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Marillion - B'Sides Themselves CD (album) cover





3.49 | 193 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars One word: Grendel

Released in 1988, "B'Sides Themselves" is technically the last MARILLION record featuring Fish. This compilation contains songs from 1982-1987 not previously released on the four LPs: B-sides available on EPs only and reworked versions of the band's first EP "Market Square Heroes". A piece of all these EPs are shown on the cover art. Now, how does it compare to their studio albums?

The first half of the record is the main interest, mainly due to the 17 minutes long epic suite "Grendel". A masterpiece, however controversial, as it reuses at minute 13 a passage from GENESIS' "Supper's Ready". This was the main reason why MARILLION were accused of being a copycat of their British elder brothers. This said, the rest of the track marks his difference and possesses his own identity. To sum up, it simply contains the best the neo-progressive genre has to offer: melancholic passages, calm and epic rock moments, fantasy keyboards, powerful progression, it will transport into you a colorful magical world! Furthermore, the medieval guitar introduction is beautiful. So I find the plagiarism accusation a bit exaggerated. One of MARILLION's greatest compositions, and also one of the best neo-pogressive songs! It's a pity Fish and co. hadn't composed a track this ambitious after... Anyway, the renaissance of fairytale prog has begun...

On the contrary, "Charting The Single" is quite insipid with its awful drum sound. Despite its dated synthesizer sound, "Market Square Heroes" is quite energetic and catchy. "Three Boats Down From The Candy" is enjoyable but more uneven, the most interesting passage being the powerful ending guitar section. These two songs were initially recorded for the band's first EP in 1982, "Market Square Heroes", which already unveils a glimpse of the band's creativity. Nonetheless, the tracks on this compilation are in fact the reworked B-Sides versions from the 1984 EP "Punch and Judy". Also unequal, "Cinderella Search" features a few changes and has punchy hard rock finale.

The second half of the record is a little less inspired. "Lady Nina" and "Freaks" are soapy 80's pop, which does not really comes as a surprise as they were recorded the same year as their consensual LP "Misplaced Childhood". "Tux On" is an efficient eighties rock with a crying guitar solo, whereas the live "Margaret" is a long jam based on a rock version of "Scotland the Brave". It even contains a small passage from EDWARD GRIEG's "In the Hall of the Mountain King" in "Peer Gynt". Fun, but a bit lengthy.

Although uneven, "B'Sides Themselves" is an interesting compilation, as it features the epic "Grendel". The true weak parts are mostly the 1985 tracks, recorded during the commercial period of the Fish-era. Compare to their studio albums, the other tracks are overall less ambitious and magical, but nonetheless quite nice and rocking. Anyway, they're better than the weak tracks of the studio albums.

"B'Sides Themselves" is essential for fans of MARILLION's first years with Fish. "Grendel" is also a good entry point for those wanting to discover neo-prog. A little gem...

Modrigue | 3/5 |


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