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Matthew Fisher : 'Matthew Fisher'

Reviewed by Joe Viglione, All Music Guide

Procol Harum meets the Zombies in the future is what this exquisite album is about, sort of, and third time's a charm for the former keyboard player for Procol Harum. The opening track, Can't You Feel My Love, has melodies from Neil Young's Only Love Can Break Your Heart inside the keyboard lines, but it works, as does Back in Your Arms Again, which has a melody straight out of the adult contemporary world of country singer Ronnie Milsap, and just as much heartache. In fact, the entire side one and much of side two is about lost love, so much so one wonders if Matthew Fisher was going through some intensely personal time when these songs were written.

Only a Game expounds upon the theme even more, looking for an excuse. This is material that would have flown in the face of Procol Harum songwriters Gary Brooker and Keith Reid, or even the spacy guitar sounds of Robin Trower's Twice Removed From Yesterday album, which Fisher produced seven years prior to this, but of all the Procol Harum and Zombies graduates, this recording is arguably the most cohesive and solid pop outing, eclipsing even some of Colin Blunstone's fine work as far as a full-LP's worth of material goes.

Why'd I Have to Fall in Love With You is really superb, ending side one with a long fade and a broken heart. Unlike Spooky Tooth's Gary Wright and another '70s keyboard artist, Michael Quatro, Matthew Fisher works on creating a very polished pop to start the '80s without the progressive nature those two artists found so inviting. Certainly the temptation to go that route was there, as indulged by this album's session guitarist, Argent's John Verity, four years after this with his Interrupted Journey album. While both Wright and Quatro got serious, putting Keith Emerson-style ideas into commercial settings, Matthew Fisher successfully makes this a singer/songwriter project. The ballad Anna is just tremendous, where the album's only co-write, Looking for Shelter, doesn't have as much drama or feel. Anna is very beautiful and very touching, while Running From Your Love brings back the art rock format the artist is known so well for. Here, though, it is infused with his discovery of pop. It was six years since his I'll Be There LP on RCA and seven since the acclaimed solo début, Journey's End. Matthew Fisher, the album, is the work of a mature artist and fantastic record producer at the peak of his powers and should have brought him into the Top 40 mainstream.

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Matthew Fisher on CD

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