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Marillion - Clutching At Straws CD (album) cover





4.14 | 1225 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars Coming off the back of the critically acclaimed and commercial monster smash Misplaced Childhood, Marillion, under pressure from EMI, released this LP in 1987, rather than taking the break that all of the band agreed was desperately needed following years of relentless touring and recording.

This is an album which divides Marillion fanatics like myself and also reviewers on this site. Reviews veer between masterpiece and god awful, whereas, in truth, it lies somewhere in between.

The one thing I will say about this is that it is, essentially, a Fish solo album in all but name, and the big man himself has been quoted many times as stating it is his favourite album from his period with the band. Take a look at the cover. The band look disinterested in the pub playing pool or staring vacuously into the distance. For this is absolutely all about Fish's personal demons. Drink, marriage, a rotten society, drugs, and more drink. More over, the band, aside from some of Steven Rothery's trademark beautiful guitar solo bursts, sound like an outfit truly in need of a rest and also rather tired of the whole (show) business.

That is not to say that there are not some wonderful moments on this. That Time Of The Night is one of the era's finest tracks. With Sugar Mice, Fish continued his uncanny knack of producing exceptional commercial music with prog sensibilities, although the other hit single, Incommunicado, is a little bit too frenetic for my tastes.

Also, when he sings with genuine passion and bitterness, especially on Slainte Mhath, Fish can raise the hairs on the back of your neck.

There are, though, too many fillers and tracks where the band are merely going through the motions. Going Under and Just For The Record, especially, are very forgettable. What follows these, White Russian, is, by contrast, perhaps the most mature track that the band had produced, with a thunderous riff and Kelly shining on piano accompanying a bitter and cynical Fish observation.

After this, the band and Fish would go their separate ways. For a lot of people, it was the end of the band as an interesting prog outfit. For me, their finest moments were to come, and the first time I heard Hogarth singing The King Of Sunset Town on his debut Season's End, I knew everything would be alright. Strange, really, because I had followed the band since seeing them at The Marquee before most people had ever heard of them, and Fish was as close to an idol for me as I was ever likely to get in that era or any other.

Three stars for this, although it would get a 3.5 on such a rating system. It is very good in places, but, to these experienced Marillion ears, the least satisfying of that era of the band. The best was yet to come.

lazland | 3/5 |


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