1983 really seemed to be a great year for music and I am not just relegating this to the Heavy Metal genre and all of the cool stuff that came out during this particular year but even in the now labeled as Classic Rock area and the Progressive Rock stuff too. That said we are now at the official thirtieth anniversary of Marillion’s iconic debut album “Script For A Jester’s Tear” and as I say these words a couple of immediate things pop into my mind along with some other more important revelations. The first one is that I was not even remotely a fan of the band at the time of this release but I had heard the name on a couple of occasions. I recalled a cloisonné pin that a girl I fancied wore on her denim jacket and her enthusiasm about them when they were brought up in music conversations. Sadly I would but I would not investigate further. At this point in my life I liked what I liked and was not always as open to new things. The second time would be when I purchased a UK Metal and Rock compilation LP that would have a song by the band called “Assassing” but that melody hails from the debut’s successor and hence has no real place in our 30 Year toast. I am just sharing what came to mind ? Don’t worry I would catch up on the band in due time, just not for a while yet. Let’s continue.
Continue reading Marillion’s “Script For A Jester’s Tear” Reading Fine At 30 Years (1983-2013)
Title: “Early Stages” – The Official Bootleg Boxed Set 1982-1987
Label: EMI Music
Release Date: 11/28/2008
Genre: Progressive Rock
I will be the first to admit to the readers that I am one of those fans that is referred to as a “Fish-head” when it comes to the music of the band Marillion. Of course I have to also offer up a little defense for myself as I am also one of those people who kept on following the band once the epic poet Derek Dick chose to move on from their ranks but those years are not the subject of the material that we are examining. While Fish was in the band he had recorded four extraordinary albums and each of them is presented in some fashion across these vintage concerts that were done for the BBC. Through these never before heard tracks we find early interpretations of the work we would come to find on “Script For A Jester’s Tear”, “Fugazi”, “Misplaced Childhood” and “Clutching At Straws”. Fish would move on to start a prolific solo career of his own and since his departure Marillion has released more than three times the amount of studio albums that he did with them along with an incredible amount of live recordings. Of course when Fish moved on there were also many fans that chose to move on as well because the band became a different group from the one that they had admired and was a lot less progressive in its song structure and seemed to be aiming for the ever elusive commercial market. While Steve Hogarth is a fine songwriter too many he was not the epic wordsmith that many felt that Fish was. Facts like these make an album set such as this one a terrific journey into the bands beginnings and time with Fish in the live sense because when it came down to the official releases we would only get “The Thieving Magpie” as the bands live effort. That album focused on “Clutching” and “Misplaced” the most and left far too much off for the heavy duty fan and that’s where these shows now come into play as an incredible find. They labeled this as “The Official Bootleg” boxed set and yet these are not the typical bootleg with lots of crowd noise and rumble instead of quality music and are instead high quality official recordings that were done with better equipment based on their audio sonics. There are six CD’s delivered in the set and they cover five different shows across the span of about five years and we’ve broken it down one by one to offer up some additional comments for your enlightenment.
Continue reading “Early Stages” – The Official Bootleg Boxed Set 1982-1987 by Marillion
Venue: B.B. King Blues Club (New York, NY)
Label: Chocolate Frog UK
If you are one who considers themselves a true connoisseur of Progressive Rock bands from our not too distant past then I am sure that the first few releases by the band Marillion hold a special place in your heart. Let’s face it, the music that these guys were dishing out on “Script For A Jester’s Tear” called to mind the early heyday of Peter Gabriel era Genesis and at the time this was a sound that was missed by legions of Prog fans and somehow, someway this band was bringing a little bit of that back to the foreground. The reason for this was very simply a man they called Fish. Fish aka Derek Dick was the bands singer for four outstanding albums and his voice had a lot of similarity to that of Gabriel but what added strength and appeal to the man was his profound ability to weave a tale that snared you from the first words he would sing. This made the album “Fugazi” a clever ride into new territory and made “Misplaced Childhood” an absolute masterpiece that is still as powerful today as it was when it was released some twenty three years ago. Fish would record one more release with the band before moving on to his solo career and this would be “Clutching At Straws”, an album that some fans argue as being more poignant than “Misplaced Childhood” was, but that is an argument for a different time. Both Fish and Marillion would continue on and travel slightly different roads with the former singer being replaced by Steve Hogarth who would take the band on a slightly more commercially viable road while Fish would continue to delve into our innermost frailties and pour his own heart out in song. Fans took sides and while some remained with Marillion after his departure there were just as many who decided to follow Fish down the long road of human psyche that he would be travelling. As a song writer he proved he still had what it took and gave us “Vigil In A Wilderness Of Mirrors”, “Internal Exile”, “Sunsets on Empire” and many, many more.
Continue reading Fish @ B.B. King Blues Club (6/18/2008)
Title: “13th Star”
Label: Chocolate Frog Records
Release Date: 4/8/2008
Genre: Progressive Rock
Before I begin this review I have to admit that I had lost a little of my gung-ho steam in following the solo career of Fish as not only are his releases sometimes hard to come by, but the last couple were not doing for me what it had done in the beginning of his efforts and had left me wanting a little bit more since around the time of “Sunsets On Empires”. I enjoyed his life concert release “Return To Childhood” as the singer poet revisited some of his most stunning work with Marillion but as far as solo music I was seeking a little more. This view would change the moment that I heard the beginnings of “13th Star” for while it’s arrival would come at the cost of many upheavals in the singers personal life it is true that while tragic, these pitfalls of life often make for the best song-writing. At least when it comes to Fish it does. The album comes after the very public engagement and breakup of the singer and Heather Findlay from Mostly Autumn and it is clear that this is one of the key motivators behind the often dark and angry passages we find on the release. Fish mixes it up in terms of tempo and while he is expressing discontent at times this is not an angst laden release but instead one that often finds him mulling over the past happenings.
Continue reading “13th Star” by Fish
Label: MVD Audio
Release Date: 2/18/2008
Genre: Progressive Rock
Progressive Rock fans worldwide all know and love the accomplishments of Derek Dick, the man most affectionately referred to as Fish and this adoration comes not only because of his stellar contributions while a member of Marillion but also for his output as a songwriter during a truly prolific solo career where he continued his presentation of life’s poetry and pitfalls put to music. Fish recently completed a tour where he performed the entire Marillion classic album “Misplaced Childhood” and it might surprise many to find him issuing another live release so soon after that last one but once this is placed in the stereo you will immediately realize how different it is. This time around Fish performed in St. Mary’s Church Haddington which is located in East Lothian, Scotland and while he had performed there in the past he had not done so for awhile for reasons that he lines out in the albums narrative notes. The release is primarily an acoustic set that offers the listener something completely different from the “Return To Childhood” recording by omitting all numbers from the “Misplaced Childhood” album and instead opts to focus on his solo catalog with a surprise or two tossed in for good measure. There are those who would agree that his voice is not as vibrant as in the past and what singer can claim that after a couple of decades in the business. Yet in this setting we find Fish coming off quite strong once again and presenting the tracks with an impassioned delivery that made us all fans so long ago. The singer has a full band behind him and the vocal assistance of Heather Findlay, Angela Gordon and Anne Marie Helder (all from Mostly Autumn) and his daughter Tara. The female vocal presence working in tandem with Fish adds a little bit of new life to some of the songs we knew from his earlier years such as “Just Good Friends”, a track that has remained one of my favorites since first hearing it on “Internal Exile”. “Lady Let It Lie” is great but “A Gentlemen’s Excuse Me” might cause the more emotional listener to reach for the tissue box given its delivery of vocal and piano alone. I also rather enjoyed the vibe of “Shot The Craw” and “Tilted Cross”. In this setting the tracks that we have such an idea of almost becoming new versions which makes each listen something fresh and warm. The beginning of the album also seems to stick with the slower numbers but the set of material does get a little livelier on the second CD and even pumps up the volume a notch or two more.
Continue reading “Communion” by Fish