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THE FINAL STRAW FOR FISH!!!
on 21 October 2006
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.