Saturday, April 25, 2015

April 25th, 2015 - Clutching Grapefruit And Fish(?)

Good afternoon!  In celebration of the birthday of Fish (Derek William Dick), I'm pairing Marillion's brilliant album "Clutching At Straws" with a Grapefruit Sculpin IPA from Ballast Point Brewing Company!  This one goes out to Mike Sargent... cheers buddy!
Album Info:
  • Artist: Marillion
  • Title: "Clutching At Straws"
  • Recorded: Westside Studios, London, England 1987
  • Release date: June 12th, 1987
  • Record company: EMI
  • Album cover art: Mark Wilkinson
  • Personnel:  Fish (vocals), Mark Kelly (keyboards), Ian Mosley (drums), Steve Rothery (guitars), and Pete Trewavas (bass)
  • Additional musicians: John Cavanaugh – "Dr. Finlay" voice on "Torch Song", Chris Kimsey (credited as "Christopher 'Robbin' Kimsey") backing vocals on "Incommunicado", and Tessa Niles backing vocals on "That Time of the Night" and "The Last Straw"
  • Musical style: Progressive rock/neo-progressive rock with elements of rock, pop, and jazz
  • Sound: Deeply emotional, personal, and honest, with elements of early Genesis and Pink Floyd, "Clutching At Straws" may be the best Marillion album recorded.  What I find interesting about the album is the dark and defeatist subject matter and lyrics juxtaposed against very upbeat and hopeful music that is delivered with precision, depth, and beauty.  Fish's vocals sound like the mash up of Roger Waters and Peter Gabriel... incredibly honest and powerfully emotional. 
  • Major themes: A semi-autobiographical concept album about a man named Torch, an alcoholic deadbeat father and musician coming out of a failed marriage, "Clutching At Straws" examines themes of self-deprecation and loathing, self-examination, anger, despair, a critical look at the music industry, and alcoholism in general.
  • Notes: The last "track", "Happy Ending" is listed on the album, but is in fact not an actual track.  As a statement of black humor and irony, the track is just someone yelling "No!" and the echoed and muffled laughter from Fish, fading off into silence.  A rather interesting and telling ending, as "Clutching At Straws" was the last album with Fish as the vocalist. 
  • Tracks:   
  1. "Hotel Hobbies"
  2. "Warm Wet Circles"
  3. "That Time Of Night (The Short Straw)"
  4. "Going Under"
  5. "Just For The Record"
  6. "White Russian"
  7. "Incommunicado"
  8. "Torch Song"
  9. "Slàinte Mhath"
  10. "Sugar Mice"
  11. "The Last Straw"
  12. "Happy Ending"

    Brew Info:
  • Brewery: Ballast Point Brewing Company (San Diego, California)
  • Website:
  • Brew: Grapefruit Sculpin IPA
  • Style: American India Pale Ale (IPA)
  • Serving: 12 ounce bottle
  • ABV: 7%
  • IBUs: 70
  • Pour: The Grapefruit Sculpin IPA pours a slightly hazy orange amber with lots of bubbles and a thin white head.  The lacing is light to moderate.
  • Nose: The nose is characterized by big citrus, tropical fruit, and light, sweet malt.  There are aromas of pink grapefruit (obviously) along with lemon, tangerine, orange, mango, peach, a hint of pine, and soft caramel/toffee. 
  • Taste:  Following the nose, the taste of the Grapefruit Sculpin IPA is very fruity, citrusy, hoppy, and sweet.  Grapefruit dominates the flavor throughout with "hints of apricot, peach, mango, and lemon flavors".  Well-balanced, there are really nice caramel malt notes as well.
  • Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with good carbonation, the mouthfeel of the Grapefruit Sculpin IPA is very crisp, very refreshing, with a somewhat dry and very clean finish.
Overall pairing: The label on the Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin IPA states: "The Sculpin fish has poisonous spikes on its fins that can give a strong sting. Ironically, the meat from a Sculpin fish is considered some of the tastiest.  Something that has a sting but tastes great; sounds like a Ballast Point India Pale Ale."  It is for this reason (as well as the refreshing citrus flavor) that I think this lovely brew works well as a companion to the progressive brilliance of "Clutching At Straws"! 


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