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Fish – Songs From The Mirror reissue review

Fish performs his own collection of pin-ups.

Even Fish concedes that this 1993 collection of cover songs – and his third solo album – is sometimes viewed through the telescope of history as some sort of aberration, or a project designed to fulfil his contractual obligation to his Polydor label and their two-album deal. Which, considering that Fish was keen for Polydor to renew their contract with his band, seems at odds with the idea that this was to be his final kiss-off to working for a major label.

Surmise all you like (Fish’s always-rich liner notes admit to needing the cash – a familiar trope for Fish, it seems – and the desire to keep his supremely able band in work and on the road), but the singer’s take on the songs he performed to his own reflection as a budding performer between 1970 and 1976 are not without their charms, but this particular writer can remember scratching his own head in bemusement when this was announced as the follow-up to 1991’s much admired Internal Exile.

As with all Chocolate Frog reissues – lovingly repurposed to the maker’s satisfaction – Songs From The Mirror is a detailed snapshot of a moment in time. The original disc – especially good in the growling Boston Tea Party (Fish could do a neat sideline in an Alex Harvey tribute band should the mood take him), and his jubilant reading of Argent’s Hold Your Head Up, are accompanied by a disc of demos and a selection of live takes including Faithhealer from 2008 and an acoustic tear-through of Roadhouse Blues.

The DVD that makes up disc three is a cinematic look back at the whys and wherefores (no one does self-reflection and analysis quite like Fish) of the material and the mindset that led the singer to attempt to ape his hero David Bowie and pin his own icons to the wall. As he admits, he needed to go back to those songs and moments to remind himself why he’d started down this musical road so long ago, so he might learn to conjure up his own magic all over again.