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Marillion - Script For A Jester's Tear CD (album) cover

SCRIPT FOR A JESTER'S TEAR

Marillion

 

Neo-Prog

4.22 | 1416 ratings

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Pnoom!
3 stars Author's Note: Under Revision 05/08/07. Trust the rating for now.

You do have to hand it to Marillion, as they truly revived prog with this release in 1983. That doesn't mean, though, that Script For a Jester's Tear has anything particularly special to offer. I will say, though, that while Fish does sound like a not as good version of Peter Gabriel (both in vocals and lyrics), Marillion captured their own sound musically. It's just not to my taste. Arena and IQ would take the foundations Marillion set and expound on them much better in more recent years.

Script for a Jester's Tear is a collection of mid length songs (between 5 and 10 minutes). Musically, this is classic neo prog in sound, symphonic sections but without the complexity and, in this case (but not in others), without the allure of 70s symphonic prog. There is also more emphasis on guitar here than in most 70s symphonic prog, which tended to be dominated more by keyboards (which I generally prefer to guitars; to, in fact, any other instrument). Lyrically, Fish has some good ideas, but only carries them to fruition on the opener and closer, which are also the best musically, as it turns out.

The album begins with the spoken "so here I am once more" (very good irony there, seeing as this was a debut album), at which point the keyboards come in, infectious, but I prefer more thought out keyboards to simple ear candy. In comes a very nice soft section, but it's nothing special. Things get going with the almost vintage symphonic section around 2 minutes in. It is now that the song truly becomes something special. The lyrics here are very good, some of the best on the album until we get to the last song. The song continues in this vein for a minute or two before going into a good but not great guitar solo. This is followed by a softer section that ends about 5:45 in, and doesn't impress me much. The song remains mellow, but with more energy than before. The song then comes out with the repetition of "can you still say you love me," which disappoints a bit. This song has some truly special parts, but, in the end, it suffers from too many weak sections surrounding that one middle section that is pure gold.

He Knows You Know is an upbeat song, but the Fish's vocals are simply irritating here, and the music is nothing special. The "he knows you know" section just grates on me evey time it comes around. Also, this song isn't particularly progressive, and the drumming gets on my nerves. There is one good neo section in the middle, but it only slightly lifts this song up from the depths, as it is wholly unimpressive otherwise. Not an invigorating way to follow up a song that enough "problems" of its own.

The Web opens emphatically, then calms down for the next two minutes. Around two minutes in, it has one decent section, very neo in sound, but without enough to grab me, and then it seems to lose all energy it ever had soon after. It gets it back, but by this point the song has lost me, and the better parts at the end aren't worth much, because they come after I've completely lost all interest.

Garden Party is too similar to the Web in the intro, except that it is then even worse, going nowhere, and with a simply poor neo sound (as opposed to the final track, IQ, and Arena, who all found a very good neo sound). The drums, or whatever those are, are omnipresent, and they stink up the place. The vocals and lyrics are nothing special, and this whole song serves only to get on my nerves. The first song at least had promise. Now the album is really starting to annoy me, as I always listen to the albums while I review. If I may say, I was originally planning on giving this album 3 stars, but the unbearability of sitting through it that I am now experiencing has made me change my rating to two stars.

Chelsea Monday starts out sounding like it will bring something new to the table, but it turns out that it leaves us hanging. All we get are the weak vocals that have characterized the last two songs on the album. It does pick up a bit later, but I'm already completely turned off the song just by the beginning. There is no magic to be found here.

Thankfully, there is Forgotten Sons to end this album and make it worthwhile. Finally, a song without any weak sections. Finally, a song with truly great lyrics. Finally, a song that goes somewhere. Finally, a song that captures the great neo sound that IQ and Arena would find later. Finally, a song I can tout as excellent. And excellent it is. Forgotten Sons is a very progressive, scathing anti-war song that really teaches the world how anti-war songs ought to be done. Starting with the radio sounds (similar to Pink Floyd's opening to the Final Cut, which was, I believe, the same year, and also anti-war). Then comes the triple rhyme vocals, and the amazing line "boys baptized in war." Following this is the kind of neo section that, for me, at least, defines what the genre is about. Fish's voice falters in parts, but he's generally his best here. There are some spoken word sections in the middle that aren't as good as the intro and outro, but they're better than anything else on the album, and they grow on you. With just under 3 minutes left, we go into another beautiful neo section that, again, defines, in my eyes, what the genre is at its best. Fish does some real singing that truly is the best I've heard him to, and the lyrics are excellent. This is an incredible end to an otherwise disappointing album that isn't all it's cracked up to be.

If I become a collaborator, I will be the first collaborator to rate this album as under four stars. And I do so proudly. I don't give it this rating in response to the ratings of other members, I give it in response to the poor quality of the music on Marillions 1983 debut, Script For a Jester's Tear. Other than the last song, nothing grabs me, not even the "masterpiece" that the first song is claimed to be. This is an album, that, among the ones I own, will sink into obscurity, because there's little to keep it in my mind, other than Forgotten Sons, which is still bested by plenty of other neo songs. Try a little harder, Marillion, and it might do you some good. I cannot say this album impresses me at all.

Pnoom! | 3/5 |

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