After four albums, Fish left the band. After another four albums, they were dropped from EMI and left to fend for themselves, which is a challenge they rose to more than anyone could have imagined. After another four albums, they had their first top ten hit since the end of the first era, and first top forty since the end of the second. This last one is obviously less significant than the previous two, but I've got to find patterns where I can. Human nature, right?
Anyway, This Strange Engine was the first album without the big record company bucks; a time of change, of revolution, of renaissance. It's reflected in the musical experimentation going on here, and in the strange engineering of the album artwork; "steampunk" is the word that comes to mind for me, and here we have a nice obvious reference to Jules Verne, and if you can find me a man more steampunk than he, then I will... be surprised. It's also an exceedingly maddening album, possibly the one I listen to the least, because it's arranged almost exactly right so that the tracks alternate between being awesome and being terrible.
"80 Days" falls in the awesome half, although it's decidedly at the lower end of the scale. It's a thoroughly pleasant one of their increasingly hopeless grabs for mainstream attention since being dropped from EMI, but at this point they were entering a brave new world and not actually caring too much about that, so this one flows out pretty naturally.
Man, I do feel like I ought to be in, like, a hot air balloon when I'm listening to it, though. That'd be swell. It's the trumpets, pretty much. Those things are heralding the return of some great explorer. Which is, I'm sure, exactly what they are meant to evoke, so I guess this song was a succes.