FISH - Sunsets on Empire (Viceroy / Lightyear)

For those of you who think this is the new CD by Phish, it's not. Fish is the ex-lead singer/songwriter for Marillion. When Fish (whose real name is Derek Dick) left the band in 1987, Marillion replaced him with a new lead singer. To longtime fans, however, they were never the same. Fish was more willing to take chances and forged ahead musically, while Marillion evolved into little more than a Journey clone.

On his newest CD, Sunsets on Empire, Fish teamed up with a new collaborator named Steve Wilson. Musically, the new album is a bit different than previous ones. The lyrics are more politically charged, yet they still manage to retain the cinematic imagery of his earlier work. Three of the songs--"The Perception of Johnny Punter," "Jungle Ride" and "What Colour is God?"--feature spoken word sections, which add to the depth and power of the material.

Fish once said that if he were to leave the music business, he would probably write plays or film scripts. Sunsets on Empire is basically just that--a film script, with the musical score already in place. Highlights on the CD include the excellent "Johnny Punter," "Goldfish and Clowns," "Tara" (inspired by Fish's daughter), "Jungle Ride," and the first single "Brother 52" (also included as a video on the CD-ROM portion of the disc). Sunsets on Empire easily ranks along with Fish's best solo material; in some cases, surpassing his previous works.

© 1997 Steve Marshall