Reviewed by Plamen on 08 Mar 2002
’Clutching at Straws’ is the last album of Marillion with Fish. After the phenomenal success of Misplaced Childhood the people from ‘Charisma Music’ (a subsidiary of EMI) have placed a request to the band – to record next album – copy of the previous and the most important – to do it immediately. This is a very delicate moment of Marillion’s history when the five have to decide which way of their musical growth to take – the commercial one or to stay in the Prog-rock. The result is not late – Fish announced in the end of 86 they are starting to work on a new conceptual album dedicated to the alcoholism. Already having a status of stars Marillion could afford to hire the producer Chris Kimsey and to entrust the recording of the album to Nick Davis – two of the greatest names of the showbizz of that time.
Today we already know that ‘Clutching at Straw’ achieved the status of the one of the most successful albums in the Marillion works and compositions as Warm Wet Circles, White Russian and Slainte Mhath are engraved with golden letters in the every fan collection. The album is raw and direct and the romanticism from the previous years is changed with realism.
But still the comparison with Genesis goes on. When the band releases the single ‘Incommunicado’ the authoritative Melody Maker publish a review in which is announced that Rutherford and Banks are co-authors of the composition. This definitely drives Fish mad and in an emotional interview along with the denial of this lie he talks also for problems and tension between the five members.
Too soon after that follows the break off. After one of the gigs Steve Rothery asks ironically Fish: ‘ Are you really a vocalist of a Prog-rock band or a jester enjoying the audience with incomprehensive lyrics?’ And if you know the temper of the “Big Scottish’ you will admit this is big enough for a scandal and parting.
For many of us – the real fans of the band – ‘Clutching at Straw’ is the swan song of Marillion and after that the myth has gone. If there is somebody who doesn’t have this album in its collection it is time to catch up for ‘The Last Straw”…