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Marillion - Script For A Jester's Tear CD (album) cover

SCRIPT FOR A JESTER'S TEAR

Marillion

 

Neo-Prog

4.22 | 1460 ratings

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Negoba
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Historically Critical, but a Child of its Time

I think it is fair to say that every prog fan should have SCRIPT FOR A JESTER'S TEAR. It is an essential part of the history of prog rock and I hold a respect for it somewhat as I do the Beach Boys' PET SOUNDS. At the same time, neither of those records really connect with me and both sound extremely dated now. While every single reviewer notes the Genesis comparisons, what instead is the most dramatic first impression left by this album is the early 80's key sounds, over the top reverbs, and production style. This album, to me, has more in common with Styx's MR. ROBOTO than Genesis' FOXTROT.

The only viable rock drummer in my high school was a year older than I, and basically lived in a Marillion shirt while everyone else wore Metallica or Iron Maiden. I always thought the artwork was interesting, and borrowed albums from him a few times to try to figure this odd sound out. I never did. The production on this is so heavy handed that it takes alot of work for the musicianship and songwriting to come through, at least for me now. Even back in the 80's, the sound itself overwhelmed the lyrics. The drum sound is terrible, and the key tones lack interest. The guitars would actually sound pretty good if the reverb were simply dialed back 50%. In 2012, the ethic is on the opposite end of the spectrum now with everything being mixed to sound like its 2 feet away from your face in a closet. But even by 80's standards, everything here is underwater.

The production is not the only thing that scream early 80's. There are new wave allusions a la Blondie or perhaps Discipline era KC as in the mid section of "Forgotten Suns." The video- game ethic is still evident. Some of melodic themes do remind me of Dennis DeYoung. Mark Keys' synths are as much Asia or Kansas as Tony Banks. Fish's dramatic delivery alludes to Gabriel but is actually much more over the top and arena targeted. To be sure, he is one of prog's most powerful vocal stars. His skills include some of Hammill's tricks and crazed tension.

Digging through this, however, reveals some nice theatric prog. I agree with other posters that "Garden Party" is probably the best track, but all of the album is good. The pacing is also strong, with good contrasts and variety in emotional subject. The energy is powerful. As with all neo-prog, there's a certain pop element that is not my personal preference. And aside from Fish, none of the players really have anything new to offer. Steve Rothery is certainly solid on guitar, but we've heard it all before. On the other hand, some of Mick Pointer's fills are pure cheese.

It's extremely difficult to rate a classic that is long past its prime and doesn't connect with me much personally. I'll go right down the middle.

Negoba | 3/5 |

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