Fish - Sunsets On Empire

Year of Release: 1997
Label: Viceroy/Lightyear
Catalog Number: 54197-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 59:06:00

Beginning with the low, funky guitar intro of "The Perception of Johnny Punter", Fish's Sunsets On Empire gets off to a rocking start. This is probably the best Fish album since his solo debut, Vigil. There some weaknesses to this album, of course - mainly the spoken word interludes of some of the tracks. Where it's effective on "Brother 52", it is distracting on "Johnny Punter" and "Jungle Ride." Fish has always been a lyricist who could say or express a whole volumn of meaning in a simple turn of phrase. So, the spoken word section of "Johnny Punter," where Fish muses on the Bosnia situation, seems overly verbose.

Equally, and perhaps even more so, distracting is the rap in the middle of "What Colour Is God" - a song that would have worked just as well, if not better, without it.

Okay, so what's right about this album, then? It rocks when it should, and is poignant when it needs to be. Contrasted with the rockier tracks, are the more gentle "Tara" (for his daughter, naturally), "Goldfish and Clowns" and the closer, "Say It With Flowers."

The title track is big and epic - a slow, smoldering number, building slowly and falling somewhere in between rock, blues, and country - think more Eagles than Garth Brooks. There is, appropriately enough, the sense of riding off into the sunset, nothing but a cloud streaked orange sky, scattered cacti, a few curious desert critters around.

Fish has never been one to shy away from political issues and this disc is no exception. In fact, it might be said that nearly every song is making a polictical statement of some sort. With Johnny Punter it's Bosnia, with "Goldfish" it's a more general "state of the world," and so on. The subject of and in "Brother 52" might just be the most controversial issue that Fish has commented on - and one with many layers. And, it just may be the best song on the album compositionally, whether or not your agree to the politics of it. At the heart of the issue is the right of American citizens to own weapons and the government's desire to control that right, and the lengths that either side may go to. Pointers might be Waco, Ruby Ridge, etc., and the incident related in the song.

For those with a CD-ROM player, there is a added video bonus - "Brother 52"

The Perception of Johnny Punter (8:37) / Goldfish & Clowns (6:36) / Change Of Heart (3:41) / What Colour Is God? (5:50) / Tara (5:12) / Jungle Ride (7:34) / Worm In A Bottle (6:24) / Brother 52 (6:03) / Sunsets On Empire (6:54) / Say It With Flowers (4:15)

Fish - lead vocals
Steve Wilson - guitars and keyboards
Foss Patterson - Hammond, piano, keyboards, backing vocals
Ewen Vernal - bass
Dave Stewart - drums
Robin Boult - guitars
Frank Usher - guitars
Dave Haswell - percussion
Chris Gaugh - cello
Brain Hale - violin
Marytn Bennett - violin
Terence Jones - French horn
Fraser Spiers - harmonica
Doc - voice (8)
Lorna Bannon, Katherine Garrett, Don Jack, Chris Thomson, Annie McCraig - backing vocals

Vigil In A Wilderness of Mirrors (1990)
Internal Exile (1991)
Songs From The Mirror (1992)
There's A Guy Works Down The Chip Shop
?Swears He's Fish
Toiling In The Reeperbahn (1993)**
Derek Dick And His Amazing Electric Bear (1993)**
Pigpens Birthday (1993)**
Uncle Fish & The Crypt Creepers (1993)**
For Whom The Bells Toll(1993)**
The Funny Farm Project - Outpatients '93 (1993)***
Suits (1994)
Sushi (1994)**
Acoustic Session (1994)**
Yin and Yang (1995)
Fish Head Curry (1996)**
Krakow (1996)
Sunsets On Empire (1997)
Kettle Of Fish (1998)
Fortunes Of War Acoustic Set UK '94 (1998)
Tales From The Big Bus (Live From K?ln 1997) (1998)
Haddington Corn Exchange 1998 (1999)
The Complete BBC Sessions (1999)
Raingods With Zippos (1999)
Candlelight In Fog (USA 2000) (2000)
Fellini Days (2001)
Sashimi (Live In Poznan, Poland 1999) (2001)
Fellini Nights (2002)
Mixed Company (2003)
Field Of Crows (2004)
Bouillabaisse - The Best Of Fish (2005)
Return To Childhood (2006)
Communion (2007)
13th Star (2007)
A Feast Of Consequence (2013)
The Moveable Feast - European Tour 2013-2015 (2016)
Farewell To Childhood - Live In Europe 2015-2016 (2017)

NEARFest - Fish Live In The USA (2009)
Leamington Spa - Sunday October 21st (2013)
Fishheads Club Live (2013)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin UK

Added: May 1st 1998
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 2165
Language: english


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