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Marillion - Clutching At Straws CD (album) cover

CLUTCHING AT STRAWS

Marillion

 

Neo-Prog

4.13 | 904 ratings

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Tristan Mulders
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Marillion - Clutching at Straws

In 1987 the grand finale of Marillion's Fish-era was released, "Clutching at Straws". Just like the previous three albums, this album seemed to be yet another chapter in the biography of Fish's life. Whereas he previously wrote lyrics about the loss of (some of his) friends and (his) childhood, this album is not any more uplifting, most of it deals with addictions to both alcohol as well as drugs. I always personally had the strong feeling that all four albums Marillion released with Fish onboard were one conceptual piece of art, ranging from his childhood to his adulthood and various problems he encountered on the way towards adulthood.

"Clutching at Straws" is maybe not the most original album from Marillion's Fish-era, but I still find myself playing it far more often than any of the other three albums that preceded it. Perhaps the fact that most of the music and lyrics are lesser mystical and abstract than on the previous albums, makes the album more accessible for repeated listens. About half of the album is not even that progressive at all, mainly straightforward rock music, instead of Prog. But don't let that fool you: the album opens with an epic suite lasting for exactly fourteen minutes spanned over three songs. This suite features one of my favourite tracks of Marillion: Warm wet Circles. An easily accessible song -also released as a single, I guess because of that very reason- which is divided into two parts. The first half of the song has quite a friendly atmosphere, whereas the part that follows is fairly heavy, both musically as well as emotionally seen.

What's also a personally highlight is the intermezzo that is Going under. This barely three minutes long acoustic piece is all about madness. And madness it is. You can't escape it, it's simply everywhere in this song. The track has a very depressing mood to it, mainly created by Fish's sombre singing of his sad lyrics and the repetitive guitar lick. The sliding synthesizer waves are not making things any happier too. This song is also available as an 'extended mix' on the two disc remaster edition of this album. I personally prefer that version, because it has an electric guitar solo added to the mix, that's the extended part; the track is not longer.

The last noticeable highlight is a Marillion classic: Sugar Mice. I guess these are the saddest lyrics Fish has written. The feelings of sorrow and plain sadness are everywhere. Looking at the lyrics from a weird perspective one could see this song as a public excuse to everyone that Fish think he'd hurt during his life at that point.

The other tracks that I didn't mention would get an average three stars per song, mainly because they're all good compositions with good musicianship, but they're lacking just that little extra to call it a great song.

A worthy ending for a worthy artist. actually. maybe the past years have only been an introduction to Fish, his solo stuff is sometimes better than what he did while he was a member of Marillion.

Tristan Mulders | 4/5 |

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