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Marillion - Misplaced Childhood CD (album) cover

MISPLACED CHILDHOOD

Marillion

 

Neo-Prog

4.25 | 1521 ratings

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Finnforest
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars The jewel of the Fish years

And the best Neo album I've personally ever heard. Events in my personal life have had me thinking about the past a lot lately, I suppose it's just the next midlife crisis. Some would say I look backwards too much but I would counter that too many people seem to be running from their past, which is no better frankly. I think there is much to be learned by thinking about events and outcomes of decades gone by, as I've found they can be clues to explaining things in your midst today. Is it coincidence that this old friend found its way back into my rotation after many years of not hearing it? Maybe. But the rush of memories and emotions it brought back were nothing short of intriguing. "Misplaced Childhood" is a masterpiece for so many reasons and it is easily the best of the Fish years. The album comes from the high point of the first Marillion era, when the band members said they were confident and happy, and stated that the album pretty much "wrote itself." The good times were short lived of course but what a statement they left. The thematic concepts of the album come primarily from one wild night when Fish took a double hit of some solid LSD and spent the night writing between bouts of freaking out, providing yet more evidence that some of the best rock music ever written was assisted by chemical inspiration, as much as some would like to deny that fact.

"An envelope arrived one of these days. Inside there was a short letter from an old girlfriend with the recommendation to digest the accompanying contents - a tab of very strong acid. Very Alice indeed! Not having indulged for a while I swallowed a cautious half, and after a few hours and with a pleasant euphoria, I took the other - setting off on my bike to Steve Rothery's house. Very bad mistake....Steve had to drive me home and after locking all the doors I set off into a long white-knuckle roller-coaster of a night....I immersed myself in a warm bath for a while, returning to the womb and trying to reassemble myself. I spent the rest of the night crouched on the floor listening to music, watching walls breathe....I'd started to doodle and scribble in my lyric book on the off chance of catching something from the trip. It was sometime during the night that I was visited. 'Incubus' was on the deck; I was in 'Padres Bay' when suddenly I felt a child standing behind me on the stairs. I knew he was dressed as a soldier and vanished as soon as he entered the corner or my eye. Perhaps it was my muse; perhaps it was the drug. It was enough to propel me into reaming off a large scrawl of prose. Contained within were the diamonds and structure on which would hang up the entire concept of Misplaced Childhood." [Fish, from Marillion.com]

Lyrically and musically the album is almost magical in its successes. The concepts Fish wrote about were personal mostly, but great rock concepts have a way of allowing the listener to assume emotional control of the content: "Kayleigh" becomes *your* lost love, the melting chalk hearts from *your* playground, the haze of summer lawns emerge from our *own* memories. (Not literally of course, the names and places will be different, but you catch my drift-we internalize the tracks to our own experience). He delivers the storylines masterfully and with incredible passion. The band rises to his challenge of performance here delivering heartfelt melodies, interesting proggy interludes, beautifully linked songs and transitions, recurring themes, and spirited jamming. When you consider all of the elements the album can compete with works like Dark Side or Trick of the Tail (while it falls short of Floyd for me it easily bests TotT). But think about Dark Side's recipe: great transitions, poignant lyrics, interesting proggy moments and great melody....same recipe. The difference is mainly in the "sound" of the two bands and the time periods. Some proggers will blast the album for being too overtly accessible but in reality it is not so different than those highly approachable '70s albums.

I love how dynamic and briskly paced everything is kept. From the mysterious beginning of "Pseudo Silk Kimono" to those amazing first chords of "Kayleigh", which if you listen carefully perfectly sound-simulate the effect of time travel leading to the "do you remember?" lines of the songs....just freakin' perfect melding of sound and theme. They dive right into another contagious track with "Lavender" showcasing Rothery's abilities to mimic that gorgeous, transcendent Gilmour quality of pleasurable note production. "Bitter Suite" begins with an understated but dramatic little drum solo, a great touch by Mosley. "Blue Angel" revisits the "Lavender" melody as the album displays the kind of recurring themes throughout that give it that cohesive, confident, and deeply considered compositional base. "Misplaced Rendevous" opens with a lovely acoustic swirl before "Windswept Thumb" closes this amazing suite with my favorite, simple piano melody. Mark Kelly lavishes the album cover to cover in beautiful texture and mood, while Pete Trewavas delivers this huge, thumping bass throughout....giving the album some real rock punch! The second side tries to best "Bitter Suite" with a 10-minute emotional bloodbath in "Blind Curve" which deals with the death of a close friend (I believe.) The interlude between "Mylo" and "Perimeter" is fantastic---and the pain, loss, and anger expressed through the suite is deep. Just when it begins to get a bit much at the end they pull it back nicely with a refrain of the pleasing "Lothian" riff. If only they had ended with the upbeat and natural sounding conclusion of "Childhood's End" which so perfectly wrapped it. The one black eye of this album is the tacking-on of the dreadful last track "White Feather" with its cringe-worthy, utopian lyrics, which was simply so unnecessary. My rating of 5 stars is tainted by the fact that I hate the last track, so I must qualify that I stop the disc after "Childhood's End." Perhaps that's cheating, but hey, it's my review. I can't penalize such a treasure like this for one dud track.

Get yourself a remastered version of this album and hear one of the best rock albums of the 1980s. The cynical (of which I often include myself in their ranks) may mock you, but when you get this disc in your car alone, you'll enjoy it just like the other guilty pleasure albums people sometimes diss....Grand Illusion, Wind and Wuthering, Moving Pictures, Snow Goose, In Absentia, Point of Know Return, etc. "Misplaced Childhood" may not be the greatest progressive album but it was a perfect moment in time, a band hitting full stride, and somewhere to take refuge in the mid '80s.

Finnforest | 5/5 |

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