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Marillion - Afraid Of Sunlight CD (album) cover





3.78 | 656 ratings

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5 stars challenge: let's review the best MARiLLiON album of the lot without sounding overtly fanboyish. tough one. everyone who knows me also knows that i worship this band. ah well, it had to happen sometime. making some sort of confident "best album" statement requires years of critical listening. i remember well when this one was released in 1995, one short year after the relative commercial failure of "brave" (their grand artistic statement by design), apparently knocked out on record company orders to finally finish up their long running association with EMI. it was slipped out onto the market rather indifferently, there was little or no marketing and a general feeling prevailed that band and business had slowly lost interest in it all, with brit pop on the doorstep and time being too early yet for an 80's revival to help things further, although potentially ruinous for the type of band MARiLLiON had become. i also have some memories of the concert on the tour, which, although well attended, boasted a somewhat bleak atmosphere before showtime ? in contrast to fans on earlier tours, even with the odd painted face here and there, who would spontaneously break into one of the band's much loved cult classics, there was a general feeling that this may well be the last time to see these five oxfordshire lads do what they do best. needless to say that the boys went on to little or no fanfare at all, played an absolute blinder for over two hours, performed the odd exorcism along the way, brought their new material to life and once and for all proved, that their time in the sun was not quite up yet.

enough of that. let's talk about "afraid of sunlight". yes, it's their finest effort to date. why the superlative? after the relative hodgepodge of steve hogarth's debut with band "season's end" (albeit good! h however came in late during the creative process it only yielded two fully collaborated songs), the overtly commercial "holidays in eden" (probably on record company order), another swing into the opposite direction on "brave" (forever stalling their relationship with record labels), which has 'masterpiece' stamped all over it but at times sounds like they were trying too hard for their own good, we have this one, which finally has the steve hogarth-fronted MARiLLiON sounding like themselves. and this facing an uncertain future, their contract with EMI about to run out and relatively unsure of their place in modern music (read the liner notes on the remaster version). it probably must have amazed the band themselves how much staying power these songs would prove to have and in turn become true concert staples for them. there is nothing comparable to seeing MARiLLiON end a concert with that orgasmic wall of sound in "king" and attempting not to be moved to tears by the sheer emotiveness of the title track. and "cannibal surf babe" was a long overdue middle finger to all the naysayers, that started to scream abuse at any nod into uncharted territory as if their favourite toy had been confiscated. apart from the ballad-type "beautiful" which ended up a tad too saccharine, there is not a single weak track on this one. fifty minutes of sheer bliss without a note too many or too little. meisterwerk, desert island disc, call it what you will ? it's their best and in a way every one of the many albums that followed is somehow a derivative. i rest my case.

iguana | 5/5 |


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