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Marillion - Seasons End CD (album) cover

SEASONS END

Marillion

 

Neo-Prog

3.76 | 629 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

rupert
4 stars The perfect link...

When "Seasons End" came out I wasn't the only person who somehow tended to not really listen for long and, with Marillion's former frontman Fish having released his overall convincing solo-debut "Vigil in a Wilderness of Mirrors", be misled by absolutely false expectations. So I neglected their first effort without him for quite some years, which turned out to be a big mistake.

It might be an embarrassing fact that what had me listening to Marillion again was their beautiful pop-song "No one can" about two years later, a tune that I quite liked and bought as a CD-single - after a single listen in on the album "Holidays in Eden" did not really convince me. Here you can clearly see that Rupert is no proghead after all, but - in order to introduce my review, I want to tell you the whole story. My Marillion-collection wasn't that big. I first had a vinyl-copy of "Script" and rebought it on CD later, and I had "Kayleigh" as well as "Lavender" on several VA-Hit-samplers from the 80s, which was what it was until the "No one can" single found itself in my collection. I thought it should be a hit - it wasn't. I didn't feel too excited about the whole album, ( I'm still talking about "Holidays", so do yourself a favor and have a good laugh now: ) cause to me it wasn't "Pop enough" ( ! ) and, as a prog-rock-offering... well, one could easily say "neither Fish nor flesh" when comparing it to "Script" ! All i can say is - I should have listened to "Seasons end" instead... but, again, it took some years until I really did. The next thing I got hooked upon was another single in 1992, Marillion's rendition of "Sympathy", the classic Rare Bird-Oldie. I fell in love with it and wanted to buy the single again... but on the single there was a live-version of "Kayleigh" sung by Mr. H and I couldn't imagine me to ever like it, so I thought: "Why not buy the best of-Album now ? I got so few Marillion stuff and it may serve me well getting some highlights from both worlds !". This is what I did and, after many hours of listening I was quite surprised, cause I had expected the elder tracks to please me more - and what happened was simply the opposite, I started to fall in love with Hogie's voice and found each and every song that featured him even better than the ones with Fish, each and every song apart from "I will walk on water" - which seemed to be the only drop out on "Half dozen of one...", and, having already been inflamed, this was easy to forgive. The rest of the story is quickly told: I somehow felt that this band was up to something very special with their forthcoming album, call it intuition, but when "Brave" was released I got 100% of confirmation and I didn't need more ( see my forthcoming review for that album, I'll add it soon ). I was lucky to see them in Concert on the "Brave"-Tour and this was when I finally knew that I needed to own the other albums as well, cause I wanted to have "The Space..." and "Waiting to happen", two songs that were absolute highlights of the encore-section and didn't feature on the sampler I had. And they did not play "Kayleigh", thank god, but Steve Hogarth proved he could do a far better job with "Slainte Mhath" and "Garden Party", so I had grown keen to get all Marillion-Albums ( to find that I prefer "Clutching at Straws" to "Script" and "Seasons end" to the both of them ! ).

Now I've said it. "Seasons end" was not only an excellent new beginning, it was the best album Marillion had produced so far, only to be topped by "Brave". And though Steve Hogarth is a very different singer to Fish, with not only a completely different voice and singing-style but a different approach, here, on "Seasons end", you still get a lot of what was brilliant before and I'm completely convinced that it should appeal to every fan of old, if only for once, cause it's not at all this sort of radical change that - I do understand this - was to turn a lot of old hands away in the years to come. Hogie came and brought himself in... and just as he took the others the way they were he was taken the way he was. And he did a marvelous job, as did the whole band, delivering a great album from start to finish. He had huge footsteps to walk in, consider this. And he never ever pretended to be "another Fish", those days were over and best he could do was do it his way, helping the band to start anew and then, one by one, really break new ground. Wasn't that what Fish was trying to do before he left - and hadn't his departure been a consequence of having tried and... failed ? I thought to have read this somewhere, somehow in an interview, though there is always more than one reason when it comes to a successful band's line up parting ways. With "Seasons end" Marillion did re-establish themselves as a powerful, inspired artistic unit, and I would easily give this album a five-star rating only because of its songs... no stinker amongst them, not a single one, me - you can guess - even loving "Uninvited guest" and "Hooks in you", the two songs that - if anyone here wants to find something to complain about - aren't "prog" but very clever, well constructed and delivered rock-poppin' tunes to please this "commercially depraved listener" - with absolutely stunning lyrics due to the assistance of a man named John Helmer.

But, of course, the absolute Crackers on this album are the title track, "The Space..." and "Easter", featuring perhaps the best guitar-solo in Rock History ( well, that's a hard one to pick and I know that many people would go for, say "Comfortably numb", a worthy contender, but I'm no Floyd-Fan at all and we may meet in the middle if you just admitt that with "Easter" we got one of the most beautiful, okay ? ). If you like, you can add "The King of Sunset Town" ( a real pleaser for prog-lovers, innit ? ) and "Berlin" ( a great one that, for me, is becoming a little too heavy, making Hogie's voice sound a bit overstrained a few times, so I prefer to not listen to it that often ) for yourself , that's only a question of taste, quality one and all, with "After me" and "Holloway Girl" not far behind, adding variety at highest standards to this already mindblowing mix of music. What makes me refuse the highest rating still are the severe instructions for this site and the sheer fact that every little bit this great band is coming up with has to be compared to "Brave"... look at my ratings, I'm going to write my reviews one by one, in chronological order, you only find one 5 star-album up to now*. This doesn't mean that there aren't more personal ones for me.

I even lowered my rating for "Radiation" to three stars ( while, to me, it's a four-star-effort and marillion.com, for example, is my second favorite straight after "Brave" but I wouldn't dare to give it the highest rating* on a "prog-rock-site", cause even if you dig my taste it'll be misleading for lots of readers then ) cause I know how deeply disappointed one can be when comparing it to "Script", it seemed to have become a totally different world by then and does not appeal to so many prog-fans. But "Seasons end" should be no disappointment to anyone loving Marillion the way they were before, if only... you can befriend yourself with a voice that's about as far from Fish as Barry Gibbs voice is from Paul Weller... and if you like one or two poppier songs ( with a strong rock-appeal ), you can add the fifth star in your mind.

*I have changed this afterwards. Read my review to "marillion.com". LOVE Roop

rupert | 4/5 |

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