Mercury 1979, 1981 / Angel Air 2018
Pilgrim’s progress to the pastures of pop in pursuit of pleasure as opposed to pomp and circumstance.
Solo career has never been Matthew Fisher‘s priority. He issued two albums between quitting PROCOL HARUM and producing Robin Trower, and it took the ivories’ driver a few more years before another two records came to fruition to lead him further away from art-rock expectations. Virtuoso as his fellow keyboard players, albeit without their show-defining flash, Fisher – unlike most of them – possesses a strong, soulful voice and, with regards to simpler demands of late ’70s – early ’80s, based these releases around memorable songs. There are vestiges of prog grandeur in the orchestral passages of “Strange Days” – a rather eclectic LP’s titular finale – and in the familiar organ of the eponymous album’s opener “Can’t You Feel My Love” yet it’s invigorating pop tunes that move Matthew’s oeuvre beyond the pale.
While “Running From Your Love” and “Why’d I Have To Fall In Love With You?” marry deep drama to the strings-drenched easy listening, “Miss Suzie” is playful in a Big Pink way, whereas “Looking For Shelter” knocks on Dylan’s door with panache and female choir to stress its humorous preaching. On a serious note, “Just How Blind” and “Back In Your Arms Again” are honeyed ballads using Bach for a background, but “Give It A Try” – whose sarcasm rides irresistible riffs and catchy chorus – could have found a faithful following had it been taken to the dancefloor, with Tim Renwick’s licks for a glitterball. Moving on with the times, “Something I Should Have Known” has synthesizers and vocal effects outlining emotional alienation, leaving it to piano to warm the sax-spiced “Living In A Dream” and to drums to propel “Only Yourself To Blame” towards sweet pity. As a result, the joyous “Desperate Measures” would create external contrast and internal paradox, demonstrating Fisher’s multi-instrumental talents en route to paradise of “Can’t Stop Loving You Now” and “She Makes Me Feel” which might signal Matthew’s comeback to erstwhile classicism. It might… if only he didn’t abandon music and become a computer programmer.
It would take him another decade and a new stint with his old band to deliver "A Salty Dog Returns" that is possibly the veteran’s last-ever offering, because, again, solo career has never been Matthew Fisher’s priority, yet his records didn’t lose an iota of their delight.