Internal Exile


Chocolate Frog Record Company, 1991

REVIEW BY: Duke Egbert


It’s no secret, I suppose, that I kind of like Marillion. They’re the BOGO progressive rock band with two completely different sounds depending on who is handling the lead vocals.

Their first lead vocalist Fish—originally known as Derek William Dick—was a flamboyant, burning presence on their first four albums. We could write an entire column on all the rumours about why Fish quit Marillion, but I’m just not quite that obsessed with them; suffice it to say, in Fish’s own words, “I was an arsehole…” After departing Marillion he began a solo career that, while uneven, was never dull.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

His second solo CD Internal Exile didn’t do well, and I have a pretty decent idea why. Internal feels like a set of cuts from four or five CDs, rather than a coherent whole. That’s not to say there aren’t moments that work; it just means that Fish was still finding his voice as a solo performer.

Now, there are a couple of important considerations to bear in mind when you listen to Fish. The first is that his upper register is… distinctive. He doesn’t sound like Geddy Lee, but it’s likely going to garner the same sort of ‘love it or hate it’ reaction. Secondly, his music is almost always driven, staccato, and almost manic; words like “languid” or “ballad” rarely if ever come to mind.

That said, there are some good tracks on Internal Exile. “Just Good Friends” is a thought-provoking and sweet song about revealing your love for someone; “Lucky” is an excellent snapshot of one man’s life and the choices he makes; and “Internal Exile” is both a condemnation of the United Kingdom’s treatment of Scotland and a celebration of the spirit of that country. (Fish namechecks several Edinburgh locations.)

Some of the tracks don’t succeed, however. “Family Man” is the veritable languid ballad, but fails to evoke any emotion in me. “Credo” covers some of the same ground as “Internal Exile” but less successfully, and “Something In The Air” is an apparent attempt at a dance tune that never should have seen the light of day.

Fish is always interesting, whatever he does. But on Internal Exile, he doesn’t quite get it together. It’s worth checking out, perhaps, but don’t expect brilliance.

Rating: B-

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