Album Of The Week - Fish - A Parley With Angels
Moving from some eighties supergroup work, we come right up to date with the latest EP from the Scottish lyrical master Fish, entitled A Parley With Angels.
A Parley With Angels entwines the work from the upcoming Weltschmerz double album, which will be Fish's last studio work, with live performances of fan favourites. These come from a December 2017 show at the Islington Assembly Hall that I was fortunate enough to attend. The striking artwork comes courtesy of Mark Wilkinson, the artist Fish has worked with for the past thirty-six years, right back to the times of Marillion and Script For A Jester's Tear.
The first of the new songs offered is a six minute story entitled Man With A Stick. It keeps in with the signature Fish sound of a haunting backing and conversational lyrics, littered with fabulous metaphor and personification. There's a brilliant synth-driven musical interlude that sounds as good live as in the studio and this song wouldn't feel out of place on a late-eighties Marillion album in all seriousness. From the lyrical side, the song tells the story of Fish's late father and how he viewed every old man in the same way - "I had taken notes about my feelings in the months after my Dad died as I found it difficult to look at any old man with a walking stick as it kept reminding me of him. I also kept seeing his eyes reflected in the rear view mirror when I was following slow moving cars driven by senior citizens. That was the jump off point to this lyric which is all about our relationships with sticks and how they play different roles throughout our lives as we get older. The rest is I think self explanatory."
In addition, the first epic of Weltschmerz is also featured on the EP - Waverley Steps. According to Fish, there will be another, entitled Rose Of Damascus, although we're yet to hear any of that. Standing at thirteen minutes in length, Waverley Steps features multiple parts and epitomises what's captivating about the prog-rock genre. Fish's wonderfully formed lyrics merge beautifully with the horn backing and overpowering acoustic guitar to create something truly magical. Hearing this live was a fantastic experience. There's really nothing like hearing a thirteen-minute epic live in a venue with only a capacity of 900 people.
A selection of live tracks, such as 13th Star's Circle Line sounds as sinister and evil as it did on the album twelve years ago. It was a welcome addition to close the first part of the 2017 show and really great to hear. The song makes the Tube line it references sound dangerous, yet exciting and the lyrical ability that the big Scot has is beyond belief, in every single song. Furthermore, the inclusion of Voyeur from the Vigil In A Wilderness Of Mirrors LP that celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, was a fantastic opener to the set. It's got the same grunt and attitude that it always has and the somewhat hypnotic organ in the background helps to substantiate the song in droves.
A Parley With Angels combines both proper prog-rock previews with some truly perfect and immersive live tracks, all wrapped up with one of the best, yet most undiscovered live acts that this country has produced. I've loved the works of Fish for many years and this EP only furthers that love. Onwards to Weltschmerz!
More musical magnificence to come next week!