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Fish - Raingods With Zippos CD (album) cover





3.68 | 261 ratings

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4 stars 1999 sees a resurrection of the great big man's career, with this excellent release. By his own admission, Fish's career was in danger of complete meltdown after a series of relatively poor albums and worse record deals.

However, it is a testament to his staying power as an artist and his own dogged determination that he was able to come back so strongly, and set in train a nice run of very good LPs and increased success, both in the studio and live, health problems permitting.

Tumbledown is a fantastic way to set the album off, with a delicate and marvellously played piano solo settling the listener into a false sense of serenity before the track explodes into the type of pop prog epic for which Fish is famous. Very enjoyable, without necessarily being a classic.

Mission Statement is another catchy track, with some enjoyable female backing vocals. It's very upbeat, with a touch of boogy woogy included.

Things take a darker turn lyrically with a very brooding ballad, Incomplete. Fish undertakes a vocal duet, with acoustic backing, and very satisfying it is too. The female vocal lead is excellent, and Fish very wisely steps back and gives an understated performance to support this. A nice track which ponders on love and society lost.

Tilted Cross is a brighter affair. A nice vocal, with, again, some exquisite female vocals, accompanied by some very nice drum and acoustic guitar work gives us a very pleasant and thoughtful ballad. It is clear listening to this that Fish had made a determined effort to vastly improve the quality of both composition and delivery, and for that the fan and casual listener alike are grateful. Tinged with Celtic influences, this love song is a highlight of the album without doubt.

Faith Healer toughens matters up for us. This is a good, old fashioned, rocker delivering five minutes of toe tapping enjoyment. It is actually written by the late, great, Alex Harvey and is a cover.

Rites Of Passage commences in quite the most beautiful manner, with Fish delivering a thoughtful and delicate ballad against some underplayed keyboards and bass. It is the sort of songwriting and delivery for which he rightly gained praise when with Marillion, the ability to make intelligent and accessible ballads. The track runs to a little short of eight minutes and never loses interest at all, and the instrumental solos are brilliant.

The whole album, though, leads up to, and is defined by, the epic six parter, Plague Of Ghosts. It is brilliant, and probably the finest piece of pure neo prog that Fish has committed to disc in his entire solo career. There are so many mood changes here, it is difficult to keep up sometimes.

Old Haunts provides a quiet, melancholic, opening, before the epic explodes into life with Digging Deep, with a thudding rhythm section accompanying a Fish vocal, monotone at times, and fantastic lead guitar. Good enough as a beat to be played in a high class disco or club, and a damn sight better than most so called dance music you will hear commercially. The lead guitar and keyboard towards the close of this part is the main instrumental theme of the whole epic, and is played with great skill by Steve Wilson and Tony Turrell. Utterly incredible to listen to, a pure prog delight.

Chocolate Frogs commences with Fish Poetry Corner for well over a minute and does, in truth, deflect us from the huge momentum created by what preceded it. However, when this passes, and a thoughtful vocal, and haunting backdrop take over, things are restored to their normal order.

Waving At Stars features a crunching rhythm which sets the tone for what is to follow, and has at its heart some intricate keyboard work by Turrell. His magnificent piano work leads into the delightful main course that is Raingod's Dancing. As much as I love Marillion, I think that this section is the finest piece of work that Fish has ever recorded. A beautifully performed vocal, and a symphonic background, lead us into a massive lead guitar solo and the main lyrical centre of the epic.

This takes us into the denouement, Wake Up Call (Make It Happen), which commences with more excellent piano work backing a thoughtful lyric. The track then runs out in a dream sequence with the entire ensemble excelling themselves.

Raingod's With Zippos is a tremendous album which restored Fish's artistic and commercial credentials. It is very highly recommended for all those who, especially, lost track of him after Marillion or rather ordinary solo fare.

Four stars, but, in truth, four and a half. An excellent addition to any prog rock collection.

lazland | 4/5 |


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