Revisiting my extensive music collection, one artist at a time
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.