New Albums by Fish and Rory Gallagher Satisfy Those Hearts Craving Man Music

Album covers for ‘13th Star 2023 Remix’ by Fish and ‘All Around Man’ by Rory Gallagher. (Composite image credit: Official Fish website, Rory Gallagher website

Oftentimes, the best new music isn’t new, in and of itself but new to our ears. With this as our mantra, we take a look at two new releases of music from 16 years (“13th Star” by Fish) and 33 years (“All Around Man” by Rory Gallagher) ago, respectively, yet as fresh and vital now as they were when first created.


We start with “13th Star.” First released to singer Fish’s existing fans only in 2007, with a general release the following year, the new remixed version possesses a somewhat brighter sound than the original. What has not changed is the album’s raw power.

Fish, who first came to public attention as progressive rockers Marillion’s lead singer in the early to mid-1980s before going solo, devoted his final three albums (“13th Star,” 2013’s “A Feast of Consequences,” and 2020’s “Weltschmerz” which he announced beforehand would be his last before retirement) to a groove of progressive/hard rock fusion, eschewing instrumental flash in favor of compositional strength. It is the kind of music best enjoyed at night, a glass of one’s preferred beverage in hand and the day’s affairs sorted and put away until tomorrow. It is brooding without being self-pitying, contemplative minus condescension.

While the years and mileage have restricted Fish’s vocal range to its lower register, his singing retains its musical and emotional power. Lyrically, he has been a barstool poet since the beginning, with eloquent musings on the human condition, interspersed with personal awareness of life’s darker elements and a world-weary wariness of authority. Which isn’t a bad way to see things.

Examples? Sure. “Square Go” (a Scottish slang expression meaning it’s time to fight) concludes with a spoken word punch that could be any overly pushed patriot’s rally cry:


I’m tired of losing out
Being put down
I want to punch back
Fight back
I want to slash
I want a knife
I just want to hit back in this world
One day I want a level playing field
I just want to see the world
Fight the world on my terms



Fish endured a broken engagement during the “13th Star” recording sessions, which doubtless contributed to its dour mood. He sometimes stepped out of the personal into the observational, such as “Zoë 25.”

When you’re looking for somebody, you might not even see them
When they’re standing there in front of you, right before your eyes
If you’re looking for somebody you’re going to need some help
You know you’ll never find her when you’re looking for yourself



At best, artistic anonymity is an unreliable barometer with which to measure worthiness. Fish is hardly a known quantity in America save to the faithful few. However, for those who desire to broaden their musical horizons in the realm of unapologetically masculine music, “13th Star” is a terrific place to start.

In a similar vein, a recently discovered 1990 concert performance by the late Irish blues master Rory Gallagher is newly gifted to a world hungry for the real. “All Around Man” was recorded live in London shortly after the release of what sadly proved to be Gallagher’s final studio album “Fresh Evidence.”


The performance, thankfully predating Gallagher’s physical and musical deterioration from excessive drinking before his 1995 passing, is an artist working in his natural element. While Gallagher was not averse to the recording studio, it was in a live setting where his genius shone the brightest.



Gallagher was a pure blues player not restricted by being a purist seeking solely to recreate his influences. His playing touched the soul. The new album showcases this well. Be it on his tattered Fender Stratocaster or whipping around on acoustic, Gallagher was a force of nature fueled by the divine. His power and creativity remain awe-inspiring, and “All Around Man” is a more than welcome reminder of how great Rory Gallagher was—and will always be.



Need some man music? Fish and Rory Gallagher, at your service.


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