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Marillion

Marillion emerged from the short-lived progressive rock revival of the early '80s to become one of the most enduring cult acts of the era. The group formed in Aylesbury, England, in 1979.

Members: 5
Latest Activity: Jul 17, 2011



                                            (click on album cover to listen)


Marillion are a British rock group, formed in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, England in 1979. Their recorded studio output comprises sixteen albums (2009's 'Less is More' is primarily reinterpretations of existing tracks) and is generally regarded as comprising two distinct eras, delineated by the departure of original vocalist & frontman Fish in late 1988 after their first four albums, and the subsequent arrival of replacement Steve Hogarth ("h") in early 1989. Marillion has thus far released twelve albums with Hogarth.

The core lineup of Steve Rothery (Lead Guitar and the sole 'pre-Fish' original member), Pete Trewavas (Bass), Mark Kelly (Keyboards) and Ian Mosley (Drums) is unchanged since 1984. The band has enjoyed critical and commercial success with a string of UK Top Ten hits spanning their career, an estimated fifteen million total worldwide album sales and even an entry into the Guinness Book of World Records.

The band's music has changed stylistically throughout their career. The band themselves have stated that each new album tends to represent a reaction to the preceding one, and for this reason their output is difficult to 'pigeonhole'. Their original sound (with Fish on vocals) is best described as guitar and keyboard led progressive rock or "neo-prog", and has sometimes been compared with Gabriel-era Genesis.

More recently, the band's sound has been compared, on successive albums, to that of Radiohead, Massive Attack, Keane, Crowded House, The Blue Nile and Talk Talk, although not consistently comparable sonically with any of these acts. The band themselves in 2007, tongue-in-cheek, described their own output merely as: "Songs about Death and Water since 1979..."

Marillion are widely considered within the industry to have been one of the first mainstream acts to have fully recognised and tapped the potential for commercial musicians to interact with their fans via the Internet circa 1996, and are nowadays often characterised as a rock & roll 'Web Cottage Industry'. The history of the band's use of the internet is described by Michael Lewis in the book Next: The Future Just Happened as an example of how the internet is shifting power away from established elites, such as record producers.

The band is also renowned for having an extremely dedicated following with some fans regularly travelling significant distances to attend single gigs, driven in large part by the close fan base involvement which the band cultivate via their website, podcasts, bi-annual conventions[8] and regular fanclub publications.

The Fish era

Formation and early years (1979–1982)
Marillion was formed in 1979 as Silmarillion, after J.R.R. Tolkien's book The Silmarillion, by Mick Pointer, Steve Rothery, and others. They played their first gig at Berkhamsted Civic Centre on 1 March 1980.

The band name was shortened to Marillion in 1981 to avoid any sort of copyright conflicts at the same time as Fish and bassist Diz Minnitt joined after an audition at Leyland Farm Studios in Buckinghamshire on 2 January 1981. Rothery and keyboardist Brian Jelliman completed the first line-up; the first gig with this line-up was at the Red Lion Pub in Bicester on 14 March 1981. By the end of 1981, Kelly had replaced Jelliman, with Trewavas replacing Minnitt in 1982.

The early works of Marillion contained Fish's poetic and introspective lyrics melded with a complex and subtle musical tapestry to create a sound that reflected the band's influences, notably Queen, early Genesis, Pink Floyd, Van der Graaf Generator, Rush (specifically from the late 1970s), and Yes. Marillion's first recording was a demo tape produced by Les Payne in July 1981 that included early versions of "He Knows You Know", "Garden Party", and "Charting the Single".

The group attracted attention with a three-track session for the Friday Rock Show (early versions of "The Web", "Three Boats Down from The Candy", and "Forgotten Sons") and were subsequently signed by EMI. They released their first single, "Market Square Heroes", in 1982, with the epic song "Grendel" on the B-side of the 12" (30 cm) version. Following the single, the band released their first full-length album in 1983.

Script for a Jester's Tear and Fugazi (1983–1984) The music on their debut album, Script for a Jester's Tear, was born out of the intensive gigging of the previous years. Although it had some obvious progressive rock stylings, it also had a darker edge, suggested by the bedsit squalour on the album's cover. During the tour to promote Script for a Jester's Tear, Mick Pointer left the band. The second album, Fugazi, built upon the success of the first album with a more electronic sound and produced the single 'Assassing', although the band encountered numerous production problems. Marillion then released their first live album, Real to Reel, in November 1984, featuring songs from Fugazi and Script for a Jester's Tear, as well as 'Cinderella Search' (B-side to 'Assassing'), recorded in March and July 1984. Misplaced Childhood and international success (1985)

Their third and commercially most successful studio album, Misplaced Childhood, was quite possibly their most cohesive work. With the blessing of their record company, the band was free to depart stylistically from their previous albums, in the process developing a more mainstream sound. They were able to showcase their ability to juxtapose pert pop ballads ("Kayleigh", charting at #2 in the United Kingdom, behind charity fundraiser "You'll Never Walk Alone" by The Crowd, and "Lavender", which charted at #5) with longer song cycles of lost youth and first loves. The album went to #1 in the United Kingdom. The album came sixth in Kerrang! magazine's "Albums Of The Year" in 1985.

Clutching at Straws and the departure of Fish (1986–1988) The fourth studio album, Clutching at Straws, shed some of its predecessor's pop stylings and retreated into a darker exploration of excess, alcoholism, and life on the road, representing the strains of constant touring that would result in the departure of Fish to pursue a solo career. It did continue the group's commercial success, however; lead single "Incommunicado" charted at #6 in the UK charts gaining the band an appearance on 'Top of the Pops'. Fish has also stated in interviews since that he believes this was the best album he made with the band. The album came sixth in Kerrang! magazine's "Albums Of The Year" in 1987. The loss of the larger-than-life Fish left a hole that would be difficult to fill. Fish explained his reasons for leaving in an interview in 2003: "By 1987 we were over-playing live because the manager was on 20 per cent of the gross. He was making a fantastic amount of money while we were working our asses off. Then I found a bit of paper proposing an American tour. At the end of the day the band would have needed a £14,000 loan from EMI as tour support to do it. That was when I knew that, if I stayed with the band, I'd probably end up a raging alcoholic and be found overdosed and dying in a big house in Oxford with Irish wolfhounds at the bottom of my bed." Giving the band a choice to continue with either him or the manager, the band sided with the manager and Fish left for a solo career. His last live performance with the band was at Craigtoun Country Park on 23 July 1988. After lengthy legal battles, informal contact between Fish and the other four band members apparently did not resume until 1999.

Although reportedly now on good personal terms, both camps had always made it very clear that the oft-speculated-upon reunion would never happen. However, when Fish headlined the 'Hobble on the Cobbles' free concert in Aylesbury's Market Square on 26 August 2007, the attraction of playing their debut single in its spiritual home proved strong enough to overcome any lingering bad feeling between the former band members, and Kelly, Mosley, Rothery, and Trewavas replaced Fish's backing band for an emotional encore of 'Market Square Heroes'.

In a press interview following the event, Fish denied this would lead to a full reunion, saying that: "Hogarth does a great job with the band. We forged different paths over the 19 years."

The Steve Hogarth era

Seasons End and Holidays in Eden (1989–1991)
After the split, the band found Steve Hogarth, the former keyboardist and sometime vocalist of The Europeans. Hogarth stepped into a difficult situation, as the band had already recorded some demos of the next studio album, which eventually would have become Seasons End.

After Fish left the group (taking his lyrics with him), Hogarth set to work crafting new lyrics to existing songs with lyricist and author John Helmer. The demo sessions of the songs from Seasons End with Fish vocals and lyrics can be found on the bonus disc of the remastered version of Clutching at Straws, while the lyrics found their way into various Fish solo albums such as his first solo album, Vigil In a Wilderness of Mirrors, some snippets on his second, Internal Exile and even a line or two found its way to his third album, Suits.

Hogarth's second album with the band, Holidays In Eden, was the first he wrote in partnership with the band, and includes the song "Dry Land" which Hogarth had written and recorded in a previous project with the band How We Live. As quoted from Steve Hogarth, "Holidays in Eden was to become Marillion's “pop”est album ever, and was greeted with delight by many, and dismay by some of the hardcore fans". Despite its pop stylings, the album failed to crossover beyond the band's existing fanbase and produced no major hit singles.

Brave, Afraid of Sunlight and split with EMI (1992–1995) Holidays in Eden was followed by Brave, a dark and richly complex concept album that took the band 18 months to release. The album also marked the start of the band's long time relationship with producer Dave Meegan. While critically acclaimed, the album received little promotion from EMI and did poorly commercially. An independent film based on the album, which featured the band, was also released.

The next album, Afraid Of Sunlight, would be the band's last album with record label EMI. Once again, it received little promotion and no mainstream radio airplay. Despite this, although its sales were disappointing for the band, it was one of their most critically acclaimed albums and was included in Q's 50 Best Albums of 1995. One track of note on the album is Out Of This World, a song about Donald Campbell, who died while trying to set a speed record on water. The song inspired an effort to recover both Campbell's body and the "Bluebird K7," the boat which Campbell crashed in, from the water. The recovery was finally undertaken in 2001, and both Steve Hogarth and Steve Rothery were invited. In 1998, Steve Hogarth claimed this was the best album he had made with the band. This Strange Engine, Radiation and marillion.com (1996–1999)

What followed was a string of albums and events that saw Marillion struggling to find their place in the music business. This Strange Engine was released in 1997 with little promotion from their new label Castle Records, and the band could not afford to make tour stops in the United States. Luckily, their dedicated US fan base decided to solve the problem by raising some $60,000 themselves online to give to the band to come to the US. The band's loyal fanbase (combined with the Internet) would eventually become vital to the band's existence.

The band's tenth album Radiation saw the band taking a different approach and was received by fans with mixed reactions.

marillion.com was released the following year and showed some progression in the new direction. The band were still unhappy with their record label situation. As Steve Hogarth explained:

"We'd come to the end of our record deal and there were various indie labels interested in us. But we didn't feel comfortable with any of them. We're a band with a big fanbase, but the problem is that, as a result, no-one has an incentive to market us. Record labels know they could spend a fiver on promoting our album and our fans would still go and buy it if they had to find it under a stone. And we knew what would happen if we signed to an indie label. They'd do nothing, sell the album to the fanbase and put the money in the bank

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Comment by Jon on July 17, 2011 at 9:08am
Misplaced Childhood? Hmm...will have to look!
Comment by Niels (Mod) on July 16, 2011 at 3:58pm
It's funny. I thought I was the only one, who prefered "Clutching At Straws" to "Misplaced Childhood". Have you Got that one as well, Jon?
Comment by RJhog (Admin) on July 15, 2011 at 7:24pm
I listened to it today (thanks Jon).  I do like it.
Comment by susie on July 15, 2011 at 6:23pm

Clutching at Straws is THE Best Marillion album

I dont have anything against Steve Hogarth-he just wasn't The Fish!

 

 

Comment by RJhog (Admin) on July 15, 2011 at 9:36am
Listening now...
Comment by Jon on July 15, 2011 at 8:27am
"Clutching At Straws" has been posted!
 

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