- 01. Circle Line [Dick/Vantsis] (6.04)
- 02. Square Go [Dick/Vantsis] (5.31)
- 03. Miles de Besos [Dick/Paterson] (4.22)
- 04. Zoë 25 [Dick/Vantsis] (5.19)
- 05. Arc of the Curve [Dick/Vantsis] (4.29)
- 06. Manchmal [Dick/Vantsis] (5.42)
- 07. Openwater [Dick/Usher] (5.07)
- 08. Dark Star [Dick/Vantsis] (6.48)
- 09. Where in the World? [Dick/Vantsis] (6.05)
- 10. 13th Star [Dick/Vantsis] (5.41)
Chocolate Frog Record Company Ltd.
Limited Edition release date 6th September 2007. Released to retail 12th February 2008.
The retail release is in an open-ended slipcase with the CD in a jewel case.
CD: 10,000 limited edition in a 3 panel digipak together with a bonus DVD of “The Making of 13th Star” (64 mins). The digipak is provided in a slipcase packaging with a spot-varnished Fish logo and a 20 page full colour booklet all featuring original artwork by Mark Wilkinson.
Double Vinyl Gatefold including reworked artwork (both Dark Star and Angel/Boat designs in different versions) and specially redesigned labels. The discs are high quality 180gm vinyl, the track listing is the same as the CD on sides 1-3 with side 4 made up of live material from on tour – “Circle Line” from the Rome show 2007 with “Dark Star” and “13th Star” from The Amsterdam Paradiso in March 2008. Mastered by Calum Malcolm, limited edition of 2000.
(P) and (C) Chocolate Frog Record Company Ltd. 2007
All songs published by Fishy Music Ltd./Copyright Control 2007
Fish – Voice
Steve Vantsis – Bass, drum loop and programming, samples, upright bass (3), electric guitar (2/4/6/7/8), acoustic guitar (1/4/10), keys (1/2/4/6/8/9/10), clavinet (2)
Frank Usher – Electric guitars, acoustic guitar (3/4/5/9/10), loop guitar (1), lap steel (5)
Foss Paterson – Piano (1/3/4/5), keys (1/2/3/4/6/7/8/9), organ (1/2/3/4/6/7/8/9/10), strings (1/2/3/4/5/8/9/10) music box (4), dulcimer and accordian, samples (10)
Gavin Griffiths – Drums
Chris Johnson – Electric guitars, acoustic guitars (4/5/9)
Lorna Bannon – Backing vocals (3/4/5/6/9/10)
Dave Haswell – Percussion (1/3/4/5/10)
Engineered, mixed and produced by Calum Malcolm
During writing stage:
Engineered by Steve Vantsis
Additional keyboard ideas on ‘Circle Line’ and ‘Arc of the Curve’ by Max Hunt
Recorded at The Studio, Haddington, East Lothian, Scotland
Mastered by Calum Malcolm
A muscular work of ambitious musical construction, the album’s lyrical concept of self-discovery is shaped by romantic loss and Fish’s signature allegorical worldview. ’13th Star’ benefits from Frank Usher and Chris Johnson’s soaring, transcendent fretwork, and a dense instrumental soundtrack built from blocks of progressive rock and British folk and jazz, with symphonic flourishes. As always, though, it’s Fish’s rich, warm voice and unique vision up front, and you either buy into it or you don’t… either way, it’s a hell of a ride. Blurt magazine, July 2008
Riveting, humble, amusing, focused, playful, insightful… all of the things that are increasingly difficult to find in so-called “cutting edge” artists of the day – including those who label themselves as “N.Y.C. bands” in a desperate attempt to market themselves based on what N.Y.C. artists used to be. In the land of skyrocketing real-estate, Starbucks, relaxing 1pm brunch and fat paychecks, what does N.Y.C. know about “edge” anymore? Funny that it takes a veteran Scottish musician to remind us. Our plight plays out like a classic Fish lyric. Sea Of Tranquility (Steve Fleck), July 2008
…the tone of his delivery has the richness of an actor. The half-spoken sections of Square Go are like a movie trailer for the anger and despair to come, and by the time he reaches Arc Of The Curve, the record’s melancholic centrepiece, the melody that emerges from the ravages is both sad and uplifting.
…the defining album of his solo years. Classic Rock (Jon Hotten), March 2008
To my surprise, I consider 13th Star to be a sure bet for my 2008 Top ten album of the year list, and Fish will certainly be my comeback kid of the year. If you got tired of Fish in recent years and stopped purchasing his albums (or considered doing it) ’13th Star’ will certainly make you change your mind. 13th Star gets my highest recommendation indeed. ProgGnosis (Marc Roy), March 2008
Many stars have made divorce albums, but this is different. Fish – 49 year old Scotsman Derek Dick – conceived his eighth solo release as a ‘celebration’ of his forthcoming marriage, but he never made it to the altar.
Consequently, ’13th Star’ developed into a meditation on loss, the emotional resonance of songs such as Arc Of The Curve making this his strongest work since his late ’80s Marillion swansong ‘Clutching At Straws’.
The music is reminiscent of his hero Peter Gabriel, his lyrics, admirably, are free of the bitter recriminations that his ex may have feared. 3/5 Paul Elliott, Q magazine, March 2008
The record contains some of the musical highlights of 2007 – from the opening refrains of ‘Circle Line’ through the heavy riffage of ‘Manchmal’ all the way to the closing beauty of the title track. Planet Rock, February 2008
Fish out of Marillion has finally made an album to eclipse the British rock stalwart’s finer moments and easily the best of his solo career. ‘Square Go’ harnesses the quintessentially Scottish musical aggression to a metal sophistication worthy of his heroes The Sensational Alex Harvey Band. The modern beats and Sabbath style riffing of ‘Manchmal’ establish a confessional dynamic triumphantly realised by the rocking splendour of ‘Openwater’. 13th Star has the quality to be this year’s less than guilty pleasure. Marvellous. 4 out of 5. Colin Somerville, Scotland on Sunday, 10th February 2008
Arc Of The Curve is the brand new single by Caledonian hero Fish. Taken from his superb new album, 13th Star, released on February 11th. Arc Of The Curve is a beautifully crafted, strongly melodic gem that ranks as one of the finest in his twenty-odd year career. Arc Of The Curve is but one of ten songs that comprise 13th Star, his most accomplished solo work so far. In a time when the very nature of the rock album as a viable entity is at threat, 13th Star restates the great man’s faith in the format that best represents his creative output, the songs narrating a unique and highly personalised story that brings new rewards with each successive listen. Plastichead
This is a career best. If you’re new to the big man, forget all that you think you know. Everyone else: this is better than anyone could have expected. Potential fulfilled and then some. I played a couple of tracks to a class of 15 year olds and this had heads nodding and feet tapping. Classic, modern and progressive in the very real sense of the word. The best album I’ve bought in a long time. No contest. Rating: 5 out of 5. jon-dear, 2 January 2008
A motion picture in sound. Much is remarkable about this album, not the least of which is the aural landscape. The sound on 13th Star is remarkable. The placement of instruments in the sound field is a real mindblower. There is a feeling of depth and width and dimensionality. Then there’s the songs.
This is one hell of an album, perhaps Fish’s finest solo release. It’s a 10 song walk through a crisis of the soul, of love, anger, bitterness, despair, and ultimately, hope. Songs such as Circle Line, Zoë 25, Manchmal, and Where In The World tell the tale vividly. Fish intones much of it in a lower register that suits the lyrics very well. The familiar crew of guitarist Frank Usher, bassist Steve Vantsis, keyboardist Foss Paterson, backing vocalist Lorna Bannon, and percussionist Dave Haswell are joined by Karnataka drummer Gavin Griffiths and Mostly Autumn guitarist Chris Johnson, with production by Calum Malcolm of Runrig fame.
It’s a heavy, crunchy, grungy album in spots, yet absolutely beautiful in others. This is a great example of what prog can be – classically dense and exotic, yet totally modern rhythmically. 13th Star is satisfying on every level. Uncle Fish has taken a tale, infused it with a bit of personal tragedy, and recorded it for posterity. A brave album of naked emotion that is a high water mark in an already brilliant career. Progsheet
The longevity of some artists, while others stumble and fall, comes as something as a surprise on occasion. When Fish left Marillion, it was thought that was it – career over. Then came 1989’s Vigil In A Wilderness Of Mirrors quickly followed by Internal Exile, two stunning albums that deserved – and deserve – far more critical success than they achieved, given the trademark introspection and skill in the intricate writing and production of both albums. And it is these attributes that shine most on The Big Fella’s 13th studio album to date, 13th Star.
From the first track – Circle Line – to last, 13th Star, the album has a quality to it that resonates long after the disc has been heard. There genuinely is not a weak track here, but to be picky, the at times overly self-indulgent Where In The World is only very good indeed.
For best tracks, there is a three-way tie between the punchy Arc Of The Curve, the anthemic Square Go and the delightful parable that is Zoë 25 and all of its despair riddled touches.
Co-written with bassist Steve Vantsis, this is easily Fish’s greatest solo achievement to date and has been a long time in coming. Filled with lines that make you ask: “What was that?” and musicianship that quite simply fills the speakers with brilliance, 13th Star is an album to sit very comfortably alongside the very best in Rock and one that improves which each and every listen it’s given. 9/10 Chris High, December 2007
Even before you have removed the CD from the tray ’13th Star’ simply oozes quality. From the lavish packaging and stunning artwork (courtesy of long-time Fish collaborator Mark Wilkinson), you know this is going to be a high quality piece of work. The distinctive production by Calum Malcolm ensures a polished finish and in long serving bassist Steve Vantsis, Fish has discovered the ideal co-writer to help bring his narrative to life. With ten songs across 50-odd minutes this is almost back to an old fashioned “LP” length and there is no “filler” to be found here. Each track has found its rightful place on the album and each track brings its own unique contribution to the end result.
Musically it inhabits a territory somewhere between ‘Clutching At Straws’ and Peter Gabriel’s ‘Up’, and is equal parts light and shade. With the uplifting ‘Arc of The Curve’ Fish offers his most effective love song since ‘Lavender’ and the melancholic ‘Where In The World’ is his most poignant assessment of the events of the past few months:- “This time last year I was in love, this time last year there was a dream”, “Our roles were written, we had our destiny, our lives were meant to be”
Whilst there are some darker moments this is not all loss and despair. Fish describes ’13th Star’ as being about “a journey through life” and there are glimmers of genuine optimism to be found amidst the everyday turmoil of relationship trauma. The bustling ‘Zoë 25’ sees our hero immersed in a world of fairytale and fantasy, lost in the daydream of another life. The biting ‘Manchmal’ is a blend of aggression and control, whilst ‘Openwater’ bounces along with an insistent melody and some soaring guitars courtesy of Frank Usher. Moving towards its climax the mood of betrayal and mistrust becomes apparent and by ‘Dark Star’ there is a sense of heart bursting isolation:- “The fairy falls with broken wings; I hold it close to me and then let it fly, Another dream, another you, shattered splintered shards explode in the blue”
But all is not lost. The inspired title track suggests a moment of clarity, a realisation that the road ahead has become clearer and more defined. A fitting conclusion to a truly outstanding album.
Over the course of his near twenty-year solo career Fish’s fanbase has, like many of his contemporaries, fallen to a ‘core’ number. But for those who have remained loyal the returns have gradually been improving since 1997’s ‘Sunsets On Empire’ right through until 2004’s ‘Field Of Crows’; and yet there has always been a nagging feeling that his best was still to come. With ’13th Star’ Fish has laid down the marker against which his past and future work will now be judged. Quite simply, this is a work of art… and if you want a shorter description then I can think of only one word. Masterpiece. Rating – 9.5/10. Dean Pedley
There are people who will tell you that this is Fish’s best album since ‘Sunsets on Empire’. They’re wrong. There are people who will tell you that it is his best album since ‘Vigil…’ They’re wrong too. It’s his best album since (and possibly even including) ‘Misplaced Childhood’.
Playing that album on the road on the ‘Return to Childhood’ tour has clearly helped. This album holds together better than any other Fish album. The arc is perfect and once you start you want to listen to it from start to finish.
There’s no filler, with every song holding its own and doing its job perfectly. ‘Circle Line’ is a hooky and funky opener. ‘Arc of the Curve’ soars and flies like nothing else and is a perfect midpoint. The trio of ‘Manchmal’, ‘Open Water’ and ‘Dark Star’ are some of the heaviest stuff Fish has ever done and build fabulously and ’13th star’ is an amazingly emotional closer, leaving a tear in the eye and the listener gasping for more as it almost seems to finish half way through a phrase.
Fish seems to have managed that daunting feat of turning his own experiences into an amazing piece of work. As the author Jonathan Carroll said “How many beautiful love songs or poems were a result of someone’s heart being broken or betrayed? How much great work was done as a reaction to specific hurts, a kind of counter punch back at a life that had just socked them in the soul, or at someone or something that cut them off at the knees? Maybe that’s the only real alchemy– turning the dross of horrible, mean or wretched experiences into the real gold of art.”
A brilliant album by a hugely underrated singer. Paul Trotman, October 8th 2007
It would seem that nothing inspires Fish to write some of his best material quite like personal demons; and so it is with 13th Star, far and away Fish’s best album in a decade. The ex-Marillion front man recently went through a rather public breakup with fiancé Heather Findlay from Mostly Autumn and one can’t help but assume that the new album is a direct result of the end of that relationship. Filled with anger, bitterness and regret but also suffused with moments of tenderness in remembering happier times, the big guy opens his heart like he hasn’t done in a very long time.
13th Star is very neatly split between rockers and ballads. The heavier songs contain Fish’s most muscular arrangements since Sunsets on Empire while the ballads are among the very best he’s ever written. Crunchy guitar riffs, sequenced keyboards and spacey interludes are sprinkled into pieces like “Square Go” and opener “Circle Line”. “Square Go” recalls “The Perception of Johnny Punter” in its menace and simple but heavy groove.
“Manchmal”, a song of betrayal, is probably the heaviest cut on the album and calls to mind recent Porcupine Tree. The lyrics are particularly clever here as Fish tells the metaphorical tale of a turtle and a scorpion agreeing to cross a riverbank together before the scorpion stings the turtle just as the pair reach the other side. To make his meaning clear, Fish breaks through the metaphor with: “I can sense you’re going to leave me, I know you’ll break the deal, I’ll drown in my sorrows and I’ll drink at your shrine”.
“Openwater” continues the bitterness with a bluesy infectious heavy rocker that’s almost uplifting… unless you’re paying attention to the desperate lyrics. “Dark Star” is an imposing moody piece of self-recrimination that builds and builds to an awesome Middle Eastern tinged finish. The ballads, likewise, do not disappoint. “Miles de Besos” is a soft jazzy piece that tells of a torrid brief love affair in Chile. “Where in the World” speaks most directly of his recent split with Heather Findlay: “This time last year I was in love, this time last year there was a dream”. The hauntingly vivid “Zoë 25” tells of a pair of tragic figures and each time I hear it, I can’t help but think of Peter Hammill’s “Curtains”.
For many listeners, the true highlight among the ballads will be “Arc of the Curve”. In a different world, this would yield Fish a mainstream hit: wonderful lyrics, a beautiful musical arrangement and also a catchy enough chorus for top forty radio.
The somber title track is equally impressive. As Fish contemplates following the 13th Star, he becomes so emotional that one can hear the singer choke up at one point. Furthermore, it can’t be a coincidence that the opening line begins “with a heart full of sky” because it is the name of the current Mostly Autumn release.
The key to the success of the album is that Fish has aligned himself with a strong writing partner in Steve Vantsis. Vantsis has been Fish’s bass player for 10 years and it’s amazing to think that prior to 13th Star, Vantsis had never written a song with Fish. Calum Malcolm’s production is likewise superb and he manages to get the best vocal performance that Fish has given in years. The entire package is first rate: the limited edition version contains classic Mark Wilkinson artwork. There’s also an informative hour long DVD on the making of the album.
Is 13th Star a “prog rock” album? Who knows and frankly who cares? If you’re looking for long complex songs, look elsewhere. This is, above all, a songwriters’ album. What I do know is that Fish’s new disc will go down as one of his major accomplishments. Welcome back Mr. Dick. My faith in you has been completely restored. Steve Pettengill, October 7th 2007
The pre-order fell through the letterbox on Friday. After being more than impressed by the cover artwork and what is undoubtedly Mark Wilkinson’s finest hour, it was the turn of Fish and I was expectant to say the least. Could it possibly better either Vigil or Sunsets on Empire, my two favourites? Well, to say that I am stunned is an understatement! I sat there, headphones on, being rocked, being moved and looking up at Fish on the pinnacle of his career, within Marillion or out of it. Every song a killer, from the bleak and beautiful Zoë 25, the uplifting anthem that is Arc of the Curve and the gothic, cosmic soundscape of Dark Star. There is no doubt that by the central Manchmal, you are experiencing something dark and angry, with the hope that the final songs of the album will be the reversal, when hope and a chance of escape is revealed. The title track delivers this, like a beautiful gift at its conclusion. I don’t know whether it is because I have a close female friend who has just gone through a hell of a divorce, or that I myself have recently ended a long term relationship, but by the end of 13th star’s initial play, I shed a few tears. Fish has bared his heart and his soul on this album, and I for one am not embarrassed to admit that loss hurts. carterlink, September 12th 2007
13th Star is the Fish album that I’ve waited for since 1988. It’s not that I’ve disliked any of his albums, Plague of Ghosts is one of my favourite prog tracks of all time. So, it’s not that I have a problem with Fish’s output, I was just waiting for this album.
13th Star could be a Fish-era Marillion album for 2007. It hits the intellectual and musical spot just like Script to CAS did, back in the 80s. 13th Star is a more mature work that pulls the experience from previous solo albums and learns from it all. I heard touches of most of the previous solo albums; Vigil in particular.
This new album may very well be Misplaced Adulthood for there is a journey to be undertaken; a journey through Fish’s recent stressful love life (does he actually have it any other way?) to the journey that we’re all making; misguided, unsure, living in a more complex world. Fish cries “I need a navigator” during the track Circle Line, referring to the need for someone to guide us through life, helping us out at certain times. I can relate to that need.
Relating to the lyrics isn’t difficult for me, despite Fish’s peppering of the content with obviously specific references to his recent heartache. Before I received the album I feared that these personal circumstances might separate the listener from the music but the lyrics aren’t like that.
These songs mean so much and every listen reveals new depths. I’ve found, sadly, that artists are at their best when going through their worst and that’s proven again here.
Musically, there’s an improvement over Field of Crows. The music suits Fish’s angst and tempers his vocal style. There are soft moments right where there should be. It feels to me that there are far more shades of emotion in this work.
This album is something very special. With some careful marketing and word of mouth, the retail release deserves much success.
13th Star really has made an impact on me. This is not some starry eyed fan who wants to point score for one of his favourite singers, I really mean it. The Marillion of Script to CAS defined my teenage years. The lyrics meant something. 13th Star is having a similar effect on me now. Given the amount of music I like this is not said lightly. Especially this year with great albums from Rush, Porcupine Tree, the Manics amongst others. Richard Neal, September 10th 2007