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Fish - Raingods With Zippos CD (album) cover

RAINGODS WITH ZIPPOS

Fish

 

Neo-Prog

3.72 | 211 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars "We are now back on course"

The problem with a lot of lead singers when they go solo, or make solo albums, is that their output is dominated even more by vocals. Because they will often not have the ability to play a musical instrument, they feel their voice has to be constantly heard, for it to be their album. In a band situation, the rest of the group will have their influence, and hopefully this leads to a balanced album with sometimes lengthy instrumental sections.

Other band members such as guitarists, bassists, drummers etc. do not seem to have this attitude to their solo work to nearly the same degree, probably because most of them see it as a rare opportunity to sing!

For me, Fish's early solo output suffered in this way. With "Raingods with zippos" though, Fish seems to be prepared to make much more of a band album, and the result was probably his most progressive album yet. Porcupine Tree's Steve Wilson is brought in as occasional guitarist, joined by an impressive array of competent musicians who ensure that performance wise the album cannot be faulted.

The first couple of tracks are clearly written as potential hit singles. A deceptively reflective piano melody precedes the live favourite "Tumbledown" but the song soon bursts into life, the infectious hook being simultaneously compulsive and irritating. The following "Mission statement" could easily be a Deep Purple song, the Jon Lord like organ playing driving this toe-tapping song forward.

In an unusual (for Fish) twist, he shares the lead vocals with Elisabeth Antwi on the pained balled "Incomplete". The song contains the open heart style of lyrics we have become accustomed to from Mr. Dick, the song being a sort of "Don't give up" (Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush) part 2. Unusually again, we have back to back ballads, "Tilted cross" also featuring female vocals, this time by Nicola King.

Things pick up for a lavishly orchestrated cover of fellow Scotsman Alex Harvey's "Faith healer". As Fish menacingly sings "Let me put my hands on you", wonderful memories of the great Harvey come flooding back. The track introduces the progressive half of the album, the melancholy "Rites of passage" having a deceptively simple melody, supported by some delightful orchestration.

It is though the six part 25 minute "Plague of ghosts" which prog fans will gravitate towards. Steve Wilson plays all the guitars here, the suite having a bit of a Porcupine Tree feel anyway, especially "Digging deep". The piece as a whole remains vocally intensive, although Fish does use the extra space available to develop the various themes further. It becomes apparent at times that he is attempting here to recreate the magic which made "Misplaced childhood" such a revered album, his spoken word on "Chocolate frogs" for example being delivered in the same way as the narratives on that album. The "Rain gods dancing" section revisits the title lyrics first heard on "Tumbledown" before giving way to a superb guitar solo by Wilson.

In his thank you credits, Fish speaks in adoring terms of his then wife, saying that "we are now back on course".

In all, a highly accomplished album from Fish which has been crafted with great care and precision. I remain convinced that his albums would benefit enormously if he would shut up occasionally, and allow his band space to enhance the themes. That said, at least he has presented us with a prog epic here, and a fine one at that.

(by the way, a Zippo is a cigarette lighter.)

Easy Livin | 3/5 |

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