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Marillion - Radiation CD (album) cover





2.68 | 481 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
2 stars I've warmed to Radiation over the years and now regard it, like Holidays In Eden, as a rather underrated album, but at the same time I can definitely see where the critics are coming from: it's not so much that it's a good album that gets passed over as merely average so much as it's a lukewarm album with some quite good bits that gets passed over as being outright rubbish.

Part of the problem is the album's worst songs are all crowded to the front of the running order, so if you want to give the album a listen from start to finish you have to sit through a clutch of poppy indie-rock numbers with some pretty rough and raw production which the band seem to have knocked off in the vague hope of getting some sales from the indie rock crowd who were going gaga for Radiohead at the time.

The bad first impression these songs give certainly isn't help by the band's efforts at the time to distance themselves from the "prog" moniker. However, whilst there really isn't much on this album which is capital-P Proggy in the sense of recapturing the great prog bands of the past or Marillion's own neo-prog sound of the 1980s, they hadn't really been about that for years at this point. There is, however, some really intriguing and genuinely small-p progressive music to be found on the album if you can get over the opening numbers - or, indeed, just skip 'em.

The middle tracks of the album - from Three Minute Boy to These Chains in particular - present an intriguing sort of melodic rock tinged with classic psychedelia, mashing together the harmonies and song structures of the Beatles with the modern Radiohead indie rock sound to produce some genuinely interesting experiments. On top of that, the album closes off with two of Marillion's most progressive tracks, which between them deliver 17 minutes of top-notch crossover prog. Cathedral Wall is a hard rocking number with some really aggressive keyboard playing from Mark Kelly, whilst the album's masterpiece is A Few Words For the Dead, which travels from spacey ambient melancholia via a mildly Indo-prog tinged psychedelic midsection to arrive at a deliriously happy crescendo in which the classic sound of albums like Brave or Afraid of Sunlight is found alive and well.

I certainly wouldn't put Radiation in the top rank of Marillion albums on a whole, because some of those poppier numbers do the band no credit at all, but at the same time I wouldn't say you should necessarily dismiss it because there is some really fine material on here. Overall, I'd say it's fair to give it three stars - I'd never call it an outright excellent album, but some of the individual songs are so strong that it's at least worth a listen unless you are a die-hard hater of the band. That said, unless you are a collector or an uncritical fan of the band you may find that the finer features of the album constitute "too little too late".

Warthur | 2/5 |


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