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Marillion - Misplaced Childhood CD (album) cover





4.23 | 1981 ratings

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2 stars Gabriel era Genesis... but two steps back.

This is a difficult album to review because it was meant to appeal to classic era prog fans (such as myself) but the quality of the music is way inferior to any of the classic bands they are trying to emulate. First of all, I have to make clear that I don't doubt of the capabilities, talent and potential of each and everyone of the musicians involved in this album since I've seen what they can do, specially on "Script for a Jester's Tear", which is almost the "lost Gabriel era Genesis album". Here, again, Marillion displays their Genesis influence to an extent that it becomes a clone, but this time they add a Pink Floyd "The Wall" era element to the music. As I said before, these influences and overall sound would appeal to prog fans but the compositional quality is quite diminished in comparison to their debut in an accomplished effort of making prog more accessible (indeed, it peaked on the charts).

I have always said that if you want to emulate a classic band without being dull you should, at least, be able to keep the musical standard and be somewhat original. "Script for a Jester's Tear" accomplished that masterfully, producing pieces that aren't just copies of already existing Genesis tunes. But now, Marillion embarked the pretentious project of making Gabriel era Genesis accessible to the masses but by doing that they sacrificed their Genesis-like musical standard (and saying this is a enormous compliment to their debut) and everything that made this prog classic's music interesting. I have nothing against pretentiousness when it makes things interesting, but this time it bores me to death. At the end, the pretension of this album, unlike classic-era prog, is to simplify the music. So, instead of being progressive they are being regressive! Something common among several Neo-Prog bands.

This album is considered a masterpiece by many and I can understand its appeal: it caries the essence of some of our favorite bands, it is easy to comprehend and has interesting lyrics. Not only that, it was one of the few sources of prog in the 80's and it got some airplay, therefore it produced the illusion and hope that the progressive rock era wasn't over. But we have to realize that: 1) The music lacks originality, 2) Is simplistic and 3) If you wanted to get 80s prog King Crimson, Rush and other authentically progressive bands where active during the decade. Well.... we can say this is the cornerstone of Neo- Prog, which in my book isn't really a compliment (although there are some enjoyable and decent Neo-Prog albums out there...clearly, this isn't one of them).

Now to the music. Fish has a voice outstandingly similar to Peter Gabriel's (and that is another big compliment), his performance and lyrics are the highlight and only interesting aspect of the album. The guitar work is actually closer to David Gilmour's than to Steve Hackett's, but nothing really noteworthy comes out of it. The rhythm section is apt but, again, uninteresting. The keyboards are not bad, creating an atmosphere with lots of unexploited potential and some pleasant piano interventions appear every now and then.

There is actually no technical flaw here, but the uninteresting and boring music makes me want to give the lowest rating. Nonetheless, the great vocal performance, technically flawless playing, pristine recording and, to a lesser extent, historic significance of this record (it kept the symphonic prog sound tradition alive) made me reconsider.

Total: 2.40.

Two stars for a decent, boring, unoriginal and regressive album. Just for collectors of prog history.

ProgressiveAttic | 2/5 |


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