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Marillion - Misplaced Childhood CD (album) cover





4.23 | 1971 ratings

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3 stars When I entered the Marillion page of progarchives I was surprised to see that the average rating of "Misplaced Childhood" is higher than the ratings of its predecessors "Script For A Jester's Tear" and "Fugazi". Sure, it comes along as a conceptual album with repeating themes, songs merging into another etc. It was Marillions international breakthrough - so it must have been the first contact to the band for many progfans here. But compared to the freshness and rock-orientation of "Script" and "Fugazi" this one can get you tired. If I had to choose a Marillion record to spin today I would take any with Fish as lead vocalist, but not "Misplaced Childhood".

Generally spoken, Marillion doesn't belong on the same stage as Genesis, Yes, Gentle Giant, ELP, Rush etc. It seems they got up there because they did their best works in the eighties when progfans had a hard time to find good new releases. I wouldn't rate a Marillion album with five stars (Script and Fugazi would get four stars each).

The only outstanding aspect is Fish's poetry. As a 13-year old German boy in 1985 Fish was one of my guides to the beauty of English language (though I might not speak/write it very well, you may decide). The compositions are OK but (especially on this album) far from genius and they don't vary enough in style, some songs sound too similar to each other. The music only supports the lyrics nicely, so I get the idea of a background band for Fish. Sometimes they carry on supporting him when his voice isn't there at all. This makes it hard to tell the skills of the other musicians. So don't expect amazing instrumental parts.

A problem I always had with this release is that the few songs I really like are all located in the second half (tracks 6 to 10, side 2 of the original vinyl). Nowadays, spinning CDs (and it's a concept, so should be listened to in its entity) I need some patience before things start getting exciting.

It starts very calm with "Pseudo Silk Kimono", no drums here. There's nothing wrong about that but it's followed by the two hit singles "Kayleigh" and "Lavender", little more than average poprock ballads.

Things seem to get better with track 4, "Bitter Suite". It starts with some kind of poetry narration by Fish above swelling synth chords and a driving hihat-pattern and continues with a rather fast part with compelling solo guitar work. But this is just a short highlight followed by long boredom. Soon - don't forget it's a "bitter suite" - my good-will gets destroyed by the grousy guitar melody that dominated "Lavender" - past only for a few minutes! They repeat it over and over again (maybe someone wants to count) and if this doesn't make your ears bleed it has probably put you asleep. If not, chances are good that the ending of "Heart of Lothian" will do this lullaby service for you.

Separately rated, all these songs aren't really bad. Fishs lyrics are on the high level we are used to. But it's just too much romance, heartache and lack of creativity/variety.

Time to wake up and turn the vinyl (if necessary). The second half starts with the fastest song of the album, "Waterhole". It's very powerful with aggressive vocals and supported by some kind of chromatic percussion pattern (can't tell if it's a real marimba, keyboards or whatever). This may reconcile one a bit with the lengthy we had to suffer so far. The song is not too long, the same with the following "Lords of the Backstage", in 7/8 all the way through.

"Blind Curve" builds up from a guitar intro with a nice delay effect to another good rock passage with angry lyrics, followed by "Childhood's End", which was my favourite song on the album for a long time. Nice composition, melody, harmonies on the vocals, very accessible though. Towards the end we hear a theme from "Heart of Lothian" again, good idea this time! The last track "White Feather" is a suitable conclusion though I did never like it very much because it sounds a bit like a hymn to me (I don't love this "all together now"-approach). Anyway, fade-out is near and there's no reason to stop the spin.

Don't get me wrong: In the 80's - when the progressive idea was near to death - this was a wonderful discovery. Maybe many people here have started their journey through progressive music with this release. But you can find hundreds of more interesting albums on progarchives (mainly from the 70's). So three stars (good but not essential) seems to be the only possible rating to me. (two stars for side 1, four stars for side 2, by the way). However, if you want your collection to be a chronology of progressive music it would be strange to not include it.

nebenfluss | 3/5 |


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