demonstrate to the public that he had the potential to make it as a solo artist. Vigil shows flashes of this potential without ever actually realising it. To be honest, I've always thought Fish's solo career didn't really get interesting until Sunsets on Empire, so I wasn't surprised recently to read an old Classic Rock interview in which the man himself said his solo career didn't really get onto an even keel until that point. Whilst I think both Marillion and Fish both ended up having excellent post-split careers in the long term, I find it hard to deny that at least at the beginning Marillion were clearly in the lead; certainly, I find myself turning to Seasons' End much more than I do to Vigil.

Warthur | 2/5 |


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