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Marillion - Market Square Heroes CD (album) cover





3.92 | 123 ratings

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4 stars The debut release of Marillion is very uncovenient and surprising. Not because of the fact that it's an EP, but for featuring the ultimate 17+- minute prog epic on a modest place of "B-side" non-album material. Surely if the currency of progressive rock had been any stronger at the early 80's (those were indeed the starvation years of prog), works like 'Grendel' would have been given all the glory, pride and self-esteem as a side of an LP, perhaps as a title epic, instead of being hidden on an EP.

But first about the two other songs. 'Market Square Heroes' is a bold, anthem-like rock song filled with the aspiring attitude of "Look out! Here we come!" Actually it has never much impressed me in its chorus-oriented straight-forwardness. I even prefer 'Three Boats Down from the Candy', which is powerfully dynamic as it finally bursts open after the creepy, held-back quietness and is finished with a fine guitar solo. The theatricality of Fish works well, I wouldn't blame him for being a Peter Gabriel clone. Or Marillion a Genesis clone.

'Grendel' marks a rare, almost one-of-a-kind view on the early 80's prog revivalists stepping bravely into the territory of multi- part, side-long epics such as Genesis's 'Supper's Ready' - to which it's often compared; I agree with Cygnus X-2 that the beat around the 13th minute resembles the Apocalypse section of 'Supper's Ready' and otherwise any accusations of mockery is unfair.

I always like to deal with the literary connections in prog compositions. The monster named Grendel originates from the Medieval epic poem Beowulf. But that's not the whole story when it comes to Fish's lyrics. He was inspired by John Gardner's novella "Grendel" (1971) that tells the story mostly from the monster's point of view. Of course I had to read the book (sadly unavailable in Finnish) as a young adult and a Marillion fan, but frankly the book didn't grab me as far as I remember. The author is American (1933 - 1982), not the British James Bond novelist of the same name. Also musically 'Grendel' succeeds extremely well in creating the horrorful atmosphere. The sections with different tempos and moods follow each other in a good balance. The nocturnal creepiness, the terror and violence, and finally the heroic conclusion... it's all captured vividly within the 17 minutes. An admirable - if not technically faultless - piece from a band at the beginning of their recording career.

All three tracks of this EP are to be found on "B'Sides Themselves", but sadly its version of 'Three Boats...' is violently faded in the end.

Matti | 4/5 |


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