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Marillion - This Strange Engine CD (album) cover





3.42 | 561 ratings

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3 stars This was the album where I fell out love with Marillion initially. There was something of a prog revival in the 90's yet Marillion were pulling away from it seemingly going in a more rigid song based direction.No particular complex peices yet there is still much to enjoy here especially the musical arrangements which are high class. I have always loved Steve Hogarth's voice and recently have picked up his excellent side project with Richard Barbieri as well as the classic Marbles. I hadn't listened to This Strange Engine for a while but I need my Hogarth fix! After 10 years of not listening to this it took me by surprise.

The first track Man Of A Thousand Faces is real goosebump stuff building to a climax. Like everything on the album it is beautifully produced. Lots of layers and very good use of back vocals/choir. One Fine Day is a bit more bluesy but again Hogarth shines and the keyboards are delicate and perfect for the track. Nice guitar as well.Lovely emotional music. 80 days is a bit more upbeat and bouncy. Still quite reflective in tone and straightforward but nice enough and got me nodding my head in time with the music.The trumpet solo at the end is superb. Estonia is another reflective emotive song and yet again Hogarth is the stand out performer. This is perhaps a sign of things to come and closer to the atmospheric style of Marbles.Gorgeous stuff and production is bang on.Almost seems to hang in the air at times. Memory Of Water continues the mood with the sound of violins complementing Hogath's excellent vocal before we go into the more rockier An Accidental Man. Nice organ work that builds towards the end. Very enjoyable. Hope For The Future starts off in an acoustic vein but picks up a little as it goes almost Caribbean style and quite danceable if you are so inclined! Like everything on this album its very simple but nothing that is going to offend. Probably one track that was earmarked as a potential single. The final track is This Strange Engine. The longest one clocking in at 15 minutes and the only track that you might immediately relate to earlier incarnations of Marillion especially the guitar. Like everything here its very delicate and exquisitely done.After a few minutes the guitar gets a bit heavier and the arrangement builds.We actually get for the first time on the album ...wait for it.. A SYNTH SOLO!! Ah this this the Marillion I know and love.Then it ends all a bit too quick really and back to nice vocals and delicate keyboards and then drummer keeping time but not a lot else. At this point I understand why I probably put this away and didn't get it out for 10 years. A little bit frustrating. One decent prog track would have been nice after all not just 2 minutes in the middle of a long track.

Overall this does feel as if it was firmly aimed at American radio. Extremely safe stuff but very classy nevertheless. Not prog but then not everything has to be prog I suppose.

richardh | 3/5 |


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