Tuesday, May 22, 2007

CD Review: Marillion - Somewhere Else - Please come back Fish!

An article in the review section of a leading Sunday paper notes that 2007 in popular music circles has been labelled the year of the comeback. The Police are back on the beat and stinging a generation of middle-aged fans into reliving their youth with every breath they take, The Eagles are re-checking in to Hotel California, Rage Against the Machine are raging against the machine again and gothic blasphemy merchants The Jesus & Mary Chain are rising again on the third day. Oh, and staying with the biblical theme, Genesis are being rather irritating too.

In the film world Sliced Alone has recently re-entered the ring in a risible comeback by the 60-year old boxer Rocky Balboa. The Italian Stallion should have been sent to the cat food factory years ago. I haven't seen the film, but I imagine that like its predessors it would be quite entertaining to watch if seen as a comedy.

Marillion - could do better

Another band who have been around for a very long time, but stubbornly refuse to go away, despite coming in for much criticism - not to mention ridicule - are Marillion. Although their glory days of the mid-80s are long gone, and few people under 30 will have even heard of them, they've consistently managed to churn out a half-decent album every few years and even secured a rare top 10 single "You're Gone" (how appropriate) in 2004, even though it was the result of a deliberately orchestrated internet campaign in which their website urged every fan to buy three copies, thus artificially inflating sales, but there you go.

Marillion's latest album "Somewhere Else" however is a definite disappointment. There's nothing new or innovative there at all. It's as if they've just recycled their old material and re-named the songs. There's the usual U2 style moralising ("The wretched of the earth exploited by the rich few/What's new?"), the pseudo-intellectual philosophising ("Better to be a doctor or a man who walks the earth/Hedonistic laughing boys/What's any of it worth?" or "There's no such thing as owning something/It's all borrowed for a time") and the surreal - "Mr Taurus ate a thesaurus, Made the girls cry and skipped stright to the chorus". How appropriate that Taurus is Latin for bull. And of course there's the obligatory prolonged 7-minute prog rock epic track, a concept that's wearing rather thin these days.

The sleeve design is woeful. One undeniably good thing about Marillion's early years was the elaborate art work on the album covers, now very much consigned to the wastelands. I don't want to give the lads a rough ride, but they've got thick skins considering all the crap they've taken in the past. however "Somewhere Else" seems like a lazy effort with little thought or creativity within. The name of the album could well have been inspired by the question "Where are they now?". They can do better than this. Almost 20 years after his departure, maybe it's time Fish re-joined the band.
A case of swimming against the tide?


Antonio from Italy said...

I only have one CD by them and, to be honest, I don't remember last time I listened to it, maybe I never did... I don't even remember the title.
I can't give my opinion on any work of this band.

CW said...

Out of interest, Antonio, which Cd is it?

Lady Fotherington-Smethers said...

Maybe Jason Donovan will make a comeback now he has had a hair transplant.

Lady Fotherington-Smethers said...

I liked the song 'Kayleigh' but never anything else by Marillion.

CW said...

"Misplaced Childhood" (1985)the album Kayleigh came from is probably their definitive work of the Fish era. Notable albums from the Steve Hogarth era include This "Strange Engine" (1997)"Radiation" (1998), "Marillion.com" (1999)- which you're welcome to borrow, Lady F-S. Then they took the piss out of themselves by realeasing an album called "Anoraknophobia", a term meaning fear of Marillion fans.