Fish - Raingods With Zippos

Year of Release: 1999
Label: Roadrunner
Catalog Number: 8677-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 54:24:00

Fish's latest release, Raingods With Zippos begins with a beautiful piano intro by Mickey Simmons, evoking, not surprisingly, rain. But then the storm kicks in with the meat of "Tumbledown." With an almost tongue twister of a chorus, "Tumbledown" is a poppy tune. And yes, that means that Fish is still in that borderline pop/prog region - but, I'll tell you, he really is more on this side of the line than that - where this is prog. No, not prog in the way his old band used to be long ago, or even in the way Fish was for his first solo. No, this is prog Fish style. Maybe more apparant on the closer of the album, of course. Yes, the songs aren't so far on this side of the line that the songs couldn't make good singles.

"Mission Statement" is a rocker that didn't grab me right away, seeming a bit awkward, the chorus seeming forced into a song. But it's a rollicking rocker, with Hammond giving it a Steve Winwood (in his Traffic days) kind of feel. The joint is jumpin', man.

Then we get the Floyd-eque duet "Incomplete" that is this album's "Just Good Friends," though not nearly as effective. It's Floyd-esque because if you sing the lyrics to "Hey You" to it ... well, almost, ... anyway, its nearly the same arrangement. And then there are hints of "Fish tracks past" - I hear shades of "Cliché," and many other slow tempo Fish ballads. It's not a bad song, and the guest vocalist, Elisabeth Antwi, has a warm, husky voice that is quiet nice.

My favourite track on this disk, however, is the Crosby, Stills and Nash like "Tilted Cross." This is a gentle and lyrical track, with a very sentimental view. It's simply beautiful. Backing vocals are provided by Nicola King, who has a high, light voice ... but not wincingly. I can't really give a sounds like, because her voice is often just underneath Fish's. This should have been (if it wasn't) the single.

The reworked "Faith Healer" is a toss up - sure it rocks hard, the guitars provided by Steve Wilson (Porcupine Tree) and Robin Boult, but I don't know if there really was a need to rework it. Overall, nothing new is brought to it.

I can see that there will be those that keep hoping Fish will return to the territory he staked out with Marillion say, or with his first disk. But why should he? I tell you, what ever groove Fish is in now, with this album, is one I'm going to follow.

"Rights Of Passage" is another slow tempo song, and closes out with a keyboard and string duet that is more characteristic of better New Age releases (I'm thinking of David Lanz, actually; and say the same about the albums opening piano piece, too) than Fish. Not perfect, but nice.

The centerpiece of the album closes it out - the "Plague Of Ghosts" suite. The second track in will make you think of Peter Gabriel, if you didn't already by reading its title. No, it's not really Fish's version of "Digging In The Dirt," though musically there is a similar groove, a little more pumped up.

The whole suite itself is a musical journey, where here, Fish's narrative bits are wholly appropriate. The "Chocolate Frogs" section will take you into the jungle, deep deep into the jungle - okay, now I'm thinking of Conrad's The Heart of Darkness ... hmm ... Odd percussion punctuates "Waving At Stars" - again giving the impression of rain - it sounds very techno (I now see the Wilson influence).

There are some really great moments in this track - "Plague Of Ghosts" - some beautiful and interesting passages throughout, though it isn't perfect. This is the part that will please Fish fans.

I think Fish has a winner here, even if his record label doesn't see fit to promote it. Recommended.

Tumbledown (5:52) / Mission Statement (4:00) / Incomplete (3:44) / Tilted Cross (4:19) / Faith Healer (5:01) / Rites of Passage (7:42) / Plague of Ghosts: i) Old Haunts (3:13) / ii) Digging Deep (6:49) / iii) Chocolate Frogs (4:04) / iv) Waving at Stars (3:12) / v) Raingod's Dancing (4:16) / vi) Wake-up Call (Make It Happen) (3:32)

Fish - vocals
Dave Stewart - drums
Steve Vantiss - bass
Steve Wilson, Robin Boult, Til Paulman, Bruce Watson, and Phil Grieve - guitars
Mickey Simmonds, Tony Turrell, and Mark Daghorn - keyboards, piano, organ, harmonium, and programming
Dave Haswell - percussion
Davey Crichton - strings, fiddle, violin
Nicola King, Tony King, Merlin - backing vocals
Elisabeth Antwi - lead and 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: July 25th 1999
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 1996
Language: english


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