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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE FINAL STRAW FOR FISH!!!
Clutching At Straws is Fish's letter of resignation to Marillion. Lyrically you can clearly tell that Fish is going through some inner turmoil. Musically, the band have never sounded so powerful.
The opening salvo of 'Hotel Hobbies/Warm Wet Circles/That Time Of The Night' illustrates the concept of the struggling writer trying to keep the demons of alcoholism at bay...
Published on 21 Oct 2006 by Stotty

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6 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good album, extras poor
Clutching at Straws is probably Marillion's high point. That's not to say there aren't weak points on it - too much of it is Fish wallowing in his own self-pity. It took Pink Floyd more than a decade to reach this state of navel-gazing with The Wall; Marillion managed it less than half that. But there are some brilliant tracks on this album: Incommunicado stands out for...
Published on 12 Jan 2004 by A. Key


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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE FINAL STRAW FOR FISH!!!, 21 Oct 2006
By 
Stotty (Bolton, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Clutching At Straws (Audio CD)
Clutching At Straws is Fish's letter of resignation to Marillion. Lyrically you can clearly tell that Fish is going through some inner turmoil. Musically, the band have never sounded so powerful.
The opening salvo of 'Hotel Hobbies/Warm Wet Circles/That Time Of The Night' illustrates the concept of the struggling writer trying to keep the demons of alcoholism at bay and ultimately failing. It's an awesome opening salvo of vocals and jaw dropping musical ability that leaves the listener quite breathless.
'White Russian' and the prophetic 'The Last Straw', show that Marillion are still quite adept at writing and performing big, show stopping epics, while 'Incommunicado', 'Sugar Mice' and the excellent 'Slainte Mhath', prove that the band were becoming more proficient in terms of delivering accessible, radio friendly tracks without selling out in any way.
Both Fish and Steve Rothery seem to dominate proceedings with some truly outstanding individual performances, and Ian Mosley's drumming is real masterclass stuff at times, especially in the first three tracks and 'White Russian'. Terrific stuff.
Chris Kimsey's production is, once again, right on the money and when you consider that 'Misplaced Childhood' could have been a real millstone around the band's neck, that 'Clutching...' is as strong an album as it is should be viewed as a real achievement.
I'm of the opinion that if Marillion had continued on this path with Fish at the helm, they would be sitting now with the same gravitas and worldwide popularity as Iron Maiden or even U2. As much as I love the Steve Hogarth era albums and fully respect the direction the band now follow, I do find myself returning to the Fish era records and feeling a little sad that the big man had to quit the group in the manner that he did. There's something magical about 1982-1988 Marillion, and when Fish left, I feel he took the cajones with him so to speak.
Having said all that, he left one hell of a legacy and a fantastic back catalogue, of which 'Clutching At Straws' is one hell of an addition.
Shame about the cover though. Otherwise, absolutely marvellous.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great drinking album!, 9 Oct 2008
This review is from: Clutching At Straws (Audio CD)
Despite its strong theme of alcohol misuse running throughout, this melodic, deep and moving record actually lends itself well to a listen last thing at night with a good single malt in hand!

One or two tracks just don't fit. These will stand out to you and you'll skip them. The rest is pure genius; timeless, and accomplished. A great album, with a surprisingly 'light' yet technically brilliant and intricate sound.

This album should never be confined to history. Fish and the boys did good here.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars best fish era marillion album, 14 Oct 2005
By 
max222 (Surrey, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Clutching At Straws (Audio CD)
This is my favourite Fish era Marillion album. It betters even the superb Misplaced Childhood - and that's saying something -with the first 3 tracks, Hotel Hobbies, Warm Wet Circles and At That Time of the Night being the high points for me. Oh - and Sugar Mice of course. A concept album about drinking, heavy drinking that is and really being a bit depressed. The one track that doesnt fit in for me is Incommunicado - which is all a bit too upbeat and fast for the rest of the album - it feels tacked on as a single - and indeed it was the first single.
The real gems here - and here I must disagree with a previous reviewer - are the bonus CD outakes and demos which would have become the next Marillion album had not Fish and the band split. Tic Tac Toe (which was used for the basis of The Release on the first post Fish Marillion album, Seasons End and also on State of Mind on Fish's 1st album, Vigil in a Wilderness of Mirrors) is a superb song - better than either of the 2 subsequent versions, esp the Fish solo one. Voice in the Crowd is wonderful too, very moving - poor quality sound though which is not surprising as these tapes had been sitting around for years. Exile on Princes Street is another song reused by Fish, this time on Internal Exile the title track of his 2nd solo album. Better sound quality on this one. Again far better, far more melodic and emotional - rather than the horribly folky jig track it eventually became. And there are several other excellent demos too on this bonus disc. All of which seem to indicate the next album was coming along nicely and would have been perhaps just as good as Misplaced Childhood and Clutching At Straws. A real shame it never happened. And finally you also get Tux On - a b side of the era which is another good track. After this album Marillion found Steve Hogarth and became somewhat of a different though still excellent band - more Pink Floydy perhaps and Fish despite some nice moments - Raingods with Zippos - never quite captured his past glories.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Marinated!!, 13 May 2008
By 
C. O'toole "bigcon" (co. down N ireland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Clutching At Straws (Audio CD)
Marillion have always been a grossly underrated band, always at the soft metal end of the scale, their prog rock influence is evident. They are good solid backing musicians to be sure but like Queen need a showman to give them a drive and direction. That showman they had in Fish This cracker is Fish's swansong with the band and is living proof that the man is a poet and a troubadore if there ever was one! His growling impassioned Sottish accent is everywhere, the lyrics are verbose verging on stupendous" I seen teenage girls like gawdy moths..." "..feigning casual silence in strained romantic interludes.." The man isn't short of a word or two. The whole album is suffused with alcohol from the pub theme of the cover through multiple references in the songs " till the barman wipes away the warm wet circles.." " sweating out a happy hour.." Our hero Torch is warned by his doctor "Continue this lifestyle and you won't reach 30!" The album is lyrically so rich that it be on the syllabus for English GCSE. Stand out tracks include "warm wet circles" "at that time of the night" "white Russian" "incommunicado" a song which proves Marillion aren't without a sense of humour with hilarious video as Fish spills drink over a talk show hostThe hit single "Sugar Mice" is also here"if you want my address it's number one at the end of the bar..". The absolute cracker in my mind are "Torch Song" a lovely languid guitar line whichs opens with the magnificent"Read some Kerouac and it put be on the track to burn a little brighter now.." "Slainte Mhaith" is so Scottish it deserves to be in a banquet scene in Highlander "trapped in the indecision of another fine menu.." Fish though technically not as good a singer as Steve Hogarth is more impassioned and is an amiable drunk of a man but has a fearsome passion, a bite like a be tartaned were wolf. That is not to say that Hogarth didn't get there, it just took a few albums to get into his stride. This album I would put up there with "Dark Side of the Moon" or even "Seargant Pepper"...from your local boozer!
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The lyrics are sheer pop music genius., 18 Sep 2000
By 
This review is from: Clutching At Straws (Audio CD)
Listen to this album from 1987 and you will realise that it is by one of the most misunderstood and hence underrated bands that have ever been. The brilliant and thoughtful mind of their then lead singer, the enigmatic Fish, produces a masterpiece of songwriting that combines poetic skill with some of the deepest lyrics to any songs you will ever hear. Fish's fine vocals are accompanied by the band's particularly good musicianship to make this an album which just has to be in the collection of any person with a heart and a soul. The band's influence on such modern acts as Radiohead and The Manic Street Preachers is often ignored or dismissed but one only need read the lyrics on this album to find it's pretty obvious.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Concept and exectuion on the highest level., 9 July 2001
This review is from: Clutching At Straws (Audio CD)
OK I'll confess, I didn't much like this band at 1st. As a Gabriel Genesis fan, I was among their detractors who saw them as a modern clone. Secretly, I quite liked Market Sqaure Heroes, He Knows You Know and Grendel
But then I heard Clutching at Straws. My, what an album. Again, losely concept in nature (see also Pornografitti), about a slowly dieing alcoholic and the trappings of fame (would that be you at the time, Fish?), it's another example of concept and exectuion on the highest level. Emotional, bleak, bitter, sensitive & moving, this is the band's finest hour. Ironically, their last as the original line up too.
"Hotel Hobbies" drifts into your head as a gradual fade in, and sets the scene perfectly with noodley bass as night becomes day, with references to hookers, bell boys, cocaine and whiskey. Fish's voice builds in volume and angst through the 2nd verse as we approach the 1st guitar highlight of the album. Steve Rothery's guitar rips into the 1st solo with a dive bomb on the low E string using his whammy bar, before firing off ascending high notes that have the hairs on your skin standing up.
"Hotel Hobbies" is actually part of a 3 song suite, and segues nicely into "Warm Wet Circles" with it's beautiful twangy Chorus enhanced arpreggio riff (2nd guitar highlight). More fabulous metaphor and allusion from Fish as the suite moves into it's final 3rd, "That Time of the Night (The Short Straw)", with gently pumping bass and atmospheric keys. The song builds to a crescendo with Fish bellowing out "Warm Wet Circles!", before leaving the female guest vocalist to repeat the sames words as Steve Rothery plays a series of suspended 4th chords (again, Chorus enhanced ) that sound simply awesome (3rd guitar highlight).
4th guitar highlight comes later on the album with the tastey plucking, chords and FX towards the end of "White Russian". The displayed chords that make up the riff to "Torch Song" are the 5th guitar highlight, leaving only (only?!?!) the superb excercise in control and sustain that is the solo on "Sugar Mice" to complete a sextuplet of guitar Godness.
As a result of this album, I bought their double live (with the phenomenal version of "Fugazi" on it) and discovered the rest of the best of this fantastic prog rock group. Thank you.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Revisiting British rock's forgotten sons, 14 Jan 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Clutching At Straws (Audio CD)
As a virginal, buck-toothed adolescent I was introduced to rock music by Marillion and for a couple of years I listened to little else. Then I left school, left all that nonsense behind me and immersed myself in grunge, hip-hop and all manner of other abrasive noises. Recently, in my late twenties, a combination of nostalgia and the pitiful state of the current rock world (if Limp Bizkit and Coldplay represent the two extremes of it then we're in dire need of some natural disasters - both bands are equally bland and pointless) has seen me dig out those old shoe boxes full of CDs and revisit some of the gems.
In a rash moment about 5 years ago I gave 'Clutching at Straws' away so I had to buy it again in this version. Until Misplaced Childhood Marillion were nothing special. That album was a sort of self-reflective (and indulgent) opera that must have had their record company predicting their impending demise, but which was ironically their biggest commercial success. I see that album as a prologue to Clutching at Straws, a much more intelligent exercise in demon exorcism. Fish's lyrics could often be too heavy in their use of imagery which makes them seem pretentious when alalysed in detail but what they do masterfully is create a slightly drunken and sombre mood in which morose reflection cannot be avioded. Listening to Warm Wet Circles you can't help but place yourself in some God-awful 80s underground wine bar on a suburban high street (probably exactly the location it was written) drinking heavily and remembering old girlfriends. Fish was openly exposing his fears and failures on record with angst-fuelled sincerity long before Kurt Cobain and Eddie Vedder were praised for giving the world the same thing.
Musically, Marillion were the perfect keyboard-five-piece. They had a democracy which allowed everything to be as loud as everything else. Nobody in rock used keyboards in as clever a fashion, rather than have them simply playing chords, they had equal pegging with the guitars and on many tracks played the hook while the guitars created moods in the background. The band provided huge and brooding screenplays to compliment Fish's script.
Neither Fish's solo work nor post-Fish Marillion could match Clutching at Straws which is borne out on the 2nd CD on this record which shows that the best bits from Fish's first solo album and from Steve Hogarth's first album with the band came from the bits that weren't good enough to go on Clutching at Straws. Without Fish Marillion were still as good at making music but without his voice they just didn't say anything that anyone wanted to hear. Whilst without the band, Fish's lyrics went out uncensored and without a vehicle large enough to carry them.
Clutching at Straws is not a feel-good record (despite the inclusion of the up-beat boogie of Incommunicado) and will not appeal to everyone but it's a masterpiece of booze sodden despair and the perfect soundtrack for those nights where you want nothing more than to sit, drink and mope.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best, 9 April 2003
This review is from: Clutching At Straws (Audio CD)
Quite simply a stunning album. Every track stands up to repeated listening, from the opening bars of "Hotel Hobbies" right through to "The Last Straw". "Torch Song" and "At That Time of the Night" stand out for me personally - both songs touch me in a very emotional way. Lyrically and melodically Marillion were never better than here.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Old Rocker, 22 Nov 2011
By 
P. J. Davies - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Clutching At Straws (Audio CD)
This album takes me back a few years and is great to listen to whilst driving. I find myself singing along and it keeps me alert on long journeys. And amuses other drivers to see me howling along
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The pinnacle of the fish-era, 30 Sep 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Clutching At Straws (Audio CD)
From start to finish, this album is just the most melodic, moving and passionate music that the band ever recorded with fish at the helm. Stand out tracks are 'At that time of the night', 'Just for the record' and 'Slainthe Mhath'(the best one in my opinion). The bonus disc is also outstanding as you get to hear very early versions of what were to become 'seasons end','berlin','king of the sunset town' and 'the bell in the sea' all of course with Fish doing the vocals. This album is a gem which you'll never tire of. Just buy it right now!
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