KamerTunesBlog

Revisiting my extensive music collection, one artist at a time

Satur-debut – MARILLION “SCRIPT FOR A JESTER’S TEAR”

Progressive rock found new life in the ’80s via the “neo-prog” movement and Marillion were at the forefront, scoring a UK Top 10 album with their remarkable 1983 debut, Script For A Jester’s Tear. I already explained why I love this album (and band) in the fourth Great Out Of The Gate post back in 2015 so there’s nothing to add here except…read below and listen to the three songs I’ve embedded. They start quietly so I urge you to stick with them and hopefully they’ll get their hooks in you.

For more information on this series, please read the opening paragraph of the first post, which featured the debut album from Led Zeppelin.

 

 

From GREAT OUT OF THE GATE Part 4:

By the early-‘80s progressive rock was at its commercial nadir, with the sole exception of Asia’s debut, but where that album streamlined the genre’s indulgences into something much more radio-friendly, young UK group Marillion used early-‘70s Peter Gabriel-era Genesis as their template. Scottish frontman Fish took Gabriel’s dramatic vocals and his flair for verbose lyricism to another level, and the quartet of guitarist Steve Rothery, keyboardist Mark Kelly, bassist Pete Trewavas & drummer Mick Pointer concocted a musical stew that drew on the giants of ‘70s prog rock while adding a more aggressive attack and never forgetting to write memorable melodies. They were obviously doing something right, since Script For A Jester’s Tear was a UK Top 10 smash (a feat also achieved by their next six albums), and they became the standard-bearers for the neo-prog genre. In classic prog-rock fashion, the 47-minute album only has six songs, with five of them clocking in at 7 minutes or more. All of them became concert staples, with the title track, “Garden Party” and “He Knows You Know” being personal favorites. This lineup (with a new drummer) would only release three more albums before Fish departed for a solo career, and the band has continued with new singer Steve Hogarth for a lengthy second life that’s different yet equally enjoyable, but their reputation was built in those early years with a debut that was out-of-time and of-its-time in equal measure.

 

I realize that Marillion’s music isn’t for everyone but I’m hopeful that this post will inspire at least a few people to give them a chance. For those who are already fans, how do you feel about this album and the constant Genesis comparisons? Did you continue to follow them after Fish departed and Hogarth took over, like me? Marillion fans are known for being devoted & passionate so I look forward to reading your comments about them.

20 comments on “Satur-debut – MARILLION “SCRIPT FOR A JESTER’S TEAR”

  1. 80smetalman
    December 14, 2019

    As usual, you had me going back through my own archives and reading what I had written about this album. It appears we’re on the same wavelength with “Script for a Jester’s Tear.” The only difference is that I mention that some people had a problem with the supposed silly lyrics on “Chelsea Monday.” I never did. Excellent write up!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve never delved into their lyrics that much so I’m fine with “Chelsea Monday,” but I’ll have to give them a careful listen to see what the problem might be. As with most prog bands (and pretty much any musical artist), the music is what hits me the most, and then songs can be lifted by particularly strong lyrics.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Aphoristical
    December 14, 2019

    I like this record a lot, even though I find the Fish to Gabriel comparisons tricky – they’re similar vocally, but I don’t think Fish has Gabriel’s disturbed imagination. I also enjoy the Hogarth years, although I always struggled to find their records – all I have is this and a compilation.

    Like

    • Although I heard the Gabriel similarities when I first listened to Marillion in the ’80s, the music and Fish’s vocal delivery had their own unique sounds. So I never considered them a Genesis sound-alike band. I was simply intrigued by a new band wearing those influences on their sleeves. I’m surprised to hear that their albums have been hard to find in NZ. They should have been distributed worldwide, at least when they were with EMI, and that includes at least 4 or 5 Hogarth-era albums.

      Like

  3. mikeladano
    December 15, 2019

    Sigh, their music is not for everyone. I have tried and tried. I just cannot get people into this band — Hogarth era or otherwise.

    I had some success with the Hogarth track Memory of Water, the Big Beat mix from Radiation, but then after that, no bites!

    Like

    • The problem is that Marillion is an “album” artist, so it’s hard to inspire people to check them out a couple of songs at a time. They’re not for listeners with short attention spans. So many of their songs build from whisper-quiet intros and often their genius only unveils itself after a few spins of their albums. I’m sure they would have loved to sustain the commercial success they had with Misplaced Childhood but they’ve had a pretty awesome career since then with a rabidly devoted fanbase. Obviously that includes us.

      Liked by 1 person

      • mikeladano
        December 16, 2019

        I gave a copy of Thieving Magpie to a buddy. I succeeded in turning him off the band forever. He didn’t even know how to describe what he heard.

        Like

      • Haha. How about “amazing”? “Incredible songs”? “Brilliant musicianship”? In fact, Thieving Magpie might be the ideal introduction to the Fish era for newbies. Other than your buddy, of course.

        Like

  4. Phillip Helbig
    December 30, 2019

    I remember the first time I heard Marillion (Fish was the singer then). I was hitchhiking to Vienna with a friend, and both of us thought “How can there be such a good song by Genesis and/or Phil Collins and/or Peter Gabriel that we’ve never heard”. The similarity is there in the voice, just like between Collins and Gabriel. Since then, I’ve seen Marillion (with H) a few times, and Fish a few times. On balance, I prefer Fish, and prefer his stuff with Marillion to his solo stuff, but none of these combination has completely taken my breath away. Fish plays near where I live relatively often, as he lives in Germany now (his first wife was also German).

    As to the name Fish: who wouldn’t prefer it to Derek W. Dick (his real name)!

    Like

    • Back then I’m sure the name Derek Dick would not have gone over well but it would be probably be more accepted now. I always enjoy alliterative names. I’ve seen Marillion with Hogarth a few times and they were always great. Sadly never saw them with Fish, nor have I seen him solo. I have tons of live recordings of all eras of his/their careers and I don’t have a preference. They’ve each had peaks & valleys but they’ve always delivered on stage.

      Like

  5. Phillip Helbig
    December 30, 2019

    Probably not a deliberate Maiden reference in your post! (It refers to a song with more typical-heavy-metal lyrics than most Maiden songs, though even here there are some things which the average punter won’t get.)

    Like

    • I’m stumped. Where is my unintended Maiden reference?

      Like

      • Phillip Helbig
        January 2, 2020

        It’s “hooks in you”. OK, it’s a stretch, as it’s a generic phrase, and there is nothing to otherwise tie it to Maiden. As I said, it’s one of their few songs with generic rock-n-roll lyrics, as opposed to the somewhat more highbrow stuff Maiden usually does. As the link indicates, there is an interesting backstory I wasn’t aware of.

        Like

      • That was an interesting tidbit about Maiden’s “Hooks In You.” Inspiration can come from almost anywhere.

        Like

      • Phillip Helbig
        January 2, 2020

        My comment contains one of may few unintentional puns.

        Like

      • Was it the “pun” in “punter” or am I missing something?

        Like

      • Phillip Helbig
        January 7, 2020

        No. Read the backstory, then “it’s a stretch”. 🙂

        Like

      • Sorry, I’m completely stumped.

        Like

      • Phillip Helbig
        January 9, 2020

        The unintentional pun was in the comment explaining the “hooks in you”, not the original comment mentioning the unintentional maiden reference: “it’s a stretch”. So, hooks on the ceiling, BDSM stuff, and so on; I’m sure that some stretching is involved somewhere.

        Like

      • Excessive stretching would be the least of my concerns in that situation. 😃

        Like

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