Weltschmerz – German noun meaning “a feeling of melancholy and world weariness.”
Fish – Weltschmerz (Chocolate Frog Records)
Release Date 25 September 2020
Words: Robert Adams
“This is my defining statement. I knew that I couldn’t do anything more in music.
“It’s time to walk away. The pandemic has taught me that I need to take the rhythm of my life right down.
“That’s why Weltschmerz is the perfect ending to it all.” (Fish 2020)
‘Weltschmerz’ is Fish’s final studio album and closes a recording career going back almost 40 years and what a way to bow out!
This is arguably the big Scot’s finest album!!
This album is bittersweet in so many ways, lyrically smart, powerful and musically wonderful. There is always the thought, at the back of your mind as you listen to this album, that this will be the last time we will get to hear a new Fish album.
In the seven years since Fish’s last studio album, 2013’s ‘A Feast Of Consequences’, the big man has been put through the wringer.
The death of his father, his mother’s deteriorating health and moving into his home with Fish and his wife Simone being primary carers. Add to that a bout or two of sepsis that almost killed him, Trump becoming president, Brexit and the ensuing uncertainty surrounding that , only for coronavirus to then put the planet on hold.
It is entirely understandable why ‘Weltschmerz’ isn’t an album of party tunes.
A rather ominous tone, followed by Fish talking quietly, leads us into album opener ‘Grace Of God’.
This is really a track of two halves, with a tempo change halfway through as Fish tells us how lucky he has been: “There by the grace of God go I.” It is a splendid opener.
The backing vocals from Doris Brendel compliment Fish’s vocals perfectly.
Next up we have ‘Man With A Stick’ and if you have the ‘A Parley With Angels’ EP, you will find that the only difference to the version found on that is a brighter mix.
‘Walking On Eggshells’ starts with a beautifully strummed intro from Robin Boult on 12 string guitar, before Fish delves into the subject of relationships.
This is obviously a very personal song, as the big man is baring his emotional soul here.
Fish told MetalTalk: “I’m involved in all of them and I didn’t realise that until I sang them in the studio. There’s a lot of self-examination going on here, and I learned a great deal about myself in the making of this album.”
Current single ‘This Party’s Over’ has a jaunty ceilidh (Not Kayleigh!!) rhythm which reminds you of ‘Internal Exile’ or ‘The Company’ and with the lyrics Fish tackles his relationship with alcohol.
The sprawling epic that is ‘Rose Of Damascus’ closes disc one. Clocking in at over 15 minutes long, this track has many musical twists and turns and includes a few spoken word passages. It may be a tad overlong, but it is still a great song.
The heartbreaking ‘Garden Of Remembrance’ leads us into disc two and I defy anyone not to be touched by this poignant story of Alzheimer’s – a husband who is “Lost between the here and now/Somewhere that he can’t be found” and his wife. The track has a contribution by Lonely Robot’s John Mitchell.
The accompanying video is just stunning. This track is one of the many highlights for me on this album.
‘C Song (The Trondeihm Waltz)’ does exactly what it says on the tin! It’s a waltz in the key of C.
‘Little Man What Now’ tackles the emotional subject of death and is presented with a lightness of touch and oozes class. There is a gorgeous sax solo from Van De Graff Generator’s David Jackson and Doris Brendel again provides sumptuous backing vocals.
Penultimate track ‘Waverley Steps (End Of The Line)’ is the album’s other epic track and this time not a second is wasted.
This is how you do epic.
Title track ‘Weltschmerz’ closes proceedings, with Fish proclaiming that he is “a grey bearded warrior, a poet of no mean acclaim, my words are my weapons that I proffer with disdain.”
This track is up there vying with ‘Garden Of Remembrance’ and ‘Little Man What Now’ as my favourite on the album.
There we have it – Fish’s last ever studio album and he really could not have made a better album to draw the curtain on his recording career.
I would like to take this opportunity to personally thank Fish for almost 40 years of glorious music, thoughtful, insightful lyrics and for making a young, fledgling music journalist feel at ease during his first major interview before his gig at Glasgow’s Cathouse on his ‘Internal Exile’ tour!
Then taking me to the pub across the street for a few sherbets after soundcheck and telling more stories.
Fast forward a few years and he remembered that young journalist at his gig at The Mean Fiddler in Harlesden.
He thanked me afterwards for not dropping him in it by publishing the pub tales!
That sums up Fish for me – not only one of the finest lyricists of his generation and a consummate performer, but a true gentleman as well.
A very happy retirement when it finally arrives.
May your garden be forever bountiful and I can’t wait to read your promised autobiography. Thank you again!
The Grace Of God
Man With A Stick
Walking On Eggshells
This Party’s Over
Rose Of Damascus
Garden Of Remembrance
C Song (The Trondheim Waltz)
Little Man What Now
Waverley Steps (The End Of The Line)
Deluxe Edition featuring 100 page hardback book, digital download, 2 x CD, 1 x Blu Ray with 5.1 mix, interviews and promo videos
All formats available EXCLUSIVELY from www.fishmusic.scot