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Fish Vigil in a Wilderness of Mirrors album cover
3.89 | 417 ratings | 49 reviews | 36% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
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Studio Album, released in 1990

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Vigil (8:46)
2. Big Wedge (5:25)
3. State of Mind (4:45)
4. The Company (4:07)
5. A Gentleman's Excuse Me (4:20)
6. The Voyeur (I Like to Watch) (4:45)
7. Family Business (5:22)
8. View from a Hill (6:39)
9. Cliché (7:06)

Total Time 51:15

Bonus tracks on 1997 & 1998 CD reissues:
10. Jack and Jill (1990 single) (4:28)
11. Internal Exile (4:52)
12. The Company (demo) (4:29)
13. A Gentleman's Excuse Me (demo) (3:55)
14. Whiplash (1990 single) (4:21)

Line-up / Musicians

- Derek Dick "Fish" / lead vocals, arrangements (4,8,9)

- Frank Usher / guitar (1-4,6,7,9,11,12,14)
- Hal Lindes / guitar (1-5,7,11)
- Janick Gers / guitar & arrangements (8)
- Mickey Simmonds / keyboards, arrangements (4,8,9), drum programming (12), grand piano (13)
- Davy Spillane / pipes & whistles (1)
- Phil Cunningham / whistle, bodhrán & accordion (4,11)
- Aly Bain / violin (4,11)
- Gavin Wright / violin & string orchestration (4), string & horn orchestrations (5)
- Alison Jones / violin (12)
- John Giblin / bass (1-4,6-9,11)
- Mark Brzezicki / drums (1,2,4,6-9,11)
- John Keeble / drums (3)
- Luis Jardim / percussion (2-4,9)
- Carol Kenyon / backing vocals (2,3,7,9)
- Tessa Niles / backing vocals (2,7,9)

and Kick Horns:
- Roddy Lorimer / brass (2)
- Tim Sanders / brass (2)
- Simon Clarke / brass (2)
- Paul Spong / brass (2)

Releases information

Artwork: Mark Wilkinson

LP EMI - CDEMD 1015 (1990, Europe)

CD EMI - CDEMD 1015 (1990, Europe)
CD Dick Bros. Record Co. - DDICK28CD (1997, UK) Remastered (?) with 5 bonus tracks
CD Roadrunner Records - RR 8687-2 (1998, Europe) Remastered by Calum Malcolm w/ 5 bonus tracks

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to NotAProghead for the last updates
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FISH Vigil in a Wilderness of Mirrors ratings distribution

(417 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(36%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(42%)
Good, but non-essential (18%)
Collectors/fans only (3%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

FISH Vigil in a Wilderness of Mirrors reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by loserboy
5 stars After FISH and MARILLION parted ways, FISH released "Vigil In A Wilderness Of Mirrors" which was a triumph in so many ways. Musically this would mark the new direction for FISH, deviating away from the jester montages and taking a fresh new and yet still very progressive avenue. I remember buying this CD and playing the crap out of it for months on end. "Vigil..." really covers a lot of ground from the MARILLION'esque "Vigi...l" to the sensitive and soul stirring track "Cliche". Instrumentally this is a great album and the musicanship as you would expect is very high. For me this album became a very special part of my life and it was an album I experienced thru years of my life. To this day I reserve a special spot in my collection for "Vigil..." and recommend this album to all fans of MARILLION and FISH.
Review by The Prognaut
5 stars Let's just forget about FISH once was part of MARILLION and let's focus on what he's become and on what he's projected with this first solo career album, because I truly believe that at this point of life and despite the controversies surrounding his departure from MARILLION, it's completely unnecessary to rely on comparisons to prove he's a huge musician. I'm aware that most of FISH's fans got to know him in the first place through MARILLION and then started following his footsteps within his solo career, but still, that's no justification to distrust on what he's been doing ever since he left the band.

Now, what he was able to prove though, more than exposing himself as a recycled part from a former band; is that he accomplished all those dreams and satisfied not only his, but the fans expectations as well. "Vigil in a Wilderness of Mirrors" shows no lack of creativeness or composure, it ain't some sort of vindicative posture for the public, au contraire, it's a provocative enticing material, it's the return of FISH to his Scottish roots, it's the self-commitment, it's the passion and the feeling of success. This album reveals us all the growth and the maturation of FISH during the years, this is the result of the constant struggle and dedication in order to win that inner revolution he always fought against but specially, he wanted to show it to us, to the fans. Romantic, devoted and passionate, that's the FISH I know, that's the FISH WE know; there's no song I like better over the others this album contains, each one of them is the preface to the next to come. Just brilliant.

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars UUUggghh . having reviewed all Marillion Fish era studio albums, I think it's time for me to give a shot on Fish solo. Let me first tell you: the ultimate and best music was only produced when Fish with Marillion - it's all masterpiece albums! And this is Fish' first solo that I consider excellent but not a masterpiece. Why? Not all of tracks are excellent musically and lyric-wise. Fish demonstrates his capability as songwriter and singer (as with Marillion he contributed mostly as lyricist). He's done excellent job with his debut album. Well, later I realized when I read the "Separated Out" book on Marillion, actually some songs in this album was proposed by Fish to the rest of Marillion members during their tour activities. I've seen there is a photographed of a whiteboard where "Family Business" and "The Company" were written at the board. Reaction from the rest of the band: rejected. Uuughh!!! What a lousy decision it was as later I realized that these two are masterpiece tracks!!

The album is opened with an album title track: "Vigil in a Wilderness of Mirrors" which brilliantly located as an opening track to set the overall mood of the album. For me, the first lyric of this track reminds me to the occasion when I first listened to "So here I am once more .!!" of Marillion's debut album "Script for a Jester's Tear". This time, Fish sigh voice says like this "Listen to me / Just hear me out / If I could have your attention .." Uuughhhh .. what a great opening!! (having been so longing for Fish voice after La Gazza Ladra live album release of Marillion). Yeah .. this track really BLEW me mannnnn!!! This track is a ballad music but with interesting high and low tones. It's thematic though as I can feel it when the voice is "I don't know the score anymore / It's not clear anymore / I can't tell right from wrong anymore / I just don't understand". After that there are elements of Marillion as well as P Floyd (The Wall album). Fish' vocal quality is excellent, it's exactly like the way he sung with Marillion. The interesting part of this track is the interlude (minute 4:3) with keyboard solo that sounds like a middle east music. Tasty and memorable melody!

"Big Wedge" is not my cup of tea. I dunno why, just don't really get it. It fails to shoot my heart, it's just a flat upbeat music with some brass section. It sounds like Phil Collins solo album or Genesis with brass section. Some Fish fans like this song; but it's not the case for me. It's boring. "State of Mind" is Fish's yell on social life. It's opened with great bass line in the vein of JACO Pastorius (of Weather Report) and some howling guitar sound at background. The acoustic guitar is also interesting.

One of my favorites is "The Company". It has a very unique composition, blending the country music with traditional (Scott?) and rock/pop. One thing that shot me the first time I listened to this song was the lyrics. This song is suitable for those who work to someone or we simply call it "worker". Observe this lyric: "You buy me a drink then you think that you've got the right / To crawl in my head and rifle my soul / You tell me I'm free then you want me to compromise / To sell out my dreams you say you'll make it worthwhile" what a nice piece of lyric and music segment!!!! And, most importantly about this track are: melodious and fascinating! It's a masterpiece. "The company I choose is solidly singular / Totally trustworthy, straight and sincere / Polished, experienced, witty and charming / So why don't you push off, this company's my own".

"A Gentleman's Excuse Me" is a drum-less track with touchy melody and great lyrics. The piano play and orchestration is really nice. Most people like this track. "The Voyeur (I Like to Watch)" is an upbeat music with good guitar and bass. I don't really enjoy this song - it sounds boring to me even though Fish vocal is clear and the musicianship is also good. But the next track "Family Business" really BLEW my mind! This is a kind of fabulous music that I've ever heard - it has great melody since opening till the end of the track. The music is relatively simple with some touch of early Marillion music. It's a great regret that the rest of Marillion members declined this track when Fish proposed for next Marillion album (that never happened). Through this song I realized that Fish can create such Marillionish music!!! I like the ambient kind of music created throughout this track combined with Hackett-like guitar playing. "How long do we keep it family business ..?" Uuughh .. What a great closing!

Another track that blew my mind is "Cliché". It's a cliché love story but it's packaged in such a way that this is not a typical pop song music. The strong point is in its melody and songwriting. Wonderfully crafted!!! It's opened with melodious keyboard sound with some soft guitar fills; followed by short piano sound to welcome Fish voice "I've got a reputation of being a man with a gift of words ." - really cool man!! When the music enters into its main body, it flows smoothly and melodiously especially with the inclusion of electric guitar that howls in the vein of Hackett style. Don't miss the piano touch that occur in some segments, it accentuates the song, really! "It's not that I'm embarrassed or shy, well, you know me too well ..." .... nice shot, Fish!

Overall, it's an excellent album. The songwriting and musicianship are great. In addition, almost all lyrics are excellent. RECOMMENDED! Don't miss this album! Rating: 4.25 / 5. Gatot Widayanto, Indonesia.

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars A fish out of water?

Fish's first solo album, released in 1990 is in many ways a predictable affair. The big man sings his heart out, offering little space to his selected fellow musicians as he offers his often acerbic views on subjects close to his heart. The album would perhaps have benefited from more and lengthier instrumental passages, to provide a counterpoint for Fish's singing. This in itself however presents a quandary for Fish, as had he done so, he would of course have been accused of making another Marillion album. The atmospheric start to the opening track "Vigil" suggests this may be a clone of "Misplaced childhood" but the pace soon increases with Fish allowing only a bagpipe (like?) sound to interrupt his dominant vocal.

Fish's cynicism is always to the fore, with lyrics such as "We sell our souls for the Big Wedge", ("Big Wedge"), and "I didn't trust the government" ("State of mind"). The "Vigil in a wilderness of mirrors" line is also repeated on the latter. Personally, I find the lyrics to be something of a distraction at times, such is their power, which is a pity as the album has many fine moments. Some of the themes covered by the album are quite disturbing, especially tracks such as "Family business", which deals with wife beating. While the lyrics here are extremely moving, the song as a song is dull. Fish is perhaps guilty at times of placing too much emphasis on the message, and too little on the overall product. At times here he appears to be preaching.

Musically, the melodies are often strong. "A gentleman's excuse me" for example is a soft orchestrated ballad, and "Cliché" has some excellent, if all too brief, Rothery- esque guitar. Had Fish stayed with Marillion, and the song been developed by the band, they could well have had one of their finest albums to date. That said, most of the songs here are co-written by Fish and others, and I would not wish to belittle the contribution of Fish's fellow writers.

Overall, an enjoyable album which suffers from a common problem with solo albums by lead singers, they don't know when to shut up!

Review by Guillermo
4 stars With this album, it is more clear to me that it was impossible to keep FISH as a member of MARILLION. As he explains in MARILLION`s official website (in a section on which he tells his view about the history of the band), by 1987-88 he was having different ideas with the rest of the band. One of the things were his political ideas, as his Scottish nationalism started to be more important to him. Another thing was that his ego was bigger and stronger, as he said (this is more reflected in his last album with MARILLION, "Clutching at Straws", with lyrics written by him more related to his personal life). He also had different musical ideas which can be heard on this album. Also, he was tired of the endless working schedule in MARILLION. He wanted a new Manager for the band, but the rest of the band didn`t agree with him. He also had at that time more serious problems with the use of some substances.He argued a lot with the rest of the band. He was recently married, and he wanted to spend more time with his new wife as he didn`t want to "sacrifice" this relationship as other relationships he had at the start of the band. So, after some rehearsals, concerts, and the recording of new demos for a new album, he finally left the band in September 1988, in not very good terms. MARILLION`s next album, "Seasons End", has music which was composed during FISH`S last days with the band. The same is for some of the lyrics used in his first album which were originally used in some demos with MARILLION. This is a very good album, but a bit different to MARILLION`s music in some ways. For the first time, he uses orchestral arrangements. Some of the songs have (I think so) Scottish Folk music arrangements. Other songs have critics about politics ("State of Mind"). He also used horn arrangements in one song ("Big Wedge"). Also the guitar arrangements sound different, nearly like some Heavy Metal guitars. For this album, he co-wrote all the songs (except "View from a Hill") with keyboard player Mickey Simmonds (who years later played with CAMEL). Other collaborators in songwriting were guitarists Hal Lindes (in three songs) and Janick Gers (in "View from a Hill"). The keyboard arrangements are a bit different than with MARILLION, but for me, when FISH left the band, it was a very important loss for the band. It seems to me that FISH influenced a lot the sound of the band, and with his departure, the band changed a lot after the "Seasons End" album, an album which still sounds for me with some influence by FISH. He contributed a lot of the "Feeling" for the band`s original sound, IMO. Unfortunately, MARILLION didn`t have a "Phil Collins" in the band to continue contributing to the original sound of the band.With the addition of a new singer, MARILLION changed a lot. His first solo album shows how important was FISH for MARILLION, IMO. He took with himself a lot from that band.
Review by hdfisch
3 stars I have to say in advance, I used to love Marillion's early records when I was young. I'm not sure if it would work the same nowadays, I've to admit I did not listen to them since a while. But I listened more to Genesis' early records recently and IMHO I prefer these much more to those of Marillion, anyway they were just a nice substitute at that time because Genesis decayed in quality. I stumbled just recently over Fish's solo outputs and I listened to several ones of them starting from "Vigil In A Wilderness Of Mirrors" to "Field Of Crows" and I've to say there are only few albums that are able to convince me, actually mainly "Sunset on Empire" and to a certain extent "Raingods with Zippos". At least to my ears the majority of his stuff sounds too much in the popular vein if concentrating on the music, what I usually do. Certainly he's got good lyrics and an expressive voice as well, but for me that's not enough to call it an excellent progrock. It's just quite good and very nice and easy listenable prog, more or less in a pop-ish vein, like the stuff, Marillion is doing as well nowadays. This album has very fine moments, but it contains as well a considerable amount of songs that remind me more to COLLINS rather than to GABRIEL, two names FISH always had and will have to compete with, since the music he's been doing is a derivative one. That's why I can't rate his stuff higher than 3 stars.But still a quite enjoyable "easy-listening" album!
Review by Fishy
4 stars The first solo album from the former Marillion singer is actually his best. Even though I recall him saying he hadn't the intention of continuing in the progressive music style, this is one of his most progressive efforts. Even though it does contain several influences from other musical styles, the progressive influence still is the dominant one and the other elements only enrich the sound.

"State of mind" was the first music he released on his own in the autumn of 1989. It sounds quite surprising different from the last studio Marillion recording but hardly defines the sound of Vigil in a . State is a pop track with an excitable rhythm section full of fabulous bass lines and great percussion. You can easily detect elements from funk and Peter Gabriel. Even though it has a great, catchy chorus, the lyric clearly is more important than the music. Fish focuses on observations of post modern society matters. His lyrics may be less poetic than they used to be, he writes more directly. Although I do not agree on some of his opinions, it least, it holds some interesting idea's.

b-side of the single also appears in the cd-version of this album. The voyeur has a haunting atmosphere which illustrates the paranoia in the subject of the lyrics perfectly. It use to remind me on the third Gabriel album and there's some similarities with the eastern sounding intro of "Assassing" as well. When I first heard this track I noticed this would sound great when performing live and actually it did. Fish used it for opening his European tour to support this album.

In the early beginning of 1990 this album finally was released. The title track which opens the album is one of the most ambitious pieces of music this artist has ever created in his whole career. One of the few moments on a rock album the lyrics and music form a perfect unit. I still treasure these lyrical ideas for looking at the world we're living in today. The music seems to add something to the message. On a more human level this track is about adolescence and the changing of one's view of the world and the uncertainty this feeling brings along. I still remember Fish opening his live shows being seated in the middle of the crowd when the wonderful opening tones were starting to sound in the venue. Musically the vocal lines seem to drive this track through majestic moments with traditional Irish folk elements. It starts with an atmospheric intro which is quite long. The melody of the chorus is unforgettable and the arrangements is highly symphonic, the bridge between several choruses or majestic interludes is reminiscent to the chords of The Wall from Pink Floyd. After all those years, this tracks still moves me.

In some countries Big wedge was a minor hit, not surprising if you hear the commercial approach. Fish use to defend his commercial tendencies by explaining he needed hits to ensure his musical future in the music business. Off course we know better now... With its horrible blazer section Big wedge is sounding like a hit single from one the eighties albums of Genesis or even Phil Collins. It must not be a coincidence Genesis used the same lyrical idea for the lyrics for "Jesus he knows me". Fortunately on the live performances this track was more enjoyable especially in the enlarged opening section where the tension is building up.

The Company is another highlight. This is one of the tracks which were intended for winning a bet between Fish and Bob Ezrin. Fish was to proof he was able to write a proper folk song. Ezrin was one of the first to be contacted to produce the next Marillion album in 1988 when Fish was still in the band. Obviously the lyrical subject of this song is about the hangover Fish had after leaving Marillion but one could easily interpret it for social issues as well. The atmosphere in this wonderful song does have some similarities with the arrangements of a Kate Bush album. This shouldn't be a surprise knowing producer Jon Kelly had produced Bush in the past. The folky elements are there but the song clearly improves by using a real orchestra. I suppose the influence of Mickey Simmonds who contributed a lot of great music for this album is heavily felt. For years Simmonds played in the backing band of Mike Oldfield and this is most noticeable in the piano part and the symphonic melodies of this song. Never again Fish was able to top the quality of this track. This song has been a concert favourite till the end. As quoted by Fish this is the drinking song of the album.

View from a hill is another lyric about Fish personal feelings on the departure from his former band. Janick Gers from Iron Maiden is the guest guitarist here and shows his talents in this guitar driven track. You can hear the musical theme from the opening chords on. The middle section of this epic is supposed to be wild but the power lacks a bit due to a production which isn't capable of getting the best out of heavy songs. Anyway there's some strong melodies in this wonderful powerful track.

Fish is dealing with the subject of family violence in the lyric of "Family business". The music on this great track is fine but this time the words seem to dominate the track a bit too much. Fortunately there's another important role for the piano and the great guitar lines of guitarist Frank Usher. He used to be a member of one of Fish' first bands before joining Marillion in 1981. Again the arrangements seem to remind me on Kate Bush.

"On a gentleman's excuse me" is a soft piano ballad with only the voice on some wonderful orchestrations. The lyric is some kind of a resignation to a love affair with a very romantic lady. The work of J.RR Tolkien always was a big influences in the work of many progressive artists. Fish uses just one of Tolkiens images as a part of the lyrical background. This is one of the points in the albums where the pathos is heavily spread but strange enough it works !

I can't imagine a song to be more of a ballad than Cliché. This is another example of the romantic side of prog. Sure it's cheesy but I don't believe anyone can stay indifferent when hearing this. Just listen to that guitar solo. What a wonderful way to finish an album.

One of my favourite songs on this reissue is Jack and Jill, originally on the flip side of big wedge. Today the keyboards sound hopelessly outdated but I do still enjoy the melody of this Marillion-like song a lot. To the end the guitar parts and the vocals get to sound more raw and violent. This is the Fish I like the most. A more rockier and emotional version of Marillion.

One could hardly call "Vigil in a ." a perfect example of progressive rock. It's clearly a transitional album between the progressive sound of Marillion and Fish'later solo works. This stuff is very melodic and highly accessible, the arrangements are more diverse than they have ever been during the Marillion years and Fish' voice is in excellent shape. Compared to the Marillion music of 87, it sounds fresh and new and the choice to start a solo carrier seems a logical one at this point in time. Fish should have moved on in this direction on his next releases.

Review by erik neuteboom
2 stars When Fish left Marillion I decided to follow my 'neo-progrock-messiah' because Marillion and Steve Hogarth were not my cup of tea, a matter of taste, I won't discuss their quality! So I bought this album and witnessed several gigs. It was quite emotional to see how Fish was supported by all those Marillion freaks, what a party! The music on his first solo-album is not really in the vein of early Marillion but, like Peter Gabriel on his first, a mix of rock and prog with some very good songs like the compelling titletrack, the swinging "Big Wedge" and the intricate "Family business" but also a lot of tracks that doesn't appeal to me. In fact I have played this CD very few times, simply because there was so much more rock and prog to explore that sounded better than Fish solo did.
Review by Trotsky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Fish's debut album is one of those records that has slipped rapidly down in my estimation. I think when Fish left Marillion, I was inclined to give him a little more leeway as the band's most obvious talent, but now that the blood has long dried, I don't think this album is as strong as Seasons End (as the first Marillion album featured Steve Hogarth it is a way, Vigil's direct competitor). In fact it's probably telling that after hearing how both sides did after the great schism, I lost interest in what either had to offer. Even though this is a solo album, Fish basically worked with a solid group comprising keyboardist Mickey Simmonds, ex-Dire Straits guitarist Hal Lindes, his old friend Frank Usher (also on guitars) and former Big Country drummer Mark Brsezicki. These guys are all solid players, but I don't hear as much personality or song writing talent as I did from Marillion's Mark Kelly and Steve Rothery. There are of course, some strong songs on here. There's the sprawling emotion-laden title track, State Of Mind which flirts with world music in a way that (ahem) Peter Gabriel was doing to greater effect at the same time) and the excellent folky drinking song The Company (which does a superb joy of expressing the sentimal, fatalistic, euphoric outlook of the hopeless drunk). Unfortunately all this is more than countered by mediocre tracks that bear more than a passing resemblance to what The Simple Minds were doing at this time ... the straight-forward radio-friendly Big Wedge (big chorus atop a big production) is a real nadir, but it's the lack of conviction in the slower moving A Gentleman's Excuse Me and View From A Hill and even the ambitious but overly-familiar Cliche that really seal this record's fate. I once stole this album from the record company that distributed it ... I was irate to find that it was sitting unloved in a forgotten pile ... and after sneaking it out through my briefcase, I rushed home excitedly only to find that the CD inside was missing! T'was only many years afterwards that I got hold of the expanded version with 5 bonus tracks ... in a bargain bin no less! But now I think about it, I'm not really sure it was worth the effort. ... 42% on the MPV scale EDIT: Max
Review by Cygnus X-2
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Fish's first solo venture after his sudden departure from Marillion in '88 stylistically showed that Fish was trying to stray away from the classic Marillion sound, but still you can hear some influence of his old group in the music. If that wasn't enough, some of the lyrics provided on this album were actually brought up before Marillion before Fish left the group itself. Regardless of that, though I thoroughly enjoy this album because it's somewhat of a cry from Fish that he doesn't need Marillion to carry on. The musicianship is also very strong on this album, Mickey Simmonds is a terrific keyboardist providing many interesting progressions and chords (he also helped Fish write many of the songs on the album). Fish's old friend Frank Usher steps in on guitar here and offers many great moments on the album, and the rhythm unit is also superb and keep the groove going throughout.

The album opens with Vigil In a Wilderness of Mirrors, it brings to me this feeling of Script for a Jester's Tear for some reason. Maybe because it's a vocal led tune that has strong chord progressions and features some very celtic influenced instruments, whatever it is, I love this song. It has all the elements of an old Marillion song but it has enough style to categorize it as pure Fish. The Big Wedge has this great big band feel to it because of the augmentation of a great horn arrangement, if that weren't enough, the song has an incredibly catchy chorus that can hook anyone in. State of Mind begins with some interesting and dynamic bass work from John Giblin. Another strong chorus and some hammering guitar round out this song, which probably is the best track bass wise on this album, a bit uninteresting at points, though, if you ask me. The Company continues the trend of strong and catchy chorus, this song having a title that would soon become Fish's official website's name. Anywho, this drinking song (as the chorus involves words like drink to me now) has some strong celtic influenced intrumentation and is another killer song.

A Gentleman's Excuse Me has some heartfelt piano and strings underneath an emotional and convincing vocal from Fish. This song matches emotionally nearly anything Fish had done with Marillion, in my opinion. The Voyeur (I like to Watch) is probably the most sexually suggestive thing Fish ever wrote next to Three Boats Down From the Candy back in 1983 on Market Square Heroes. Even though the song is mostly about politicians, he makes a nice metaphor to all things dirty. The biting riff and the solid musicianship is brought to a head perfectly with a brilliant chorus from Fish. This album seems to have brilliant choruses throughout each song. Family Business and View From the Hill are a couple of throwaway numbers to round out the album. The first having an interesting bass line, but not really much besides that. The second has a more Marillion feel to it (maybe because this is one of the songs Fish presented to Marillion before he left the group). It's a bit more interesting than Family Business, but it's nothing special, in my opinion. Cliche closes the album with some pretty piano from Simmonds and some heartfelt vocals from Fish. Frank Usher is a star on this track, giving a great solo performance. It ends the album very well, to say the least.

In the end, Fish's debut is more a less a message to everyone that he didn't need Marillion to create captivating music. This album may be one of his best solo albums, and it rivals much of the music that Marillion did with Steve Hogarth. For fans of Fish era Marillion, this album is a must. But if you're looking for some high-quality neo prog, this album is not a bad starting point. Despite a few uninteresting and overly long pieces, I still recommend this album to most people. 4/5.

Review by Tarcisio Moura
5 stars After they parted ways, Fish and Marillion recorded albums around the same time. Marillion released the quite disappointing Seasons End (well, it WAS VERY disappointing at the time. Remember, it is the studio album that comes after the Clutching At Strawas masterpiece). So I was quite suspicious of what Fish´s first solo efford would sound like. Specially after a friend of mine told me he probably would turn out a kind of Phil Collins kind of LP, since he read the credits and it included a horn section.Anyway, I took my chances and bought the album as soon as it was out.

What a masterpiece of prog music it proved to be! In fact, it sounded a lot more like Marillion then Marillion on Seasons End, and it was not just for Fish´s familiar voice! While Marillion recorded a mostly AOR/alternative kind of CD, Vigil In a Wilderness of Mirrors is prog rock, no less. Fish found a fitting partner in Mickey Simmonds and the musicians are all top notch. Everything works on this album and it became one of my favourite albums of that time (and after that too). Highlight are many, but I still think the title track is one fo Fish´s greatest moments (solo or with Marillion). The Wedge, Family Business and View From The HIll (his snide comment about Marillion, albeit a cryptic one) are all memorable tunes with some of his best lyrics.

I still have the vinyl LP, but I could not resist buying the remastered version on CD, not only for the sound quality, but also for the extra six tracks (four from singles b sides, not as good as the LP tracks but still worth having them). It was one of the best albums in 1990, if not the best. A masterpiece. highly recommended!

Review by Matti
4 stars Fish's solo debut came at the time my Marillionism was fading. Seasons End by Marillion with the new singer was a lame experience, and also the earlier Marillion albums were losing their grip (only Clutching at Straws always remained as one of my most played LP's). From Fish I wasn't expecting very progressive material, knowing that he's a strong lyricist, not a composer, and as a singer he wants to dominate the music. A lot would depend on his collaborators. The key character here is the keyboardist Mickey Simmonds to whom most of the composition credits go. He and the chemistry of the whole group - including musicians who had played in Dire Straits (Hal Lindes) and Simple Minds - proved to be very succesful. Vigil was like a breath of fresh air, a nice combination of pop and lite-prog, and it still sounds better than many of its followers in Fish discography.

I concentrate on the 8-track original LP version ('The Voyeur' wasn't included). First, none of the tracks is weak. My least favourite is the catchy, big-sounded 'Big Wedge' which is nevertheless pretty effective in its (hit) genre. The long title track has the proggiest musical drama, starting and ending quietly and bursting into full steam in between. 'State of Mind' was another single; relatively simple song with nice bass playing. Also very tender 'Gentleman's Excuse Me' was released as a single. It's nearly *too* sweet. 'Family Business' about domestic violence is very powerful song emotionally and includes excellent lead guitar. 'The Company' has an effective interlude of Scottish folk with fiddle and tin whistle. (And 'Vigil' has Uillean pipes.) The album ends with one of my favourite love songs, 'The Cliché'. In fact it sort of became an anthem of my first love (she shared my proggy music taste).

If I should find something negative, I could say the album is a bit poppy, pathetic and over-produced, but it's actually another way of saying it's a strong work and easily enjoyed. I believe that to many fans this remains dearer than other Fish albums.

Review by Prog Leviathan
2 stars As a dedicated Marillion (and Fish) fan, I openly challenge any who say that they would like this album if it was recorded by anyone OTHER than Fish. "Wilderness" may have a classy production and contain some genuine musical gems... but it is the most bland and unexciting thing Fish has ever recorded.

First the good-- Fish's voice sounds mature and controlled, much more so than his early days with Marillion. He shows some great range, emotion (as always) and personality, one can even pick out his Scottish accent! His lyrics are a mixed bag, but definitely lean towards the good side of things; he presents common themes in an uncommon way, which is the mark of his skill as a songwriter.

But... the album permeates a radio-friendly sound with its ultra-cheesy instrumental sound, which in my opinion sabotages a lot of what Fish is doing behind the mic. The rhythm section is straight-forward and uninspired, while the keys spend way too much of their time playing synthesized strings, horn, and bagpipe (!) hits (a sign of the times, I guess?). The guitar has a few nice moments, but smarty stays the hell out of the way of Fish's melodies, which is the sole source of energy and excitement in this one. As far as songwriting goes, Fish is at best singing about sociological issues (a la "I Like to Watch", "Family Business"), rather than bleeding- heart political ones. Moreover, his poetic monologues and/or spoken word moments are absent here.

As a whole, I can imagine "Vigil" only appealing to Fish fans, but despite its flaws provides enough great vocal moments to please; it's fun for an occasional listen, but made me wanted to listen to "Misplaced Childhood".

Songwriting: 2 Instrumental Performances: 2 Lyrics/Vocals: 3 Style/Emotion/Replay: 2

Review by Menswear
5 stars A must.

Unfortunetaly, Fish's solo career started amazingly well with this album really got nowhere fast. Aah, too bad because this album is a huge slap in the face to the Marillion's evil clan, proving that Fish is performing and writing as good as before (and sometimes better).

Fish's world from Clutching at Straws is following him (lyrics and comedy act), althought with a bit less tragedy and tad more celtic textures. And frankly, the whole 'drunken scottish' folk-rock is fitting well in the whole scene (Vigil, Internal Exile and the Company). This is where, to me, the album sets up high score: the simple chorus that becomes an anthem to shout out loud with a tall mug of McEwan's. Let's not forget THE voice of Fish, still on top of the hill and the orchestration making many songs much richer than the traditionnal Marillion line-up.

Fish got angry and decided to show what he's capable of: superb melodies, catchy choruses wrapped in a tangible musical depth.

Hurray for any fan of Marillion who discovers this; they will see no difference in quality or's a promise!

Review by ZowieZiggy
4 stars If you have read some of my "Marillion" reviews, you have already noticed that I praised the Fish era very much, while the non-genuine part of their discography was very average IMHHO.

I was logically very interested to discover the work of the great man. And as soon as I heard the title track, I was transported with joy. As if nothing had changed, or so little. Ambient part, powerful vocals, nice melody. As if it was a natural follow-up to "Clutching".

I came back on earth while "Big Wedge" started. These brass are definitely not my cup of tea. But Fish quickly reverts to a very good and inspired "State Of Mind". Again, the late "Marillion" heritage is obvious (it starts already with the cover work of this album by the way).

Maybe that this album holds more ambient parts, but globally the sound is close to his earlier work (Clutching I mean). For the best, I have to say. A kind of relief because at times, solo artists want to change from musical style too much in order to break with their previous career.

And "The Company" is no different. A good but simple song. This is maybe a characteristic that will disappoint some progheads. The complexity of the early "Marillion" ("Script") is not on the rendez-vous but a song as "A Gentleman's Excuse Me" is a wonderful and peaceful ballad during which the big man can fully express his high pitched and subtle voice. Even if some orchestrations stress the mellow side a bit too much. Another good track anyway.

I guess that there is nothing wrong if here and there, a weaker track appears in this set list ("The Voyeur"). Still, the lyrics which save this track are well polished and unequivocal : "I like to watch implausible pledges of polite politicians. I like to watch them even more than my video nasties" or "I like to watch disasters in replay and rerun in slo mo."

Another good (though commercial) is "Family Business" of course. A live favourite. The last three songs of the original album are just a confirmation of what could already be heard so far : an excellent follow- up of the "Marillion" days with a plus for the excellent "Cliché".

This album is very good and deserves four star in my scale. An excellent surprise and a confirmation of the talent of this great man.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Vigil in A Wilderness of Mirrors is the debut album by former Marillion vocalist Fish. Fish and Marillion parted ways in 1988 after making four of my personal favorite albums. EMI had the rights to Fish solo recordings because of a leaving members clause but Vigil in A Wilderness of Mirrors would be the only album Fish released on EMI as he would leave the label after a lengthy legal dispute in 1991. Most songs on the album are co-written by keyboard player Mickey Simmonds ( who would also tour with Fish on the following tour for the album), but Janick Gers ( Iron Maiden) and Hal Lindes ( Dire Straits) would also contribute to the writing of a few songs on the album.

The music ranges from slightly progressive rock and ballads to pop/ rock. My favorites on the album are the opening title track which is probably the song on the album which sounds mostly like Fish-era Marillion and the heavily orchestrated A Gentleman's Excuse Me. The Company and Family Business also comes of as sounding quite succesful to my ears. The rest is rather forgettable though and not really something that impresses me. Big Wedge with its brass arrangement and female backing choir even annoys me a bit. Most of the songs are lacking in the instrumental department though and that also counts for the better songs on the album. This album is clearly a solo album by a vocalist. Fish shines as ever and his lyrics are as usual of high quality but I wish he would have concentrated more on making interesting music as well.

The musicianship is good, but the performance of the musicians come of as a bit anonymous simply because the song arrangements are too generic. The performance needs bite and it´s really only Fish who sounds like he means it.

The production is good, but again there´s too much emphasis on the vocals and too little emphasis on the music as a whole.

It´s safe to say that I had big expectations to both Fish solo albums and Marillion´s post-Fish ditto. None of them have delivered what I would call better than average rock albums since they parted ways and I must admit to be one of those who cry myself asleep every night because of the split. Fish-era Marillion simply had a wonderful magic that neither the band nor Fish have been able to create since. Vigil in A Wilderness of Mirrors is overall a pretty good album from the singer though and deserves a 3 star rating.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
3 stars An uneven kettle of Fish

The opening title track of this debut solo album by Fish is in my opinion a lyrical and musical masterpiece and my favourite song bar none with Fish on vocals! It is simply a sublime piece of reflective progressive Rock, with a grippingly existential lyric and haunting vocal. Sadly, the album's second track is utterly horrible both lyrically and musically! Talk about a sharp contrast. The rest of the album ranges between very good and decent, but it never again reaches the high of the title track or for that matter the low of Big Wedge. Some tracks have subtle but delightful Celtic/folky nuances.

Like I said in my review of Fish's second solo album, Internal Exile, he could easily have created a really strong album had he taken the best couple of songs from that album and used them to replace the worst couple of tracks from this album. But as is stands, the present one is a still a good album overall.

Recommended, but primarily for the excellent title track

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Just like Marillion, Fish managed to make a great first album on his own. Although I don't find his solo direction as interesting as Marillion's Seasons End the music here is quite enjoyable. Unfortunately this wouldn't hold on for too long since Fish's creativity started to slip on the later releases.

On this debut album he manages to craft an enjoyable set of tracks starting with a complete masterpiece performance on the first track, Vigil In A Wilderness Of Mirrors, which almost made me forget that he ever left Marillion! But just as this debut offers some of the best material that Fish has ever recorded as a solo artist it also gives us few quiet uninspired offerings. I really wish that the quite dull song The Voyeur (I Like To Watch) wasn't on this album and although View From A Hill is not as uninspired I feel that the track goes all over the place and the end result offer me very little pleasure.

After all these mixed reactions and comments I still consider this album to be an excellent release that all fans of the early Marillion albums and Neo-Prog genre will definitely find interesting.

***** star songs: Vigil In A Wilderness Of Mirrors (8:46) The Company (4:07) A Gentleman's Excuse Me (4:20)

**** star songs: Big Wedge (5:25) State Of Mind (4:45) Family Business (5:22) Cliche (7:06)

*** star songs: The Voyeur (I Like To Watch) (4:45) View From A Hill (6:39)

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The first solo album from Fish might please most of the Fish-era Marillion fans. Some of the tunes here are reworked versions of Marillion demos from the Clutching At Straws-era, but the focus has shifted to the lyrics and vocals. The music suffers from it and follows common balladry song structures and rather bland instrumentation. There little room for the band to shine.

A long track like Vigil is at heart a basic verse-chorus pop song that is crammed inbetween a soft intro and outro. It's only because it has so many words that it ended up so long really, but it's an enjoyable tune nevertheless. The Big Wedge and State of Mind however are a certain proof that Fish can't have left Marillion for musical differences. This is material of the same pop level as Marillion was churning out back then. Also The Company and Gentleman's Excuse Me aren't much to get excited about, but for ballads, they are ok. Still, this is very old-school rock music with unimaginative arrangements that hasn't aged really well.

The second half of the album contains some more inspired moments. The lyrics-fuelled energy and conviction of Voyeur and Family Business compensates for the ordinary music. Cliché persuades me most of all, it's a sweeping ballad with some fair melodic guitar leads that builds up to quite a pathetic climax.

There are two reasons why I got me the first 3 Fish albums around 1995. The first being my hope that Fish would have carried on the Marillion flag more convincingly then Marrillion themselves, the second because I didn't know what else to buy... Yes, men can have a shopping compulsion as well! Both reasons proved to be very bad ones. The album is ok in its niche but nowhere near Marillion, if I would have come across this album now instead of 15 years ago, 2 stars would be my verdict.

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars This was Fish's first album released in 1990 after leaving MARILLION in 1988. Considering he was the vocalist for MARILLION for all those years i'm surprised that this album doesn't remind me more of MARILLION than it does. He purposely changed direction, in fact towards the end of his time with MARILLION he was trying to turn the band in a different direction which was rejected thankfully. In fact many of these songs on this album were rejected by the band who didn't want them on a MARILLION album. Again i'm glad the band stood their ground. I have a hard time getting into most of these tracks. I'm also surprised with all the musicians on this album that i've only heard of one, and that is IRON MAIDEN's Janick Gers who guests on one track.

"Vigil" is the longest track closing in on 9 minutes. Lots of atmosphere to open as the reserved vocals join in before a minute.The song starts to kick into gear before 3 minutes as it builds. We even get some pipes and whistles on this one around 5 minutes. "Big Wedge" is uptempo with horns to start before it settles and Fish goes off in his anti-religous rant. Man I don't like the horns on this one or the song for that matter. "State Of Mind" opens with some funky bass as vocals come in in a reserved manner. Some female backing vocals that i'm not into but the mood of the song is laid back and relaxed.

"The Company" is folky with some violin and accordion. "A Gentleman's Excuse Me" is ballad-like with vocals and piano leading. Some strings too. "The Voyeur (I Like To Watch)" is catchy with guitar reminding me of Beck and a good beat. "Family Business" is one of two songs that remind me of MARILLION. It's laid back with Fish singing softer. I like it until it gets fuller. Contrasts continue though. "View From A Hill" is the one with Janick Gers playing guitar. It's mellow with gentle guitar and vocals to start. It does kick in though although contrasts continue. I like it. "Cliche" is melancholic and is the only other track to recall MARILLION. It's laid back with some tasteful guitar that cries out before 3 minutes and later to end it.

Barely 3 stars and not the best of starts to Fish's solo career.

Review by lazland
3 stars Marillion had burned themselves out at the end of the 1980's, and Fish left in a rather bitter exchange with his old pals. They effectively reformed with Steve Hogarth, formerly of The Europeans, and released a blinding LP in Season's End and would go on to release some of the most essential progressive rock of all time (yes, I am biased!).

However, in 1990, I awaited Mr Dick's initial solo outing with a great deal of anticipation, and, looking at the cover today reminds me of how I stared in wonder at the incredible artwork by Mark Wilkinson when I first purchased it on the release date. This, I thought, is going to be great.

I actually don't think that this album represents a huge shift from Fish away from Clutching At Straws, his last effort with his old band. There is a big sense of the commercial mixed with knowing nods to his progressive roots. There are also some bitter political messages, a feature of his writing from the off, most especially here in Big Wedge, the hit single that pokes a fat index finger at the USA style of capitalism.

He also pokes two fingers at his old comrades in The Company, also, at the same time, making further reference to his drinking issues. A catchy, bitter, and symphonic piece, it is a highlight of the album.

The longest track is the opener and title track. Vigil clocks in at over 8.5 minutes, and it is a marvellous way to open a solo career. Atmospheric, proudly Celtic with its pipes, when I first heard this I thought that Fish would become about the biggest rock star on the planet. The perfect fusion of catchy rock and progressive rock, something many other acts were struggling to perfect at the time.

I also love the beautiful ballad A Gentleman's Excuse Me. Set against a background of orchestration and gentle piano, Fish sings at his most delicately powerful and emotional. A stunning track which was a deserved hit single for him.

Not all of it is great. The Voyeur (I Like To Watch) seems to me to be an attempt to recreate the hilarious Incubus from Fugazi, but with a catchier and more commercial feel. It fails on all counts. It is not particularly clever or subtle (whereas Incubus was both), and not, in my opinion, very well performed.

Family Business is a catchy tune, but no more than that, really.

The two closers, View From The Hill and Cliche bring matters back on track. The former shows again just how effective Fish was singing in a delicate manner, with feeling, with superb and thoughtful musical backing. In other words, just as he was at his best with Marillion. It is also a fantastic political polemic. The latter is just a hugely effective and enjoyable slab of neo prog, with poetical lyrics, beautifully sung and brilliantly performed by the band, with exceptional guitars and keyboards adding a huge sound to back Fish.

How to rate this? I actually think that Fishs' best days were way in front of him. He has made a series of excellent albums starting with Raingods With Zippos, and I regard all of them as being artistically superior to this album, and I rate them all as at least four stars.

This is an essential album for those who want to have the complete Marillion related collection. It is also for those who wish to understand and hear where one of the neo prog giants (literally!) went on to form his own career.

For everyone else, this is a very good album, where the pluses outweigh the minuses by far.

Three stars. Recommended.

Review by octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
4 stars I was very disappointed when Fish left Marillion. Clutching At Straws was actually one of my favourite albums and I was sure that his leaving would have caused the end for both. I was wrong, and even if Fish didn't have a very brilliant solo career, things went a bit better for his former band.

On his debut album Fish is joined by his old mate Frank Usher who writes almost all the music and what he did is unexpectedly good.

The opener and title track starts in a very Marillion style, with just a subtle keyboard which gives Derek's voice the possibility to show his skill as interpreter. The song has different sections, in a Genesis (or Marillion) style and even if not at the level of the best Marillion's songs, isn't bad.

"The Wedge" was the album's single and the one with a video-clip on the air. It's rocky and has a brass section that I don't think fits well with Fish. It's effectively one of the two songs that I don't like very much.

Then, after "State of Mind" that's an average good slow song, it starts a great sequence:

"The Company", with the celtic interlude of violins closed by a great guitar solo is the first of the serie. I've just a bit disappointed when during a live Frank actioned a commercial tape recorder to play that part... The second act is "A Gentleman's Excuse Me". A piano based love song with an impressive melodic line. Good to improve the birth rate... I still don't know anything of "The Voyeur". I heard that song only once at the live I was mentioning before. It wasn't on the vinyl edition so it doesn't exist for me. I was surprised to hear the people around me singing it with Fish, while I was thinking to know every sngle note of that album. The sequence is closed by one of the most intense and moving songs that I know. "Family Business" is for me a masterpiece and together with Company and Gentleman makes a fantastic trio of songs.

After this "View From A Hill" sounds just like a filler. and "Cliche'" is quite poor. I'm used to skip that song and I find that also the lirycs are a bit trivial.

If all the album was at the level of these three songs I wouldn't have hesitated in rating it with the maximum. My rating is lowered by Big Wedge and Cliche, but it's a 4 stars in any case. The three songs in the middle can't be missed.

Review by Warthur
4 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 old school 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: it's clear that both sides of the split were keen to explore new musical territory. 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.

That said, if you take it as an art rock album with neo-prog leanings rather than a more purist neo-prog effort, the album comes across better. In some instances it feels like the songs could have been contracted a bit, with Fish drawing out his ideas longer than they can sustain, and it took me a while to warm to lead single Big Wedge, whose brass section is a little cheesy. It's probably intended that way - based on Fish's lyrics it's likely he was 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 I do find it a bit of a speed-bump to my enjoyment of the album.

I guess the high regard this debut is held in by Fish fans is a consequence of three 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 of either his work with Marillion or the superior albums he would release in later ). Secondly, there's the poor reception of the immediately following albums - which didn't follow a radically different direction from this one, but did so less convincingly - which naturally prompted people to look back on this one favourably compared with them.

The third factor is that though taken as a whole the album is quite patchy, some of the original songs on here are great. The Company is perhaps the best moment, a folk-rock anthem with neo-prog leanings and an epic production which is still one of Fish's signature solo songs - and why shouldn't it be, when it's this good? On balance I think I can give the album another half-star on the strength of The Company alone, and the closing trio of Family Business, View From the Hill, and Cliché mean that the album ends on a strong note.

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 fully 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.

Review by J-Man
4 stars After releasing four neo-progressive rock classics with Marillion in the eighties', Fish parted ways with the band in 1988 due to internal struggles and creative differences. Marillion went on to release the excellent Seasons End with new vocalist Steve Hogarth in 1989, and Fish released his debut, Vigil in a Wilderness of Mirrors, the following year; though the album was finished being recorded in mid-1989, it was delayed until early 1990 in order to avoid conflict with Marillion's new record. Whilst neither Seasons End nor Vigil in a Wilderness of Mirrors quite managed to match the magnificence of Marillion's early masterpieces, both were tremendous releases that proved that fans of the band had no reason to lose sleep because of Fish's departure.

Vigil in a Wilderness of Mirrors features nine songs, all of which are composed by Fish with assistance from Mickey Simmonds (who would later collaborate with Camel and Renaissance), Janick Gers (of Iron Maiden fame), or Hal Lindes (best known for his work with Dire Straits) depending on the track. An impressive cast of songwriters for sure, and it definitely shows in the music; although this may be a solo album from a singer, the instruments don't feel like they've taken a backseat to the vocals at all. The music is melodic neo-progressive rock in the vein of early Marillion, but there are a few notable differences. For one, Vigil in a Wilderness of Mirrors comes across as a bit more pop-oriented, especially in a track like "Big Wedge" with its Phil Collins-esque horn arrangements. It's not something I particularly care for, but it's still a decent track. There are also touches of Scottish folk music in "The Company" - something that would be even more prominent on Fish's next record - and a heavily orchestrated ballad in the form of "A Gentleman's Excuse". A truly beautiful song with Fish's trademarked lyrical prowess, this one is a fine example of a sappy ballad done right.

There are also a few more standard sounding neo prog songs like "Vigil" and "Family Business", the latter of which deals with the horrors of domestic violence using some of Fish's most powerful lyrics ever penned. I also love John Giblin's bass guitar contributions to this track - his melodic and soloistic style of playing really adds another dimension to the music. "Cliche" is another big highlight, with its beautiful melodies and excellent lead guitar work making it one of the album's most memorable tracks.

Vigil in a Wilderness of Mirrors might not have too much appeal to Marillion naysayers or newbies to neo-progressive rock, but any fan of the genre is likely to find a lot to enjoy here. With great songwriting, professional musicianship, and tremendous lyrics all delivered through a crystal-clear production, it's tough to not recommend this to any early Marillion fan. Vigil in a Wilderness of Mirrors is a great start to Fish's career as a solo artist and an essential purchase for fans of the man's voice.

Review by Second Life Syndrome
4 stars After Fish left Marillion, he started a solo career. What I find funny about that is the fact that many people who've never heard of Marillion (or even Prog) have heard of Fish. I'm not sure why that is. A co-worker of mine even recommended Fish to me after I showed him Big Big Train, though the connection there is a little hazy.

Anyways, this first solo album from Fish is downright enjoyable to hear. The music is neo- prog-ish, but I think plenty of symphonic elements make their way into the music. The choruses are usually very upbeat and catchy, and you almost get a big band feeling once in a while. There is some great saxophone which I really appreciated, some soothing synth, and (most of all) the amazingly smooth vocals from Fish. Indeed, there is definitely a jazz influence on the entire album. I say this album is enjoyable because that seems to be the best description: It pleasing to the ears, somewhat thought-provoking, and also very relaxing to hear. In other words, there are no hard rock moments here. This is an album you pop in the cd player, and then just sit back and enjoy. No headbanging necessary.

The theme is pretty standard, I must admit. We get to hear about the evils of TV, spousal abuse, war, etc. It seems to be covering all these different cages in which we as humans put ourselves. It is a little scary, especially "The Family Business". Spousal abuse is no joke. No real man would ever hit a woman. While the theme is pretty serious, I do find the lyrics somewhat cheesy. I mean, it would definitely be really difficult to write a non-cheesy song about TV. I understand that. But sometimes Fish just goes for it all regardless of the Velveeta.

"Vigil in a Wilderness of Mirrors" is a great album that I enjoy very much. The music is sublime as are the vox and thematic content. There just happens to be a sprinkling of cheese on top that keeps this strong 4-star album from obtaining a 5-star rating from me.

Latest members reviews

5 stars 1 'Vigil In A Wilderness Of Mirrors' the entrance was yesterday... in 1990, not yesterday a little further ahead; the keyboard, the real Marillionian voice, the only one, long before we say the Fishian voice; a long title a bit a cappella then symphonic, and my preference over the new Harillion whic ... (read more)

Report this review (#2353064) | Posted by alainPP | Monday, April 20, 2020 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I remember entering in a cd shop, and being shocked by the music which was sounding. I didn't know about Fish was left Marillion, and I asked to the guy behind the counter what is this?, and he said "Fish", and I said to me Wow! Was Vigil, and this song is just.... incredible great. And this album i ... (read more)

Report this review (#1092269) | Posted by genbanks | Thursday, December 19, 2013 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Vigil in a Wilderness of Mirrors begins promisingly, seemingly starting where Fish-era Marillion left off with the haunting and dramatic title track that effectively combines personal and political lyrical themes set against some lovely melodic motifs. The other highlight is The Company, an upbea ... (read more)

Report this review (#1090921) | Posted by jmeadow | Monday, December 16, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Here on the hill halfway up halfway down Derek Dick cycle in Marillion was finished, something natural and logical. The work between Fish and his former teammates was impossible, the relationship was unsustainable, personally and musically. It was never the same after that fight between Fish an ... (read more)

Report this review (#993726) | Posted by sinslice | Tuesday, July 9, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars One of the first albums I owned in my life. I was 12 or 13 at the time. I was totally not into the music, that my children my age were into: house, rap, grunge. Instead I jumped the progbandwagon. Starting out with Simple Minds, Saga, Marillion, Queen, Phil Collins; you know, the simple stuff. ... (read more)

Report this review (#907033) | Posted by Kingsnake | Wednesday, February 6, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I do prefer this album to all albums that Fish has made with Marillion, and, at least for a short time, both of them had "won" from his departure. The songs are very strong, be it "Big Wedge" ( a minor hit here in Germany ), "Family Business", the gorgeous "Gentleman's excuse me" or the heart-m ... (read more)

Report this review (#610439) | Posted by rupert | Sunday, January 15, 2012 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Fish breaks out of Marillion and want to get his own identity by not releasing Clutching At Straws # 2. Which is pretty understandable. If not wanting to release Clutching At Straws # 2, where to turn next ? To the radio friendly pop/rock market. Fish voice and in particular; name, should guar ... (read more)

Report this review (#600513) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Saturday, December 31, 2011 | Review Permanlink

3 stars "Vigil In A Wilderness Of Mirrors" is the first solo album by Fish, released in 1990 following his departure from Marillion in the late 1980's. The album cover has artwork by Mark Wilkinson who was also responsible for the Fish-era Marillion covers. Unfortunately, a lot of the complex detail ... (read more)

Report this review (#362081) | Posted by KeepItDark | Thursday, December 23, 2010 | Review Permanlink

3 stars As a big fan of the original Marillion, I have never been able to get into the "new" Marillion or any Fish solo works. I don't know why, but there it is. I find Fish's (Fishes?) voice to get annoying after awhile here, especially on the more poppier tunes such as "Big Wedge", which I just can' ... (read more)

Report this review (#283589) | Posted by mohaveman | Wednesday, May 26, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Solid 4 stars, if not 4.5 Is it a cliché to say "Great album"? Fish's solo debut after his departure from Marillion was a strong, strong start and yet the first step into a story that did not unfold as many would have hoped. As most purists of progressive music agree, the divorce between ... (read more)

Report this review (#233067) | Posted by SentimentalMercenary | Thursday, August 20, 2009 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Some people say that it's a shame Fish left Marillion. However, with this solo career, we now have two great neo-prog bands/artists. Vigil is a great example of that. The line up is much wider than with Marillion, but in this first album the music is very close to Marillion, though a bit more conven ... (read more)

Report this review (#178334) | Posted by Passionist | Monday, July 28, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Great debut album by Fish. This album confirm that Fish is a perfect mix between Gabriel and Collins and a perfect Genesi's vocalist. In merit of "Vigil In A Wilderness Of Mirrors" some songs plays like a Phil Collins solo career songs but more Prog. Others like a Genesis' songs... Other like Ma ... (read more)

Report this review (#132584) | Posted by Ely78 | Friday, August 10, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I really can't find a single mistake on this album. Great music, fine lyrics, and this voice we all love. Title track, The Company, View From A Hill, Family Business and Internal Exile (this one is a bonus track) are the highlights of this album. This is the first solo album of Fish, and it's far ... (read more)

Report this review (#111352) | Posted by Deepslumber | Friday, February 9, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is truly a masterpiece of an album, as the majority of reviewers have already stated. Regardless of whether you like or dislike Fish's work with Marillion, you will love this album. The atmospheric "Vigil" opens with a chilling lyric and is eventually launched into a bagpipe- led march, ac ... (read more)

Report this review (#100539) | Posted by Freak | Sunday, November 26, 2006 | Review Permanlink

3 stars For me FISH without MARILLION never had this power he had with MARILLION, during MARILLION developed very good without FISH. For me this is his best solo album. VIGIL, FAMILY BUSINESS and CLICHE are good Neo-Prog songs and they sound like MARILLION with FISH. VIEW FROM A HILL sounds like MARIL ... (read more)

Report this review (#81440) | Posted by | Sunday, June 18, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This classy album marked the launch of Fish's solo career in some style. Opener Vigil is the most-Marillionesque track on here and then the trademark sounds of his old band are gradually left behind as he explores different musical styles. 'The Company' is a fine drinking anthem and ' A Gentle ... (read more)

Report this review (#48308) | Posted by oldcrow | Sunday, September 25, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Stunning album with stunning lyrics. The title track Vigil remains one of my favourite Fish tracks of all time. The Company is a great song, very bitter and I have yet to find a better lyric than "the company I choose, is solidly singular, totally trustworthy, straight and sincere, polished, ... (read more)

Report this review (#24957) | Posted by | Tuesday, May 17, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Phenomenal debut album by Fish, definitely his best solo effort yet. None of the songs are subpar, but ones that particularly stand out are Vigil and Cliche. For me, Vigil was the real highlight of the album. The song is incredible, complete with an awesome and extremely catchy chorus. ... (read more)

Report this review (#24955) | Posted by | Friday, April 15, 2005 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I was 17 when Fish left Marillion and I was very upset about that. I remember I was listening to their albums the whole week and crying (I was a quite sentimental teenager). Then after one year the Season's end appeared and I was agian dissaponted. I recognized it was the band after a few tone ... (read more)

Report this review (#24954) | Posted by | Monday, March 28, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars VIGIL (despite a few Collins/Gabriel tempation aka Big Wedge and State of MInd) is the best Marillion album since Marillion broke up with his lead singer... Very classy album, just the perfect follow up to CLUTCHING AT STRAWS... NOTE : on the initial album cover Mark Kelly (Marillion keyboardist) ... (read more)

Report this review (#24934) | Posted by | Wednesday, March 17, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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