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Marillion - Less Is More CD (album) cover

LESS IS MORE

Marillion

 

Neo-Prog

2.77 | 345 ratings

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rupert
4 stars the re-visits

after "Happiness is the Road" - and once more, the lurking dangers of producing new music without having re-assembled forces after the enormous effort that, at least. "Essence" came to be ( see, to underline this thought, the only song on "Less is more" that's rather superfluous is the new one, and I don't mind, I can truly understand, cause creating music of such quality continuously over close to 20 years and doing it the way that Marillion do... it simply takes a lot of power... power that isn't always available because, as human beings, we are limited ! ) - Marillion chose to re-visit a bunch of elder achievements in order to give them an "unplugged"-guise... and, stripped off of the pressure to write new material, this was an excellent move and resulted in a wonderful gift for us, their fans... and, perhaps, may serve to increase the reputation of some songs that may have not got the recognition they deserved amongst other listeners, if only this time they are willing to lend their ears.

To be fair, in spite of my love for "Somewhere Else" and, especially, "Essence", I am ( still ) no fan of Michael Hunter, but it has to be said that "Less is more" - in my ears - is a record that simply sounds fantastic, just the way an acoustic recording was meant to sound. He did a great job here, perhaps his best ever... ( so thank you for it, Michael, and please don't misunderstand my criticism if ever you should come across certain reviews of mine ! ).

In many parts, "Less is more" is simply wonderful, though - if you're already in love with the original versions - it's a quite logical thing that re-visits such as here cannot always match them, neither ought they be better, but it's always well worth the while to get different readings of familiar tracks if as good as here. And every time when those different readings succeed in being as good as the original, they just put a smile on my face... so now, do you finally hear how good a song "Go !" is ? Fine. And "This is the 21st century", without the drum-loops and stuff, do you get it now ? Fine. And "Interior Lulu"... for those who've missed it... can you understand me better now ? Wonderful ( though, it has to be said, it's because of me liking the first part of the original best and this re-working, that, as a whole, is just as good - or even better - does not contain that first part in its entirety... it's therefore that it can't really match it for me, personally... ) !

What astounded me was how good "Interior Lulu" and "The Space..." are working in such an acoustic setting. The latter sure doesn't really captivate the greatness of the "Seasons end"-recording, but it's very good, isn't it ? And if "Out of this world" wouldn't have seen the boys even changing the complete chord-structure and parts of the melody in its final part... it would have equaled the original as well... yep, before I got through to that final part for the first time, I really thought that this version could even be best, finally making it the song that, to me, it never really was. I don't mind changes being made, but those changes may simply be not the perfect way ( in terms of feel ) for that tune, a bit of a put on, slightly off track. "Quartz", once more, is working excellent, though I do prefer the electrified version, still, the strip-down for "Wrapped up in Time" suits perfectly and "Memory of Water" is just as beautiful as it's been on "This strange engine", very nice to meet again in a different shape that preserved its emotion.

Making these re-visits an essential thing, finally, are the "new readings" of "Hard as love" and "Cannibal Surf Babe", both versions improving their originals in quite an unexpected way, especially with "Hard as Love". I didn't think of this one to be so beautiful... and all the changes made only add to its quality, making it a more coherent and consistent song, while, well, now it's pop... you might know that I don't have any problems with that, though, it's very welcome. It's an outstanding achievement that should have made another hit, but - as Marillion had chosen to not investigate in the "chart game" any longer and therefore may have missed out on the momentum when they released "Happiness" only via net in most countries, well... - it's only a hit for the minority of those pop-listeners who happened to somehow come across it. I've played it to many, because I couldn't get enough of it for weeks, and if my memory serves me well then everybody loved it - but many were surprised that this was Marillion. The other outstanding track has been hidden, but let me tell you that, though I always liked the arrangement of "Cannibal Surf babe" on AOS, it never sounded like a finished song to me. Here, in this guise, it finally does... it's fabulous ! And such a lot of weird fun, I don't know why it was "hidden", perhaps the approach towards the other tracks had been such a serious one that this track, as a funny exception, wasn't meant to be taken as serious as the rest of the album. But, seriously, though "no prog once more", it's absolutely outstanding, it's a must have... and one more song of AOS that, given another shape or mood, has come to win me over. Great !

That's the most about it, concerning the "rest": "If my heart were a ball" is alright ( not more ) and "It's not your fault" is close to being one but easily forgiven.

Summing things up once more: "Less is more" contains enough pretty good re-readings of proggier Marillion stuff to justify a fourth star here, again, though its 2 absolute crackers are sheer POP and, as a matter of subject, you certainly have to befriend with its "unplugged"-approach ( or else it can't be more for you than a three-star-rating, which is understood ). Me, I'd like to thank the band for this special gift. It's a couple of re-visits without any song having been ruined but with some having been matched and 2 even having been bettered... and it can only be treasured highly by a fan such as me !

rupert | 4/5 |

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