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Marillion - Happiness Is The Road CD (album) cover





3.35 | 641 ratings

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3 stars Happiness Is The Road is an album review that I have sat on for quite a few years as I felt that I could not expound on the music offered up on this double CD album. In order to clean out the files, I have decided to focus on the message that's behind the music and it's author in an effort to shed some light on this somewhat unusual album. Marillion vocalist Steve Hogarth, or just "H" as he's known, is someone that's quite concerned with the mental and spiritual well being of both himself and Marillion's audience. Hogarth finds that a wonderful lyrical topic from time to time and it's these musings that make up the entire first CD that is subtitled "Essence". The music on these vignettes are the type of quiet atmospheric offerings that we have come to know from Marillion up this point. There is absolutely no standard verse, chorus, verse and chorus structures in these songs and they are incredibly draggy. "H" is quite determined to tell us that one's happiness is a state of mind, the glass is half full kind of thinking, which I suppose has merits if one is not in some kind of dire straits like living in a war zone or in a country struck down by famine. The punch line is the lyrics to the album's title track "Happiness Is The Road" where "H" tells us that it's not what's at the end of the road that brings us happiness but traveling on the road itself. The old wisdom tale that the journey is actually the destination, or sentiments to that effect. All nice, I suppose, but far from exciting prog.

CD 2, subtitled " The Hard Shoulder", dispenses with "H"s preaching and serves up a wonderful group of nine Marillion prog rock songs with wonderful keyboard textures, emotional and witty guitar solos and excellent bass playing that makes each song quite a wonderful listen while trying to anticipate what turns the band will take next. Indeed, Hogath's vocals are quite stellar on both of these discs and the music found on disc 2 is certainly a precursor to the excellent Sounds That Can't Be Made album that was shortly to follow. All of the songs on the second disc are entertaining with "Whatever Is Wrong With You" being a missed opportunity at the band having a hit single so late in their career. Very unfortunate.

If the music on this double CD album had been issued separately, I would have no qualms with awarding disc 1 with 2 stars as it's quite forgettable. But disc 2 is worthy of 4 so that puts us at an average of 3 stars for Happiness Is The Road. And that's enough to make one feel less than happy, unfortunately.

SteveG | 3/5 |


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