MARILLION Albums Ranked from Less Great to Great

MARILLION Albums Ranked from Less Great to Great

Formed in Aylesbury, England, in 1979, Marillion is arguably one of the most interesting and successful progressive rock bands of the ’80s. Often considered one of the founders of the Neo-Progressive genre, the band released four albums between 1983-1987 that quickly gained a cult status within the demanding prog circuit. Influenced by ’70s acts such as Genesis (Gabriel era), Yes and Pink Floyd, Marillion issued their critically acclaimed debut Script for a Jester’s Tear” in 1983, an album that blends Genesis‘ early baroque languages with the rock flavours of the early ’80s. Steve Rothery‘s melodic guitar lines layered by Fish‘s poetic lyrics and theatrical vocal performance were the key musical elements in shaping Marillion‘s sound into a distinctive identity, placing the band on pole position within the emerging British Neo-Progressive scene.

In almost 40 years, Marillion have released 19 studio albums that could simply be described as diverse. The band’s most recent release, last year’s FEAR, shows that the band is still going strong, and that they still have it in themselves to make great music.

Below is a list of 19 Marillion albums ranked in a “less great” to great order. Let us know what are your favourite Marillion releases in the comments.

19. Radiation (1998)

Marillion‘s 10th studio album Radiation is an intriguing album for being less intriguing than most of their other albums. It is definitely one which will take a few listens and one of those albums where one may really like certain tracks and actually be disappointed in others. No middle ground. One problem here lies in that the album isn’t as cohesive as a lot of their other albums, which flow from point A to point B and sound like a cohesive package, an aural journey. Here, Radiation comes off as just a collection of tunes—almost like an album of good B-sides or songs left off the album proper. Don’t bother reshuffling the track list either, it won’t do much good. That is not to say that the songs are weak, there are still memorable ones, just that it sounds… incomplete. Hard to put a finger on it. Another sore point is the blurry production, which actually damages the overall effect of the album in some spots, although the album was re-released with a remix in 2013.

One thing must be pointed out, however, that with this album the band made a conscience decision to experiment and break away from a lot of their trademark sounds. They were trying the “alternative” route while leaving their “neo-prog” sound behind for newer bands like Arena, Spock’s Beard and Grey Lady Down to take and run with. So gone are Rothery‘s soaring guitar leads, replaced with a more chunky, alternative, grungey twang. Airy synth chords are out, the keyboards are more Beatles and less Genesis this time around. And they want to be Radiohead so bad they can taste it. The album’s title should give a clue to that, and they also cover Radiohead‘s “Fake Plastic Trees” on the “These Chains” CD single. If you can handle Marillion trying to sound current and forget all about that Scottish guy with face paint who fronted the band in the ‘80s, you may want to try this album. Again, the songs are decent but the production and overall flow are somewhat flawed.

18. Somewhere Else (2007)

Following in the wake of epic concept albums Anoraknophobia and Marbles, Somewhere Else sees Marillion distilling its trademark sounds into a compact ten-track format with mixed but, overall, pleasing results. Honestly, we’ve become so accustomed to the band delivering sublime music with a regularity nothing short of prolific, anything less than absolutely superb is considered a tad disappointing. True, it needs more than one listen to get you hooked, but that’s their great secret.

17. Less is More (2009)

Face it, most “acoustic” albums are little more than watered down versions of hits or well tread covers. In short, polite, unchallenging filler. Not so with Marillion’s acoustically slanted Less is More, which rejiggers a carefully chosen, non- obvious selection of older compositions, working the emotionally dense, often anthemic originals into warmly caressed, fascinating new shapes.

Ranging from a shuffling, saucy reworking of “The Space” from 1989’s Season’s End to a new take on “Wrapped Up In Time,” Less is More puts the old title axiom into practice, finding delicate yet never wispy newness hiding inside familiar territory. By digging deep into their catalogue and consciously steering away from singles or dominant fan favorites, Marillion has found some serious sweetmeat that makes one reassess these tunes in a wholly favorable light. The occasional bit of electricity notwithstanding, Less is More moves with the warm rush of acoustic guitars, hammered dulcimer, piano, Glockenspiel, xylophone and hushed percussion, with Steve Hogarth‘s voice prominent in the foreground—a fitting spot for one of the great under-celebrated singers of past 25 years, a voice with the vibrating emotional timbre of Thom Yorke melded to the pop classicism of The ZombiesColin Blunstone.

The result is wonderfully accessible yet richly layered work like Less Is More, where there’s a strong sense of happy interaction with this music and one picks up on the musicians’ pleasure in discovering fresh inspiration in past efforts. At the stage where many bands lumber along on auto-pilot, Marillion here seems supercharged for tomorrow, even if they arrive their by way of yesterday.

And so the question arises—why Less is More is ranked “this” low? The answer lies in the fact that Marillion has more representative original material, although the reworked versions of their songs are great listening experience.

16. Holidays in Eden (1991)

After the release of Seasons End, Marillion had not only found a new vocalist, but were discovering a new sound. Whether this new sound is defined as mainstream, sentimental or musical development, it was known as an advance for both Marillion and progressive music altogether. The follow-up for the aforementioned album would be Holidays in Eden and a host of relatively successful singles. Those who have purchased Holidays have confessed to falling in love with the host of ballads, hard driven rock songs and experimental tracks, even if it took them five years to do so.

The relatively radio-friendly prog rock band known as Marillion have dived into many forms of rock, progression and even pop, but an album as distinct and special as this deserves a play once every decade or so. It wouldn’t make for the best beginner’s choice, but you could do a lot worse and it’s nice to see where they went after Seasons End and even more interesting to see where they moved on to after this.

15. Happiness is the Road, Vol. 1 – Essence (2008)

The Essence is the weaker of the two simultaneous releases, having an unfortunate AOR sheen that leaves the listener struggling to remember much about it. But after subsequent listens, volume one begins to leave more of an impression around the halfway mark with a beautiful but all-too-brief instrumental called “Liquidity.” Keyboardist Mark Kelly works his magic with this one  a sparse piano arrangement (sparse by prog-rock standards, anyway) that leads perfectly into “Nothing Fills the Hole,” a triumphant in tempo little ditty reminiscent of something off of 2001’s Anoraknophobia.

14. Happiness is the Road, Vol. 2 – The Hard Shoulder (2008)

With volume two in the Happiness is the Road series, Marillion has the ship back on course. Kicking open the door with “Thunder Fly,” The Hard Shoulder will have you feeling bad that you ever doubted the band in the first place. Way back in the early days Marillion struggled to separate themselves from comparisons to Gabriel-era Genesis, which at times, they were guilty as charged, particularly with neo-poet Fish as their frontman. “Thunder Fly” is the closest they’ve come to bringing those whispers about again.

The tempos are a little faster on The Hard Shoulder, but the atmosphere is a little bit darker, with a dichotomous double shot of “Older That Me” and “Threw Me Out.” The former is an affirmation of a new found love set to a melancholy backdrop as if the narrator knows it wont have a happy ending after all, and the latter is a bitter diatribe set to a jaunty little hum-along. The first single, “Whatever Is Wrong With You,” continues to move things along at a quick pace, giving guitarist Steve Rothery time to really kick out the jams. Final track “Real Tears for Sale” brings the album back down to earth for a slow, deliberately paced life-lesson.

13. Marillion.com (1999)

This is one of those Marillion albums that leaves you with mixed feelings. It almost seems that the even-numbered songs in this work (the first two at least) suffered the fate of being the least favored numbers: “Rich” sounds more like a post-Phil Collins Genesis song. On the flip side though, the majority of the album features a very intimate sound, with a “Enlightened” and the last three songs breaking the roof.

12. Anoraknophobia (2001)

Marillion‘s Anoraknophobia was underwritten by more than 12,500 fans who pre-ordered a copy. This album is very much in the same vein as the previous releases, Radiation and Marillion.com, but whereas these two were rather disappointing, Anoraknophobia had the band approaching its best with excellent production and musicianship and ambitious song structures.

Anoraknophobia may lack the classic medieval tone of Fish-era Marillion, or the extended passages, or Ian Mosley‘s punching drum lines, or strange time signatures. It may lack a story that is told throughout the album, or the motifs made great by Misplaced Childhood and Brave. It may lack epic wonders like “This Strange Engine,” “The Rakes Progress” and even “Interior Lulu.” But this is by no means a non-progressive record.

Marillion may have changed their music a lot, but their compositional traits, the kind of intervals they use in melodies, their use of chords, their use of modulation, their dynamics, and all the underlying music-writing minutiae that is blown apart by the fact that the songs are in 4/4 is still adamantly consistent with their previous work. They have not changed the way the way music, they have just taken it to a different place. It’s sort of like when Genesis started doing albums like Invisible Touch, after coming out with beauties like Selling England by the Pound.

The force of songs like “Quartz,” “If My Heart Were A Ball It Would Roll Uphill,” “The Fruit of the Wild Rose” and even “This is the 21st Century” is undeniable.

Marillion have veered into a whole new direction, evolved into their current workflow, and created an album that is perfectly valid, and utterly worthy of praise. Anoraknophobia is the work of Marillion‘s applaudable effort to reinvent themselves without alienating people (although this album and the ones before it kind of did).

11. This Strange Engine (1997)

This album was released in 1997, when the UK music scene was dominated by The Verve, Oasis, Blur, inter alia. The band’s previous two albums had both been magnificent and revelatory, but here they were, seemingly broke, with sprockets and steam surging out of the engine. They chose not to go with the crowd and release an album of drum n’ bass, but decided to do what the Hogarth era band do best—release another magnificent and revelatory work. The opening track “Man of a Thousand Faces” is instant and provoking—“you spend the money my logo’s printed on” grabs the listener. Who is this chap? He explains his face is seen on the stones of the Parthenon and his song can be heard in the “Babble of Babylon”—is it us, or a Godhead, or Pan, or even Satan? What logo on what money? Is it the eye in the triangle or the capless pyramid? It is an excellent song and placing it at the front of the album means the rest of the tracks will have to be very solid, in order to stop the listener quickly going back to listen to track one again.

What follows are various songs which although not grabbing the listener to the same extent, are of sufficient quality to make this album a “grower.” “One Fine Day” is just that and “Memory of Water” has something about it which is old-world folk. It is a stripped down song, which made me think of something a fishing community may have sung at a funeral or a wake. Or maybe that is my own memory of water streaming through.

Overall the record’s eased back pace dominates, as the sneering synths are placed in the background for more atmospheric touches of keyboards (pianos, string arrangements, pads, delicate mellotrons) flowing along with Hogarth’s emotional vocals and Rothery’s signature guitar sound through the atmospheric passages of “One Fine Day,” “Estonia,” and the pop sensible “Hope For the Future,” as more edger tracks including the AOR laden “Man of A Thousand Faces,” the darkened “An Accidental Man,” and more epical title track, which the latter was influenced by Hogarth’s life—so the album as a whole is a snapshot of yet another turning point for Marillion.

10. Sounds That Can’t Be Made (2012)

Throughout their three-decade career, Marillion has carved out a place as one of the major players in progressive rock. Like their prog-rock brethren Genesis, the band survived a lead singer change and has forged on, creating critically acclaimed music. Their 17th album, Sounds That Can’t Be Made, was originally released in 2012, reaching the top 40 in the Netherlands, Poland, Germany, Norway and France. Now it is being rereleased in North America with a bonus disc of radio sessions and demos.

The band wastes no time going for it musically on the opening track, “Gaza.” A moody intro of keyboards and backwards guitars soon changes to a Middle Eastern-inspired riff. Steve Hogarth delivers an edgy vocal and the song, which clocks in at 17:31 and features numerous time changes, mixes heavy and light, adding electronic flourishes over dreamy backgrounds—an impressive leadoff track for sure. The heavy drums and keyboards on the title track give it a bit of a Genesis feel. Hogarth‘s vocals are confident and strong on this number. He gives an equally heartfelt vocal on “Pour My Love,” a pretty piano ballad.

“Montreal,” another focal point of the album at 14 minutes, is a sprawling epic that builds in intensity and layers. Like “Gaza,” the song takes many turns musically. This, like many of the other cuts on the album, is a densely layered song, revealing itself under repeated listens, especially through headphones. There’s a lot going on during this album that isn’t always apparent on the first listen.

“Power” features ringing guitars over a massive keyboard backdrop. A heavily layered track, it is one of the stronger songs on the album. This is also one of the radio sessions featured on disc two. There it is stripped of much of its production, featuring only guitar, vocals and piano, yet it works just as well in this format, proving that a good song is a good song.

The album closes with two somewhat Beatlesque numbers, “Lucky Man” and “The Sky Above The Rain.” The former features a big chorus and leads off with chiming bells before moving into heavy guitars and organ while the latter is a piano ballad showcasing some fine, understated guitar playing from Steve Rothery.

Sounds That Can’t Be Made showed a band still willing to take chances musically and is a challenging, yet rewarding, listen.

09. Seasons End (1989)

Whilst Seasons End doesn’t quite manage to reach classic status, it definitely has its moments. It’s quite easy to picture it as being a car that has just come back from repairs at the garage, and for the most part the vehicle, quite thankfully, functions well. Though it is bound to stutter occasionally.

One of the things that Marillion hit the target on continuously throughout the album is the emotion and atmosphere exemplified by the tracks. And in the albums highlights, “Easter” and “Berlin” this is one of the ways in which the song succeeds so brilliantly. Showcasing perfectly the great vocal and lyrical talents of Steve Hogarth and the outstanding musicianship of the other members of the band, Marillion manage to create two of their classics here. On “Easter” guitarist Steve Rothery creates some truly brilliant guitar work, such as the beautiful acoustic introduction and the solo in the middle. The reason why his guitar work is so effective is not just because of its technicality, but how well he succeeds in translating the songs meanings and emotions into musical form.

Steve Hogarth’s voice fits the atmosphere perfectly and leaves little to be desired in filling the shoes of Fish, showcasing great range throughout and carrying the emotions created by the musicians perfectly. “Berlin” is another prime example of this, and is pretty much all the positives of “Easter” taken and spiced up a little, with other instruments, such as a saxophone, making an appearance.

However instead of being a pointless addition that simply adds cheese to the song, Marillion showcase great restraint, only adding as much as the song calls for. And it is this restraint which enriches the track and makes it truly excellent. Steve Hogarth also really comes into his own on this, showcasing yet again great vocal work, the lyrics also being a stand out.

With this album, Marillion managed thankfully to survive the shaky manoeuvre of replacing a revered frontman mainly yielding good results. And although as a whole it doesn’t quite manage to reach the same musical peaks as reached by some of the material from the Fish era it will, to people who give it a thorough listen, prove a strong and worthy follow on.

08. Afraid of Sunlight (1995)

Afraid of Sunlight, on its release, was the softest sounding Marillion album to date. This is very much an album that exemplifies Marillion‘s painstaking musicianship and less the stadium rock sound of the past. For example, the trademark roaring guitar solos of the past are noticeably absent, but the album is still of an electric and not acoustic sound. The softer music than that of previous recordings provided Steve Hogarth with a chance to really make the most of his soulful voice, rather than the power vocals that you expect to hear from a rock singer. As usual with Marillion, there isn’t a bad tune on here, with only the ridiculous, embarrassing, unnecessary and out of place Beach Boys impression “Cannibal Surf Babe” detracting from the “pressures of fame” theme of the other songs and the “be yourself and sod the rest” theme of “Beautiful.”

07. F E A R

Comprising of essentially 6 songs and clocking in at over an hour, FEAR, or Fuck Everyone and Run finds the band at first glance, at their most angry and cynical. But like all great art it’s not the artist’s emotions on the canvas, it’s the viewer’s—or in this case, the listener’s emotions reflected back like a mirror. In short, FEAR is a masterful piece of art in the truest sense of the word and the band’s strongest album in years.

In retrospect, the statement above is somewhat dismissive—the five songs are really 5 themes, connected and intertwined—woven like a tapestry depicting the New World Order. It could be easy to connect the dots to the political system and process in the United States (or anywhere else in the world), but let’s put aside the hubris for just a moment and understand that right now the political climate of England and America is frighteningly similar. Possibly more so than it ever has been. When Steve Hogarth sings that

our wide eyes aren’t naïve – they’re a product of a kind of exhaustion

as he does in “Living in FEAR”, there’s a bond—a commonality in that statement between the ‘here’ and the ‘there’ that can’t be ignored.

Opening track “El Dorado” is the first such theme, comprising of five different parts, and begins with “Long Shadowed Sun”—a tune that lulls us into a false sense of security with the sound of birds and lovely guitar work from Steven Rothery and ending with the a deep foreboding of the changes on the horizon. The album continues through “The Leavers” (also comprising of five sub-songs), “White Paper,” “The New Kings” (a suite of four songs, and the most operatic of the bunch) and “Tomorrow’s New Country.” It’s a true accomplishment that Marillion are in their almost 40th year of existence and prove they can still deliver not only a great album—in and of itself a feat in a world of 99 cent single downloads, but an album of such quality and beauty—unlike so many of their peers delivering prog-by-numbers albums that are immediately forgotten. The symbiosis of Marillion over the years is truly unmatched—the five individuals comprising the band, Hogarth, Rothery, keyboardist Mark Kelly, bassist Pete Trewavas and drummer Ian Mosley form a single unit of craftsmanship that seemingly has no bounds and shows no signs of slowing down.

06. Marbles (2004)

Marbles is Marillion‘s return to form after their wilderness years—post Afraid of Sunlight/The Strange Engine, where the lamentable Radiation and Marillion.com saw the band shunning some of the cinematic and epic approach to attempt to appear relevant to the shallow and trendy early 21st century. Indeed, even Anoraknophobia, which DOES feel like Marillion, tries desperately to slip into a pair of trendy jeans that really don’t fit them with drum loops and uncharacteristic atmospheres. That was the 21st century, indeed.

Thankfully, an epiphany of sorts seemed to have hit between the two works. “I’ve lost touch. I shouldn’t admit it, but I have… With those words, Steve Hogarth seemingly threw away the shackles of trying to stay relevant, and Marillion soared into their first bona fide classic in 7 years. Marbles could easily have been their best prog album. With the remarkable “Ocean Cloud,” “Invisible Man,” and the superlative closer “Neverland,” this album contains some of their greatest work. Indeed, much of the album is still top drawer material—“Fantastic Place,” “The Only Unforgivable Thing,” “Angelina” and “Drilling Holes” all crackle with inventiveness and creativity, and excellent performances.

However, like all double albums, there is just too much on it. “Genie” is superfluous and mawkish offering nothing to the album, and “Don’t Hurt Yourself,” whilst the lyric is certainly not bad, is just plain annoying. “You’re Gone” sounds like a slightly better attempt at being a track from Anaraknophobia and “The Damage” doesn’t move me. However, curiously, the recurring Marbles theme is endearing and overall makes it appear quasi-conceptual. As an album, It could have been a Brave, but just falls short overall. Perhaps less really might have been more in this case. However, when it is good, it is very, very, very good indeed.

05. Brave (1994)

After Clutching at Straws, tensions between Fish and the rest of the band members caused him to leave the band. The story was not over for Marillion though, as they brought in a new singer, Steve Hogarth (aka H.). While the first album with H. was very successful, Marillion could never achieve the success they previously had, releasing a poor attempt at a pop rock album, Holidays In Eden in 1991, Brave was released in 1994 as a return to Marillion’s progressive rock origins. Unfortunately, despite critical success, Brave was largely ignored by the public.

Brave is a concept album, based on a news story H. heard on the radio about a girl taken into police custody after being found wondering across the Severn Bridge between England and Wales. The girl did not know who she was or where she came from, leading H. to write the lyrics as a fictional story of how she got there. While prog rock albums are often criticised for being emotionless, Brave stands completely against this stereotype, it’s sad lyrics and beautiful melancholic melodies creating a strong atmosphere that can easily drag you into the story.

The album is played mainly at quite a slow to mid pace with a lot of the focus placed on the bass and atmospheric keyboard sounds and a densely layered sound, creating a deep and haunting mood. To add to this, many sounds were recorded in a cave to use as background ambience (a technique later used by Radiohead in OK Computer).

Despite this complex symphonic approach, Brave is surprisingly accessible, though it still may take a few listens to fully appreciate. Producer Dave Meegen spent months going through every new tape made every day by the band, making sure that every riff and melody included would be perfect for the album. Because of this perfectionist approach, the subtle and sometimes quite sparse melodies on the album still all manage to be memorable and powerful. Most of the melodies are played on piano or guitar.

The biggest problem with Brave is that it follows this formula with little variation, and at it’s very long running length of an hour and 11 minutes, it does end up just dragging on, especially if you’re not paying attention to it fully. There are some highlights where it breaks the formula though, such as the more electric guitar-led and faster paced tracks such as “Hard As Love” and “Paper Lies” which add much needed bursts of energy into the music to keep it interesting, and to stop it from becoming totally depressing, which it comes close to at times.

04. Fugazi (1984)

In 1984 Marillion released Fugazi, an album a harder edge than its predecessor the album can be seen as Script‘s natural evolution. All ingredients are still present, Fish‘s impressive vocal dynamics and Rothery‘s very unique guitar signature are still leading the way, supported by Mark Kelly‘s colorful keyboards and Peter‘s always solid bass lines. But it’s new recruitment Ian Mosley that delivers the most significant improvement to the band’s sound, with his refined technique providing the perfect background for Marillion‘s progressive melodic songwriting, allowing the rhythm section to move more freely.

Fish‘s provocative and enigmatic lyrics remain Marillion‘s most distinctive trademark. From religious cults and First World War references such as “Who decorates the scarf with the fugi knot, who camouflaged emotion in a thousand yard stare” to Irish folklore metaphors “World war three, suburbanshee, just slip her these pills and I’ll be free,” every word and sentence is manipulated to shape some cryptic meaning that leads to multiple interpretations. But Marillion‘s greatest achievement on Fugazi is the ability to place these complex lyrics on a song-based musical structure, avoiding the long compositions of their progressive counterparts. Swinging between layers delivered by Kelly‘s chromatic keyboards and Rothery‘s beautiful guitar lines, the songwriting is well structured and meticulously balanced, with everything in its right place. From stylish rock moments such as “Assassing,” “Punch and Judy” or “Jigsaw,” to more delicate and crescendo compositions like “Emerald Lies,” “She Chameleon,” “Incubus” or “Fugazi,” this album is full of life and offers the listener an extremely diverse listening experience.

03. Clutching at Straws (1987)

Clutching at Straws is a brilliant display of Neo-prog. It combines stellar musicianship with gorgeous lyrical imagery. It doesn’t lack in variety either. Whether it be the toe-tapping (and somewghat happy despite the bitter lyrics) “Incommunicado,” to the atmospheric and heart breaking tale of lost innocence, “Warm Wet Circles,” or the poppy and powerful closer track, the album features something for everyone. “Sugar Mice” also bears mentioning. A sad tale of loneliness and travel, which has reportedly made the bassist cry during its playing live on stage.

While not a concept album per say, it does follow a theme. Namely: drug abuse, alcoholism, and the loneliness the former inevitably brings. Rest assured, this is not a happy album by any means. The album is peppered with sorrowful atmospheres, all brought to life by lyrical genius Fish. He truly is a poet of the modern age, painting detailed pictures within your mind. Yes, the album, whether you like it or not, will take you to rundown bars, hotel rooms, and darkened hallways.

02. Script for a Jester’s Tear (1983)

The band’s debut, Script for a Jester’s Tear, is excellent proof of a recognizable sound, and other than that, an often overlooked prog classic. The bands that had so inspired Marillion were all past their prime; Floyd had released their last classic The Wall on the doorstep to the ‘80s, Genesis was now steadily turning into a Collins-led pop rock band, and while King Crimson remained one of the most enduring and innovative acts of their era, even in the new decade, their dabbling into electronic guitaring with new front figure Adrian Belew was nothing like the sound that made a classic such as In The Court of the Crimson King possible. Enter Marillion: a band determined to revive the characteristic 70’s style of prog rock.

Noticing the artsy cover, it is already before listening that you’ll be able to see Script for a Jester’s Tear is something quite special. A grand achievement for such a young band, who managed to bend the laws of prog just enough to keep things interesting. It is no surprise the jester pictured on the cover is still iconic for the group. Marillion favours songwriting rather than showing off, and that makes this record unique in the genre. Nevertheless, you will be amazed by the virtuosity of especially the charismatic Fish, Rothery and Kelly. The title and art make this look like another of those over-the-top epic affairs. Rather, I would refer to Script as a restrained epic.

01. Misplaced Childhood (1985)

The year was 1984 and Marillion were on top of the world; everything was going marvelously for the group and the Orwellian nightmare proposed in 1949 was but an utter jest to the newly triumphant troop. Their latest album, Fugazi, even managed to hit gold in the U.K and witnessed the debut of exemplary drummer Ian Mosley to replace the juvenile Mick Pointer. But apart from Mosley filling the last jigsaw piece of the roster, the quintet also managed to find the perfect balance between their shorter balladesque tracks and the longer compositions more typical of the band’s debut record. The band truly surprised the prog world with the brilliance of Fugazi, especially considering that the genre was a decade past its prime. But alas, Marillion, like everyone else in music, needed to move forward or risked drowning in self foisted stagnation. But what road to take? What direction to go? Unbelievably enough, the United Nations prophetically announced 1985 to be “International Youth Year”; completely oblivious to the fact that a certain group of musicians would record the most incredible concept album ever exploring the essence of childhood. An album telling tales of depression, heartbreak, and reminiscing of the facets of boyhood in all their forms. The name of that album is Misplaced Childhood.

Due to the heavy emphasis on vocals, the instrumentalists are somewhat felt to be pushed to the side. Especially for the usual wank-filled norms of prog. Even the nearly ten minute epic, “Blind Curve,” places true marvels such as Peter Trewavas secondary to penmanship, something quite unheard of in a prog rock epic; but one must remember, this is an album made to commemorate a time where simplicity reigns. Getting caught up in the complexities and excesses of prog would be a fatal contradiction to what this album stands for. But of course, none of this is to say that the other members of the group don’t have any immense individual moments. The guitarist, Steve Rothery, even manages to scatter a few otherworldly solos throughout the record, most remarkably the one about two minutes into “Blind Curve,” where he plays with an elegant and heartfelt passion unparalleled by most others of its kind.

Misplaced Childhood—a piece of music that someone may dismiss as a victim of the vanished and tacky sound of the eighties decade. But one can rest assured that that “someone” simply has never experienced the delight of juvenescence.

Cover photo by Freddy Billqvist

4 Comments

  1. Rog

    May 10, 2017 at 4:42 pm

    Umm. Would have to say at least 1 or 2 Steve Hogarth outings should be in the top 4. Fugazi number 4 ….really ?

  2. Jose

    June 5, 2017 at 12:38 am

    FEAR, marbles and brave should be higher…

  3. Stephen

    July 25, 2017 at 2:16 pm

    You appear to have missed out the Fish era live albums and B-sides themselves all of which I’d put above the Steve Hogarth outings

  4. Richard B

    November 9, 2017 at 6:18 pm

    Sorry…began loving the band at the beginning but the best H stuff is superior to all Fish stuff..in particular Marbles, Fear, Happiness vol 1 and Sounds that can’t be made…Fugazi and Script sound very dated these days….

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