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Marillion - Clutching At Straws CD (album) cover





4.14 | 1221 ratings

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Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Ah, Marillion... The band which in the 80´s rescued symphonic rock from obscurity and put it right back to the limelight for the new generations! How can I be grateful enough? And yet I must admit I had lots of prejudice against this album (without even listening to it). Like a lot of dumb prog fans I was fearing so much that Marillion had become soft and pop after the worldwide success of Kayleigh that I simply refused to even listen to their new stuff. One glance at the local TV showing their video for Sugar Mice was enough to see "sell out!" everywhere! (my worst nightmares seemed to come true). I decided to forget it all about this band and keep the good memories I had from Script For A Jester´s Tear. Who could ever guessed at the time that Clutching At Straws would become my second favorite Marillion album?

Well, it just took a few listenings, in 1990, when in a fit of nostalgia I thought it would be good idea to hear all their former CDs before Fish left the band in 1988. And I realized that Clutching At Straws was so far away from being that pop record I feared for years. Ok, the music changed, there are no epics, no 9 minute suites and all, but it is still great prog music, that only a talented bunch like this could produce in the late 80´s. Marillion was often labeled as Genesis copycats, but they were really making their very own sound since the beginning. Even better, this CD clearly showed they were also paving the way for the future prog bands. And, like Misplaced Childhood before it, Clutching At Straws is another concept album (something considered way too reckless by the music industry then). The story of succesful writer Torch against his problems with drugs and alcohool is quite too close to home (Fish anknowledges the character was based largely on his own life at the time).

Musically the album has great moments, although it is not perfect. There are some tracks that took quite a long time to like (White Russian, Slàinte Mhath, Incommunicado, Sugar Mice), but eventually even those ones won me over. However, the first three songs (Hotel Hobbies, Warm Wet Circles and That Time Of The Night) were so wonderful I still think they are worth the price of the CD alone. Besides, Just For The Record has one of the most Banks-inspired synth solo ever done by Mark Kelly. Not to mention the group´s tight performance, absolutely amazing.. Fish never sang better and Steve Rothery reached new heights with his guitar playing. Nowadays it became clear that those guys could do little more after this string of outstading albums. Marillion was the Yes of the 80´s. And like that band, they could not go much further in terms of musical relevance for their time. Typical case of too many good hands in one single band too long. One had to get out sooner or later.

Conclusion: another excellent release by this great band. Its swan song was one of the most beautiful works of their short time together with poet and singer Fish, but, when they were together, how they shone like few others ever did! Rating: 4,5 stars for this one. Highly recommended.

Tarcisio Moura | 4/5 |


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