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Marillion - Less Is More CD (album) cover

LESS IS MORE

Marillion

Neo-Prog


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3 stars Marillion have done a nice job re-interpreting some of their classic tunes, and there really are quote a few sublime moments on this recording. Kudos go to Ian Mosely for what must be considered admirable restraint in the percussion section ! We all know he likes to have a go and make himself heard whenever he can. The instrumentation throughout ( With the notable exception being the "hidden" last track, "Cannibal Surf Babe" )is very subtle , and for the most part delicate and ethereal. Of these new versions I think my favourite is "Memory Of Water", which was a quiet piece in it's original incarnation, but somehow takes on a bit more magic the way it's spun this time. Hat's off to the fellows for taking the time to make L=M. From a critical standpoint I think some of the song endings could have been extended and re- arranged to better effect. Being accustomed to the drama and fine touch Marillion usually take with their compositions I find some of the acoustic versions here just sort of stop, and lack the usual Marillion flare and finish. As well. perhaps "Interior Lulu" should have been stretched out an bit more instrumentally (dulcimer solo anyone ?) to restore a bit more sense of the epic it is. All in all though....well done chaps !
Report this review (#243027)
Posted Monday, October 5, 2009 | Review Permalink
2 stars This was an unusual album as a Marillion fan. During the first couple of listens all I wanted to do was hear the original versions. Slowly and surely these new arrangements started to sink in and ended up thinking....'hmmmm I quite like that version of Hard As Love' and 'that version of Memory of Water is MUCH better than the original'. Then most of the other tracks started to fall into place too.

It made me realise that the acoustic touch was what was missing from the 'Anoraknophobia' album, as the 3 tracks from the album that appear here (Quartz, If My Heart, 21st Century) all have that something that was stale and lifeless on the original....and none of these new arrangements outstay their welcome either!

'Go' and 'Interior Lulu' are other tracks that work wonderfully well. The chorus section (i.e. 'the poisoned attitudes section') of Lulu is simply stunning, the weaving snakelike melody and heartfelt delivery from Hogarth makes you wonder why this section only appears once.

It is Hogarth that really shines on this album. when singers are often left walking a tightrope in an acoustic setting because their vocals are so exposed, h excels and amazingly seems to perform better.

L=M is a tastefully done project and although in some ways can be seen as a stop-gap between albums, think of it as album in it's own right. Forget the orginals and treat it as a new entity and suddenly the album starts to work with great rewards. 3 1/2 stars.

Report this review (#243050)
Posted Monday, October 5, 2009 | Review Permalink
1 stars More or less is less than more!

First of all I have to declare that I don't have sympathy for acoustic albums of electric bands.

As second step I'd like to understand some things about acoustic albums: 1. Why the songs are often in a gravier tune than the original version? 2. Why the singer MUST adopt a mournful way of singing, even if the preceding version of the song was aggressive? 3. If the song is revisited why do often the musician maintain the same structure of the original version?

Apart of it let's start with L=M. 1. "The Space is destroyed. It is one of the fiew songs in this album where the structure has changed, but unfortunately in the worst way: 2. They crashed down the original pathos in "Hard as Love" with that unfortunate"Uh -Uh"; 3. "Quartz" has a fascinating intro and seems to me the best thing of this work; 4. The last track is sung in a very bad way (very strange for a grea singer like Hogarth) so it could be better identified as "MALUS TRACK" and not as bonus one

The rest is useless to describe. More or less are songs played as in a summer night around the fire.

No more than one single star

Report this review (#243992)
Posted Saturday, October 10, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars something else!

i am probably still enthused by the influence of last friday's L=M show where i finally managed to pick up this platter and had the beauty of it unfolding before my very eyes and ears as the evening proceeded. i then basically locked myself away for the weekend with it and though hard about what to make of it all. the conclusion must be that anything below **** would be hugely inappropriate.

once more MARiLLiON have delivered the goods. as an album and a rather quick fire project for them this had surprised me but seeing how this still extraordinary british band had increased its musical vocabulary during the last decade or so i vaguely knew that they could pull it off without making it sound trite and campfireish. it's certainly not as misleading and unrecognizable as members of the band have pointed out previously but they are trying out various influences and styles that suit the songs very well and shine an entirely new and surprising light on them. granted, it's very mellow and thus suits me just fine at this time of year.

it's probably pointless to review each track but i'll just single out last year's "wrapped up in time" (off "happiness is the road"), which is performed in a gorgeous torch song (no pun!) arrangement and the ambient spaciness of "out of this world" has been tranformed surpisingly well into a sparse acoustic setting. they certainly tackled a lot of "sleeper" album tracks that initially did not raise too many eyebrows. i could imagine this album also serving as some sort of re-evaluating process of older material. in fact, i feel a certain urge to give 1999s ".com" another spin now!

kudos also for the wide scope of instruments used ? autoharps, dulcimers, glockenspiels, assorted percussion, a real pipe organ, you name it ... beautifully executed in masterfully subdued playing. and if steve hogarth isn't by now one of the finest and most intense and unmistakeable vocalists that the UK had produced in recent times i'll eat his pink telecaster!

a brave project with some brave music by a brave band. no pun at all again!

so ? why "only" ****? because i'd still like to cast my vote for another regular and fully amplified studio album soon!

Report this review (#245188)
Posted Monday, October 19, 2009 | Review Permalink
2 stars I was a fan of the "old" Marillion with Fish as the singer. And although I enjoyed "Brave", I never followed Marillion's releases with Steve Hogarth after that. Somebody recommended "More is Less" to me, so I thought I would give it a try. It was a totally "fresh" approach, because I didn't know most of the original material. So for me it was less a question whether the songs will work with a minimalistic arrangement, but more whether the compositions are their real value.

Unfortunately, in my opinion, the answer to both questions is no. I found the whole album rather boring. There wasn't a single passage which attracted my attention. While listening I either found my mind wandering off or having thoughts like "how often can you repeat a riff?" or "shall I skip to the next song?". I didn't, hoping that there would be at least a little something to release me. Finally the hidden track "Cannibal Surf Babe" made me switch off. Thanks, but no thanks.

I also can't help the feeling that the title of the album is nonsense. If "Less" would be "More", why doesn't Marillion always release their albums using this style? Easy: "Less" isn't always "More", and especially in this case it is true.

Disappointing.

Report this review (#245206)
Posted Monday, October 19, 2009 | Review Permalink
snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Three weeks are gone from the day of release of new Marillion studio album, and - just four members reviews on PA? No collaborators are interested at all?

Can you imagine this situation around 25 yrs ago? New Marillion studio release with no interest from fans at all? So, world is different now, and the band is different as well.

I've never been a big band's fun, but I like their first 3 albums. Their later work ( both together with myriads of clones, named all together as "neo-prog" - I hope the history will delete this name and that terrible boring music as well, as it happened with disco- shmisco) was more and more repetetive and boring.

So, believe me , I returned to Marillion music just right now. There are two reasons - acoustic studio album was released and the band will have a concert in my town at November 10,2009 ( as a part of "Less=More" World Tour). So, I decided to give them one more chance ( at least-in my eyes).

From very first sounds album looks interesting - nice melody, down tempo song, very acoustic sound, but filled enough with drums,keyboards and acoustic guitar, pleasant voice. Second and even third songs are still attractive, but more and more you feel as you're listening to one of brit-pop band ( Starsailor (Hogarth's voice is a bit similar), Radiohead,etc). And later things go downside: each song,taken separately is pleasant enough, but there in fact no difference between songs at all! Believe me - at all!!!

All songs is absolutely the same down tempo rhythm ( even near to balad!), same sweety- sad simple melody, same vocal line. Even arrangements are not too different during all the album. OK, I understand, that it is something as "Unplugged" analog, so possibilities for music and arrangements are limited. But there should be difference in melodies and rhythms and tempos, at least!

After some songs you become boring and just waiting for some changes in album's songs flow. But nothing happens till the very end.

So, do you think I am going to pay 30 euros for cheapest ticket and listen Marillion soon? No way! And the album is good for collectors only.

Report this review (#247080)
Posted Thursday, October 29, 2009 | Review Permalink
lazland
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Less is More is the new Marillion album, made up of acoustic or semi electric versions of old tracks, something the band have actually done before in the shape of a gig at Oswestry The Walls restaurant a few years ago, a gig I was honoured to go to and the CD of which is still available.

It is no surprise to friends on the forum that I will rate this album highly. I am a massive fan of the Hogarth era band, and feel that they are still the trailblazers in terms of modern progressive rock music.

Of course, H albums are either love em or hate em, and I don't think this one will be any different.

What I really like about this album is that they have not opted for the easy route of redoing commercial or even fans favourites. Only one track from Afraid of Sunlight and Brave, for instance, and none from Marbles, a critically acclaimed album rightly. Instead they have chosen to delve into some of the less well known and selling albums such as Marillion.com and Anoracknophobia. The album is no worse for it either.

Go and Interior Lulu from Marillion.Com open the work. Both, in my opinion, are richly enhanced by the acoustic treatment, and Hogarth brings, especially, a rich emotion to both of these tracks, which were easily the highlight of an otherwise somewhat average LP. Interior Lulu on the original featured a manic storm of guitars and keyboards, and I actually prefer this version, stripped away and bare. As showcased on the recent Wishing Tree album, Rothery plays acoustic with grace and feeling, and Mark Kelly on the piano continues his fine run of creativity. Trewavas, normally associated with booming bass lines, backs up sensitively, and Ian Moseley also plays with delicate understatement.

Out of this World follows, the band's by now famous tribute to Donald Campbell. The acoustic version was actually played live at the memorial service to Campbell recently, and this is a track which is very suited to the quiet treatment.

Wrapped up in Time is the sole entry from last studio release, Happiness is the Road, and is one of the lesser known tracks. This is not actually that dissimilar from the original in terms of pace and does not, I think, stand up as well in isolation in the context of this album as it did as part of the narrative on HITR. However, the massive pleasure in the song is the gorgeous bluesy treatment by the band of the music. Rothery's guitar sings with great backing from the rest of the band.

The Space is the sole entry from the debut Hogarth album, Seasons End. It was a fine album, but I always felt that this track was the weakest on it, and my opinion has not really changed with this version. It is again marked by superb playing and vocals, but the slimmed down version does not really bring anything new to the table.

Hard as Love is the only entry from Brave, still regarded by many as the bands finest moment. So, how does a track clearly a very important part of that narrative/concept and very hard rocking sound in an acoustic reworking - absolutely fantastic is the answer. Hogarth and Trewavas sing quite exceptionally, especially during the chanting, and Kelly's piano playing is so sensitive to the mood that you can feel and hear the instrument cry. Quite easily the highlight of the album for me, simply because it really should not have worked. It does, and then some.

Quartz is the first of three tracks from Anoracknophobia, which is not regarded as one of the era's finest works. However, having said that, this and the other two tracks made me get out the CD which I hadn't played for a long time, and I found myself re-evaluating the work, and coming out with a far higher opinion of it. Special mention goes to Moseley for excellent percussion work, and Trewavas plays some exceptional bass. Again, the track is played in a bluesy frame of mind, but importantly does keep the tempo of the original, which was important. Newcomers and fans alike will warm and marvel at the exquisite singling and guitar playing in the Its So Hard sequence.

If my Heart were a Ball follows. This is, I think, the weakest of the tracks. The original was not much better, and I think this is one track which definitely suffers from the new approach. It meanders somewhat, never really getting where it wants to go.

Its Not Your Fault is the sole newcomer, and kit is a marvellous piece of music, this is a duet by some soulful Hogarth lyrics and Kelly's piano accompanying.

Memory of Water is the sole entry from the exceptional This Strange Engine. Truth be told, it really doesn't deviate that much from the original, which was a quieter entry on that album anyway, but it is no less wonderful for that. A great piece of music, Hogarth really excels on vocals again, while the guitar players back him up with some eery and understated chords.

This is the 21st Century closes the regular album, and is the third track from Anoracknophobia. This one benefits from the acoustic approach, and the main sequence has a great tempo to it.

The bonus untitled track is, in fact, Cannibal Surf Babe from Radiation. As with the original, it's a great deal of fun and entirely untypical of most of the band's work (but no less enjoyable for that).

I think this is a brave album for the band to release. They were really on a hiding to nothing, with some disliking acoustic music full stop, or not being prepared to have old favourites rearranged and changed beyond recognition in some cases. However, I think they have done a fine job, and, if the intent was to make people reexamine the back catalogue with a fresh approach, it has most certainly succeeded in doing so.

It is most certainly not an essential addition to any collection, although for fans of the band like myself it certainly is, but it is definitely an excellent addition to any collection. I would particularly recommend this to people who have not explored the band's music for some years, as I think it is a great way to get reacquainted with them. It will also appeal very strongly to those who like their rock music thoughtful and played in the blues fashion.

3.5 stars rounded up to four.

Report this review (#247158)
Posted Thursday, October 29, 2009 | Review Permalink
Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Around 2002 we got a new regional manager who thought he could motivate us with slogans he had picked up from one or other "Management Tips For The Social Skills Impaired Executive" manual. One of his favourites yells was "More with Less!". 'More' being 'work harder'; 'Less' being 'for less pay'. Needless to say we all hated his guts. As managers do, he's long moved on already to enlighten other companies with his insights.

Anyway, the "Less is More" axiom stuck with serious negative connotations forever since and Marillion's take on it won't help it a bit.

Next, I've always found this MTV-created unplugged hype complete bollocks. In my book, any serious piece of music is composed by or for a certain set of instruments. The whole sound of it is an integral part of the artistic vision. Music is not just a jumble of melodies you could play on any instrument. The saying that any good song should work in low-fi may be true for 3 chord pop ballads that never had much sophistication to begin with, but would you seriously expect Wagner's Walküre to sound as good on a mandolin as on the down-tuned contrabass it was composed for? Don't think so.

At best, it might be fun for the musicians themselves to explore their songs in a low-fi or a different arrangement. But I'm sure I don't want to be bothered with it. I can sure appreciate an hour long of piano or acoustic guitar if that are the instruments the piece was made for, but I don't want to hear this monotonous massacre (of some of my favourite Marillion tracks by the way) ever again.

Report this review (#247970)
Posted Tuesday, November 3, 2009 | Review Permalink
Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Errors and Omissions Team
3 stars Looks like two newcomer prog reviewers (but experienced ones in life'n'prog) already drowned this album, so another newcomer (myself) have quite strange. Unfortunately, I started to realize why they're doing this very quickly. I know just Marillion's first, so nothing from Hogarth's era. So, I should be describing by now, but still, there's not much to be said. If you happen to know Gazpacho's "Night" album, you'll be home. If you like it, you'll like LIM too (stupid saying after all). Very acoustic, based on emotions, more than progression.

And I am confused (I am all the time, I enjoy it a lot and am used to live with it, but you know what I mean, this music confuses me even more). I don't know if it was meant as experiment, to try new directions in their music, but this is far from being neo-prog. That's nothing strange, we (as "us") were expecting it. But this is ubiquitous. And, after what he's presenting in Transatlantic, nobody is also going to be surprised by how much space Pete is given. I like it, clear bass line to be heard (I have weird keen taste in bass).

3(+), it's not disaster, it's not even close to being absolutely terrible, stupid and non-prog at all. It's more like something else than everyone was expecting. This is why I rate with 3- stars. Lower ratings are reserved for terrible things (uninteresting - 2 stars and ugly - 1-star)

Report this review (#258916)
Posted Saturday, January 2, 2010 | Review Permalink
Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
1 stars I was quite confused when I read about this release for the first time. It's not that an acoustic music album sounded like anything new coming from a band that literally flooded their fan base with alternate versions of their tracks over the years. Still most of those releases resulted in Christmas albums and compilations that were mainly targeted at the already existing audience. Is this brand new acoustic take really worth an official studio release title? The short answer is a definite: No! But just like anything else that has been released under the Marillion moniker there are a few grey areas that are still worth mentioning.

Less Is More hasn't received all that many reviews since its original October release date and I completely understand this change of heart from the fans since this can hardly be considered a studio release to them. I've only streamed this album off Spotify for the last two weeks and I'm pretty sure that I won't be purchasing this release any time soon myself. First of all, I'm not that big of a fan to spend my money on another Marillion compilation and I doubt that Less Is More could even replace any of the much more interesting live albums that the band has released over the years.

My main interest with this album came from the fact that it featured three Anoraknophobia tracks in a trimmed down format. Just like I mentioned in my review of that album, I really though that the short format would do miracles for these performances. Unfortunately the acoustic factor did play in a bit too much into this matter and balanced out the improvements that were done by the shorter format. The only real improvement that this album showed me came in the completely reinvented version of the lesser Brave track titled Hard As Love. This new take of the track made me wonder how a completely acoustic version Brave would have sounded to my ears.

Considering that Less Is More is a collectors/fans only release that even the fans don't seem to be all that enthusiastic about, this album slips into the realms of completionists only material. Hopefully the band will take this opportunity to work more on the upcoming future releases since the one "studio album each year"-formula isn't working in their favor right now.

**** star songs: Hard As Love (5:00) The Memory Of Water (2:36)

*** star songs: Go (5:02) Interior Lulu (7:32) Out Of This World (5:08) Wrapped Up In Time (3:40) Quartz (5:48) It My Heart Were A Ball (5:12) It's Not Your Fault (3:33) This Is The 21st Century (5:30)

** star songs: The Space (4:50) Cannibal Surf Babe (3:39)

Report this review (#277570)
Posted Sunday, April 11, 2010 | Review Permalink
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 !

Report this review (#610463)
Posted Sunday, January 15, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars Recently Marillion has become my favorite band, and I was really anxious to get this preordered. I only write now because it seems that there isn't too much said about this brilliant album.

It's no wonder this record didn't find its' way to everyone's cd stand. After all, it is a collection of songs already recorded and might actually be in another category. However, we made the decision of listing this as a new studio album, as did Marillion themselves, actually. It surely does deserve its' place among other great records.

The record is a compilation of songs from not so popular album, written again to be performed acoustic. We have songs from Anoraknofobia, Marillion.com etc. followed by a brilliant tour which I myself had the privilege to attend in Helsinki. I must admit, that I hadn't heard a lot of these songs before since for some reason there's a fobia among Marillion fans against these mid 90's recordings, and the ratings on this site don't do justice to this band.

The way the songs are presented on the album is brilliant. Some are made into funny, imaginative version, but my personal favorites, like Space and Memory of Water on this album are the kinds you want to listen to in candlelight with a glass of wine, or what ever it is you prefer. This is exactly what me and my girlfriend did the first 5 times in a row that I listened to this record.

Acoustic doesn't necessary mean slow, but Marillion decided to take advantage of it, and you can see it in the song list as well. For example Interior Lulu is missing the explosive ending that it originally has, and it's like listening to a completely different song. Brilliant I say. I feel like I'm repeating myself when I say, if you're looking for a rock album, this is not one. It's not like the guys were growing old, just check out Pete's (Trawavas) projects (Transatlantic, Edison's Children). They just have a great way of capturing the feeling in their songs, and most of these songs sound more mature that they did.

What I'm most impressed of is Steve's singing. He's really sensual, but has a really strong voice. He can really keep a song alive even when the rest of the band isn't even playing. I was surprised to see him giving all he's got. Oh, and the album's not ALL acoustic if you wondered about that. They're cheating a bit with a guitar solo. But I'll allow that.

Oh yeah, and overall, it's a pleasant listen, this one. Having heard it 500 times now and never growing bored. A perfect way of getting to know the less known albums. Had they chosen songs we all knew, it might not be so great. But to me, one of the best definately. I'll give it a four because it's lacking nothing, but not five because stars get handed out too easily, and I still expect the new one to be better (and there's no 6-stars option).

Report this review (#631775)
Posted Sunday, February 12, 2012 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Less Is More might be a studio release, but I personally wouldn't consider it to be a mainline Marillion studio album - more of an album-length EP, perhaps. This is far from the first time the band have take on the idea of adapting their music to an acoustic setting - there was the Unplugged at the Walls set, for instance - but it's the first time they've felt the need to produce a whole studio album of such versions. It's a very pleasant listen, packed with surprises when it comes to how the band adapt their material, but when you consider that Live From Cadogan Hall presents a complete live performance of all the tracks here (minus the bonus track of Cannibal Surf Babe) and tacks on a whole other CD of material besides, I think many fans would consider that release to be a much better deal.

Equally, though, this is an undeniably charming release which teases out a new gentleness in the material for the most part. Let's say that Less Is More walked so that the Cadogan Hall album could run.

Report this review (#744068)
Posted Wednesday, April 25, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars I was a little disappointed with this one. It's just that it's a bit strange to me that an album focused almost exclusively on acoustic instruments would place the instruments so far back in the mix. I found myself several times wanting to reach back somewhere deep into the soundscape to grab the piano, acoustic guitar, and glockenspiel and bring it closer. The band seemed to go out of its way to highlight Hogarth's vocals, which are no doubt excellent here, but this came at the expense of leaving the instruments somewhat in the dark. This is a shame because the reinterpreted compositions, now without the help of epic keyboards and blazing solos, seem to want for just a little more depth in one to many places. The problem is that the compositions themselves don't necessarily make up for the shallow acoustics. While some of the pieces shine (see "Interior Lulu"), the whole comes off as a bit dull in the end. Hogarth sounds great, but this isn't a solo record, and I expected a little bit more out of the band. No pun intended, of course.
Report this review (#881043)
Posted Sunday, December 23, 2012 | Review Permalink
1 stars I idolize Marillion. I love their music. However this semi-acoustic reinterpretation of their repertoire is a major misfire. I remember Yes in one of their live concerts turned Roundabout into a Samba. Musicians can have fun on stage. In the studio is a different matter altogether.

Go doesn't work as a lullaby. Why do we need the oriental introduction on Interior Lulu? Same again for Quartz which is really a jazzy number which needs jazz like playing. At least some small mercy, half way through Quartz, Steve Rothery gets out his electric guitar. Hard As Love is terrible. It sounds like dogs on heat. Out Of This World, as a song, is foolproof. I could do it as a singalong in the pub and it would work. It's Not Your Fault just isn't a good song and wouldn't work in any format. This Is The 21st Century is a great song which has one of Marillion's best riffs running through it. Don't look on this album for it though. Easily the best song on this album is Memory Of Water which is a slow number and suited to an acoustic format.

The three bonus live numbers at the end of the album are better than the rest of the material, but doesn't save it. Pete Trewavas performs some excellent bass playing on Cannibal Surf Babe.

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Posted Monday, May 4, 2020 | Review Permalink

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