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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 | 1421 ratings

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JLocke
Prog Reviewer
5 stars I actually can't recall exactly when or how I first heard of Marillion, but I do know that they were my first real delving into more obscure prog bands that weren't as well-known in the public's eye (Before this time I had only been listening to the obvious prog bands such as Pink Floyd, Yes and Dream Theater). This particular album was actually my first experience with Marillion, so isn't it fortunate that it is so fantastic?

I was lucky enough to find myself a copy of the now out-of-print (I believe) double-disc remastered edition. However, I am going to review only the album proper, as I don;t think that the bonus disc is part of the album experience per say.

This masterpiece begins with a very simple, mellow intro featuring Fish singing his signature theatrical vocals overtop of Mark Kelly playing single piano chords. This soon evolves into a moment of silence, then we now jear the keyboard sounds as Kelly plays a tune that makes me feel like I am in some medieval court right away. Soon, Steve Rothery comes in with absolutely brilliant acoustic guitar that even further creates the illusion of some older time period. What I like about Marillion's music (and this will continue all throughout the album) is that, for me, it not only makes me feel emotions, but it also transports me to physical places in my head, and the picture becomes so clear to me that the mood is set once and for all, and I believe in the story Fish is telling for the rest of the album's duration. The first track as a whole eventually becomes a very heavy rocker and Rothery shows his true abilities as a guitar master. And let us not forget Pointer and Trewavas, who also contribute greatly to the overall sound of the record. Just when you think you know where the track is going, it once again takes another dramatic turn into a more ballad-like structure, with soaring moody guitar work and the always amazing voice of Fish complimenting one another as the track fades out, leaving the listener excited to hear what will come next.

As amazing and moving as the first track is, here comes another great one, which what I believe was the original single from the album (though I could be mistakes), He Knows You Know. The lyrics found here are, in my opinion, actually rather weak, especially when compared with the lyrics of the previous track, although this really is of no matter, since the music itself holds up on it's own very well. In fact, the musicainship found on this particular song is so good, frankly Fish could be singing about badgers, mushrooms and snakes and the song would still be very powerfull. Kelly really shines here, with a very cathy yet unusual keyboard riff that accompanies Rothery's rhythm guitar section of the song, then becomes the backing track to another perfect guitar solo. At one point, the song also introduces a very punchy, catchy chorus that repeats a few times in very typical song structure manner. This is where the proto-prog label comes from I believe, because these guys, while clearly progressive, definately have a very straightforward rock edge to them that I think would normally make them more accessible to people; sadly for them, they were around at the wrong time, and to this day many people don't know who they are simply because they debued in an era where prog rock was still not the most revered of musical styles in existence. In this chorus, Fish starts off on one of his shouting sections. The first of many. While some people could find this annoying, I actually like the intensity of the man's vocal performance; it really brings an extra punch to the band's music. Here in the chorus, he yells You've GOT! Venom in your stomach, you've GOT! Poison in your head . . . and so on. I really like this, as it puts alot of power and aggressivness to the song. Like I say, not everyone will like this about Fish-era Marillion, but for me it really heightens the listening experience. (By the way, this is not all that Fish can do. He also has a very beautiful soft side to his voice that gives me chills at times)

Bringing together tracks 2 and 3 is a quite hillarious interlude that has a very Pink Floyd-like quality to it, in which a ringing phone is featured . . .

The Web redeems the album's lyrical prowess with Fish's poetry being once again shown in all of it's glory with such lyrics like: 'I'm the cyclops in the tenement, I'm the soul without the cause'. A moment in the song that is particularly striking is when the music becomes very song, and Rothery dishes out a rather tasty clean guitar section as Fish quietly sings overtop of it. However, another potentionally funny moment happens immediately after when Fish suddenly and inexplicably shouts out the last part of a verse. Like I said, it may take some time for this vocal style to grow on you, but there is no reason why it ultimately couldn't do just that. Something definately worth a mention is that this song features possibly the best guitar solo found on the entire record by Steve Rothery, and it truly shows how greatly underrated of a guitarist (and indeed, the band itself) he is. Actually, Rothery is among my all- time favorite guitar players, just because he has such a great ear for catchy melodies without losing his own originality along the way. The solo I am speaking of in this particular song is truly beautiful, and I get chills every time I hear it. Pointer also does an exceptionally great job on this track, playing some truly complex beats without being too showoff-y. Finally, Mark Kelly has his finest moment on the album with an otherwordly uplifting keyboard solo that sends my imagination to outer space and beyond!

Garden Party - Possibly the most epic song on this album, despite it's meager length. It begins with a very interesting rhythm set by both Trewavas and Pointer, followed by a placid keyboard riff, which backs up Fish in his most theatrical-style vocal work found in Jester. Here he makes full use of voice projection, rounding his 'r's and singing in a very original manner that sounds more like speaking than singing, and yet it still has a tune. Difficult to explain, but the voice work is definately exceptional on this song in particular. Kelly once again shows his ability to produce spacy keyboard solos and Rothery doesn't do too bad of a job himself at accompanying the madness that is this song's structure. It feels all over the place, yet it works so well to give the listener that frantic feeling that Fish no doubt intended.

The next song is Chelsea Monday, and quite honestly is my least favorite track on the album. However, it is still great in and of itself, so just because I like it the least doesn't mean that isn't a good song. The looped voices at the beginning don't really make sense to me, and they feel out of place. However, Trewavas does his best bass work on this song, with a riff that really gets me quite emotional, and bass rarely does that to me. It's probably due to the keyboard and guitar lines accompanying it, which all combined make for a very moving backdrop for Fish to dish out more theatrical voice work in front of. Steve Rothery also gives another very beautiful guitar solo, his second- best on the record. Slowever, and a bit jazzier, which reminds me very much of David Gilmour. Following that, he impresses yet again with very haunting clean guitar work. All the while, Fish is doing some of his best lyrical work of all time, and Pointer is doing a great job of keeping everything together in a very slow, accurate backbeat. Yet more voices now, but this time, they are actually understandable, and I suppose at this point in the song don't really add or take away anything. They are just there. The song then abruptly ends. Not too shabby for my least favorite song on the record. In fact, it's quite enjoyable.

Ah, Forgotten Sons, the finale of this true prog masterwork. Well, the song's opening actually isn't the greatest, with more seemingly aimless yelling from Fish, but like I say, I actually like this aspect of the man's voice, so I quite like it. The keyboard work here makes me feel like I am sailing the seven seas with a group of pirates, which really gets my blood pumping evreytime I hear the riff begin. At around the 02:15-02:20 mark, the song begins it's main section: a man's rather calm voice presenting the song's lyrics in spoken word, while a maniacal Fish screams the same lyrics in the background. Backing these rather dramatic but enjoyable vocals is Steve Rothery's best rhythm work I have ever heard. Truly exciting to listen to every time. Building on to that after a little while is Trewavas' excellent playing, giving the already entrancing rhythm guitar an extra punch with his accompanying, equally impressive rhythm section. Pointer and Kelly also do not dissapoint here, all together giving this section of the song a very heavy, crunching edge to it. Now, the song changes yet again and we now hear the song's rhythm become very military and march-like, while Fish recites a slight mockary of a traditional prayer. This could potentionally be the album's most dramatic moment yet, or it's funniest. I must admit, I laughed aloud when I first heard Fish's drawn-out, overly-exaggerated Arrrrrrrrrrrmen!, but over time, I have grown to love this part of the album, and it really cements the experience for me. As a whole, I think the album gous out with a bang, and the entire experience makes it very worth while to anyone interested in more underrated prog bands.

Overall the album is terrific. I happen to think it's essential, but I understand that many people seem to think that Marillion simply ripped-off Genesis. However, I think that is unfair. (Although, not being a Genesis fan myself, I may not hear the similarities between the two simply because I'm not familiar enough with their music). Frankly, I think that Marillion are compared to Genesis so much because Fish's singing voice happens to resemble Peter Gabriel's a bit. But this band has so many original moments in their music, I think it is an unjust claim for anyone to make that Marillion is merely a Genesis 'clone'. For anyone who has put off listening to Marillion simply because they have heard negative things about them, please, give this album a try, as it has some truly epic moments on it. It is as far as I am concerned a hidden gem lost among many unoriginal neo-prog bands. Quite a shame that more people haven't given it (Or indeed, Marillion themselves) the respect it deserves, but for those of us who know just how precious it, the wonderful listening experiences never cease to return each time we play 'Script For A Jester's Tear'.

Happy listening.

JLocke | 5/5 |

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