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Fish: Reissues

Mid-period albums get the multi-disc, remastered and expanded treatment.

Fish Sunsets On Empire album cover

Fish had long moved beyond Marillion’s shadow by the time of 1997’s Sunsets On Empire (610), and though he’d started strongly with his excellent debut Vigil In A Wilderness Of Mirrors six years before, Sunsets, even with the help of an impossibly fresh-faced Steven Wilson, sounded out of step.

It was a harder-hitting proposition with less of Fish’s garrulous charm, though his extensive and excellent liner notes don’t shy away from the circumstances that might have led to its occasional missteps.

Not so 1999’s Raingods With Zippos (810). Wilson was still on board and though Fish was struggling to keep the financial side of his empire afloat, art really did come out of adversity. Ambitious in scope – check out the sprawling Plague Of Ghosts suite of songs – it remains a landmark release for the one-time 15-stone first-footer.

Fellini Days (710) still divides fans. Its flat production didn’t help, nor did songs like the questionable Tiki 4, but the remastering has bolstered the sound and time’s been more than kind to 3D, Long Cold Day and The Pilgrim’s Address. Meanwhile, the packaging, essays, demos and live versions of the songs have brought all three albums back into startling and sharp relief.

Philip Wilding is a novelist, journalist, scriptwriter, biographer and radio producer. As a young journalist he criss-crossed most of the United States with bands like Motley Crue, Kiss and Poison (think the Almost Famous movie but with more hairspray). More latterly, he’s sat down to chat with bands like the slightly more erudite Manic Street Preachers, Afghan Whigs, Rush and Marillion. He ghosted Carl Barat’s acclaimed autobiography, Threepenny Memoir, and helped launch the BBC 6 Music network as producer and co-presenter on the Phill Jupitus Breakfast Show. Five years later he and Jupitus fronted the hugely popular Perfect 10 podcast and live shows. His debut novel, Cross Country Murder Song, was described, variously, as ‘sophisticated and compelling’ and ‘like a worm inside my brain’. His latest novel The Death And Life Of Red Henley is out now.