One of the classic prog albums of the 80's, right up there with Script and Fugazi. For those of us at the time somewhat flummoxed by `Kayleigh', here was a vision darker still than Fish's acerbic bedsit musings.
Wake by name and Wake by nature: listening to the album is rather like reading Baudelaire - grand, heavy with imagery, dark and relentless. As the band play out a series of funereal, gothic landscapes, one has the impression of being caught in a surreal nightmare from which there is no waking up, or of being sat on some demonic carousel. As it moves between pretty pastoral passages and psychedelic punk-outs, the music is by turns frenzied, bruised, brutal, and yet with moments of beauty, frailty and compassion. Anguish, world-weariness, claustrophobia and disorientation are everywhere - this is an extended cry from a consciousness weighed down by more than its fair share of gravity: `even the rain won't fall in a straight line'.
Yet there is ecstasy in the pain: redemption is achieved in turning this anguish into beauty. And in the final bars of closing song `Headlong', jaunty by comparison with what has gone before, there is a sense that there is still the possibility of grabbing hope firmly by the horns, and positively skipping into the future.
I'm not the first to observe that the thin, tinny production does let the album down. Nevertheless its sustained dark, stark brilliance does allow you to get past it. The Wake has aged well, and bears repeated listening over two decades later. If the band are reading this, how about re-recording it? Preferably somewhere that doesn't sound like a large biscuit tin.