George Starostin's Reviews



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Bob Josef <> (27.11.2002)

I do think you are a tad hard on this band, but I understand your position. Since they are bascially applying standard 80's rock instrumentation that any old band like, say, Journey, uses, to prog-rock, they aren't bound to sound terribly innovative. And Fish's voice is obvoiusly a prime target for attack, just because of its similarity to Peter Gabriel's. But the band is still very creative, intelligent and unique for the period (you wouldn't expect this at the same time as the rise of Duran Duran, now would you?). They are worth investigating for any prog fan, and at least worthy of promotion to two star status.


Bob Josef <> (02.12.2002)

The remastered version contains material that both predates and is concurrent with the album: the demos for "Chelsea Monday" and "You Know You Know" (which sound a bit different due to slightly faster tempos and the use of Mellotron); an early version of "Grendel" (which I think is a cool prog track, even if it sounds too close to Genesis; the original EP version of "Market Square Heroes" (which sounds pretty hooky to me) and on of its B-sides, the amusing "Three Boats Down the Candy"; the B-side of "You Know You Know", "Charting the Single" (which sounds a lot like "I Know What I Like" to me) and a remake of "Market Square Heroes" which was actually recorded during the Script sessions and is more guitar centered than the original version. All worthwhile additions to the original album.

Speaking of which, I find that the album sounds tougher than those of their main influences because of the emphasis on Rothery's solid hard rock playing. By far the group's best musician, he's the main man in the group, not Fish, much as Steve Howe is the most Yessish member of Yes (even if Rothery is not as original). But Jon Anderson's hippy-dippiness is a far cry from Fish's dark themes, but he's always interesting. They really only go over the top with the Floydian vocal overdubs on "Forgotten Sons," but the track is still better than anything on The Final Cut. Once in a while, the do better their idols.

skeoclett <> (13.01.2004)

As a fledgling fan of the band, I was delighted to stumble on your generous assessment of Marillion. It goes some way in helping to vindicate the years (& nights) devoted to their records, and has stirred-up some subtle memories. In fact, that could be the analogy that I'm trying to pin down, that Marillion were able to evoke a certain wistful grasp of personal memory, dreamlike & romantic with their mythological references & use of Pre-Raphaelite imagery, but starkly rooted in the (1980's) present by familiar & contemporary references. It could be said that the sixth member of the band was the illustrator, Mark Wilkinson, who succeeded in adding an extra dimension to the band's mindscape, through his artwork. Perhaps I can help you with some facts, though my memory is rusting. Their debut disc was 1982's single 'Market Square Heroes', a free-standing song, which would not appear on the forthcoming album (except as heard over the radio, at the beginning of 'Forgotten Sons'). 'Grendel' was the on the flip side of the 12", and was something of a legendary track - making a legend of YOU, if YOU were lucky enough to hear it performed at a gig! This thing about Genesis was annoying at the time, because it made you feel that the band you were fascinated by were pretty worthless. . . but at least they were re-working these ideas for MY time - the Eighties - and I suppose that it was the time before the Tribute mania of today. Anyway, a Genesis 'tribute' band would've missed the point, because Marillion were of the time (ok, perhaps not where 'Grendel' was concerned, but I liked that song!) I did listen to Genesis, and could see how the finesse of 'Supper's Ready' deftly side-stepped the lads, but you'll know Genesis were something quite different by 1983. An important thing about Marillion, was that they would really ROCK in concert; they were a fun band, with Fish being something of a comedian. The fact that they also managed to weave in the introspection so engaging on disc was part of the magic. 'Garden Party' was a live-favourite, not least for it's opportunity for crowd participation in the rising/falling lines. You kind of get this song: it is too bouncy & silly, because that's the sickly veneer that coats such gatherings as a Cambridge Garden Party, and the cutting barbs - oh, so nice! Fish plays that society at their own game, exposing their hypocrisies in such a 'proper' fashion, peering out from, but never dropping his smiling facade. Released as a single, it had the additional title 'The Great Cucumber Massacre'.

Interesting that you mention '53rd & 3rd' in relation to 'Chelsea Monday', when I think you are suggesting that 'Chelsea' lends some class to proceedings. But surely it is in irony, and the paths that our heroine is drawn down are perhaps as seedy & desperate as those of New York Rent Boys. I've always understood the song to be about a 'fallen' girl, unwilling to acknowledge her miserable fate, down in the world of prostitution & porn - in favour of 'Romantic' blinkers - and so perpetuating it. The reference to the 'white capri' is so real, (so Eighties!)that it brings the whole sordid, seedy world crushing down on me; and how bleak the closing lines: "buried in her cellophane world in glitter town."

That crashing reality trick is used again with their ode to Northern Ireland - 'Forgotten Sons' (the Falkland Islands conflict was also still fresh in the public mind). This is the most moving song for me, stirring deep, brotherly, protective feelings. The approach to the sentry, the "Halt! Who goes there?!", and numb, gliding finale are all very emotive, bring Mark Wilkinson's misty images to mind, and close a difficult but rewarding LP.


Bob Josef <> (02.12.2002)

Agreed, doesn't quite compare with the first album, but still pretty good. Both the lyrics and the music are much harsher. The guitar and the rhythm section are even more emphasized in the mix. "Assassing" (I guess that was catchier than "assassinating") shows quite a bit of New Wave influences. "Jigsaw" provess they could come up with a pretty good keyboard-based ballad. The lyrics on the album, though, are really misanthropic. And there's more misogyny here than on any other prog-rock record, I'd venture. "Punch and Judy", "She Chameleon "(!) and "Incubus" (!!) don't exactly paint flattering portraits of women. It would take quite a while for poor Fishie to get straightened out on that.

skeoclett <> (13.01.2004)

Nice that you praise Mark Kelly after all, for his keyboards in 'Punch & Judy' I couldn't agree more. Although the sound is disquieting, I also find it uplifting, like wind thermals, or . . something. Uplifting House? I think this was their first impact on the British Top 40, and I seem to remember them appearing on Top of the Pops (though I may be confused by memories of a local band, whose cover of the song was a set Highlight).

Actually, I see that 'He knows You Know' made it into the UK Top40, and that 'Garden Party' made it to #16! Well I never.


Luke Redgen <> (09.10.2002)

Just wanted to add that the lyrics 'lavenders blue, dilly dilly, lavenders green, when I am king, dilly dilly, you will be queen' are taken directly from a traditional children's poem called Lavender.

Bob Josef <> (06.12.2002)

This was the only Marillion album to get any significant airplay in the U.S. When I first heard the wimpy keyboards of "Kayleigh", I said "Sellout!" and wasn't interested. But then the gentle acoustic piano hook of "Lavender" (which sounds like it came straight off of one of the first two Genesis albums) grabbed me and got me. This album is remarkable. At first, the lack of chronology annoyed and confused me (we engineers like order!), until I realized it's a nonlinear trip back and forwards through Fish's memories. But it's more accessible, in some ways. Producer Chris Kimsey smooths out the rougher edges of the first two albums -- the keyboards are more on an equal footing with the other instruments this time around. Fish's lyrics are great, very powerful, and I also like the optimistic conclusion, for a change! The best of the band's first five studio albums, defnitely.

skeoclett <> (13.01.2004)

Isn't that guitar at the intro to 'Kayleigh'? (as opposed to "wimpy keyboards"). It always struck me as derivative of Medieval minstrels by the meadow, at the fayre kind of thing. Courtly Dance. And yes, I think Fish is trying to capture the clumsy-speak of teenage love letters. You are too harsh about the lyrics, selectively quoting them too! I think that he builds up nicely to the blunt repost, like: "By the way . .Please excuse me . .So sorry . .BUT YOU BROKE MINE! I like the way the second chorus has new lines, continuing the tale, rather than a straightforward repetition. And there are plenty of good, emotive references to root it in a common familiarity: chalk hearts, Belsize Park, stilettos in the snow. It certainly struck a chord with the Nation; too bad that it got so overplayed!

Recalled a 1984 Radio broadcast - featuring Marillion in concert - in which they introduce the new material for their forthcoming album - Misplaced Childhood. Its interesting to hear the variations from the finished product, notably the absence of 'Lavender', and quite different lyrics to 'Kayleigh' (pronounced that night with the emphasis on 'lee' (KayLEIGH), instead of the familiar 'KAYleigh'. As you seem to have a soft spot for the song, I thought you'd appreciate a comparison with this earlier version (yeah, right).

"Do you remember - chalk hearts melting on a playground wall? Do you remember - dawn escapes from moonwashed college halls? Do you remember - dreaming on the heath 'til after dark? Do you remember - loving on the floor, in Belsize Park? By the way, didn't I break your heart? Please excuse me, I never meant to break your heart, So sorry, I never meant to break your heart - But you broke mine! KayLEIGH! We could've had a garden Kayleigh, we could have done it one more time, We could mow the lawn on Sundays (!) We could capture suntans from the breeze. Kayleigh, we promised it forever, But Kayleigh, the secrets stay alone, We could buy the house in Edmonton, We could always try to make it - so long (solo) Do you remember - blocked-up lines & calls from Montreal? Do you remember - your Mother asked me NEVER to call? Do you remember - talking in the bedroom, making plans? Do you remember - you told me I should join a band? By the way, etc . . KayLEIGH! We could have had a garden, Kayleigh, we could work it just one more time, We could mow the lawn on Sundays, We could capture suntans from the breeze. Kayleigh, it never worked out this time, Kayleigh, we could promise it again, The problem seems to be the secrets, You could say it came to a natural end."


Ted Goodwin <> (28.08.2002)

This is the only thing I've heard from Marillion. It caught my interest when I heard it played at a record store -- actually, I heard part of the LP version, wherein the first half doesn't have its momentum broken by "Going Under" (the CD bonus track) and thus almost sounds like a sidelong suite.

The first half is indeed effective in places, but things really die down in the second half. "Torch Song" and "Slainte Mhath" are numbingly repetitive musically, as if the guys forgot how to write choruses. And "Sugar Mice" is just plain dull.

The little bit at the end (whose laugh I'd describe as "drunken" rather than "evil") is called "Happy Ending". Apparently the record company insisted that the band give the album a... well you know.

Bob Josef <> (08.12.2002)

Certainly their most downbeat release yet. Except for the neo-Nazi nightmare of "White Russian," it's a concept album about substance abuse and the attendant results. Not a very commercial prospect. I don't think it's quite as good as the last album melodically, but it does have many good moments. "Sugar Mice" is a depressing, but effective ballad; "Incommunicado" has a great keyboard hook, although the exuberant music stands in great contrast to the lyric about isolation. And it is striking how quickly Fish went from the optimism at the end of MC ("Childhood's End/White Russian") to the anger and despair here (summed up in the disturbing but powerful finale, "The Last Straw"). From all accounts, the album is quite autobiographical, so it was a good thing Fish left, or he'd be another rock star statistic.

Craig H. Dickson <> (17.08.2004)

I suspect the reason CAS is short songs is to differentiate it from the first three albums, which are a trilogy telling a whole story -- more or less a three-disc concept album released over several years.


Stuart Dootson <> (24.01.2003)

Grendel certainly was a b-side - on the 12" of 'Market Square Heroes', with the 7" b-side ('Three Boats Down From The Candy') on the a-side - one of the few 12" singles I've got, from way back in the day....which means that 'Market Square Heroes' is the track that was never a b-side!! I think it was just the only other track (apart from the b-sides) not to get on an album any other way.

skeoclett <> (13.01.2004)

'Market Square Heroes' was re-released as a B-side to 'Garden Party', I think (or was it 'Punch & Judy'?) So it does have a right to be on this one.

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