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Marillion - Seasons End CD (album) cover





3.75 | 870 ratings

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5 stars Okay, let's be honest. Hogarth is no Fish. I think most fans would agree with that simple statement. But in fairness, Hogarth is still an excellent singer, a solid lyricist, and a strong performer. Unfortunately, too many Fish fans dismiss Hogarth-led Marillion, starting with this album, and that is their loss.

When I first listened to the album, the airy riff that opens "King of Sunset Town" drew me in, building both suspense and anticipation for what was to come. Suddenly, it crescendoed into a blazing Rothery solo and then "the ragged man came shuffling" in, and I thought to myself, "They still got it!" By the end of the second tune, "Easter," which is perhaps the most charming and beautiful song in the Marillion catelog, I was hooked. The third song, "Univited Guest," is a solid song and is not a slap at Fish, at least no more so than "The Company" and "View from a Hill" is a slap at Fish's old mates. The fourth tune, "Season's End," is a lovely piece, especially the closing two minutes in which Hogarth's vocals ooze in and out over the spacy music. Side B opens with "Holloway Girl," an underrated number about injustice and false imprisonment. Anyone who has ever been walking "out in the cold on a North London street knows that the opening bass line perfectly reflects the extra hop in one's skip. The song also contains some of Hogarth's finest lyrics. The sixth song, "Berlin," is both atmospheric (especially the sax solo) and emotional. The section about the man being shot down while running for freedom was especially poignent given that the album came out only months before the Berlin Wall came crashing down. And the final section that opens with "The butcher, the baker, the munition's maker" (an interesting play on the fairytale rhyme) is as powerful as anything from the Fish-era. This is not surprising given that the music to "Berlin" was origininally recorded with Fish -- to the lyrics of "Family Business" of all things. (Both songs are better for the split.) "After Me" is a nice power ballad, and "Hooks in You" is a strong rock/pop effort that has held up well over time. The closing piece, "The Space," is the strongest song on this great album. What started with a song about the massacre in China ends with a car crashing in Amsterdam and the realization that everyone -- from chinese students to Irish freedom fighters, from an unjustly imprisoned girl in London to a murdered man seeking freedom and love in Berlin -- is the same, and that all people have the same basic hopes and fears. Though perhaps not as eloquent as Fish's lyrics, the message here is an important one, and the music is as strong as earlier albums.

It is sad that so many Fish fans dismiss the Hogarth-led Marillion albums. If they were not so closed-minded and biased, these fans would realize that this album (and others like it -- "Brave," "A of S," "TSE," and "Marbles") is excellent. I, too, am a BIG fan of Fish's work (in fact, I like Fish more than Marillion), but I am open-minded enough to recognize that the Fish/Marillion split all those years ago was actually a good thing because it led to two sources of wonderful music instead of just one. That is a win/win in my script!

| 5/5 |


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