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MARBLES

Marillion

Neo-Prog


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5 stars The 2 disc version of Marbles is overwhelming at first, simply because there is just so much music here and much of it is very emotional. It's one of those albums when you tend to find something new every time that you play it. For me the most outstanding track is "Ocean Cloud", an epic 18 minute song which is like watching a brilliant film, only it's a song (this may seem strange but listen & you'll see what i mean). I also love "Fantastic Place"; a song which fills me with joy every time i hear it. "Don't Hurt Yourself" & "You're Gone" are both easily accessible pop songs. If you like Radiohead try "The Damage". If you're into psychadelia revel in the bizzare delights of "Drilling Holes". What ever you're into get into Marbles... The best Marillion album ever (so far).

Report this review (#30319)
Posted Monday, May 10, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Liking or not, believing or not, a few or none bands make music like them. These are days of uninspiring rock, pop for acephalus or hard earing, like chewing gum, easy flavour,Artificially Flavored of course, and sometimes we don't know if we like the music or her legs. Who has "marbles" to make 13 m or 18min of(good) music, knowing that is a "radio-suicide".Marillion refuse "to compromise by bowing to marketing pressures, focus groups or record labels." It's been 21 years with Marillion, since their first "Script". I´ve watched high and lows moments and this is a great moment for sure. A great production,a huge band performance and great songs. Music to hear, to think, getting something different every time such fullness of sounds, try it in the dark with a headphones when all the senses are your ears.
Report this review (#30323)
Posted Tuesday, May 11, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Amazing!!Incredible!!These guys surprised me again. To be honest i was hoping something good but not as good as this one. I was a bit tired of the previous irregular albums,with good songs but with no continuity in the full album;in my opinion MARILLION is a band more oriented to conceptual albums. But i have to admit that this album is the best work since that 10 years ago "Brave". The production is perfect,all very well played,voice too,a greatt work. In my opinion cd 1 of the 2cd version is better than second one,this last more ambiental. The selection of the order in the track list is fantastic,with the little"Marbles" passages between songs.The only song i don´t like in the album is the excesive commercial single "You´re Gone" and the betters(for mention only a few) "Genie","Ocean Cloud","Don´t Hurt Yourself".... I´m also a bit disappointed with the idea of release only the 2cd version through internet,because in my opinion you have to be a bit stupid if you buy single version,is like buy a half cd,if you want to buy a car,will you buy a car without wheels,for example...????In my opinion if the album is good and have a good promotion(like this case) the FULL album should be avaliable to buy on the shops.If you want to be grateful with the fans that help in promotion,you can do it in several ways,like a special price on the album,a free shirt,stickers...or you have different fans?(the "2cd fans" or the "1cd fans"),think this is not the good way.MARILLION is what they are for the fans (with no exception)!!!.
Report this review (#30325)
Posted Friday, May 14, 2004 | Review Permalink
urnotalone152
5 stars 100 minutes of music usually would tempt me to split the listens up into 2 sessions. But this album is different. It has a remarkable flow and feel that makes you want to soak it all up at once. 'The Invisible Man' and 'Ocean Cloud' are the standout tracks, soaring and powerful, but the whole album comprises songs of great depth and imagination. Marillion have produced a masterful progressive album that is up there with the best prog albums around.
Report this review (#30326)
Posted Monday, May 17, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars It's the best marillion album since Afraid of Sunlight. It's Fantastic.For now you can forget The Strange Engine, Radiation and Marillion .com for ever. Marbles are some kind of prize for waiting to many years. We have true space? progressive rock album with some jokes inside. It's compilation of many music styles and when i listen invisible man, neverland or ocean cloud i feel sth i cannot describe. I am listening this album for 4 weeks without stopping. I was in live performance of Marbles Tour in Cracow and it was fantastic. As steve was singing Neverland i realised that my eyes are wet. The only things i don't like are guitar parts in genie, you're gone and fantastic place...they sound like the Edge from U2 who i dont like very much. The loop in youre gone can be annoying too but when i look at all album i can olny say it's a masterpiece.True
Report this review (#30321)
Posted Thursday, May 20, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars After so many ayers of waiting, marillion throws away their best work ever, with a lot of concept, soul, musicianship and of course feeling, perhaps, the wait has been long, but it finally paid of, from start to end, the prog sounds mesmerizes the listener, arousing the senses and creating an atmosphere of complete awarness. Every song is attached to each other, so you can't miss the spot. The deluxe version of the record, shows an impresive graphic design work. This is the perfect exposure of a very mature band that has endure and grown up with time, a must have, a masterpice of the modern age
Report this review (#30322)
Posted Thursday, May 20, 2004 | Review Permalink
Certif1ed
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Have Marillion lost their Marbles or found them again?

Note that this review is for the 2CD Campaign set.

If I was judging on CD 1 alone, I would say "For Collectors/Fans", but Good - if non- essential. If I was juding on CD 2, however, I would say that this is an Excellent addition to any prog collection. CD 2, in fact, is so good, that I will give the CD the 4 stars - even though I have difficulty considering this to be a prog album per se, or even Neo-prog. It is more like quasi-prog... however, anyone that likes prog will find something to like in this 2-CD set.

Marillion have improved since taking on H as a singer - but not consistently. I can hardly consider this album to be a masterpiece, but it is better than anything they've released since "Clutching at Straws". My personal bugbear is H's tendency to sing in the same "precious" manner as bands like Travis, Coldplay or Keane - but without the melodic sensibilities. Sadly, on first listen, I fell asleep during "The Invisible Man". 13 and a half minutes was really 10 minutes too long. This is why Marillion are The Invisible Man of the title - no one seems to notice they are still around, because the anoraks are still on, and the lyrics and music say nothing - although there is obviously awareness; "The world's gone mad and I have lost touch - I shouldn't admit it, but I have." This would be why Marillion made the masters for Anoraknophobia widely available - I bought a copy to remix, but could not find much to work with.

Much of Marbles CD 1 consists of bland but inoffensive chord progressions with boring drumming. It's not prog, although one or two tracks really stand out. In places, particularly "The Damage", I can hear the influence of Radiohead "The Bends" ("Iron Lung"), and the Beatles "Abbey Road".

Mostly CD 1 just passes by, unremarkable, and I simply wondered why they had bothered to record such tired and hackneyed phrases instead of writing the great music and lyrics I know they can write. The lyrics generally are 3rd grade sixth-form stuff - but with exceptions; "...And the edge which must be sharpened; He's losing it. And he knows. But there's a fighter in his mind and his body's tough..." ("Ocean Cloud"). CD 2 fares a lot better. I was about to give up on the entire album until I heard "Ocean Cloud" - really, we could have done without the 4 Marbles tracks and most of CD 1, and simply moved O/C to CD 2.

A notable exception is Peter Trewavas, who appears to have re-found his "bass legs", as there are some divine bass lines which hearken back to "Script...". Some have an almost Reggae flavour, which was markedly absent from "Fugazi" onwards. If only Ian Moseley could interact a bit more and help produce the strong drum and bass that could propel Marillion from MOR to TOTP (Top Of The Pile!). What else is needed is more of the lyrical keyboard playing that Kelly is more than capable of. He experiments with effects and pads very nicely, but I really miss those strong melodies. Rothery, too, is capable of far more. Much of the guitar playing appears effortless in the worst connotation of the word.

Having slated the band for not being as good as I know they can be, I'd like to turn to the album's high points;

1) "Ocean Cloud". If you only listened to this track, you might wonder about most of the comments I have made so far - H turns in a ballsy performance, and the band pull together for a wonderfully atmospheric 18-minute piece of prog. Again, the bass is particularly strong and the keyboards are sumptuous. The guitar is present, but does not make much of a contribution. Rothery always used to understate much of what he did, except when it was time to crank up and let that baby sing. Please, Steve! Let it sing again!! As I mentioned earlier, the lyrics are generally much stronger in this song - although I cringed a little at the plagiarism from Pink Floyd's "The Wall" - I'll let you spot that one ;0)

2) "The Damage". (As noted earlier)

3) Angelina. Yes! We have a quasi-jazz intro! We have amusing lyrics! We have a melody for which the "precious" voice works very well. Rothery privides some nice little fills, Kelly provides sumptuous pads, Trewavas, as ever, is solid - and Moseley feels the soul of this song. It's not prog, but it IS wonderful!

4) Drilling Holes. I'm really not sure about the lyrics - when taken by themselves they are hardly inspiring, but H makes them work with this track, which is full of exaggerated light and shade. Kelly shines with the best and most varied keyboard work thus far, Moseley and Rothery seem to enjoy rocking out, in those moments that call for it - but it's the keyboards which steal the show, albeit in an understated way.

5) Thank Goodness for "Neverland!". Now this is what I am talking about! What Marillion are capable of - some very interesting drumming that seems to echo Ringo, some very strong songwriting that hearkens back to "Script..." - and thank Rothery for the solos that I've been waiting the entire album for... although still not quite enough!!! Rothery has a delicious, almost Scottish flavour to some of his solos that distinguish him from a simple Gilmour plagiarist - when he's on form, you KNOW it!!! The sound is there, but we need your solos, Steve!! There are elements of early Genesis or possibly Supertramp in the piano sound and acoustic guitar work, but mainly the feel of this 12- minute piece of quasi-prog seems to lean more towards Camel. I have to say it's quasi- prog, because it consists mainly of a long jam around a single chord-progression, and only occasionally experiments outside that frame.

I suppose the biggest problem for Marillion after Fish left was the legacy they had created. They were their own tough act to follow - although Clutching At Straws was hardly the masterpiece that the first 3 albums were. They deserve full respect for sticking with it, and finally producing music of the quality we have on this album. If they continue improving in this manner, the next album could well be their next masterpiece; Real kudos goes to the way they successfully got a single into the top 10 without help from the record industry pigopolists! Marillion may yet be reborn (and I sincerely hope they are!).

Buy this album out of principle, and know your money is going to a good cause; putting prog back onto the lofty podium it rightfully owns, and giving the record industry a kick in the pants!!!

Report this review (#30324)
Posted Saturday, May 22, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars A superb album - worth the wait. A eclectic mixture of styles from a bunch of musicians at the top of their profession. "Neverland" is the most beautiful love song imaginable and ends the masterpiece that is "Marbles" "The Invisible Man" is the only song to begin the album with - it sets up the rest - having been left for another man results in the self loathing popping up in "Genie" and "The Only Unforgivable Thing" while the wish to return to the place of love "Fantastic Place" drifts in possibly on returning home from the Club when tuning in to "Angelina". All good. "Ocean Cloud" shows the band's strength in all areas - it rocks, it's melodious, it is seamless. I recommend this album and the previous two from Marillion but this one is the best.
Report this review (#30327)
Posted Tuesday, May 25, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars I was expecting this album for almost a year and let me tell you that the waiting was really worth it. It is simply "DELICIOUS" for the ears and for the mind. H 's voice is as solid as it can be, almost Devine i should say. Musically, it is what this band as almost always be able to deliver. CREATIVITY, Inovation, purety. "Ocean cloud" and "Neerland" are epic of there talent. This double cd is the best material those guys have created since the excelentcy of "Brave", "Afraid of sunlight" end "This stange Engine".

A must buy Album for everyone !!!

Report this review (#30328)
Posted Thursday, May 27, 2004 | Review Permalink
Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This album has created a controversy for me as well as prog community. As a hard core fan of symphonic and neo prog genre, this was my first impression when I received my pre-ordered package around 3 weeks ago (huge delay actually) "Damn on you Mr. h (ogarth)! You have destroyed Marillion!". I didn't understand why the band took 2 years to complete this lousy album! I could not understand, for example, on the first track of disc 1 I couldn't catch the soul of the track even until 6 minutes passed. Oh my God .. what a lousy music they produced this time. I could not bear it anymore. So, I skipped to track 2. It's another lousy mellow track. And then track 3, It's so poppy. The skip went on with each track consumed roughly 3 minutes for my ears could bear to listen to the CD. Then I turned to CD 2, the same feeling. Forget it! Then I put this album on the shelf. For approximately a week I didn't want to touch it. Only one thing left in me after I skimmed through the two CDs: the sonic quality of the 2 CDs are excellent!

Then I gave another try. This time I intentionally disregarded all expectations and/or definition of prog. Simply put, I didn't want to pigeon hole the band to a certain category of genre or use music boundaries. I just plainly used my ears and my mind to listen to the album completely. So here I am, in the boundary-less definition of anything, open my mind, sit down and relax (it seems like an opening words for Jethro Tull's "Bursting Out" live hah? Well, music has inspired me a lot, friend!). And this is my experience .

With a spacey touch in intro part, drum-loop and a bit of percussion sound with mellow keyboard "The Invisible Man" enters my mind. The first minute reminds me strongly to the intro part of "Assassing" the band's second album. But if combined with the keyboard sound this first minute reminds me to the nuances of intro part of Fish's "What Colour is God" of Sunsets on Empire album. Am sure this is purely a coincidence not an intention. Fortunately when Hogarth's vocal slowly enter all of that association with other compositions are gone. I have to admire that this track is terrific, well structured with a mixture of great sounds. Steve's guitar sound is really excellent. I guess he played it with his heart as the sound he produced so damn smooth. Mark's keyboard sound is rich and sets the whole tone of the track.

Track 2 "Marbles I" is a pure easy listening pop music. I think the band tries to emulate (?) what Rick Wakeman's "Lady of the Lake" series in "King Arthur" album as Marbles has 4 series (I-IV) wth 3 of them shared the same melody while Marbles III is different from the others. Lyrically, Marbles tracks are weak as they tell the story about little hogarth played with marbles. So simplistic and not unique as many people have similar experience during their childhood, I think.

Track 3 "Genie" is nothing than a pop music and a little bit boring on its melody part. "Fantastic Place" is a nice track. "The Only Unforgivable Thing" is very good. It still mellow, but minute 4 the interlude is terrific, this segment produces nice melody with touchy guitar fill. The closing track "Ocean Cloud" is an epic. Again, I rate highly on this track as it has a beautiful composition. Hogarth sings with his heart, I think. The nuances created in this track is similar to Pink Floyd's "High Hope" from "Division Bell" album, I think. "Ocean Cloud" is really excellent! The ending part of this track reminds us to early Marillion music style, stunning guitar supported by keyboard sound as a background.

So now, if I conclude with disc 1, I would rate *** 1/2. Well, actually disc 1 deserves 4- star if the following downsides are completely replaced with better tracks and lyrics: "Genie" and "Marbles I & II". So boring Mr. h. (Hey, I don't understand why hogarth is called with "Mr."? It does not rock mann . too formal!! Or .. are you that bossy, h?). I give 5 star for two tracks: :"Invisible Man" and "Ocean Cloud".

"Marbles III" is the only one that has different melody than other Marbles. "The Damage" sounds completely like typical "Brit Pop" music and it reminds me to Radiohead or Muse. It's a nice track though. "Don't Hurt Yourself" is similar, but it has better melody. I like the acoustic guitar intro of this track. The music flows nicely and good melody when hogarth sings "Don't Heart Yourself .". Really cool, I think. I also like the guitar sound produced here, it's a kind of Hawaiian style. Congrats Steve!

"You're Gone" is the band's single. It's a nice pop song, sounds like house music, with drum-loop. Again, I sense that the nuance at intro part is similar to Fish's "What Color is God?". It's a coincidence, I believe. It's an enjoyable track. This track has reached UK chart no. 7. "Angelina" starts with a radio tuning sound typical to the band's intro of "Forgotten Sons" of "Script" album. Hogarth voice enters the track very nicely, I like it.

"Drilling Hole" is really cool. The opening reminds me to Peter Gabriel solo album such as "UP". I like "Drilling Hole" very much. It has a great composition in the easy listening scheme. Keyboard playing is really excellent! Congrats Mark! The interlude part makes you fly, definitely! This track blows y mind! I rate this track as high as "Ocean Cloud" and "Invisible Man". I cannot let myself not to repeat this track (I'm listening to it now with a headphone).

"Neverland" is another epic. Again, Hogarth sings with his heart completely. The keyboard background creates a solid nuance for the track. This is a track that may inspire you to create wild ideas about something you think about. Listen to Steve guitar playing .. wow! So wonderful man!!! The acoustic guitar part at minutes 4:26 is damn cool mann!! Oh God, I love this piece very very very much! Then it flows nicely with Steve stunning guitar playing. In this track also I can get a feel of Pete's tight bass guitar playing nicely.

Disc 2 is much better than 1 and I give a **** rating overall. I think, this album deserves FIVE STAR if the band only produce best tracks in one disc.

OVERALL for 2 CD package, this album is excellent. It has created something different with some notes that some tracks are sort of "derivative". It has a bit of Porcupine Tree (no wonder, the genius Steve Wilson got involved in this album), Pink Floyd and Radihead or Muse. Songwriting is good even though the lyrics are so simplistic in some tracks. Musicianship is terrific. One thing bothers me though: "where is the challenging job of Mr. Ian Mosley?". There is no dynamic drumming in almost every track. Some track use drum-loop or programming. So, Ian's capability is not fully capitalized in this album. Such a waste actually, because I know that Ian is a terrific drummer. Hogarth voice is great. Steve Rothery and Mark Kelly contributions are dominant. Pete is not fully at his potential. Ovearll, they are great musicians. If I should recommend, you should purchase the one CD version instead of 2 CD. Bravo Marillion! Gatot Widayanto, Indonesia.

Report this review (#30336)
Posted Tuesday, June 1, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Marbles should be approached with open-mind, Fish-free preconception, as well as free from prog-technicalities expectation. Marbles sounds very modern - and can be easily placed as "just another pop-attempt by old-prog" bands. The band certainly tried hard to please the fans by putting up excellent package of the album - despite missing out track like "Faith" which was - raved in Marillion mail list. The album does not make the expected 120min as promised too. In general - H sings with his heart. His voice is so matured, filled with emotion. I will discuss the highlights - no preference on the number. 1. Invisible Man: as many listener would point out, this is a wrong choice to be used as opener, as it kind of throw people a back with its mellow sound. This will push away the Fish-lovers. It also suffers from being too long. The new-age interlude is just too boring,BUT, it gets better in uptempo towards the end. My favorite section will be the last chorus where H sings "I am the invisible MAN", where his voice croaks (whether intentionally or unintentionally) when he says "man". That part, just sums up the whole lyrics of the song, and delivers the killing punchline. Emotionally strong! Rate - last part only 5 stars. 2. Ocean Cloud - actually, the disc 1- I like both "epics" - and Ocean Cloud is just wonderful. The story of a man who went to the sea - lyric is great, and very melodic. The whole album can actually be summed up to great emotion vocals, and non-technical but melodic guitars. The only problem with this track as apart from being too long- it also lacks the killing punch as Invisible Man. 5 stars 3. The Damage - some people don't like the way H sings in falsetto, but this track is nice filler. It rocks - not in normal prog-rock way (well, who says Marillion is prog these days anyway?) - but in Brit-rock way. I guess the band tries to recapture the today's spirit into their music. Nothing wrong with that, just not so Marillion. 3 stars

4. Don't Hurt Yourself. Is a standout track. Opened by acoustic guitar played by Pete, it has very nice melody with strong chorus. Again - H sings with his heart - especially on the first verse of "Put it away..." Poppy? Well, any listener at this point of the album- should not complain anymore. It's a gem nevertheless. They should have put this as single! 5-stars

5. You're Gone. Not my taste. Despite being the single - it's just so wrong to be used as single in my view.

6. Drilling Hole. This is the closest thing to today's prog. It has Rothery shredding guitar. It has hooks (not "In you"). It has melody. It's rocking. 5 stars

7. Neverland - is another epic closing the album. Its probably the closest thing to Fish-era in H-era. It has a right mix of the modern sound, with the outstanding emotional voice delivered by H. 6 stars - er, no. 5 stars.

Overall, it should have been 5 stars, if only we can do away with the 4 Marbles, You're gone, Angelia, Genie and Fantastic Place, and include Faith, and cut some too-long parts of the epics. 4 1/2 stars it is. Pls note that Marillion has made far too many albums with H, more than the first 4 made with Fish. Fish is gone, and the band moved on.

Rizal/Indonesia

Report this review (#30337)
Posted Wednesday, June 2, 2004 | Review Permalink
Clayreon
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars During the last years, MARILLION has been the subject of many discussions on mailing lists and message boards. Everybody kept going on about FISH and Steve Hogarth and MARILLION still being prog or not, but let's forget all that and judge their new album without any prejudice. Though that's not always easy as I've always liked MARILLION, so I'm starting off with a prejudice myself.

The new album "Marbles" comes in three different editions. There's a pre-order double album in a beautiful carbon case, with a 128-page booklet, with some fine artwork and all the names of the people who pre-ordered in time. If you don't want all these names, you can order the double album in a jewel case and there's also a single retail version, which will appear officially on May 3rd.

I can certainly recommend one of the double versions because you will be missing quite a lot on the single album.

The album starts off with the more than 13 minutes lasting "The Invisible Man" which contains enough variation to claim that MARILLION still has some progressive capacities. After some indefinable noises, it begins with a rhythmic intro with lots of bass and drums. Soon it evolves in a quiet part with a beautiful vocal line. Every musician is doing some subtle things that you don't notice at first, but the more you listen to this track, the more you discover. Slowly it grows back into a more rhythmic piece and every one's contributions become more important. There's still a piano-vocal piece and a short slow bluesy guitar solo to digest to complete this track.

The second long (almost 18 minutes) progressive track is called "Ocean Cloud". (Not on the retail version). After a quiet sung start, accompanied by a great synth sound, and the chorus, we get to hear the real Rothery in a solo that will bring a smile on lots of MARILLION fans' faces. There's enough in this track, even to much to describe everything, and I don't want to spoil all the fun. ;-) This track is dedicated to Don Allum and the Ocean Rowers. If you want to know more about this guy, you'll find more info on www.oceanrowing.com/logs/don_allum.htm

Another great track, "The Only Unforgivable Thing", opens with a church organ and changes into one of the best MARILLION ballads I know. Maybe there's not a lot of variation in this track, but once more Steve Rothery proves that he's still alive and kicking.

"Neverland", which was already on the 2003 christmas fanclub album, is another long track, with a lot of different parts. The guitar solo of Steve Rothery even brings back memories of the early MARILLION.

"Genie", "Fantastic Place" (with a Chris Isaak 'Wicked Games' sound), "The Damage" (the only heavier track), "Don't Hurt Yourself" (Trewavas on acoustic guitar and Rothery on bass), "You're Gone" (the top 10 single, drum machine included), "Angelina" (a very quiet jazzy track) and "Drilling Holes" (which by times sounds like "A Day In The Life" by the Beatles) are all great tracks, which are not really progressive songs, but they all contain great melodies and superb vocals by H.

And finally, there are the four short "Marbles" tracks, which I initially didn't like, but they are growing on me. Still, they will never be my favourites. H sounds (deliberately?) false on them. They tell the story how Steve launched marbles high in the air with a tennis racket and crashed a lot of greenhouses in his neighbourhood. His father took away his marbles and that seems to have made a great impression on little Steve.

In my opinion, this is the best MARILLION album in years, but I'm afraid it won't change the opinion of the people who don't like the Hogarth era. Don't expect any "Hooks On You" explosions, because there's a lot of laid back material. "The Only Unforgivable Thing" is not giving this album.

>>> Review by: Danny (9/10) <<<

Report this review (#30338)
Posted Friday, June 11, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars I think it's a fantastic piece, for me it's a new fresh wave into progrock. But of course album isn't completely progressive. Most of fans consider long compositions of marbles as best. And i have to agree with that. OCEAN CLOUD is phenomenal, it is fresh, progressive, very interesting (because of samples, melody and atmosphere) composition and i think it is one of best things they have done already.NEVERLAND and INVISIBLE MAN are fantastic too. I cannot really find words to describe how i love this three compositions. In comparison with new album of IQ they are genuine. This album is't silly neoprog with the same minimoog sounding keyboards, epic guitars and melodies. As i sad earlier it's sth new in prog. i have to say that i love first neoprogressive era (fish) of marillion but playing this kind of music for twenty years would be boring. And IQ proved that. So i think we should give chance for marillion because they are creating new sounds and don't stand in the same place as many of neoprog bands. Back to the album. I think that band shouldn't put songs like Genie, You're Gone on Marbles but anyway You can always change song if you don't like it. Other good pieces are The only unforgivable thing, Don't hurt yourself, Angelina, Drilling holes and Fantastic Place(exept guitar solo :/). Listen this album. This music can really give you pleasure
Report this review (#30340)
Posted Friday, June 18, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars In the same style of their last release (Anoraknophobia), the band shows on Marbles they are still getting better and better in this new style they chose since Radiation, mixing prog music with modern britpop, with some ballads. The result is mostly brilliant (Ocean Cloud, Neverland, You're Gone, Don't Hurt Yourself, The Invisible Man), but sometimes boring (Drilling Holes, The Damage, Angelina and most of the four parts of Marbles). The pop songs are OK (Fantastic Place is the best of them).

This could be an exceptional single album, but it's really a bit too long for a double. However, some of the best songs appear only in the double edition, what makes it recommendable.

Report this review (#30341)
Posted Friday, June 18, 2004 | Review Permalink
James Lee
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Well, they've gone and surprised me again. Usually an established rock band deciding to incorporate more modern sounds, especially trendy electronics, is a sure sign of impending doom...except for a select few like RADIOHEAD. Indeed, I was reminded of "OK Computer" more than once, and also of various periods in U2's development- quite unusual comparisons to make to a band which has, up to now, shown almost exclusively classic progressive rock pedigree. Some of the resemblance is due to Hogarth, who like Thom Yorke sometimes foregoes enunciation altogether and mumbles his vocals in a surprisingly effective way. Most of the time, though, the instruments just sound better; more tastefully played, with more creative tone colors and more organic than ever, even with the modern electronic additions. The band has increasingly focused on a PINK FLOYD influence over the last decade, and that is still to be found in abundance, but there are also some unique flavors I'd never expected to hear on a MARILLION release.

If "The Invisible Man" had been the first thing I'd ever heard from the band, I would have been even more impressed (and I was pretty impressed). The song has a long, slow build with a number of unique and sometimes unidentifiable sounds; instead of complicating rock structures, they break them down here, and make the component sounds more interesting. After a relentless, pounding crescendo, a 90 degree turn into somber FLOYDian territory and then a cathartic finale confirms that this is actually a MARILLION song- but a remarkably raw and heartfelt one, with an urgency and passion I usually associate with "Unforgettable Fire"-era U2 songs. Hogarth even sounds like a decent singer much of the time, letting his voice burst out of him without the usual narrative urge. "Marbles I" begins the rather curious series of abstract recollections that tie the album together, against a shimmering, soft-jazz flavored backdrop. "Genie" is more familiar in sound, a anthemic rock number, slightly spacey, with just a hint of electronica in the burbling fliter sweep. Some of the lyrics seem clumsy here, but not enough to really hurt. "Fantastic Place" croons reflectively, and then hits you with the big sounds; on "The Only Unforgivable Thing" guitars and synths echo and swell pleasantly around an almost Beatle-esque structure that again makes me think of U2 (in some of their better 90s songs this time). "Marbles II" continues the theme, this time more retro-psychedelic than jazzy but still very pleasant. "Ocean Cloud" is more moody and adventurous, alternately painting drifting, abstract sonic landscapes (or rather, seascapes) and launching into a more FLOYD- influenced wall of sound. The composition is wrenchingly expressive and wonderfully paced (despite a quick relapse to classic MARILLION hard rock after the sampled narrative segment) and resembles "Invisible Man" in both tone and structure- a nice round trip for the first disc.

The second half begins with the lovely, too-brief "Marbles III". "The Damage" shows a more playful modern-retro side, once again suggesting a fab-four current beneath the thunderous guitar and vocal movements. "Don't Hurt Yourself" is a well-crafted pop rock number, a bit average but redeemed with fine instrumental performances. Their best shot for commercial release,"You're Gone", unfortunately bases itself around a variant of the timeworn 'funky drummer' loop (well why not, everybody else has done it!) but puts a good "Zooropa"-type mixture atop it to make the most of the song. "Angelina" is liquid-smooth and shimmeringly, deceptively laidback; pretty but slightly eerie, with some nice harmonies and a Glimour-guitar sensibility in the solo. The Sgt. Pepper comparisons are unavoidable on "Drilling Holes", which has a definite "Day in the Life" impulse in the lyrics. The music, however, is quite adventurous, often hard- edged like a segment of "The Wall" (or even "Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking", but I'd prefer to be complimentary) but also featuring quiet, suspenseful breaks that broaden the dynamics. The last "Marbles" installment returns to the whispering jazzy feel of the first and then slides into the passionate closer "Neverland", with its shuffling drums and "Great Gig In the Sky"-style piano. There's some ill-advised echoing vocal lines, and maybe it goes on a bit too long, but there's no denying the cathartic power of the album's conclusion. It's slightly less satisfying than the first side, but the fact that they can get so much out of the usually deadly double-album format is impressive on its own.

I never would have thought I'd be giving such a high rating to a MARILLION album; I never called myself a MARILLION fan, I didn't care for them during the Fish era and while "Brave" convinced me not to totally write them off, I was unprepared for the stylistic and sonic explorations on "Marbles". The last decade of development in rock has finally made a mark on them, and they ride a dangerous edge between attempting to modernize their approach and coming off as crassly trendy. Luckily they generally emerge with their dignity intact and the character of the band unblemished. Die-hard fans may be as troubled by these changes as they were when you-know-who left, but it's hard to imagine anyone who isn't afraid of a more modern sound (PORCUPINE TREE, for instance) really disliking this album.

Report this review (#30342)
Posted Saturday, June 19, 2004 | Review Permalink
loserboy
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars With deep conviction and an innocent introspective feel, MARILLION's double CD release "Marbles" will keep you rolling along. "Marbles" is a slow and sombre album full of gorgeous deep tones, carefully crafted melodies and songs and that special MARILLION flare. As a big MARILLION fan, Marbles sounds very different yet again and is another excellent piece of work from start to finish. There is a lot of great keyboard work and guitar accents throughout the album with deep bass tones. This double CD album pretty well stays on the softer side of MARILLION... not unlike tracks like "Afraid of Sunshine", "Cathedral Walls", House, When I meet God etc... Overall "Marbles" is a very fine album and although many will feel perhaps MARILLION's new direction is a bit too quaint, I dig it and I am into it.
Report this review (#30343)
Posted Saturday, July 3, 2004 | Review Permalink
john.mcmanus2
5 stars Neverland! posibly the most seemless piece of music ever written. It is worth 5 stars alone. The most moving song Ive ever heard. Perfect!! Hogarth on top form. Speechless.. As a footnote 'Don't hurt yourself' should be an eye opennerfor the masses. Unfortunately I doubt it...Really is a shame. Who cares whether it's prog or not. Why label it? Just take it for what it is. An amazing recording which anyone with half a brain would find something wonderfull

Report this review (#30344)
Posted Thursday, July 8, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars I have to admit after the Fish era Marillion has never returned to the top of my musical interests. Now, after a long time, I'm listening again to some of their new music convinced by the fine, if not enthusiastic, reviews that I read almost everywhere. My reaction is totally positive, even if it's hard to define Marbles a piece of progressive rock. I't's pure, elegant (and a little bit depressive) music, sometimes radio friendly, and it's not absolutely a shame. It's to be said that what I have in my hand is the 1 cd version, the only available in the italian shops (I don't have, for axample, Ocean Cloud, which seems to be the best song in the album...). Anyway, Neverland it's a superb track worth the price alone. A solid pop-rock-with-a-prog-flavour album.
Report this review (#30346)
Posted Saturday, August 7, 2004 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Marillion are "Brave" again

Marillion's latest (at time of writing) album has the familiar feel of their Hogarth era output. It's more "Seasons end"/"Brave" than "Radiation"/Anoraknophobia".

It is both a telling and courageous move, especially after their apparent distaste in recent time for being labelled prog, that the album opens with a thirteen minute track, "The invisible man". This is indeed pure prog which passes through various emotions and time changes. There's a bit of "Seasons end" (track) cascading guitar, and a lovely choral keyboards backed section which finds Hogarth at his emotive best, as the band rocks out behind him. A wonderful opening track.

"Fantastic place" once again feels very "Seasons end", with some lovely guitar and "orchestration", building to a fine crescendo ending.

The final track, "Neverland" is the other feature track, running to 12 minutes. The highlight of the track is the excellent guitar work, with it's echoes of Dave Gilmour. The track is more reminiscent of the Afraid of sunlight" album, especially "Out of this world".

The single "You're gone" which Marillion fans managed through excellent collusion to get into the top 10 of the UK singles chart is also included here, and in truth makes for a better album track than single. The double CD version only available through the band's website includes an excellent 18 minute track, "Ocean Cloud".

As with most Hogarth era Marillion albums, for me "Marbles" is a bit too wordy. The band should have the courage to exploit their instrumental prowess far more. That said, this is Marillion's finest album since "This strange engine" (which I rate highly), and a welcome return to the type of music they do best, i.e. prog rock!

Report this review (#30348)
Posted Tuesday, August 17, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Yesterday I received the double CD edition of Marbles, after listinig to it several times, I´m amazed even more. Compared with the one disc only release, this double CD is a little more closer, a little more athmosperic. The missing tracks put Marbles to a round and brilliant marble. I would like to suggest all Marillion fans to order this edition! It´s fantastic
Report this review (#30361)
Posted Tuesday, September 21, 2004 | Review Permalink
The Prognaut
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Yet another disappointing posture taken by the band. Since reforms and changes started to manifest throughout the MARILLION commanded by Mr. H, the pure essence of the band started to fade away as well. Undoubtedly, the "Marbles" experience picks up from the worn out formula albums like "Afraid of Sunlight" and "This Strange Engine" sustained and ended up leaving behind. So merely, there are no possible traces of progressiveness and inventive to be followed in here. There weren't any at the time the retail version was released, so I wasn't surprised to still haven't found those in the double CD presentation. But I do think there's a reason for such things as "Marbles" to happen. The possible explanation I could've come up with, was to realize that after all these years, everything comes to an end since it had a beginning, everything becomes rusty and old since it was new and innovative sometime. The eternal recurrence to the foundations built on "Seasons End", "Holidays in Eden" and maybe on "Brave", incurs in losing perspective and transition. Maybe the basis, the representative sound of the reborn MARILLION after FISH, worked that first, that second and even that third time, but after compelling the posterior productions to follow those exact same steps in the exact same order, it all became not redefining, but repetitive and disturbing. This "second phase" MARILLION implemented a whole different instrumentation and a complete different way of songwriting. Yes. That, is practically impossible to overlook when comparing the before and after. But far beyond returning to the point of confronting both sides, there comes a time were the work of oneself apart from it all, from the past and the remains of what it used to be, has to outstand and has to shine with a light of its own. Many, I'm not generalizing; of the productions with HOGARTH on the microphone happen to be pretty peculiar. It's all about composing, writing, arranging, mixing and editing a brand new album after another, with two or three outstanding songs and then, fill the empty spaces on the total running time with pointless tracks that aimlessly display progression and a captivating, distinguishing mark. It isn't me being shortsighted here, it isn't me taking it all out on this MARILLION, it is the voice of thousands. Just like the show performed by the band here in Mexico City, the "Marbles" album goes from average to bad as the time to reach the end of it goes by. Media, fans and experts, define this last release by the English band under the terms of "bad, incomplete, pretentious and uncommitted". No more to say regarding that issue.

Now, moving on to the composition of the album in its entireness. There are, like in the rest of the productions after "Brave"; a couple of tracks that set off the rest in here. Such is the case of "The Invisible Man", a song that really made it due the effort and dedication put together in here. It certainly has got the seal stamped by Steve HOGARTH ever since he made it to the band, it contains the unidirectional trend the band adopted over the years and which happened to improve remarkably. I quite enjoyed it despite the blank moments it's got and the unappealing arrangements done to the acoustic fragments and the circular percussions.

Under the terminology of "great", like I just described up above; "Ocean Cloud" is another supporting anchor that avoided the entire production to irremediably sink deep down in itself. Surprisingly, Steve HOGARTH displays such an arrogant voice, so fulfilling and convincing along the perfectly handled wailing guitar of Steve ROTHERY, it made me think for a while the rest of the experience on CD 2 was going to be worthy to listen to. Here, the unexpected progressive changes, the swinging of one type of mood to the other and the back and forth struggle to resemble the track to the most powerful song ever written in this second period of the band, certainly appeared to be credible. It could've reached the heights where the epic and the memorable unite, but once again, the remains of the "three hit albums" saga, took place in here and took over the rest of the song. It is fantastic to feel though, that there's a display of effort. But it's never enough until you complete the mission of completing a full convincing production, and "Marbles", certainly doesn't appeal to that.

The regression to simple and plain, is perfectly reflected in pieces like "The Damage" and "Don't Hurt Yourself", where playful, indescribable lyrics float around with no purpose at all, just to push both songs away from another couple of instrumentals. But the inexplicable, the outrageous and shameful, is condensed in some other excerpts of that rock pop essence once worked out for the band during the nineties. I'm talking about "You're Gone" (and the Single Mix version all along), "Angelina" and "Drilling Holes". In my opinion, I wouldn't have added up these tracks to the final cut version, but a 2 CD set album has got to be completed somehow.

So, this 2 CD presentation album has several purposes, where some of those will be discovered by you over the constant sessions of listening to it; represented mainly by vindication after releasing a tendentious single retail version and obviously, by a possible full acceptance. Which happened to be not completed and empty. The purposes to me will relay on completing your album collection and for you to see that it's not about comparisons, it's about realizing how ungrateful time has been to this "renovated" neo prog band of the relentless nineties. Not indispensable, that's for sure.

Report this review (#30349)
Posted Sunday, October 10, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Great album, among the best ones in 2004. Looking backwards, this will be one of the band's highlights, as 'Misplaced Childhood', 'Brave' or 'Afraid of Sunlight'. These people enjoy writing and playing music, and that's for the benefit of the fans. The epics ('Invisible Man', 'Ocean Cloud' and 'Neverland') are simply terrific, many people have described them here so no more words are needed. The singles have been very well chosen too, nowadays I'm listening to 'Don't hurt yourself' every time I can. Also, they have taken care of the production. At a first time, the whole album may seem hard to listen entirely, but in fact it's very well balanced. Marillion have crafted a jewel that possibly will be more and more appreciated as years go by.
Report this review (#30350)
Posted Monday, October 11, 2004 | Review Permalink
Menswear
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This is obviously a great addition to ANY rock collection. Because, let's be honest, there's few progressive moments in there. Of course, there is the guitar texture signature by Steve Rothery (who seem to abuse of fatty foods). And again, very capable Bono/ Tim Booth voice by pretty boy Hogarth. Just a pleasure to hear. Hogarth's voice carries you far far high in the sky, from rich middle-pitch tone to a higher ones with ease. I must admit that this record made me curious about the Hogarth period. I heard they're not all like that....shhyeah, that would've been surprising.

Once again, the music is similar to James and U2 in steel pedal atmospheres and floaty keyboards. I would really recommend this album to anyone who likes James, Radiohead or early U2 material. Sometimes, like on The Damage, Hogarth sounds EXACTLY like Tom Yorke, Radiohead tortured leader. This is hi-fi producted rock that will please the normal rocker who wants to get his ears into mature and deeper textures. But, don't expect snappy moments but Don't Hurt Yourself and You're Gone...which is brillant for a FM staple. On top, a big hurray for exquisite package and art cover. Did you noticed that the cover picture is actually 2 half faces making one: one of a boy and one of a girl. Wow!!

Please use intensively at night and ONLY at night. Sunlight could seriously damage magic moments and destroy the very purpose of the record; listening music at night is enhacing the buzz.

But since it sounds sooo badly like a cross of James, Radiohead and U2, I give it 3 stars for lacking creativity.

Report this review (#30351)
Posted Wednesday, October 13, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars A fan of this band since Misplaced Childhood, but lost touch with them after Afraid of Sunlight and the Brave album. Thought that they lost it, but what a come back. I would not say that this is their best, but it surely ranks in the top 5 of all their albums. Personnaly, this album has the same ambiance as Afraid of Sunlight.

Invisible man and Neverland are excellent songs which give you that Marillion feeling. But the best development is that they are also capable of making potential hit songs like "you are gone" and " Don't hurt yourself", which could give them a broader fan base. The last time they delivered hit potential songs was in my opinion with Kayleigh. With this type of songs they will surely attract new fans and give Marilion a position they deserve: one of the best symphonic rock bands ever.

Report this review (#30354)
Posted Wednesday, November 10, 2004 | Review Permalink
marty adshead
4 stars Well, after many read reviews,previews (from "She's gone" single) i actually started to feel that maybe this forthcoming Marillion album was the one i had been waiting for.Though Being a fan of Marillion for many years,i couldn't but help feeling a little disapointed with some of their recent releases,such as ".com, anorakknophobia, radiation, and this strange album, er sorry engine!, though all of the above mentioned do have moments of blinding musical genius, even if few and far between.Marbles however has very much prooved me right in thinking this could be the one, and as far as i'm concerned,it very much is. So many moods are captured here,and throughout from start to finsh,the muical content,the lyrics,and really just the whole feel of the album is quite simply nothing short of genius. It looks to me that Marillion are back at doing what they do best.
Report this review (#30358)
Posted Monday, January 10, 2005 | Review Permalink
1 stars I feel it's time for me to make My review of this cd. MARILLION hasn't been MARILLION since FISH left.... Steve is too damn ballady, where is the prog. it's like listening to Dean Martin with great musicians but a bad vocalist... Steve take a hint either get the PROG out and get back to what MARILLION stood for when FISH was around or leave the band and sing on some Cruise ship. thats what you have is a pathetic cruise ship or tacky lounge singer.....yes you had some good songs but since the good songs..I love Easter, cover my eyes, hooks in you, and the Uninvited guest. But now MARBLES is so lame.
Report this review (#30360)
Posted Friday, February 4, 2005 | Review Permalink
naji.chmayssa
5 stars OK, even though I rated this album with 5 stars I have to admit that the 5 stars are for the 1CD version found in the shops. The complete 2CD version would be more like 4 stars. What can I say? it's a surprisingly and refreshingly delicious album, even though there isn't much prog in it. But then there hasn't been any prog in Marillion since Fish left , but on this one they seem to have hit the peak of what they can do together, and they got it right!. I think it's the best Marillion album of the Hogarth era; and the third best one overall (after Script and Fugazi). So there.
Report this review (#30364)
Posted Thursday, March 3, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars Has some good tracks. the poppy 'Your Gone' and 'Don't Hurt Yourself' are excellent (if not derivitive) catchy pop music. But most of the album suffers what most of the post FISH Marillion epic songs suffer from, and that is NO emotion. Yeah, songs like 'Ocean Cloud' are beautiful, well recorded, but where is the intensitity, the emotion? Good background music, but compared to the power of something like 'Forgotten Sons', very lacking. H can do it, 'King' is a great example of real power and emotion from Hogarth, but nothing past the great pop tunes grab you on this album. The hard core fans will like it, it's not bad, but this album (or albums depending on which version you get) is not going to get any new fans past the singles.
Report this review (#30367)
Posted Thursday, March 10, 2005 | Review Permalink
hdfisch
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Well it's quite a while away I listened to a Marillion album, a band I used to like when I was in my 20's. After Fish left the band they failed somehow to hit my attraction. So this one is their latest output and I'm now listening to it 3rd or 4th time but still can't get fascinated. The first track "The invisible man" reminds me pretty much to Radiohead in some way. Second one which is the first one of the "Marbles"-series is rather boring I've to say and the third one "You're gone" is a nice pop song and so on. The whole album is a nice pop rock one IMHO to listen once or twice but nothing special and actually I can't quite follow why it's rated so high even in the category of NeoProg. Only interesting for die-hard Marillion fans or maybe for those of Radiohead. For me worth for 2 stars!

P.S. The edition I reviewed is NOT the limited 2 CD's one listed here!

Report this review (#30373)
Posted Saturday, March 19, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Of the many great bands that get no airplay, that a select smattering of people have heard of, whose rabid fans keep them loyal to their music - (and not the industry) - Marillion may indeed be the kings. Kings rule with a even hand, have longevity, and most of all grace.

Here's to Marillion, who someone so eloquently called "The greatest band nobody's ever heard of" and they've managed to rule for 20+ years. Fish and h. comparisons aside, they are different people and musicians EVOLVE their style over the years - so quit your petty bickering over different vocal eras. Its unproductive - time to get over it. Another unproductive thing is the Genesis/Beatles/Floyd/etc. comparisons. Yep - we get it - they were influenced by the people THEY listened to when they were coming up. Can someone please name a musician who WASN'T?!?!?

This album is going to appeal to many prog fans who take the time to listen with an open mind. I rate it a 5 because it can only be described as a culminating work. Marbles is like the compilation of many experiments before you finally get the right recipe. You add the secret ingredient and Eureka - something magical. Let me elaborate on the thought...

Like "Brave" the subject matters will touch you emotionally. Like "Afraid of Sunlight" it's moody and loungy with sudden bursts of power. Like "Strange Engine" and parts of "Anoraknophobia" it explores boundaries and takes chances musically (for them), and like "Seasons' End" and "Holidays in Eden" there are powerful moments of musicianship from Mark Kelly and Steve Rothery when they were the dominant forces when that new guy had just joined them and hadn't exerted his vision quite yet...

Turn off the lights. Put on the headphones. Let me give you the 2CD highlights... Disk 1 Track 1 - We open with the Invisible Man - relax and listen. Don't get caught up in expectations, just open your ears. What you're hearing is layers and layers of texture - building... slowly... that frustration you feel after about 4 minutes is the same frustration the protagonist of the song feels. You're only a 1/3 into it. Let it ride, let it build, let them take you there. By the end of the song Hogarth's voice is strained and cracking, and you will be strangely satisfied.

Track 3 - Fantastic Place - Not really prog. more pop ballad - should have been the single they released. It's classic Hog/Roth pop. There's those layers of sound again, the detail in every note is almost clinical. Production quality is off the charts.

Track 7 - Ocean Cloud - It's a must-listen to 18 minutes. The word epic is overused here. Ocean Cloud is the most musically rewarding piece they've put out EVER. I'm saying this full well knowing that you could make a compelling case that the end(s) of Brave or The Strange Engine were just dress rehearsals for this moment.

Disk2 Track 5 - Angelina - love it or hate it. It's jazzy feel and sublime guitar work make it stand out. Its fun, its tight, and it gets you interested in just what else can these guys do.

Track 8 - Neverland - What's the greatest Prog rock love song of all time? Is there such a thing? Is it an oxymoron? I love Beautiful, SugarMice, etc. but - How do you escape the "power ballad" mentality and make a progressive song, that's also a raw emotional love song? This is how you do it. You can listen to it over and over again Wendy, Darling... If Ocean Cloud is the epic. Neverland is a progressive masterpiece. Period.

Thanks for reading...

The Unknown Critic

Report this review (#30377)
Posted Saturday, April 9, 2005 | Review Permalink
marco.bazzich
5 stars "Marbles" is simply the best Marillion album. It's their most open-minded, too. So, where's the problem? The problem is that when you are open-minded, as musician, you have to stand the intolerance of who is not open-minded. Those who critic Marbles should be very sure not to make confusion between their own taste and what an album like this can really offer. If anybody is so still linked to the 70's progressive rock to refuse every other kind of music, this anybody should admit that HE doesnt' like this album. By the way, this album can not be apprecieted by those who cannot think instead of dancing. I'm just a little bit disappointed with the Band, however, for there are still some defects that I hope will disappear in the next work. I cannot really stand the way Marillion rimind not simply other bands like Pink Floyd or Radiohead -and this is obviously normal- but the fact that Marillion riminds, sometimes, some very recognizable tracks by bands like these. That's not only a question of style, but of copying. For example, the acoustic side of "the invisbile man" comes clearly from "animals" of Pink Floyd, and so "Marbles II" is too similar to "fake plastic tree" of Radiohead, of which they recorded an unplugged cover. The bass playing at the end of "Ocean cloud" is clearly taken from "heart of the sunrise" by Yes. All this disappoint me because when i try to involve someone in this masterpiece, many times people tells me that this sounds like Pink Floyd or Radiohead. But that's the really only one defect of Marbles. I'm sure that the fate of this album is the same of "Brave". When "Brave" came out, too many people have low rated it, the same kids that, 10 years later, are crying because Marbles is not as beuty as Brave. Marillion, when you'll be gone, it will be Neverland.
Report this review (#30378)
Posted Monday, April 18, 2005 | Review Permalink
sausagefisher
5 stars First off I have always hated Marillion. I lived in a town in which this boyfriend/girlfriend who never showered and simply used patchuli oil for deoderant (as they were avid pot smokers, (which is okay, not my thing, that' all). Nonetheless, being an audio engineer I gave it a long and had listened to the several (then) cassettes of the band (circa 1992). I tried... but in the end I simply found nothing redeeming in any of the music, but I was never much into "early versions" of bands. I like 70's bands that ended in the 70's, and so on.

I like 80's Yes (that band), over 70's Yes, and can hardly stand the Gabriel era of Genesis, Phil Collins put a non selling band on the map... ironically, I love ALL of Peter Gabriel's solo work. I just think they are 2 different projects. Spocks Beard Neal Morse? Or with Nick on voclas. Nick is a superior vocalist By Far, but damn Neal Morse sure could write and play! When my money is on the counter it will go to the next Spock's Beard with Nick singing, not Neal Morse. - There's the back story.

I back tracked Pete Trewavas from the projects with Mike Portnoy and Neal Morse and their ilk. Then I heard the song "Genie" and was "who the hell is this, this is gorgeous?" Sure enough it was Marillion. I bought the album several months abo and it still gets heavy rotation in my cd changer, hasn't left. I listen to recordings all the way through while doing web design though I am mediocre at it. I was loaned the few albums proceeding up to Marbles, and I just wasn't into it. Maybe it ws because I only had them for a weekend. Not sure... but I am sure that "Marillion - Marbles" is on this audiophiles list of top 50 recordings of all time. Best with headphones, but speakers are fine as well.

I can't believe I am about to say this, but Marbles is a masterpiece.

And for the people who long for days gone past, just "enjoy" the music you like, pass on what you don't. And for the record: I own every Genesis album, every Phil Collins album, every Mike and the Mechanics album, every Ray Wilso album (including his "Stiltskin" cd), every Yes album, every Dream Theater album, every Spock's Beard album. Plus all of the Neo-Proj CDs out there. Also, I am not going to do any rating on any other Marillion album... unless another great one comes out.

These artists are now all on shoe string budgets from CD to CD, cut them some slack, buy the CD you like, pass on the one's you don't... and most of all - simply, enjoy the music.

Report this review (#30379)
Posted Wednesday, April 20, 2005 | Review Permalink
1 stars Having heard Anorakno..something I decided: no more! But after many enthusiastic opinion about "Marbles" I gave them another chance. And my (subjective) opinion is sustained: no more!. I found almost nothing interesting on this album.The only and small exception is "Ocean Cloud". The rest ofe the horribly long album is simply boooring. And of course the main reason is vocal. Please forgive me, but Mr.Hogarth's voice is the one of the least acceptable of many I heard in my life.The magic of Marillion was gone years ago (IMHO it happened after "Seasons End"). It never returned, and for me - it never will. Just one small star for "Ocean Cloud".
Report this review (#30380)
Posted Friday, April 22, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars marbles is a good and strange album. there's long, pop, rock and bluesy songs. this album is very varied. songs like : insible man, ocean cloud, neverland and marbles 3 prooves that marillion is one of the best prog band in the world ! there's no old prog 70's and 80's cliché, that we used to hear in the majority of prog band like : arena, iq, spocks beard and many other. and that it's interristing. the only negative thing is that, it miss a little in emotion in this album...and i think that marbles is too long. i would prefer a shorter version like this :

./marbles 1

1/ driling hole 2/invisible man

../marbles 3

3/the damage 4/the only unfortables... 5/neverland

.../marbles 4

6/ocean cloud

..../marbles 2

7/don't hurt yourself 8/you re gone

Report this review (#30381)
Posted Friday, April 22, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Personnally, I think this album is a return to form. Best album since 'Afraid of Sunlight'. 'The Invisible Man' counts as one of my favourite Marillion songs, and a truly stunning opening. The mood of the record is highly focused; all the tracks are excellent, although I'm not to keen on 'Fantastic Place' (the live b-side is better) and 'Don't Hurt Yourself' must count as one of their best ever singles. Splitting the track 'Marbles' into 4 parts was a clever move: as a whole the song might appear somewhat superficial, but as a narrative thread which keeps returning to the sense of loss, adds to the cohesion of the album without it becoming a concept album as such. In that respect, it's closer to 'Afraid.' than to 'Brave'.

And thank God for Dave Meegan. I know there was some dispute about his artistic contribution after 'Afraid.' (and I totally disagree about that), but the clarity and dynanism of the mix just IS Marillion: it provides the depth and drama their music needs.

I only have the single cd version, but having heard the double cd version, I don't think that it adds much: 'Genie' is more than annyoing, 'The Damage' I'm quite happy to have as a b-side, 'Ocean Cloud' reminds me of 'This Strange Engine' but without the emotional impact, and in any case pales in comparison with 'The Invisible Man'.

I remember reading a review when 'Afraid.' was released which said something along the lines that if that album had been released by a new band, it would have been hailed as near-genius, but beaing released by the highly-unfashionable Marillion, it would be passed over with hardly a second glance. The same is true of 'Marbles'. I'd rate it as their third best album (after 'Brave' and 'Afraid.') - and that includes everything by Fish.

Report this review (#30382)
Posted Friday, April 22, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars what an amazing album.

It's benn a year that I bought it. Still under the shock. And the concert was of the same kaliber. This is nothing but musical jewelry. Dozens of minutes of musical grace. Special mention for Hogarth and Rothery. Even my girlfriend really appreciates this album... She usually hates Marillion !

No preferred track list, all tracks are at least interesting. And it really depends on your mood, so...Maybe my preferred one is "marbles 2".

Life is beautiful.

Report this review (#30386)
Posted Tuesday, May 17, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars I thought that it could not be possible for me to put 5 stars to any album of Marillion after Fish departure. Only from some sentimental reasons I have bought a few first marillion´s albums with Hoggarth. After Afraid of sunlight I forgot to marillion. And than Marbles came. And Neverland. I recognise it better than Fish´s last album. Fantastic music, fantasic vocals, fantastic hammonds and harmony. And I found Marillion once again. And I recognise with big surprise, music perfect.
Report this review (#30387)
Posted Saturday, May 21, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars After listening to ANORAKNOPHOBIA I became concerned about the direction my beloved Marillion was heading. RADIATION and MARILLION.COM were complete flops in my opinion. Both had a few nuggets to get you excited but I felt THIS STRANGE ENGINE was the last "complete" album the band had released.

Naturally, I was worried about the double CD curse doing them in on MARBLES. With what they were putting out prior, there was no way they could put enough good material together and make a success of it. I was happily rebuffed when I pulled the shrink wrap off and popped that 1st disc into the player Right away I knew that Hogarth had righted the ship. The MARBLES installments are comic relief so to speak. The meat of disc 1 the other tracks. Starting with INVISIBLE MAN right on through to the melodic and powerful OCEAN CLOUD.

Disc 2 contains MARBLES lll and lV plus the hypnotic YOU'RE GONE , DON'T HURT YOURSELF and the sonic masterpiece NEVERLAND.

This is the best Marillion album in a very long time and was definately worth the wait. Got a chance to see them perform the entire set at the House Of Blues in Hollywood. Unbelievable...

Report this review (#30388)
Posted Sunday, May 22, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Aaah, the power of music! While attempting to settle down my 7-day old son this morning, I stuck on CD1 of this album & the magic of Marillion worked once more - all of a sudden calmness & serenity descended over my offspring, his eyes became wide & his cries ceased as he relaxed & let the wonderful sounds flow over him. (I have to start his musical education early as his mother loves Dolly Parton, the Bee Gees & Tina Turner.) For me 'Marbles' is Marillion's best post-Fish output (with 'Brave' coming a very close second), with the DVD & attenance at last year's tour finally ridding me of my fear of Hogarth-era Marillion - that boy can sing! Thank you, Marillion for providing music for all ages!
Report this review (#30391)
Posted Thursday, June 2, 2005 | Review Permalink
chessman
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I have to confess, I am one of those Marillion fans who prefers the Fish era. When they released 'Script' it was a blessing for Genesis fans starved of that type of music. And Fish's lyrics were always well written and almost poetical in flavour and intensity. None of those wishy washy wonderful world and everlasting love motives for him! He got down to the nitty gritty and told the world how things really were, with biting sarcasm and tremendous vitality. When Hogarth took over, the band changed. I saw them live on the 'Holidays In Eden' tour, and I have to say his voice was excellent live, powerful and clear. Unfortunately, on record his vocals sometimes sound thick and stilted, he doesn't possess the mystery and mastery that Fish has/had. Nevertheless, Hogarth has done well in practically making the band his own and changing their direction away from prog. 'Seasons End' I enjoyed in a way, and the first couple of tracks on 'Holidays', but they have also produced some very average material along the way. 'Radiation' 'This Strange Engine' and 'Brave' (yes! an album some rate higly!) were all run of the mill and strangely lacking in cohesion and melody. In fact 'Brave' may be my least favourite Marillion album of all. However, they have produced a couple of decent efforts. I personally quite liked 'Anoraknophobia', and I thought 'Afraid Of Sunlight' was maybe the best offering from the Hogarth era. Well, I did until now. 'Marbles' has really impressed me. The whole album has a nice melancholy air, and is especially nice to listen to through the headphones. I won't go into individual tracks. Suffice to say that most of them are good, the highlights for me being the little 'Marbles' breaks, especially the third one, 'The Invisible Man' which might be my fave on the album, 'Neverland' and 'Don't Hurt Yourself'. In fact, the only two I am not keen on are the very average 'Drilling Holes' which disrupts the flow of the album, and 'The Damage'. Hogarth does have an annoying tendency to sound like the Beatles at times, and not to good effect either. Still, this album is a high class offering, and will be in my top five Marillion albums for quite some time, along with 'Script' 'Clutching' 'Afraid Of Sunlight' and probably 'Misplaced Childhood'. A good return to form for the band here, with Rothery in particular sounding hungrier than in recent years. Worth a listen.
Report this review (#36871)
Posted Saturday, June 18, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars what an album Arguibly marillion's best (in fact quite doubtly, but it's my marillion's favorite), but undoubtly Hogarth's finest In this one they start with more of a spacey sound than the restof marillion's work, but EVERY melody is freaking beautiful, and Hogarth shows that vocally he have nothing to fear from fish's shadow. Also, all of the solos are more beautiful now than ever, the only step back was from trevawas, who is not rocking so hard on the bass, but its nothing you will miss since its more of a relax music than a rocking one This is one album that can take you trough extremes of emotions and also can just be played, sit back and think. About nothing or nuclear physics.
Report this review (#38134)
Posted Thursday, June 30, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Hmmm - reading the other reviews for this album it seems that there is a lot of gingoistic mutterings of this is/not a prog album and the great Fish/Hogarth debate. I say don't worry about it. I have to admit that I would consider myself as a fan of all of Marillion's work - and the change in moods and styles of the band's work - in my mind - represents progression - let's face it - Marillion are hardly boy band material! Onto the album - I'm not going to discuss tracks - except to mention the standout ones are Ocean Cloud and Neverland. If you have never bothered with Marillion (where have you been?) - I certainly wouldn't have any hang ups in recommending this album. Afterall - the back catalogue represents and accomodates a myriad of musical tastes. It is a well packaged, reasonably produced album full of nuances which creep up on you unexpectedly on repeated listening. Give it a go - presevere with it and you will be rewarded with wonderful soundscapes and at times, black humour. Oh - and try and dig out the double album - this represents the best value for money. Diolch Section8er
Report this review (#38321)
Posted Sunday, July 3, 2005 | Review Permalink
marillionlive
5 stars This is Marillions Fourth Masterpiece. How many bands can say that?

Marbles is a return to the form of Brave and AOS. The two disc edition is the one to buy as it contains Ocean Cloud. This trakc alone would be worth the purchase price. However it is backed up by more classic songs such as Neverland, Invisible Man, Fantastic Place, Drilling Holes and the singles, You're Gone, Don't Hurt Yourself and The Damage. Marillion have been in the UK singles charts again and even hit number 2 in the download chart! Steve Hogarth seems willing to shred his voice on many of the tracks and has duplicated this trick live for the whole of the Marbles tour! Seeing them open with Invisible Man, and Steve sing lines which would cripple most vocalists, and then go on to perform for over two hours afterwards just goes to show how good he is!

This is an essential album for everyone! I look forward to number 14 with great interest!

Report this review (#41385)
Posted Wednesday, August 3, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars It is a big lie that Marillion ended when Fish left. They evolved, maybe in a positive way, but they never ended. They reached a more complex sound, a more adult way of writing songs, and each member improved the use of his instrument and became better and better (as you can see in "Brave"). You can still see the ability of these musicians in "Marbles". No weak compositions, altough there are some poppish moments, and great lyrics on the whole disc. Rothery does a good guitar work on every track, and Hogarth sings with passion. His mellowing voice fits the songs perfectly, he performs the pieces very well also in "Marbles on the road". The oustanding tracks are "The Invisible Man" (especially the intermezzo that starts around 6.20 and ends around 9.40), which expresses a mood of solitude and sadness, "Neverland", "Ocean Cloud", "Don't hurt yourself" (a little radio song but so good!), "Fantastic Place", but almost every track has his own good moments. Unfortunately you can't find the double discs set everywhere in the world, but you can order it on the official website. It is better, "Ocean Cloud" is an epic song, a marvelous gem of prog. Great great moog organ, along the whole disc.

If they can't reach perfection, they're quite close.

Report this review (#44104)
Posted Wednesday, August 24, 2005 | Review Permalink
stationarytra
5 stars Definitevly the best album issued by Marillion and my best choice for 2004... The first cd is so beautiful, just like one long track, i never heard just a song from this cd but always, without hope, the whole disk from the beginning to the end... The Invisble Man is simply one of my favourite song ever, so sad, so magic in its history... But every track is a masterpiece on his own and I couldn't choose one or another. The second cd is less interesting in my opinion. Neverland, the last track it's simply fantastic, but the rest of the work is not at the same level nor than Neverland, nor than the other tracks of the side one... I almost think Marillion wrote the other songs to have some material to justify the release of the double cd because Neverland can't fit the first one... In the end, Marbles is in my opionion the best album by Marillion and one of my best album ever...
Report this review (#44107)
Posted Wednesday, August 24, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars I admit not to be a fan of Marillion " second generation ", but this album pleasantly surprised me. Far from being a masterpiece, I shall not put in it five stars (it's necessary to be realistic my progressive's friends), I think that it reflects well the neoprogressive of the 2000s. No, you should not avoid the pleasure and listen a very good Marillion, less cold and less tortured than usually, with a lot of nostalgia (in my eyes and my ears).
Report this review (#44556)
Posted Sunday, August 28, 2005 | Review Permalink
1 stars Marillion is one of my favorite bands ever. i must say it before i bash this album and i'm totally serious in my opinion on this record. what means progressive... progressive it is cos it's not something i can compare to previous records. while Anoraknophobia was very ascetic album and truly nice to listen to this one it's kind of sleepy trip without any attepmt to play more vivid. i can't believe that the band who took so much from Van Der Graaf Generator and Genesis on the beginning of their career drifted into that sleepy modern rock direction and it's even worse than progressive - regressive albums recorded by today bands. i heard that fans pay for Marillion sessions before album is released, if i paid for this i'd hire a lawyer and go to court to get my money back that's how bad this album is. i can only say for those who consider buying: better spend your money on some classic stuff of the band if you don't have it and if you are fan and have to have all then buy this double CD cos it's only for collectors.
Report this review (#45017)
Posted Wednesday, August 31, 2005 | Review Permalink
1 stars This album is nothing short of terrible. Sleepy snoozy Hogarth sounds like he can't be bothered ( Yet Again ) and the songs themselves are boring and lifeless, Ocean Cloud being the only saving grace. This is a shame, as Marillion with Hogarth started out so promisingly with the outstanding "Seasons End" "Holidays In Eden" and "Brave" Since then Marillion have sounded puzzingly tired and devoid of ideas. I want to hear those Rothery solos in abundance again, I want to hear the drama and excitement of the earlier Hogarth works. To me, "Marbles" is yet another disappointing miss.
Report this review (#45292)
Posted Friday, September 2, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Fantastic, emotional, divers, complex, modern, fresh, classic.

fantastic place carry you to an emotional upper stage. Hogarth and Rothery at theirr best.

Atmospherical ladscapes returned; epic variety;

Neverland, and stablished classic.

The only unforgiveable thing...most Marillion, tipical but modern Marillion

Few words; great sensations!

Report this review (#51915)
Posted Saturday, October 15, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars 4.5 Really!

This is a freaking awesome album, full of the mood changes (and unique, previously unexplored emotions only good prog can deliver) and excellent songwriting I've come to expect from this band. I must admit, I'm fairly new to this band (been listening for 3 years), having loved "Clutching" (it's in my top 20 albums of all time). This album is exactly what I personally look for in prog... it's a grower, i.e. something that gets better over time (even more so when applied to a certain significant period in your life). If you're here at good old progarchives, then you probably understand the sentence before this one. To quote the late, great F.Z.: "music is the best". Especially when it's well done prog!

Report this review (#53735)
Posted Friday, October 28, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars This album is a real move away from conventional Marillion, but sees the band chasing a more commercial, Radiohead/Feeder, style. As a true Marillion fan this distresses me, as I see an excellent band trying to "imitate the youth" and play like bands, who should themselves, be looking up to bands like Marillion. This is evident in the way that Steve Rothery has adapted his guitar style, which before was so very distinctive and now sound more like Radiohead etc. Don't get me wrong I have no dislike for these bands I just feel that Marillion don't need to imitate.

However, this album does have its positive sides. I found that the first time I listened to this album that it was a disappointment and disliked songs such as 'The Invisible Man', but on repeated listenings this has become one of my favourite songs with real depth present. The section that contains the line "Standing in doorways in Venice, Vienna..." is one of the best parts of this song.

Other highlights of this album include 'Neverland' which as a result has become one of my all-time favourite Marillion songs and is a real favourite at live shows. It has a real spacey feeling and the lyrics are so incredibly honest. 'Drilling Holes' is another high point of this album, and resembles 'See Emily Play' by Pink Floyd with the 60s psychedelia theme, a great song.

I believe that new listeners will find this album much how I did and would definately not reccommend this album to an individual unfamiliar with Marillion. However, this album does have some great sections that redeem it in my eyes.

Report this review (#54390)
Posted Wednesday, November 2, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Being new to reviewing prog (and whatever....as labels don't interest me in the slightest) on this site, I have to go to the ones I hold in highest esteem and put in my 2c worth. I am also relatively new to Marillion (I can just hear some out there shrieking "...and you call yourself a prog rock fan?"), thanks in no small part to a friend who worked in a used CD store and passed on his recommendations to me.

The aforementioned used CD store had several Marillion CD's to choose from. I asked Jerry to show me his 3 favorites. He pulled out Clutching At Straws, Seasons End, and Brave. I gave each one a listen and bought them all. I have to say that while I liked Brave the best, it still wasn't enough to make me go out and hunt down everything in the Marillion catalog. That was in late 2000, and it was a good 3 years later before I purchased my next Marillion CD, which was This Strange Engine. This one perked my attention a bit more, but I'll review that one another time.

Now we come to Marbles. I had purchased it from a seller in Russia on E-bay, and it took long enough coming that I had all but forgotten that I'd bought it. The day that it arrived was a turnaround for me. When I put the CD in my computer's disc drive, I was stunned at how polished the music was, and how it fairly jumped out of the speakers at me. Of immediate impact on me were "She's Gone" and "Don't Hurt Yourself". With time, the whole thing caught me from start to finish. I have to say that this CD was instrumental in my scouring E-bay for as many Marillion CD's as I could find.

I feel that this CD is Marillion's "Dark Side of the Moon" in many ways. It is polished, accessible (in a good way), and listenable over and over again. The tracks are moving and emotional, and the impact of the music compliments the lyrical content to a tee, especially on The Invisible Man (which is a gem live). I no longer bother to get into debates over Fish or H being the better lead singer. Marillion are what they are, like them or leave them. I happen to love them. And having all but one of the Fish-era releases, I like the Hogarth ones better. Perhaps my dear friend in Virginia was a bit harsh in his assessment when he labeled Fish-era Marillion as a "poor man's Genesis", but I understand where he's coming from. I just happen to like the music and songs as a whole that the band has done since 1999 (with the exception of Brave and Afraid of Sunlight) better than anything they did before that time.

Contrary to most opinions, I think that marillion.com and Anoraknophobia are outstanding releases in their own way.

But this one stands on its own merit as an effort that should be owned by music lovers who like prog, or rock in general. I can't wait to see what they come up with next.

salud!

- beebs

Report this review (#56049)
Posted Saturday, November 12, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Marillion is without doubt one of the bands that proved very influential in progmusic during the eighties and nineties. Their albums were quite consistent in quality, albeit that some of them were not vert outstanding (especially Radiation was quite disappointing). But as time went by it became more and more obvious that the guys were developing their own unique musical style, regardless of hypes that were going on all around them (instead making use of them as it pleased them). And then there is Marbles, a relatively quick release after their very strong Anorak album. And what a masterpiece this is!! Two disks full of varied music, be it bluesy (the beautiful ballad 'Angelina'), be it new-age-like ('The invisible man'), be it soundscape-like ('Ocean cloud') or more or less straight forward rocking ('The damage'), it is all there. I don't fancy everything on the record ('The damage') but it contains mostly jewels in melody ('Fantastic place') and musicianship (listen to 'Ocean cloud' and you'll understand what I'm saying). And then there were even some quite succesful hit singles that pleased the boys extremely. 'Don't hurt yourself' is indeed a very catchy song, dominated by Hogarths fine singing. I really don't understand how 'The damage' has become a hit since I think it is the worst track on the album but apparently a lot of people thought otherwise. I most certainly think the Marillion deserved the apreciation of many listeners since their attitude towards music is an example for many others and because they always stuck to their own ideas. What to say about the four tiny 'Marbles' songs? Personally I like them very much, they put a smile on my face. Each part is very different from the other one but together they set up a very nice package of lovely songs. I guess they are not meant to be taken very seriously and on my part Marillion succeeds very well.

Marbles is in my opinion the strongest album Marillion has ever made. And it proves again that it is absolutely nonsense to keep comparing Fish with Steve Hogarth. Marillion has constantly changed over the years and hopefully they will continue to do so. They're just very good and Marbles is the proof of the pudding.

Report this review (#60465)
Posted Friday, December 16, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars I've had this album for a year and a half, but I've only listened to a few tracks here and there, mostly getting caught up in other things. Well, I put on the first track "The Invisible Man," already knowing it very well, and I ended up playing the whole album (double version) straight through.

Simply put, I have never wanted so much to be part of an album in all my life. Marbles is unlike anything Marillion have done before. From start to finish, the album is eerie yet inspiring at the same time. Other than possibly "Don't Hurt Yourself," there are no attempts to make any radio hits as there have been on previous releases, and even this is arguable. Of the 15 tracks, 3 of them pass the 12 minute mark with Ocean Cloud being up near 18 (and including a somewhat metal section during the song, quite interesting for Marillion).

Rather go into detail on songs, I'll just say that there ought to be something on this album for everyone even if you're not a fan of Marillion post-Fish. The inspiration was clearly present during the writing and production of this album. It's a must for all.

Report this review (#64734)
Posted Saturday, January 14, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars I have heard only the 1cd edition cos you cant find the 2cd editon in Greece.I have also listened a sample from the other songs and i am impressed.Marillion is my favourite band and they never turn me down.Marbles is without doubt among the 3 best Marillion albums.Outstanding.Nothing more and nothing less.Since i have not heard the complete album i cannot rate 5stars although i strongly believe that this album deserves it.The 13th album of Marillion proves that they can give even more to MUSIC,not only progrock.P.S.I desperately search for these 4songs of MARBLES:Ocean Cloud,Drilling Holes,The only unforgivable thing and Genie.If anyone can help me send an email to the adress [email protected] I would appreciate it.
Report this review (#66881)
Posted Thursday, January 26, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars After hearing about Marillion on the official Dream Theater forum, I thought I would give them a go and got a copy of the 2CD version of Marbles. I must say that I was blown away by the music and just loved every minute of the album. I must have listened to it at least 5 times in the first 2 weeks of getting it.

I only knew of some of the history of Marillion before I listened so I came with a pretty open mind. I really like Hogarth's vocals despite what alot of people are saying on here. I have listened to Clutching At Straws since Marbles, and Fish's voice did not grab me near as much as Hogarths did, and neither did the music.

Getting back to the album, I find it hard to find a song I dislike, let alone music I don't like. At times some more work could have been taken in the lyrics, but overall they are great. I am looking forward to getting into the Marillion archives and listening to all their music.

Report this review (#68355)
Posted Saturday, February 4, 2006 | Review Permalink
Cygnus X-2
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Marillion's latest release is definitely amongst their greatest. Nearly 20 years after the departure of Fish, Marillion adapted and changed styles with each passing album. From the AOR of Holidays in Eden to the ethereal beauty of Brave, Hogarth and Co. have changed like the tide over the past 16 years. Rothery with breathtaking lead and rhythm work, Kelly keeps the moody atmosphere at full tilt with lush keyboards, Trewavas utilizes many techniques in the bass-book and masterfully works around the framework of the song, Mosley drums with precision and accuracy even during the most complicated sections of the material, and Hogarth is masterful in his vocal and dulcimer work. In a word, the band is simply awesome.

The Invisible Man starts off slowly, with a droning down beat that quickly picks up pace as the band becomes more involved with the track. Trewavas gives moments of wonder with nicely timed harmonics as Rothery creates moody and melodic guitar lines. As Hogarth begins the vocal, one can already tell they are going to be going on a fun ride. The solo that Rothery takes towards the end of the song is among his best on the album. Marbles 1 is the first in a series of 4 Marbles songs simply about a child who loves marbles. Some nice echoing harmonics are featured as well as a catchy beat throughout the 1:45 timeframe. You're Gone and Angelina are two of the "poppier" songs on the album, with You're Gone being the leading single from the album (Don't Hurt Yourself also got its own single soon after).

Marbles II is a continuation of the Marbles theme of the album. Don't Hurt Yourself has a catchy chorus and a nice beat compliments of Trewavas and Mosley, you'd think after 20+ years of playing together they'd soon lose their lustre, but they compliment Rothery and Kelly nicely. Hogarth really goes all out on the vocal here, hitting falsettos during the chorus. Marbles III is the next incantation of the Marbles theme, expect more of the same from the past two. Drilling Holes contains some very emotional work from Rothery as well as some very inspired lyrics and vocals from Hogarth. Marbles IV is the final incarnation of the long running Marbles theme, and it finishes off nicely, with Hogarth asking, "Did anyone see my last marble?". Neverland is the conclusion to the album, a stunning 12 minute epic with magnificent keyboard work from Mark Kelly, as well as a heart-pounding guitar solo from Steve Rothery.

Overall, Marillion has outdone themselves again with this landmark release. Their 90's sound has come full circle with this release, a brilliant amalgamation of pop with progressive rock. Highly recommended. 4.5/5.

Report this review (#68635)
Posted Monday, February 6, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Note: I was one of the fools who did not know that Marbles came in a two-cd version. Hence, I have the single disk edition. I feel I'm really missing out on some great songs, mainly "Ocean Cloud." Oh the pain...

Marbles really didn't do much for me on the first listen. I'm not quite sure why. On subsequent listens, I found myself enjoying it more and more. Of course, it couldn't be any further from Fish-era Marillion. Hogarth has a way of sneaking up on you, whereas Fish was more overt with his emotions. The music on Marbles is generally more subdued, emotional, yet sometimes cold. Many of the songs are ballads of a sort, and I believe one or two even became singles, though I think we all know Marillion--or any prog band for that matter--isn't cut out for that game.

Yes, the music is mostly pop-rock, but honestly, this is some of the best pop any band could come up with. "You're Gone" sounds like a mid-tempo European club track, but don't click off the page in disgust just yet. It's very well-done and tasteful, and it truly retains Marillion's individuality, which ultimately saves it from sounding like a rip-off of some egotistical pop star. "Don't Hurt Yourself," reminds me of Achtung Baby-era U2, which I consider a compliment, but something another might call atrocious. It's decent, but not mind-blowing. Another ballad, "Fantastic Place" is mellow love song that builds as it moves along; one of the better mid-length songs .

"Angelina," is yet another ballad, and I find it just a bit too much of the same. The previously mentioned ballad is more engaging, and more worth your time. The four "Marbles" pieces never really amount to anything except enjoyable filler, and I wish they had been combined into one song, which I believe would have been more effective. "Drilling for Holes" is chaotic, random and verges from murky to benign. This amalgam of elements makes for a rather confusing song, and I really don't know why it's even on Marbles.

Now, the two epics-of-sorts on my one-disk version of Marbles, "The Invisible Man," and "Neverland," both have far more prog elements that the rest of the album, yet they are still fairly simple and easy to get into. "The Invisible Man" has a dark and disturbing intro, and grows far more massive and powerful with Hogarth's every trembling wail. I don't feel that it ever reaches greatness, though. The real gem of Marbles, however, is "Neverland." A minor-key grand piano begins the piece, and a powerful vocal performance from Hogarth, excellent string arrangements here and there, enthusiastic playing from the band-especially Rothery's guitar work-carry it to the exultant conclusion.

If I was rating Marbles on a pop scale, it would probably get 4 stars. But this is a progressive rock site, and though it really is not the best example of prog rock, Marbles does have quality songwriting to save it from being a failure. On many levels, it's quite an achievement.

* Update June 27, 2006:

Well, "The Invisible Man" finally grew on me and now I like it just about as much as "Neverland." It's just a great derision from the usually easy-going remainder of Marbles. Seeing how "The Invisible Man" is a great prog near-epic taking up a respectable amount of Marbles, and also considering that I am still listening to Marbles with just the same and often times even more enthusiasm than when I first reviewed it several months ago, I'm bumping up it's rating to 4/5 stars. Whoopee!

Report this review (#69907)
Posted Sunday, February 19, 2006 | Review Permalink
E-Dub
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Scrolling through the reviews, it's great to see Marbles get such high marks and praise. The few bad reviews left me puzzled; but, then again, if we all agreed, the world would indeed be a dull place.

The thing that sticks in my memory regarding the deluxe edition of Marbles is how @#*&! long it took to arrive! A good 3 months after I ordered. Once it made it, however, I was treated to nothng less than shear brilliance! I have all of their stuff, but for a while it seemed that Marillion were going to float around with mediocre releases (primarily Marillion.com). Anoraknophobia showed some spark was left in the engine, but Marbles solidified that this is still a band with which to be reckoned. Since it's release they've released a live DVD and 2 live albums surrounding the Marbles material, and for good reason. It's something that Marillion are definitely proud of.

This CD has some instant classics. "Ocean Cloud", "The Invisible Man", "Neverland", and the beautiful "You're Gone" and "Fantastic Place" stand out. The latter two just grip my very soul with brilliant musicianship, and lyrics that makes it hard to believe they were written by a mortal ("I can see you in my minds rose tinted eyes. Somewhere you're drifing by--your heels rolling sparks on the lucky street" and "Say you'll understand me, and I will leave myself completely. Forgive me if I stare, but I can see the island behind your tired, troubled eyes). My only gripe is I wished the deluxe edition followed the single and started off with "The Invisible Man", "Marbles I", and "You're Gone" because I think it flows a bit better; but, that aside, it's understandable why Mark Kelly considers this to be their best album ever. Beautiful work!

Report this review (#70363)
Posted Thursday, February 23, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars I really like "Anoraknophobia" but haven't posted my report/criticism yet. I start with "Marbles", because after enjoying "Anoraknophobia" this album is a disappointment to me. Sometimes it sound too Pink Floyd"y" to me. Although most of the shorter tracks (which aren't necessarily prog) are not bad, this time time around I could not enjoy the long tracks: "Invisible"/"Ocean"/"Neverland" - for the 21st century Marillion I recommend "Anoraknophobia" - overall "Marbles" is listenable, but it is not an outstanding record! Hope for the next output!
Report this review (#71030)
Posted Friday, March 3, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Some time ago, i thought i could never expect a masterpiece from this band for the future. I know some of their previous albums were not bad at all and one way or another, each one of them has got good and bad points. But i thought they never could create a masterpiece as Brave was, for example (in fact, the last masterpiece of the band). When i heard Marbles i simlply could not believe it. In some way they came back to the dark and sad atmospheres of Brave, but if you catch only this idea, i think it would a very simple way to describe the album... Too simple. Coz here you can find sounds of all times of Marillion, and the album is sometimes glorious, some times magnificent, some times epic, some times dark, some times nostalgic, some times claustrophobic... Particulary, i love the long songs of the album: "Ocean Cloud" is probably the best of them, along their 17 minutes... "Neverland" (12 minutes) is another fantastic long piece... and "The Invisible Man" too, even when is darker than the other two. Is good to rediscover the emotional solos of Steve Rothery... i missed a lot all these years those incredible solos in songs like "Incubus" or "Forgotten Sons"... Anyway, you not should to wait to hear "Misplaced Childhood" again... As i wrote before, this album has got little sparks from all times and past albums of the band... and once it has got an authentic sound, a personal style, even when some of the short songs remind U2 ("You´re gone") and some others have got a beatle touch ("The Damage"). One more thing, try to buy the double edition, not the single, coz you will miss a lot of great songs if you do it (even some of the best of the album). One of the great albums of last 10 years.
Report this review (#75077)
Posted Saturday, April 15, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars Not having previously heard any post Fish era Marillion, I bought the double CD version of the album on the strength of hearing "Neverland" repeatedly on internet prog radio and also reading the mainly high praise reviews on this website.

My initial reaction on playing the album was huge disappointment as "Neverland" seemed to be the only decent track. At about this stage I saw the band live and was impressed with their tight, well rehearsed performance and also the showmanship of Steve Hogarth. I still came away with mixed feelings about the music though.

I now know the CD inside out and in my view it is a mix of a few great tracks and several less than ordinary ones.

Is it prog or not? Well it's much more singer/lyric oriented than I generally go for. No long instrumental passages to be found.

Do I like it? On balance yes, because when it's good it's very good. Hogarth's voice takes a bit of getting used to. He has a decent vocal range and sings with great emotion but it's just not a particularly nice voice - rather as if he sings through his teeth!

The musical arrangement of the songs is excellent as illustrated in the three long tracks "The Invisible Man", "Ocean Cloud" and "Neverland" - these are the pick of the album, all three superb.

Not far behind these three are two much more commercial tracks "Fantastic Place" - a kind of prog/ballad/rock - and "You're gone" - an uplifting song with an incessant and infectious drum beat. Perhaps not proggy but so what? I think both are excellent.

Plenty of tracks left but, for me, only "Angelina" and perhaps "Drilling holes" rise above the mediocre. "Don't hurt yourself" is a pop song more suitable to a band such as The Mavericks; "Genie", "The Damage", "The only unforgivable thing" and the four "Marbles" tracks are just dire.

Put the five great tracks plus "Angelina" and the just about presentable "Drilling holes" on a single CD and you'd have a really good album. Overall, I certainly recommend it with those reservations in mind. I play it a lot but having given the poor tracks plenty of chances to grow on me I've now given up on them and always miss them out.

Report this review (#78698)
Posted Friday, May 19, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars In 1988 i was a big Marillion fan but... FISH left :( Big dissapointement. "Seasons End" came out and as soon that i heard "Hooks In You" it was more like the "Hooks" of that song came through my body and made a big hole in my hart. WHAT ON EARTH MARILLION HAVE DONE!!!! Who is that Hogarth guy anyway???? But i gave them a chance and i whent to the "Seasons End" show. Completely blown away by the band and especially Hogarth, i brought the "Seasons End" album. Except for "Hooks in You" every songs on the album where good, especially "Easter". 8 album later, i'm still in love with their music and, Steve Hogarth has matured way better than FISH who, in my unble opinion, lost his voice.

When "Anoraknophobia" came out i through that was it, the best recording they have made with Hogarth. But no!!! "Marbles" came out!!! WHAT AN ALBUM!!! For me "Marbles" is the masterpiece of the whole Marillion cathalog!!! Forget "Script", "Fugazi" or "Misplaced", this is it!!

The first CD starts off with the incredible 13min "The Invisible Man" and to left us 54min later completely out off words, mouth open. "Ocean Clouds", may be the best song Marillion have ever written, the only others songs it may compete with is "Fantastic Place", "Neverland" on disc two or "Afraid of Sunlight" from the album of the same name.

If you think you've heard everything there is on the first CD, you are completely wrong!!!

With, "The Damage", "Don't Hurt Yourself", "You're Gone", "Angelina", "Drilling Holes" and "Neverland", CD two is as strong, if not stronger than CD one!!!

Am I the only one who think that "Don't Hurt Yourself" is a great song with a great hook? Anyway, i prefer that one to "Your Gone". I'm still looking for the pop song in the album, and i can't find one. So if you think "Your Gone" or "Don't Hurt Yourself" is pop, you should listen to the last couple of Genesis album, "Invisible Touch" is pop, not "Don't Hurt Youself". I think the word pop is used to easely on "Progarchives.com".

So, 5 stars well deserve from a band that never stop to impress me with changing the formula on every album whithout denying it's origin. Keep up the good work.

Can't wait for the next one, with the hope i will be able to write another 5 stars review ;)

Report this review (#78718)
Posted Friday, May 19, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars Marillion 2004 "Marbles" album is one of those which are making many opposite opinions and reviews among listeners who wrote down their thoughts, but is evident that most of them consider it very good and rated it very high, although many agreed that it could hardly can be placed neither in progressive nor neoprogressive albums. Music that can be heard on it is combination of modern sounding pop and some parts that reminds of progressive rock.

Fact that album is available in two versions, condensed single and full double, is sign that authors were not sure what to do with it. On single version it says "if you don't want to miss out on the extra tracks, and want to hear the album the way we intended, purchase the double version"! Since I haven't been impressed with the condensed version, I have found double version, and now I'm impressed even less. The true is that both version is not quite good enough to pay so attention to it. While single version omits the significant and longest "Ocean cloud" track, double version is "doubled" with several pop songs. In fact, the only connection with progressive elements (or neo progressive if someone likes it more) on music level is idea in which four short "Marbles" tracks ties up some other tracks, three of them between ten and twenty minutes long, and gives a conceptual feel to album. But it is very hard to tie up things that stands against each other, specially musically.

Maybe on both version should be written: "if you don't like our choice and ordering of songs, do it yourself and make Your own version". Get blank CDR, made a choice and order, put it in a burner, and make Your "Marbles". Include "Marbles" I-IV, "The invisible Man", "Neverland" (the best song for me), "Ocean cloud" and maybe "The only unforgivable thing", "Angelina" and "Drilling holes", in order You prefer!

Don't get me wrong, "Marbles" isn't bad album, it is well played and produced, it has it moments, and Marillion is capable of making good music, but at the one to five rank, for me it stays closer to bottom. There are many, many more better albums that are waiting to be discovered, most of it recorded almost thirty or twenty years before "Marbles". Compared to these gems, this CD is far from masterpiece or essential record rate, and there are often too many stars bet on it. Many greater bands failed up trying to fill 80-100 minutes records. If You are new to Marillion, try with their first three 1983-1985 albums, two of them at the moment present on 100 Prog Archives most popular titles based on ratings.

Report this review (#78895)
Posted Saturday, May 20, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is my favorite post-fish Marillion release, bumping Brave from its decade-long pedestal. Frankly, I prefer Marbles over any Fish solo release as well. In every way, this is an exceptional recording; from the opening bass notes of "The Invisible Man" to the Floydian keyboards closing out "Neverland," this album takes the listener on a journey not experienced by Marillion fans since 1987's Clutching at Straws (Fish's last and best Marillion effort).

Some reviewers here have noted (and rightly so) that the lyrics of the "Marbles I-IV" tracks are not especially sophisticated (no one would ever mistake H for the lyrical genius of the big Scotsman), but so what? The repeated melody is catchy and soothing in parts 1, 2, and 4; and the vocals and piano on part 3 are almost chilling & eerie. "Angelina," "Fantastic Place," and "Unforgivable Thing" are all mellower tracks as well, but quite atmospheric, and "Genie," "Don't Hurt Yourself," and especially "You're Gone" are all smooth and slick pop tunes. And the aforementioned opening and closing tracks as well as the epic Ocean Cloud (my favorite Marillion song, period) add a progressive element not evident since the Script/Fugazi days. "The Damge" borders on heavy metal, and "Digging Holes" is a wonderfully experimental (if not altogether successful) number. In short, this album has a little bit of everything that makes Marillion such a great listen, and most fans should find at least something to like here. Even the cover motif is cool.

As much as I love this album, my profoundest hope is that it does not remain atop the pedestal for the next decade. In fact, I would be thrilled if the boys' next release toppled it. That would be really something!

Report this review (#79847)
Posted Tuesday, May 30, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Well, being a bit of a skeptic, and not wanting to shell out 50 bucks for something that had the possibility of being quite a disappointment, I didn't get Marbles until just now. One of my best friends (who doesn't really like h Marillion much) surprised me and gave me the money to buy it for my birthday. WHAT A GREAT GIFT!!!!!!!!!!! From the first listen of the double (the only way to get this!) I was hooked. I mean, there's some stuff that is a bit poppy, but not anything that is not "true to itself" for Marillion. And if you didn't get the double, you have missed the highlight of the h career IMHO - the near 18 minute long Ocean Cloud. This isn't good just because it's long, as we've all set through lengthy things that should appeal to us but don't, but it's overwhelmingly beautiful because through its multi sections, IT NEEDS TO EXIST.

If you don't have this CD, buy the double version - two variations of it still available as of this date (6/6/06) through their website (Marillion.com) - I can't imagine this fulfilling work of art without Ocean Cloud.

Well done Marillion - there is still hope in this world.

Report this review (#80547)
Posted Tuesday, June 6, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Although for many years I have been a huge fan of mainstream prog such as Genesis, Yes, Pink Ployd, etc., I am a relatively new listener to Marillion. I had heard of them over the years, but until I stumbled on this site, I had not had the chance to hear them. I recently found a used copy of Marbles (single disc version) and eagerly bought it. After spending the last couple of weeks listening to this album, I have to say that it is good enough to hold its own with the classics, despite a few weaker songs. In my opinion, a few of the songs on this album are outstanding and would merit a full 5 stars. However, there are a couple of songs I just don't like.

The songs that really stand out to me are Fantastic Place and Neverland. Both are very engaging and very emotional. They have a certain depth that allows you to listen to them repeatedly and still want to hear them again. Although I don't think that Hogarth's voice is particularly good (it's very nasal and he appears to mumble much of the time), on these two songs he is very good. Other good songs are Don't Hurt Yourself and Angelina. However, both are rather simple. Unfortunately, I simply do not like The Invisible Man. It is boring and very drab. It lacks the intensity and emotion of Neverland and Fantastic Place. As for the balance of the album, it is OK, but nothing special.

Based on other reviews, I am eager to buy the double disc version of this album. But until then, I will continue to enjoy this single version along with my Genesis and Pink Floyd discs.

Report this review (#80576)
Posted Wednesday, June 7, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars I must say that I am amazed and impressed by the range of opinions given for Marillion's latest opus. Now, I've been aware of this website for about 8 months, and having read a bunch of reviews, have grown used a level of variety in the opinions. But this album...well, I guess I expected more of a "love it" or "hate it" vibe.

That said, I feel the need to add my perspective and it's...GRAND...and not ashamed of its grandness!

I bought the 1CD version about a year ago, and while it had an enjoyable feel to it, it definitely felt incomplete. So, about 2 months ago, I purchased the 2CD version and listened to what I was missing. I was stunned..."Ocean Cloud" was arguably the best composition that this great band of 23 recording years has ever done...period. It is their "Close To The Edge", their "Shine On You Crazy Diamond", their "The Camera Eye"...no, really! It was the kind of monumental musical experience that I listened to, and did not not where it was going, and was excited by the journey.

Okay...now that I've gotten that out of me...the rest of the album is quite impressive. I was a big fan of ANORAKNOPHOBIA, so for me the bar was set high for MARBLES. Now, due to the sprawl of a double album format, there are a few forgettable songs ("Genie", "You're Gone"), but it doesn't hurt the overall effect. My favorite tracks, along with "Ocean Cloud" are the shorter pieces, like the 4 "Marbles", "The Only Unforgiveable Thing", "Angelina" (which was my favorite song when I had the 1CD version) and "Drilling Holes". The 2 other epics are very good, just flawed and meandering in places, especially the last 4 minutes of "Neverland".

I guess that's all...prog readers, be kind...it's my first try at a review!

Rating...Disc 1=A Disc 2=B+...overall=A-

Report this review (#81093)
Posted Tuesday, June 13, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Been wanting to get some Neo-progressive albums in my collection and what better band to start my neo-prog collection than with the great Marillion. I will say I've always loved the Fish-era of Marillion as they make 80s pop sound better by progging it up big time. But i wanted to get the harder albums in my collection first so i decided to get the big comeback album and that was the 2-disc version of Marbles. It was hard as butt to find the 2-disc since every store has the other version luckily i finally went and got this on their website and well i will say it took me some tries to get used to it. The first disc kinda made me scratch my head a little bit as some of the songs were just not what i expected. The Invisible Man and Ocean Cloud without a doubt are the best songs on the first disc with some great progressive elements from bands like Yes, Genesis, and Pink Floyd. Marbles 1 and 2 are also great even though there very short but well songs like Genie and Fantastic kinda miffed me a bit as well there were times when it sounded too pop or mellow. The Only Forgivable Thing has some hope to it as it has some great moments by Stever Rothery with his amazing melodic solo skills. Disc 2 took me by surprise by how heavy some of the songs are which is a good thing. songs like Your Gone, Angelina, Drilling Holes, Don't Hurt Yourself have some great compositions in them with some great guitar work by Steve. HOWEVER none those can master the greatness of Neverland. I dunno what to say it just seems like the way that the emotion is brought out in the entire 12 minutes is just fabulous great way to end the album. Each member does a great job as well with Stever Hograth is well not like Fish but he does have a great voice and well even though he didn't use in much in some of the songs of disc 1 he did amazing things in the epics and on disc 2 so yea he is much better than what i was expecting. Steve Rothery man what a great player as much as i love metal guitarist and shredding i also love melodic players and this guy can really bring some emotion into the songs like Ocean Cloud and Neverland. Pete Trewavas i've been a fan of from his work with Transatlantic and many people have said he doesn't do much with Marillion well i disagree i think Pete does an amazing job supplying the rhythm section of the band with his great chops. Ian Moseley at times kinda made me scratched my head in why he wasn't playing but however that was on some of the bad songs on the other ones he really used his great techniques to bring out the rhythm section. Mark Kelly does a good job on making some trippy sound effects and nice background synths to really add some flavour in most of these two CDs. So if you wanna kinda get to know Marillion punish yourself in a way and get Marbles before you start with the 80s version of them that way you'll expect something more when you get albums like Script and Misplaced. But anyway i would definitely suggest getting the 2 disc version because even though some of the songs on disc 1 kinda made me eehhhhhhhhh Ocean Cloud is still worth it cause it rocks!!!!!!!!!!!
Report this review (#82399)
Posted Sunday, July 2, 2006 | Review Permalink
1 stars The album is a little bit boring, I really don't find, musically speaking, something that could catch my eye; there's no much technique in playing, nor unbelievable arrangements, nor great lyrics or melodies, and the lead singer voice's awful, what a pity! The only track that's good is "Fantastic Place", the rest of it's hard to listen to, "Neverland" is quite horrible...

I don't suggest this album to anyone unless you're a completionist, so I think it deserves one star, even though it has "Fantastic Place", which is very good (except as I said before, the lead singer's voice).

Report this review (#94443)
Posted Friday, October 13, 2006 | Review Permalink
evenless
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Marillion - Marbles

Funny that it took exactly 10 years for Marillion to come up with another great record like the 1994 epic "BRAVE". Actually 1995 album "AFRAID OF SUNLIGHT" was also quite good, but since then it has been quite dramatic until "MARBLES"! Well, I guess the 2 years they all put in this album really shows.

Steve Hogarth's voice is great and all and fortunately, after more than 10 years with the band, (almost) nobody is comparing him to Fish anymore. Some people still arguing who's the better one should stop this quarrel and just enjoy MARILLION.

In my humble opinion MARILLION has delivered an excellent album with MARBLES and let's hope they will continue the road they are walking on for a while. My only remark is that somehow MARILLION wants us to believe that music stores aren't willing to distribute double albums because the customer (us!) would not be interested in paying a few bucks more for a double album. I think this is completely ridiculous! You almost have to buy their albums/DVD's on www.marillion.com because if you don't you will actually miss out on some great music!

First I found myself with only half of the album as I purchased MARBLES in the local music store as I wasn't aware there was also a double album in circulation. They also did the same thing with the live DVD; MARBLES ON THE ROAD. If you were not aware there also was a double DVD version of it, you actually miss half of the show! So I just want to say one thing to MARILLION' ; "come on guys and from now on only distribute the double albums and no longer the cheap formatted single disc versions as we are not interested in them!" (Who would want to miss the great 18 minute epic "Ocean Cloud" on MARBLES?)

Well, so far about my frustration with the record companies. Just let me finish by saying that if you loved BRAVE, you will probably love MARBLES too! Maybe not too proggy, but the mixture between pop, rock and prog seems to work quite well for them. Go on and buy this album. (just make sure it is the double disc version!)

4,5 stars for the double disc version 3,5 for the "el cheapo" version

Report this review (#94613)
Posted Sunday, October 15, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Hang on a minute. This is really good. Who would have thought that Marillion would have grown old graciously? It's like Radiohead without the emotion. Sorry, but it's still quite cerebral - isn't that the point of prog? That said, there are some lovely instrumental passages and I love the idea of a good, sprawling, two hour, self indulgent, quadruple album being released in 2004. The other fascinating thing about Marillion is how they operate these days - ie, without a proper record company (gasp). Good on them. I hope they continue to plough their own furrough for as long as they want to. In days of corporate 'indie' labels shifting 'units' and 'promoting' records by having their groups play arenas after a debut single it's nice to order an LP from a band's own website at a remarkably low price and find that the thing doesn't even have a barcode. Get in! Yes it's too long, no there isn't anything rock and roll about this but as an antidote to everything else that makes me so cross, I'm giving it 5 stars. Marillion = anarchy.
Report this review (#102138)
Posted Friday, December 8, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is the Hogarth-era's first masterpiece since 'Brave'.

I've been putting off writing a review for this album because I love it so much, and I don't want this review to be a couple paragraphs of non-sensical gushing. What first has to be said about 'Marbles' is how well it is constructed. It was pieced together over a three year period, and the polish shows. This is the greatest sounding record that I have ever heard. I am by no means an audiophile, but the depth and sonic quality of the album is outstanding. This goes a long way to giving the album replayability. I listened to "Neverland" for what must have been the hundredth time last night, and I found little nuances that I hadn't noticed before.

On to the actual songs - things start off mysteriously on "The Invisible Man," which chugs along on a hypnotic beat until it reveals itself half-way in. Hogarth shows what he's capable of on the opening track, the aging of his voice lending him authority and maturity, not detracting from his performance. The "Marbles" pieces serve as nice transitions, but only "Marbles III" stands above the others as a good individual song. The album's more pop-sounding songs, "You're Gone," "Don't Hurt Yourself," and "The Damage" are well constructed departures from some of the heavier material on the record.

The real meat of the album lies in the tracks, "Fantastic Place," "The Only Unforgivable Thing," "Ocean Cloud," "Drilling Holes," and "Neverland." "Fantastic Place" is the first time on the album that Steve Rothery's guitar work really gets to shine. His sound is fully developed and is somewhat reminiscent of Dave Gilmour's work - but it has a more nostalgic and powerful tone. "The Only Unforgivable Thing" begins with organ pipes in the background that found the cinematic track. There is a great interlude around midway through that makes the song memorable. "Ocean Cloud" is arguably 'Marbles'' most progressive piece, and it's a great one. This song shows off talents of Ian Mosley, Pete Trewavas, and Mark Kelly, who really play at the top of their games. It's a showcase for the whole band.

"Drilling Holes" is actually grounded on a really fat bass line by Trewavas, but it spirals around the foundation with grace. The song transitions from one section to the next, jumping all over the place in the course of five minutes. The best song on the album, and truly one of the best of Marillion's catalog, is "Neverland." It's a twelve-minute epic that has to be heard to be believed. Rothery's guitar is never more passionate than it is here, and Hogarth really sings his heart out. One of the most impressive things about the song that stands out after repeated listens is Kelly's synth work, which becomes more apparent on repeated listens. It's a truly beautiful song that evokes vivid imagery.

'Marbles' is a reminder of Marillion's continued excellence. The album works as a cohesive whole, and will stand the test of time and repeated listens.

Report this review (#105462)
Posted Wednesday, January 3, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars A staggering piece of work. A double album where I have a hard time finding those songs which we call "filler" but never agree upon which ones they are... hehehe. The first cd is certainly darker and quieter than the second, which has some of the pop flavour of many Marillion songs from previous albums. Nevertheless, if I had to summarize it all in a word, it would be BEAUTIFUL. The songs, with very few exceptions, are packed with a sense of beauty that makes them like ear honey.

Let's begin a quick review of both cds.

The first one begins with one of the darkest songs Marillion has ever done; following the lyrics is essential to understanding why the melodies keep changing and we feel we're listening to a new track while still cruising through this 13 minute story. Great song. "Marbles I" introduces us to the first of four very short but delicately beautiful songs that tell a simple story about H and his marbles from youth. Then comes "Genie", which probably sounds too similar to the works of other contemporary bands, but comes out as probably my favorite song out of the "poppier ones" from the album. "Fantastic Place" and "The Only Unforgivable Thing" take the album to a melancholy place; again, lovely melodies, really soft and soothing. After the second Marbles song, we close with a song that has a wonderful atmosphere but goes on for too long for my tastes: "Ocean Cloud". Still, it's one that confirms the sense that this is an album to hear really loud with the lights off. It's all about atmosphere and melody.

The second cd kicks in with the brief "Marbles III" and then a modern pop song comes up, with almost identical lyrics to the ones in "Genie", to introduce us to the more upbeat section of the album. "Don't Hurt Yourself" and "You're Gone" were released as singles, good songs, but not really special. "Angelina" brings back the quietness and emotion of the previous cd, while "Drilling Holes" was the most surprising to me... it kind of reminded me of some Beatles work, something to be found in Revolver or next to "I am the Walrus". Great, quirky song, a real gem. And finally, after the final "Marbles" song, part four, comes "Neverland", which has all the strengths from the album but also suffers from what the cd 1 closer suffered from... it feels a couple of minutes too long.

In any case, you have a clear sense of my feelings towards this album. It's one of the best I've heard in years. Hugely enjoyable.

Report this review (#111716)
Posted Sunday, February 11, 2007 | Review Permalink
1 stars Marbles created me a huge disappointment at my first listen, and really didn't grow any afterwards. Most of this album (talking about 2 cd version of Marbles) is classic radio stuff, not progressive at all. The best track in my opinion is the opener "The Invisible Man", but the rest is rubbish; maybe enjoyable for a pop music lover, but definitely not my cup of tea. Even if the 10+ minute tracks doesn't live up to the expectations, and there is no way I can rate this effort with more than 1 star.
Report this review (#113110)
Posted Thursday, February 22, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars The word that describes this album is "enchanting". All of the members in the band are surrendering themselves to their music in this disc, and the result is Marillion's (H's era) most brilliant work to date. A certain mood is developed throughout the whole of the album; this gives the listener a continuous feeling that can be felt even after the disc is finished. The little marbles that can be found throughout the disc are one of the best musical ideas I've heard in a long time! These, if put together, forming Marbles 1, 2, 3, and 4 played continually, can feel a little simple and not convey the message that the band wanted them to convey in the first place...but, when played in their respective places throughout the disc, they are great and carry a non-forgotten theme lyrically and musically! I won't talk about each song...some are better than others as is the case in most albums, but they are all standard and above standard songs; no bad songs on here.

Go buy this now! Buy the double disc edition if available (Ocean Cloud is worth the extra money, trust me).

Report this review (#113365)
Posted Saturday, February 24, 2007 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars I cannot imagine or a more artistic, mature, sensitive, well-played, or emotional album. "Marbles" is a staggering success from start to finish.

More so than any Marillion album to date, the band's unique blend of artistic accessibility is at the top of its game-- and has never sounded more refined. The songs on "Marbles" ooze emotive virtuosity, and offer more variety than any other of the band's albums; there are amazing sing-alongs and extended masterpieces throughout. Each member of the band reaches new heights on their instruments, with Rothery's guitar playing destroying expectations with his most powerful solos to date. Trewavas and Mosely sound their most in-sync as well, playing very interesting and rhythms driving the band's dynamic songs; Trewavas in particular plays with more gusto here than on previous albums, making "Marbles" sound more bottom-heavy and grandiose.

Although every member is top-notch, h's vocals are nothing short of soul- shattering; "Marbles" is his finest hour, and features his most awesome use of range of phrasing ever. "Invisible Man", "You're Gone", and "Neverland" have the power to bring tears to the listener's eyes. However, the epic "Ocean Cloud" (found only on the extended edition) is-- hands down-- the best Marillion song ever recorded. Even after a hundred listens it retains its gigantic scope and power; truly amazing.

Enough raving-- get it now or listen to it again!

Songwriting: 5 Instrumental Performances: 5 Lyrics/Vocals: 5 Style/Emotion/Replay: 5

Report this review (#117222)
Posted Tuesday, April 3, 2007 | Review Permalink
Heptade
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Having just done a Deadwing review, here's another recent one by a band with a much-anticipated new release. Widely heralded as the best album of the H era, this one is much beloved. I have heard the double release and the single. I do agree that this is Marillion's strongest since Afraid of Sunlight, but I don't think it's a masterpiece. It does find the boys stepping back from their search for Brit-alternative acceptance and embracing their progressive roots at times, which is refreshing. There are many standout tracks, the two long bookends being good examples. H milks the emotional potential of his concept very well, and the band utilizes their expertise in Floydian atmospheres very well.

I do not enjoy the single "You're Gone" at all; it sounds very middle of the road AOR to me, but without a good hook or guilty pleasure factor. It's the kind of thing you'd expect to hear in the background at a shopping mall. I'm glad it did well for them, but it ain't no "Beautiful". "Fantastic Place", "Don't Hurt Yourself" and the Marbles interludes, on the other hand, are great atmospheric pop tunes, something the band has been getting better and better at. As always, when Marillion tries to rock hard ("Drilling Holes"), they fail pretty miserably, in my opinion. They are much better at mid-tempo and moody, as on the double CD song "Ocean Cloud", which is easily the match of the best stuff on the single CD version and tells a compelling tale. Rothery's guitar playing really shines on this one. In fact, Marbles represents a sort of renaissance for him as a whole.

Marbles is a very good album. It takes what was good about nineties Marillion and mixes it with a healthy respect for the past, with a couple of missteps. What is best about it is that it re-establishes a signature sound that was established on Afraid of Sunlight, a kind of progressive pop that relies a lot on ethereal atmospheres, which I like a lot. For a band that many had written off, it is a triumph indeed. Hopefully they can keep up the good work while not catering too much to the current market.

Report this review (#118736)
Posted Tuesday, April 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
The Crow
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars I became a Marillion's fan in the time "Anoraknophobia" came out... "Radiation" was my first album from the band. For me is their worst work, but I was catched with this music at the moment...

In the three years between "Anoraknophobia" and "Marbles", I heard the whole Marillion discography. And I saw that for me, "This Strange Engine" was their last great album. These trilogy made for "Radiation", "Marillion.com" and "Anoraknophobia" has its moments, but in comparition with previous efforts... Was not enough for me. But like every new fan from a band, my expectations were huge for the new release... And finally came out, with the name of "Marbles". And what can I say? It was better than I hoped, honestly...

Here we have a new concept for the band, being the marbles the link for this concept... And since the first song, The Invisible Man, you can hear a band with new energies, and ideas. But the best for all... That's pure Marillion (I'm talking of the Hogarth's era, of course). And the album that came to my head in this moment was "Brave". I've always seen a relation between the two albums. Maybe the production, the details, the feeling... And the care and love both albums are made.

And I don't care this album is really progressive or not... That is a thing is not important to me when I'm talking about Marillion. But nevertheless, this album is one of the proggiest from the Hogarth's era. Just hear The Invisible Man, Ocean Cloud, Neverland... Great prog stuff.

Finally, one of the better things from this album, is its variety... That makes this album very interesting to listen (for an open minded listener...), and never boring. From the atmospheric prog of Ocean Cloud, you go to the pop of Don't Hurt Yourself, then you go into the weird rock of Drilling Holes, and you can walk too into the bluesy taste of Angelina, after hearing the typical Marillion in Fantastic Place... I love variety, and this is maybe the most variated Marillion's album. And hering this band making new things like You're Gone with so much naturality and success after so many years in music, just says how good is this band...

Conclusion: the best Marillion's album since "Afraid of Sunlight" in my opinion, and one of the better from the Hogarth's era. Really great stuff... Not every song included here is a classic, but when I hear the whole album, the only thing I can think is... Masterpiece of modern prog rock, without a doubt.

Report this review (#119080)
Posted Friday, April 20, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars Note: I give 2 (actually 2.5) stars to the shortened marbles edition (12 tracks), not to the original double c.d.

I probably had a false approach to this album; The only two songs I had heard from the Hogarth era were "Beautiful" and "The Great Escape", which are both very powerful and moving masterpieces, so I guess I expected the same kind of energetic music from marbles. It took me a while even to get into the first track. I listened to "The Invisible Man" every night for a while but managed be lulled asleep several times by this slowly evolving song. I'm not fond of the way Steve Hogarth sings on the album. The slowly moving music mixed with his sensitive voice contributes to my disliking the album. It's not like I hate all the tracks. Some of the better moments are reflected on "Angelina" and "Neverland", but none of the tracks really move me.

Report this review (#121375)
Posted Wednesday, May 9, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars BEST OF HOGARTH ERA

I really liked Brave and Afraid Of Sunlight, but i believe this overpasses them. It usually happens to me that when the harder to get into an album the better becomes with time. I had some mixed feellings at the begining, but they where slowly clearing up with each listen.

Definitively CD 1 is the best but the slight flaws on the CD 2 don´t affect my apreciation of this fantastic release, wich remains in my top ten of all time.

There´s no better way to start than with "The Invisible Man", a very dark atmosphed song with an intelligent touch of Mr. Rothery. The" Marbles" songs work perfectly as a conection for the rest of the tracks, making it feel almost like a concept album. "Genie" is the weakest on this CD, but is not real bad. There comes "Fantastic Place" , a melancolic ballad in the classic Mr. h almost crying singing style. Stunning! "The Only Unforgivable Thing" keeps the mood of the record, very enjoyable. And what a way to end the first part of Marbles: "Ocean Cloud", an epic masterpiece with different passages, obscure and powerful, one of the best and most progressive songs in all Marillion history.

Second CD is a little bit more accesible, with some pop moments in the way of Anoraknophobia or Holidays In Eden, but it really stands on its own. Songs like "Don´t Hurt Yourself" and "You´re Gone" bring the more comercial side of the band, but not bad tunes at all. "The Damage" is probably the one i like the less on the whole album, while "Drilling Holes" has a clear Beatlesque style. "Angelina" and "Neverland" are the best on this second part and make the full CD 2 almost reach CD 1´s level.

The mixure of styles, yet cohesive; the darkness of its atmosphere, yet hearted, and the strong structure of the whole album brings a brilliant piece of work that will be hardly surpassed by future releases of the band (or many bands).

A MUST for Marillion and Neo Prog fans and a very enjoyable listening for most Prog aficionados.

Viva el Prog!

Report this review (#127290)
Posted Sunday, July 1, 2007 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars As usual, there will be several releases for this album. Single CD (with different bonus tracks according the continent you are buying this stuff), and the two CD 's version which I am reviewing here.

Unfortunately, this one lasts for about hundred minutes...of mostly dull music. Hogarth should really get the leading role as "The Supernatural Anaesthetist". He is so emotionless, so flat (his vocal ability I mean), so boring !

The problem is that if you think that you'd better listen to the short version of this album, you'll probably miss the best of the two CD release (do you follow me ?).

There are a few good tracks on "Marbles" : "Genie" and "Fantastic Place" are my favorite songs. "Ocean Cloud" has some excellent moments as well; mostly a great guitar break from Rothery. I really wouldn' like to even think one second how poor would Marillion Mark II sound without him being on board.

One average song as well : "The Only Unforgivable Thing". If only Marillion Mark II would have release a forty minutes album, it would have been a good one. But like some other bands (like TFK, Cast etc.), they will feel like adding lots of useless numbers. But releasing ultra-long albums doesn't mean they are better ones. What a pity they do not understand this easy concep !

I really got a hard time while listening to this "work". Fortunately, I am getting closer to the daunting task of reviewing their official studio career. Two stars for "Marbles".

Report this review (#135642)
Posted Friday, August 31, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars The best album of the new millennium.

This album hit me on the second listen. And after that it got exponentially better in each listen.

The Invisible Man doesn't start things out well if you are new to the album. In other words, if you aren't willing to sit down and pay attention to this, then please, save it for another time. If you aren't really listening, the first song will pass you by unknowingly. Getting "The Invisible Man" really sets you up for the feel of the whole album. It goes through several changes of mood/tempo. Very interesting melodies along the way.

The four Marbles pieces move the album along, giving it that concept album feel, and improving the flow of things. Sure they could do without them, but I feel it would really take away from the fluidity of things.

Marillion's website offers the sale of a 2 disc album that includes the song "Ocean Cloud". Normally I am skeptical of bonus tracks, but PLEASE for the love of god, get the 2 disc album and hear this song.

"Don't Hurt yourself" is a little more poppy, but without a doubt a highlight of the entire album. I love the acoustic guitar in the track.

With the greatest album of the 21st century, comes "Neverland", the greatest undiscovered piece of the 21st century. The lyrics are romantic, desperate, and thankful. Hogarth pours his soul into this performance, and it's truly legitimate. Rothery contributes chilling guitar parts throughout accompanied by eerie keyboards. Everytime this song reaches the final 1.5 minute closing, I really get mad that this song doesn't go on for even another 5 minutes. My spine continues to shiver on the line "I never land, in neverlaaaaaahaaand."

This album has to be owned. It isn't an option.

Report this review (#140246)
Posted Monday, September 24, 2007 | Review Permalink
progaardvark
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Finally, after almost nine years, Marillion finally put it all together to make something remarkable. Marbles became the band's most progressive record released since Hogarth took over lead vocals and since the Fish-era Misplaced Childhood. Though not quite as good as their masterpiece Brave, it contains more musical exploration than the band had done since their Genesis-inspired days. Admittedly some of the shorter numbers retain that mainstream touch and feel to them, the production on this one is top-notch giving Marillion an almost classic 1970s prog rock feel to this album.

Two versions of Marbles exists and if you are seeking it out, I highly recommend the 2-CD version, particularly because it includes the amazing nearly 18-minute Ocean Cloud, the best prog song the band has created since This Strange Engine. Other highlights include The Invisible Man, The Damage, Drilling Holes, and Neverland, but all tied together makes this one of the most enjoyable listens and releases of 2004. Not as great as their masterpieces, but an excellent release nonetheless. A must have for Marillion fans and highly recommended to newcomers interested in finding out what Marillion is all about. This one takes repeated listens and is sure to grow on you. Four stars.

Report this review (#144859)
Posted Monday, October 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars Marbles is an album that I like a lot, but am going to only give it three stars since so many of the songs do not even register on my personal prog meter. As such, I cannot say that it makes an excellent addition to a prog music collection. While I believe it to be very good music, I am just not willing to say that it is very good prog music. Keep in mind, I only have the single disc version and am perhaps missing out on a crucial piece of the puzzle since I have not had a chance to hear the song "Ocean Cloud."

"The Invisible Man" starts things off nicely. This song takes a bit getting used to though. What first appears to be a mellow song moving at a lethargic pace evolves into a nice piece of music. It has an enjoyable build-up at the nine minute mark creating a dynamic flow which leaves me satisfied every time I hear it.

The "Marbles" vignettes are complete filler as far as I'm concerned and are not worthy of discussion in this review.

"You're Gone" is a great song with a catchy tune and engaging lyrics ("You have the day, I have the night, but we have the early hours together.") While the music here resembles straightforward rock rather than prog, this is still an excellent track.

"Angelina" is next and no matter what the song says, I just can't get into "Angelina." I will acknowledge that Marillion does create some dark, brooding atmosphere which I find compelling in an artistic sense; yet, the song bores me.

"Fantastic Place" is decent. Once again, a track with no progressive sound to it, in my opinion. It's pleasant to the ears and an overall enjoyable number to relax to.

Now for the really good stuff: "Drilling Holes" and "Neverland". The last two songs are home runs, with "Drilling Holes" showing that the Marillion can do the Beatles better than the Beatles ever did. "Neverland" is definitely the highlight of the album and is so good, I'm almost inclined to add another star to my rating (but I'll resist). Hogarth sounds great here and Rothery's guitar is scintillating. They pulled out all of their tricks with this track, making it worth the price of the CD all on its own.

If you like great music, this album will not disappoint. However, if you are only interested in very progressive music, you may find this a little dull.

Report this review (#149479)
Posted Wednesday, November 7, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars I will be reviewing the single disc. Quite the change in direction for the band as they become more subdued for the most part. Even Hogarth's vocals are almost whispered at times bringing to mind Mark Hollis from TALK TALK. I also thought of RADIOHEAD at times. As long as Hogarth is singing and Rothery is playing guitar I think i'll always like this band. I like this sound anyway as I am a fan of the other bands i've mentioned, as well as GAZPACHO's "Night" record which is in the same laid back vein.

"The Invisible Man" sounds a little experimental to open followed by lots of atmosphere.The reserved vocals and percussion with background synths work well. We're slowly building. Some good bass. The sound 5 minutes in is fantastic ! That sure sounds like sampled mellotron 7 1/2 minutes in. I love the brief angular guitar that follows. Pulsating synths.The vocals are getting more passionate. So emotional ! It calms right down with piano and reserved vocals. Slowly played guitar melodies follow. It eventually starts to build again 12 minutes in until passionate vocals and soaring guitar take our hearts to new heights. Incredible opening track. "Marbles I" is mellow with piano and relaxing vocals. "You're Gone" was released as a single and it did very well for them in the UK. It has an addictive beat throughout. The louder synths remind of PORCUPINE TREE. "Angelina" opens with the sound of someone getting into their car and playing with the radio. It features sleepy vocals with the music to match. Not a fan of this one.

"Marbles II" has a RADIOHEAD vibe to it. "Don't Hurt Yourself" is a pleasant and catchy tune. I like it better than "You're Gone". "Fantastic Place" starts slowly like "Invisible Man" with those Mark Hollis-like vocals. Great lyrics. Just an uplifting, fantastic song to drift away in. "Say you understand me and I will leave myself completely. Forgive me if I stare but I can see the island behind your tired eyes." Soaring guitar 4 1/2 minutes in. "Marbles III" is the best "Marbles" part in my opinion. Piano is joined by vocals and drums. It becomes emotional for me after a minute. "Drilling Holes" has a more aggressive sound. THE BEATLES spirit lives in this tune. Birds are chirping. Vocal melodies. Interesting song. "Marbles IV" is another mellow section. "Neverland" along with "Invisible Man" and "Fantastic Place" are my top 3 tracks. The guitar 2 1/2 minutes in is the best on the album. It simply soars as beautifully as Hogarth's vocals. The last 7 minutes of the song are pure bliss for me. No words, just listen.

Best release since "Afraid Of Sunlight". Edit : News flash ! I got the double cd version now as it has just been re-issued. Yay ! And more importantly i'm blown away especially by the track "Ocean Cloud" which moved me in a way that I haven't been for some time. For me this album is the best of the Hogarth era.

Report this review (#155386)
Posted Friday, December 14, 2007 | Review Permalink
Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Did anyone see my last Marble?

(This review is for the one disc edition of the album.) Clearly Marillion had lost their Marbles and found them again at this point in their career. With their Fish days long behind them the band finally settles into a niche a long ways away from any kind of music they played in the early days of the 80s. Marbles is no Genesis-clone album, but nor is it some kind of pop album. While the album certainly does have its poppier moments (what Hogarth era Marillion album doesn't?), it seems that the band really nailed a style on this album.

One of the odd things about the album is that it really isn't 'neo' in the way that many neo-fans are used to. While the album certainly is progressive, this is not an overly symphonic affair with most of the songs using the quiet/loud approach more familiar to the post-rock realm. Songs like The Invisible Man start off in a soothing and quiet way, a kind of way where every string that's played means a lot - this eventually builds to an emotional climax where the voice comes in and makes a sharp remark, and it's done so well that it can give you goosebumps. Some of the other songs on the album are more pop-oriented, but no less impressive. Don't Hurt Yourself was the band's choice as a single for this album, and what a great track it is. While this track is certainly the most pop oriented song on the album, prog fans will certainly be able to enjoy Hogarth's wonderful delivery on this track, and besides, what wasn't pop about a song like Kayleigh or Incommunicado in the band's early days? Other standouts on the album include the wonderfully heavy and aggressive Drilling Holes and the calm and moving Fantastic Place.

One of the very cool things about the album is just how it's all tied together. Throughout the album there's a string of short title track segments that tell the sorry metaphorical tale of a boy growing up and ''loosing his Marbles''. Marbles I-IV are each about 1-2 minutes long and each one of them is very quiet with Hogarth's voice dominating. While they're nothing particularly special if played on their own, in the context of the album they work together quite well to tell the story while keep the album together thematically.

The finisher for the album is likely one of Marillion's best works. While the band has produced some quality work over the course of their career, including some wonderful suites and epics, this one comes very close to taking all the cakes. Neverland is an amazing song on all accounts, from the soft piano opening to the start of Hogarth's vocals to the final climactic finish. The echo effect on Hogarth's voice near the middle of the song is truly chilling along with the haunting guitar chords that simply ring. Beautiful from start to finish.

While the 1-disc edition certainly does miss out on a lot of the action there's no doubt that even in its trimmed down form this album is an excellent addition to any prog-rock collection. If you're still sore about Fish leaving the band hopefully you can look past that to see the new style that the band has grown into by this point, because there's a lot to love about it. 4-stars for this majestic piece of music.

Report this review (#185247)
Posted Friday, October 10, 2008 | Review Permalink
lazland
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars This is the finest work this band have produced, and, if I had a choice, would deserve 10 out of five stars for its sheer breathtaking brilliance and audacity. This album is a work of sheer genius and even makes Brave (which I gave five stars to) pale into insignificance.

The LP is bookmarked by two of the finest progressive rock tracks ever to grace the scene - Invisible Man & Neverland, which I feel represents this band's finest moment. The former commences slowly, and builds to a crescendo with Trewavas and Rothery especially adding to a sense of menace that Hogarth places on the tale.

The album is stated by the band not to be a concept album, but the theme is certainly linked by Hogarth's childhood memories of playing, and losing, his marbles!

Your Gone continues the band's fine tradition of great singles, and this charted at number 7 upon release. Prompted by some fine guitar work by Rothery and excellent rhythm drum work by Mosley, it is an uplifting piece considering the subject matter - it is basically a fine pop song.

Angelina is basically a great blues number, with Hogarth recounting sad blokes ringing a phone number for solace in the dead of night. Rothery's guitar sings to us throughout, and the song simply has to be played in the dark, loud, and preferably after more than a few beers.

Don't Hurt Yourself is another fine pop/rock single, but what follows is simply stunning. Fantastic Place features Hogarth soulfully recounting a beautiful island accompanied by Rothery playing a guitar solo in the middle that simply could have been written in heaven itself. I will never, ever, tire of hearing this song, and it is even better played live.

Drilling Holes is a fun track, which some would describe as a filler (literally!), but its pace keeps the listener intently concentrated upon the LP. And.. so to Neverland.

I love Suppers Ready. I love Thick As A Brick, Close to the Edge & etc. But none of them compare to this song. It is simply nearly 12 minutes of prog heaven. It is, without doubt, Rothery's finest moment. From the first moment of his guitar burst, the hairs on the back of the neck stand up, and his accompaniment to Hogarth's incredible conclusion of vocals is simply stunning. Words alone cannot possibly do justice to this track, and it gives the LP 5 stars alone without the fine music which precedes it.

I have reviewed a number of Hogarth era LPs now - all before it led up to this moment, and they really have been in a fine vein of form with this and subsequent LPs, especially Happinness is the Road. This, though, is the bees knees. Essential for any discerning progressive music fan.

Report this review (#197064)
Posted Saturday, January 3, 2009 | Review Permalink
2 stars Progressive rock is at least 40 years old, therefore in 21st century it's normal that many "prog" bands try to find new ways to create their "prog music". The way chosen by Marillion is a sort of modern brit-pop with new-age and fusion influences: prog doesn't exist. For more in "Marbles": - There's no technique in playing, and drums are only in 4/4 - Almost all songs are "four chords" structured - The singing is often just a melodramatic lament, and sometimes, for me, out of tune - Melodies are not memorable This is, IMHO, a bad and boring album, regardless of the musical genre to which it belongs, and I think that Coldplay and Oasis are more "progressive" than Marillion of "Marbles"
Report this review (#201581)
Posted Wednesday, February 4, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars 2-disc version

This is truly art that transcends time and place. It's music that rises above the sum of its parts. There is a real sense of emotional immersion here that seems to move the very music, itself. An almost improvisational ecstasy that loses itself in the passionate movements of the soul, only every note is so carefully chosen, so delicately played. Not every song works as well as others, but the end result here is pure brilliance. The several Marbles parts spread throughout the two discs serve as perfect segues between the various musical styles, and the album is book-ended by two of the most intensely genuine pieces of music I've ever heard. Music like this is so difficult to classify because it doesn't try to sound like something. It just dives headlong into the emotion and dwells there, all the while remembering that music is supposed to sound good. What more could you ask for?

Report this review (#203841)
Posted Friday, February 20, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars This album is one of those rare, special things which only comes along once every few years. Emotional, powerful, deep. Not particularly progressive, but I don't think being non-progressive automatically loses it a few points.

This is one of those albums which I would love to, really love to give 5/5, but I just can't bring myself to do it. There are some truly outstanding, beautiful tracks on here. The finest are Neverland (quite possibly one of the best songs, ever), Fantastic Place, You're Gone, Ocean Cloud (get the 2CD version of this over the 1CD version if you possibly can - this 17-minute epic is why!) and Don't Hurt Yourself. That's a lot of incredible songs. By themselves, those tracks total at 48 minutes, which for many artists would be a full-length album. The Invisible Man, another epic, is also very strong, a brooding, atmospheric track. That ups the very-goodness on the album to just over an hour. But, of course, there's still another 36 minutes of music...

And those other tracks (nine of them) aren't that great. Some aren't that good. Genie, Angelina are good but not particularly memorable. The Only Unforgiveable Thing, The Damage and Drilling Holes are rather dull and add little to the album. Marbles I - IV are four short, forgettable tracks. They do little and are rather unspectacular pop songs.

All in all a very, very good album with some impossibly beautiful songs on. It misses that coveted fifth star because of the lack of consistency, due to the inclusion of some rather unspectacular songs. Nevertheless, this album is highly recommended for those after something less technical and more emotional.

Report this review (#204774)
Posted Sunday, March 1, 2009 | Review Permalink
tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The unending surprises are what makes Progland so exhilarating, never quite knowing what new (or old) album will leap out of the blue and grab your attention by the scruff of the ears and take you on a magical mystery tour. I stopped following Marillion after This Strange Engine, more because there were so many more fish (pun intended) to fry in discovering prog acts. I have paid scarce attention to the lukewarm comments, editorials and assorted other stories about their flirtation with more commercial pop-prog. So I found this used copy of Marbles and since it was bandied about as another "Brave", I took the 12 dollar plunge. Briefly, this album has hijacked my CD player ever since, thoroughly enchanted by the rather clever music, the enthralling atmosphere and the capture of my admiration. I was being hypnotized slyly right from the sublime intro , "The Invisible Man" , a 13 minute marathon of wispy atmospherics, feverish vocals and simply grand melodic hooks that successfully blur the line between accessible and complex. The single album (there is a double CD that is The prize, allegedly) is book-ended by another epic piece, the blisteringly passionate "Neverland". In between, brief "Marbles" intervals serve as interludes between longer pieces, mostly well-crafted, hook-laden pop-prog such as "Angelina", "Don't Hurt Yourself", "Fantastic Place" and "Drilling Holes". There can be little argument that these gents are superb musicians, Rothery has proven over decades that he is a true master 6- stringer, capable of enflaming even the slightest flicker into a paroxysm of sonic delight, Mosley is a premier drummer of impeccable stamina and precision, Trewavas is a stellar bass player and Kelly paints the keyboards with unrestrained glee, never the show-off. Hogarth has been unjustly criticized as a one-dimensional vocalist but having seen the DVD live performances, one comes to the conclusion that he certainly can emote with the best of them. Funny because prog has so few vocalists that transcend and impress , which is why we continue to adulate and idolize singers who frankly haven't done all that much lately (Lake, Hollis and yes, even the temperamental Fish, whose recent work-the 13th Star- is back to form). I fully understand the purists who see Marillion more as a commercial band but many of us hard edged fans like a little sweetness from time to time and this album certainly delivers the goods. That being said, I am still perplexed by some of the prior releases and what came after and am in no hurry to plunge deliriously into a spree. "Marbles" will do very nicely and as long as Neverland, You're Gone and The Invisible Man continue to amaze me, paraphrasing U2 , I will follow. Lots of words have been expressed by my PA friends , so I need not get into the details and rehash what has been said. I will seek out the 2CD version as Oceancloud is allegedly a shining piece of music. Dedicated to Eric (e-Dub), the birthday boy . 4.5 shiny agates
Report this review (#209466)
Posted Wednesday, April 1, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Damn if this isn't prog then I don't want to be right!

I've been sitting on this album for a few months and every time I turn it on it locks me down. I'm nearly left incapacitated by the emotions pouring out of every track every time I listen to Marbles. Hogarth has such a sad straining voice that punches the lyrics straight through. From yelling "I'm perfectly sane" in "The Invisible Man", to crying out "I never land / in Neverland" in the closer "Neverland" Hogarth is relentless. And it is not only the singing, but the song writing here is impeccable. The Only Unforgivable Thing is an excellent example:

"The only unforgivable thing / Waits for me in the corner of the room / Laughs as I clean my teeth / Laughs as I rub at my eyes"

Every time I hear this verse my skin crawls.

Without going into every song and writing until dawn breaks I'm going to hop right into "Ocean Cloud". If I could only listen to 10 songs for the rest of my life, this would definitely be on the list. What the other songs on the list are, I have no idea, but there is no way I could live without this one.

There is a wonderful video on youtube where Hogarth talks about this song. This song is dedicated to an Ocean Rower named Don Allum who rowed the Atlantic ocean twice. On his second trip across, starting from Newfoundland and ending in Ireland, his boat got wrecked from a terrible storm and he barely made it back. He died a few months after he arrived because of the fish blood and salt water he had to eat to survive.

What makes this song so great is how the music complements the idea of the song. It is a perfect combination of music and song that create something bigger than the parts themselves. There are sounds of seagulls and crashing waves interspersed throughout the track that emulate loneliness and the serenity that can be a result of being alone. The ocean is a place where "there's no one to tell / And no one who doesn't listen".

The track builds from a low rumble to a roaring storm when Hogarth is yelling "Only me and the sea / We will do as we please." The cymbals sound like waves crashing against a boat and the bass and guitar sound like thunder and lightning smashing the hull. Every time I hear this it feels as if the walls are caving in. From here we're then treated to the calm after the storm. Light smacking waves drown out the sound of a radio reporting Don Allum's second journey, the one of which led to his death. From here there is an abrupt transition which details the torment of life, which then leads to the final act of the song: removal from everything you were. Hogarth screaming "When I was alive / Don't want to remember / When I was alive" is something that is so chilling it can't be described.

This song is a masterpiece in every sense of the word.

From reading other reviews of this album it seems that the tracks Marbles I-IV are not given much credit. These tracks are my second favorite thing about the album, of course behind "Ocean Cloud". Sure, these are short tracks without much instrumentation, but they narrate the album so perfectly. They define the pace of the album as they are evenly placed throughout, and they tie in the two discs perfectly to create an overall coherence. The four acts depict the loss of innocence and purity, and the loneliness and helplessness that results. This theme is an important part of the album, as it runs through virtually every song. Truly brilliant!

Another thing that I noticed from the reviews is that some people are down rating this album because it isn't "progressive". Sure, there are very few solos throughout the album, and there are also not many instrumental sections either, but does that necessarily make for a worse album? Music doesn't have to be complicated in order to be good. In fact, most of these songs sound simple on the surface, but have heavy themes that run deep underneath. Doesn't this in turn make the music complicated, thus making it "progressive"? I might be misunderstanding the definition of "progressive", but everyone seems to know what it is when they hear it. I don't really know what it means. All I know is that I enjoy a lot of music that is labeled progressive, and that is enough for me. Whether a band/album/song is defined as "Neo-prog", "Indie", "Industrial", "Classical", or whatever else I could care less. If it feels like the artist is trying to show a part of themselves or relay an emotion, then isn't that enough? That is all I ask for.

Report this review (#236801)
Posted Thursday, September 3, 2009 | Review Permalink
Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
3 stars Marbles is an album where Marillion seemingly tried to bring us the fan's consensus of what Marillion should sound like. And apparently, going by the general appreciation of it, they certainly succeeded. Personally I'm not really convinced. They completely disregarded their updated sound and style from Marillion.com and Anoraknophobia and instead returned to the safe but trodden paths of all other Hogarth albums.

The stars are achieved by the strength of the wonderful epic Ocean Cloud. That really is one monster of a song, with excellent guitars and vocals culminating in a very moving chorus. Excellent. There's a few other long tracks such as Invisible Man and Neverland that are excellent as well. But apart from that, this is a fairly uninvolved and predictable Marillion album.

Report this review (#236904)
Posted Thursday, September 3, 2009 | Review Permalink
BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Let me first state for the record: I am not, and never have been a Marillion fan. The Fish era is, IMO, horribly produced (especially the murky, soft, poorly captured 'dynamics' of Misplaced Childhood and Script for a Jester's Tear), and also often sounds so cheezy and outdated (especially Fugazi and after). The Hogarth-era stuff, while capturing more emotion and better recording engineering, just lacks, IMHO, power, prog dynamics, and even the intricate constructs that are familiar to prog lovers (and essential to some). I do think Steve Hogarth is a far superior vocalist than Fish.

The music here on Marbles is pretty straightforward art rock, kind of mellow, with a lot of atmospheric texturing.

For me the highlights of this album are the four brief "Marbles" vignettes, and the trip hoppy, SEAL "Crazy"-like, "The Invisible Man" (13:37) (8/10), and; "You're Gone" (6:28) (8/10). The rest is space-occupying, time-sucking drivel. But, that's just my opinion. And remember: I am pretty much deaf to lyrics. (A learning disability.)

Report this review (#278558)
Posted Monday, April 19, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars My first Marillion album- wow! The opening track blew my mind and seems to get better every time I hear it. I have one major problem with the album- "You're Gone" - which bluntly put, is too embarrassing to play in front of friends. But, it's one terrible pop song surrounded by genius, so I just suck it up and listen to it when I play the album.

If you like beautiful sounds, with great album structure, and dark/brooding lyrics, this one should be right up your alley. It starts and ends very strongly, with recurring themes throughout- mainly that the protagonist is crazy.

I love it.

Report this review (#283105)
Posted Saturday, May 22, 2010 | Review Permalink
Flucktrot
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars A reviewer's conundrum: How do you rate an album that you 1) don't feel in your gut is your style, and 2) find it fairly simple and over-stretched, but 3) keep coming back to it over and over again because when you're in the right mood it's just what the doctor ordered?

Well, I suppose I'll round up and give Marbles 4 stars. When something keeps drawing me back time and time again, I eventually have to stop analyzing and admit that I just like it. That's how I feel about Marbles.

Highlights: Invisible Man, Don't Hurt Yourself, and Neverland. The extended pieces are at first blush too extended, but for this dark, searching, and reflective atmosphere, taking a bit of time to really put everything out there is a good thing. Of the "singles", Don't Hurt Yourself is the catchiest to me without being cheesy, despite obvious pop touches such as the hand claps.

This probably works well because it feels like such a team effort, with Pete cranking up the bass at key points, and Rothery really cranking out some great fills to complement the vocals. No one is getting in anyone's way, but everyone also contributes nicely. Hogarth is not one I'd like to listen to often, but I have to admit that he put everything he's got into this album, and that's always respectable.

So, if you don't like U2, you won't like this. But if you'd like to hear U2 perhaps dig a bit deeper, Marbles might be close to what would come out of it. It's not an album to play for friends, to pump you up, or for many other situations, for that matter. But crank Marbles up during a lonely sunset, and you just might feel the strong presence of a friend who needs your shoulder to cry on.

Report this review (#291128)
Posted Monday, July 19, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Here's a great album. If you want to get into Hogarth era, this is where to start. I am reviewing the two disc, but I would recommend either version. Hogarth shines as a lyricist on tracks like Neverland and the Invisible Man. The concepts to the album are very broad, dealing with being trapped, escaping, death, love, emotion, and on and on.

Pros: the best thing here is Hogarths vocal performance and lyrics. In Marillion, I think that the voice has always been the most important thing and that is why the the style changed so drastically when Fish left and Hogarth took over. Here, I'm glad to have Hogarth work with the Marillion band. The album is backed by brilliant soundscapes by Mark Kelly, great leads by Rothery, and a solid rhythm section from mosley and Trewavas. The music is rich and melodic, and always holds your attention.

Cons: with music like this, if you take away the keyboard, sometimes there's not much else going on. so my biggest complaint is Rothery really only shining during the leads, his prescence is there, but not like it was in the past. There's also a small amount of filler imo. But it doesn't bring the album down much.

So in my opinion this is very essential as it's the best album by Marillion with Hogarth, and this era of Marillion is something everyone should give a listen.

Report this review (#321765)
Posted Tuesday, November 16, 2010 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars I had this double CD a long time already. And a friend rebuked me for not having written a review about it yet. All right, mea culpa. I don´t remeber hearing the CD since I got it some 3 or 4 years ago. I do have some prejudice against Hogarth-era Marillion. After all, Fish-era Marillion was pure symphonic prog. The new band (I refuse to think of Marillion as the same group, even if the musicians are still the ones that played on their classic stuff) is totally different: it´s hardly prog at all. They play a kind of alternative/pop stuff with some hints of prog here and there.

That said, I must admit I liked Marbles a lot. It is one of their best with the new singer. It has far more memorable melodies than most of what I heard from them since Season´s End or Hollydays on Eden. Unlike much of their late 90´s and early 00´s stuff, Marbles has less experimental tunes and much more straight forward songs. Steve Hogarth in particular is singing better than ever, but that was expected. he mixes very well his vocal techniques with the necessary passion and conviction. On the other hand the isntrumental parts are good, but a bit subdue most of the time, specially Hogarth´s guitar. That´s not really a bad thing, since everybody here is working for the music as a unit. A real team´s work with no ego battles.

Marbles is one of the very few Hogarth era CDs that I hear from beginning to end without skipping a single track. Some songs are obviously better than others, and there is a little filler here and there, but that was to be expected in such long running time (again I must smit they are quite few in those two discs, considering much of what they were doing until then). Production is average. I can´t really point any highlights, but I do enjoyed the opening Invisible Man a lot.

Conclusion: if you forget that you´re hearing the same musicians (minus singer Fish) that made such symphonic masterpieces in the 80´s, then chances are that you can consider Marbles a fine album by a pop/alternative/prog band. I had some troubel rating this work. As iti is, I found ti to be very good, ok, and sometimes even bordering the excellent, but I doubt it would made an essential item to a prog music colletion. So it really deserves more than just a 3 star rating. I guess, for a prog site, that 3,5 stars is more fitting.

Report this review (#325152)
Posted Thursday, November 18, 2010 | Review Permalink
2 stars Although Marillion is far from being my favorite band of neo-prg (the more progressive rock in general) is a band that deserves to be respected.But "Marbles" is a disappointing effort from the band, which I can not appreciate.My knowledge of the band is not very wide, but I can say with certainty that this album is much weaker than "Script for a jester tear", "Misplaced Childhood"and "Brave"(which I consider to be the best album I've heard). The sound here is far from the neo-prog of the 80s and more toward the pop-rock, which is good lamentável.A single track here is "Neverland, " which with its 12 minutes, I brought more excitement than the rest of the album.

2.5 stars rounded to down.Deception almost total.

Report this review (#397071)
Posted Wednesday, February 9, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars With this release Marillion reach soaring heights of powerful music that from the first track to last give some of the most incredible sounds to be found in the Marillion catalogue. To me this is their ultimate masterpiece from the spacey opening minutes of 'The Invisible Man' to the final incredible moments of 'Neverland'.

This album expands on what was done with Anoraknophobia even further offering an eclectic a mix of songs that could easily be commercial like the beautiful mellow 'Fantastic Place' and 'Genie' and longer songs like 'Ocean Cloud' and 'The Invisible Man' which could easily fit onto any classic prog album with complex song structure and beautiful emotional music.

Steve Hogarth's voice and Steve Rothery's guitars create incredible atmosphere all the way through this album especially on the amazing opening track which features several sections starting with a spacey electronic intro section and ending with an incredible heavy finale with a fantastic guitar solo and vocal performance. Ocean Cloud the albums longest track is a song in a similar vain to This Strange Engine featuring several sections once again with incredible atmospheric guitars and vocals.

'Don't Hurt Yourself' is one of the finest tracks on the album, a simple acoustic rock song but Hogarth's vocals and Rothery's guitars make it something very special that sticks out on this album and fits well with the mellow feel of the album.

The albums 4 part title track which appears throughout the album helps to tie both discs together very well which is a vital component in making a 2 disc album into a masterpiece. Each part features prominent keyboards and vocals and is are presented as short interludes between songs and each part is very intriguing and atmospheric as the rest of the album.

The final moments of the album made up by the long track 'Neverland' really show off fantastically how much emotion this band can bring out in their music and leaves you with goosebumps when this mellow but hard hitting song ends. Featuring some of Rothery's finest playing on the album also with simple but incredible sounding melodic patterns.

For anybody wishing to know the Hogarth era of Marillion this is the peak of their creativity and playing and is highly recommended. A mellow rock classic which features some very Progressive Rock leanings. Sometimes Neo-Prog sometimes Crossover but always beautiful.

Marillion are a 5 star band and this is an essential 5 star album.

Report this review (#407287)
Posted Thursday, February 24, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars The Arrival...

in many ways, "Marbles" was to be an arrival for Marillion after 15 years of huge progression, experiments and exploration of all kinds of supplements that found their way into their sonic cosmos, 15 years that saw Steve Hogarth arrive and, one by one, change the face of this band. And it proved to be a reconciliation with many prog-lovers as well, who, during that time, had seen the band move further and further away from the "neo-prog-tag" in which it was rooted from the beginning with Fish, although they did not arrive exactly where they had started out once... logically, if you're asking me. But they kinda arrived in a safe field of beautifully crafted, song-based art-rock that suddenly did not seek to deny or escape its relationship to Pink Floyd or even Genesis anymore, so "Marbles" was supposed to become a favorite piece of sugar for lots of listeners who desperately hoped for them to return into the mold of prog-sounds and, at last, doing something more in the vein of "Seasons end", "Brave" and "Afraid of Sunlight". In my opinion, they had to take quite a few steps back in order to do this, but the very good thing about "Marbles" is that it's only a few steps back while maintaining a lot of the achieved and therefore developing even further.

But the pace of another "Concept"-Album incorporating distinctively prog-loaden epics ( with "The Invisible Man" as the starter to reassure that this band hadn't left behind any of their roots ) may easily be mistaken for a complete change of ways in order to serve those ever-reoccurring requests, so beware, dear prog-fans, cause if you listen hard enough you'll find that this isn't true, it's only a re-assemblance of many, many things that make this band what it is... including the more light-weight pop that didn't please too many of you when "Holidays in Eden" hit the market. "Don't hurt yourself", for example, sees Marillion travelling closer to the likes of Chris de Burgh than they ever did before, "You're gone", once more, shows that the guys share a huge affection for U2, and the mellow fields of sound and mood that "Angelina" ( with bluesy guitar-licks ) and "Fantastic Place" ( with, the more it's building on, perhaps a bit too much wall of sound, but graced by a wonderful trademark-Solo by courtesy of Mr. Rothery ) take more than just a dip into - well, be sure, that's a whole lot of singer/songwriter- driven pop rather than it's progrock, though it may please you more than it did before because of the frame in which you find them. And "Genie" as well as "The Damage" are close to being "average Hogarth" in terms of what he and only he can contribute to the band - love it or hate it... I like them but not essentially prefer them over previous ( or following, take "Most Toys" for a most-mentioned example as a "downer" amongst many of us ) outings of that kind ( it's not that hard to imagine those tracks on "Ice Cream Genius", or is it ? ).

In the very first place, "Marbles" is a revelation in sound, it's perhaps the best sounding/produced Marillion-Album of them all, thanks to Dave Meegan once again. And what it's short of ( I would have liked one or two straight-ahead-rock-songs like "Under the Sun" or "Between you and me", f.e., where even "You're gone" has got a rather laid-back groove and feel ) it's making up for with first-rate classics such as "Neverland" and - yeah, I finally got the 2-Disc-Edition thanks to last year's wonderfully packaged retail-release from Snapper-music - "Ocean Cloud" and none of us would honestly change them for "Cover my eyes", I'm sure. They belong to Marillion's very very best, of course they do, it's a sheer pleasure to hear them and dream away. My personal fave has to be the energetic ( but still seductively lush, even chilling ) "Drilling holes" that, musically, is quoting the Beatles as much as the Floyd, and keeps on making me bang my head and chant along to some of the best lyrics I have ever heard: "We ate on the lawn with the insects, we burned incense, most of the band turned up"... HUGE ! Since I am a glad owner of the double-disc-version, "Ocean Cloud" is about to equal it as a fave, though... perhaps because it's still new to me, but it ranks amongst the finest and most coherent epic tracks the band has ever recorded. Absolutely great stuff !

"The only unforgivable thing", on the other hand, doesn't really do much for me except die in its beauty, though I know that it indeed does please a lot of you who simply want some more of those dreamy soundscapes and drown in their loveliness and beauty forever... sorry, as much as "The Invisible Man" is full of little details and adventurous creativity, this one's a rather bland, repetitive one, and where "Ocean Cloud" is able to keep my attention awake because it's not at all tedious with the surprises coming in at exactly the right time so my emotions can follow, that "unforgivable thing" does not contain any of them. It's nice, no more - while even the shortest bit of those four "Marbles"-storylines does contain more ideas, needless to say that I love 'em, they're great.

All in all, "Marbles" is a very good album but not really that much of an improvement to its predecessors that others claim it to be. It's only - so full of irresistible good music that, in the end, you tend to tend to overlook its ( few but apparent ) flaws, because they are so easily forgiven when you finally get what you wanted, and... don't you ? To me, it's a little too "Floydy" in order to become my favorite, but far too good to not like it, cause where the Floyd leave me kinda stranded on the dark side of the moon, the Marillos are able to touch me with a whole lot of good songs. So it was not undeserved at all that "Marbles" saw them charting 2 hit-singles in different countries and helped re-establish themselves on the market, though, it has to be said, Germany tended to miss the event once more and Rupert, the weirdo who still listened to this band, saw himself alone again on wide fields - in spite of several music magazines and their readers sharing his excitement.

I was a bit worried that, with the success of "Marbles" and - compared to its predecessors - its slight lack of energy, Marillion may completely die in beauty thereafter, but my worries proved to be of no use, so I'm very happy with "Marbles"... one more bag of surprises, this time one that is able to please the average prog-listener far more than "Radiation" did. But it ain't an album that is really so much better, it's a four-star, no more, no less ( and, as you can re-read in my review to "Anoraknophobia", in some ways I think that its predecessor is even preferable, but surely not for the most of you ).

When a musician arrives, maturity can be a trap, he may stand still and start repeating himself until there's no progression anymore. "Marbles", as the 9th studio-album of this line up, was in danger of being a straight move on a walk into that trap. The band has managed to avoid it at last - and that's what's making it an even more pleasant affair... I think we can meet here. It's music that should have seen them fill out stadiums and it didn't, though. Perhaps we're lucky about this. The danger I'm talking about probably would else have been a trap too hard to avoid !

Report this review (#610459)
Posted Sunday, January 15, 2012 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Marbles sees Marillion take the various musical lessons they learned during the trilogy of Radiation, marillion.com and Anoraknophobia and apply them to more progressive song structures and textures, resulting in what I consider to be the fourth full-blown classic of the H era (after Brave, Afraid of Sunlight and This Strange Engine). It's a thoughtful, mature, and subdued work which - like the late-period Talk Talk albums which seem to have influenced its intimate and at points mildly jazzy sounds - mostly avoids rocking out in favour of longer mood pieces. It comes in an abbreviated 1CD version and an expanded 2CD one; I strongly advise getting the 2CD edition, because it's got Ocean Cloud - the band's best prog epic yet - and now that a reissued version of the 2CD edition is available to retail there's really no point depriving yourself.
Report this review (#667382)
Posted Monday, March 19, 2012 | Review Permalink
Andy Webb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Retired Admin
5 stars Where do I begin?

Marillion should be no stranger to the common prog listener. They virtually created the controversial sub-genre of neo-prog and in many ways, at least in their early career, held the defining sound of the style. The band, however, was a laughing stock for most rock critics of their early years. In the digital age, there was simply no room for posh prog rock revival acts, and critics made no effort to hide their disdain of Marillion's fawning of Genesis, Pink Floyd, and the other big prog acts of the 1970s. However, after their iconic lead singer Fish left the band in 1988, the band's style began to shift dramatically. The exaggerated retro- progressive sounds of Script for a Jester's Tear and Misplaced Childhood that were accentuated with digital synths and an 80s outlook faded as the new headman, Steve Hogarth, entered the scene.

At first it was only a slight shift towards a more alternative sound rather than their typical grind. However, Hogarth seemed to push the band with more albums towards a broader audience, and the band began to lose sight of their progressive origins as they ventured into uncharted territories, for good or for bad. While Seasons End was a nice transitionary period, Holidays in Eden seemed to put the band on the path of a far more accessible sound. However, with 1994's Brave, Hogarth and co. seemed to have forged a new path entirely from the Fish era. Hogarth brought on a slew of his own stylings and compositional tricks and the band took into full consideration the new sounds that were emerging from the experimental scene of the 1990s to create the band's most well composed and most emotionally performed album yet. The band rode the waves of the album's success for their next few albums, but at some point along the way they seemed to stagnate in style. After 2001's Anoraknophobia, the band yearned for something new. So, they set out writing what would become their 13th opus, Marbles.

This album was a personal effort for the fans. The album was entirely funded by pre-orders and fundraising, and what a job that funding did. On the basis of production, the album is essentially flawless. The production quality is clean and transparent; each instrument, track, and voice is expressed to its fullest and warmest extent in a meticulously examined and particularly crafted mix. Nothing seems muffled, over-present, or overwhelming. But of course, an album should not solely be judged by its production value. But this album's production value is neck and neck with the content value.

When I said Brave was the band's most well composed and most emotionally performed album to date, that record was clearly broken by this album. This album, which sadly comes in two editions, a one CD and a two CD (the one CD version really shouldn't exist), is a delicious pseudo-concept album spanning nearly 100 minutes. The album has some of the band's longer songs, including the 12-minute "Neverland," 13-minute "Invisible Man," and my personal favorite, the 17-minute "Ocean Cloud." While these take the bulk of the album, the album is more dominated by the little tracks, especially the four-part title track, which is comprised of four vignette-type tracks that explore a touching concept of marbles as a symbol of innocence and the loss of this innocence over the four parts. But it's truly the individual tracks of the album that take the cake for this album. Songs like "Fantastic Place," "The Only Unforgivable Thing," "The Damage," and "Angelina" show Marillion in their most tender, emotional, powerful, dynamic, energetic, touching, and inventive mode. Hogarth shines as a lyricist, the compositions are incredibly well developed, and the band plays with a careful air of musicianship that accentuates feeling rather than simple virtuosity. The power that is held in many of the compositions, especially "The Only Unforgiveable Thing," "Marbles II," "Ocean Cloud," "Invisible Man," and "Neverland," is remarkable, showing a maturity in music not seen by most other bands of today.

After listening to the album 20+ times, many of the tracks take on a near drugging nature. A dark sense of mystery fear comes attached to "Invisible Man," a blissful state of comatose is inevitable while listening to the vast oceanic mass of sound that permeates the beauty of "Ocean Cloud" (my favorite Marillion album for those wondering), a deep sense of melancholy takes hold of me when I listen to "The Only Unforgivable Thing," a tender feeling of nostalgia is seemingly sewn onto "Marbles II," a playful sense of cool comes with "The Damage," a wistful and energetic nature seems to be energized by "Don't Hurt Yourself," an interestingly upbeat yet feeling of longing is associated with "You're Gone," an acute sense of loneliness permeates the airy flows of "Angelina," and a significantly dark and almost angry sense of aggravation comes with "Drilling Holes," and a feeling of satisfactory finality and determination is obvious while listening to the genius of "Neverland." While that's not every song, it's not hard to see how dynamic and controlling emotionally this album is.

If Marillion were ever to top this piece of art, I would simply be in shock. This album is truly their greatest work yet, exploring the band's most expansive creative ability and musical skill. The band, with this album, seemed to have found their marbles again after albums of losing bravery with experimentation after Brave. The band has discovered again the joys of taking risks, the profit in trying new things, and the best sound that they could possibly attain at this point in their career. I patiently await for Marillion to one-up this, but in the meantime I'm certain willing to spin this album time and time again. 5 stars.

Report this review (#771442)
Posted Friday, June 15, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Marbles is Marillion's 2004 release and it came in both a single disc collection and a two CD set. Having heard that the best material was on the two CD set, I purchased it from marillion.com, which was the only way to obtain it at the time. I'm not sure whether that is still true in 2012 or not, but I would definitely recommend the double CD version of this album and that's the version I am going to discuss for the purposes of this review.

With that said... Marbles. It's a great album. Marillion had been sort of searching for an identity for several years prior to this album. With this release they found the musical style which seemed to fit them like a glove.

The album begins with "The Invisible Man" which starts on a spacey, almost electronic vibe. As the track progresses it builds into a frantic rhythm as vocalist Steve Hogarth sings what are, in my opinion, some of the best lyrics on a Marillion album since Fish left the band. The track them slows into a mellower, reflective section before building back up to the climax. "The Invisible Man" is a very impressive 13 1/2 minute start to the album.

We then move to "Marbles I", the first of four short eponymous tracks spaced throughout the albums that provide a sort of overarching, recurring theme for the album.

"Genie", "Fantastic Place" and "The Only Unforgivable Thing" are excellent pop/rock songs, as are many of the tracks on Marbles. That alone may be an anathema for some prog listeners, I suppose, but it's hard to find fault as the pop/rock tracks on this album are very intelligently written and immaculately performed. They are, in the opinion of this humble reviewer, pop songs made with a progressive sensibility. Especially "The Only Unforgivable Thing", which is definitely the stand out of the three tracks mentioned above.

After "Marbles II", the first half of the album closes with the epic 17 minute track "Ocean Cloud". If you were looking for a reason to get the two disc version of the album, this track is it. "Ocean Cloud" shows this era of Marillion at its full potential. It is a sweeping, spacey, proggy epic with Floydian guitars and haunting lyrics. Hogarth's vocals fit the music perfectly. For my money this is the best track they've recorded since Brave.

As the second half of the album opens we briefly revisit the theme with "Marbles III" before moving into another romping, memorable pop/rock track with "The Damage". This trend continues with the next track, the fantastic, wistful "Don't Hurt Yourself". Incredibly, this track and the next, "You're Gone" both made it onto the UK singles chart with "You're Gone" peaking at #7. It's not really surprising. "You're Gone" is one of the most commercial tracks on the album and one of the only ones that may slightly overstay its six minute running time, but it is still pretty enjoyable.

"Angelina" is a dreamy ballad sound that Marillion attempts to emulate a few times on the albums which follow Marbles. As you may expect, this track does it more successfully than most of them.

The following track, "Drilling Holes" comes with a bit of aggression that is a welcome change of pace this late in the album. It's a great rocking track that keeps things a bit off-kilter.

After the brief reprise of "Marbles IV", we arrive at the albums final track, "Neverland" and the band seems to have kept one of the best for last. "Neverland" is a great proggy (in the 'H' Marillion style) track to end an excellent album.

Overall: Marbles is an impressive album by Marillion. After a decade of a number of albums that seemed to have been made by a band looking for an identity, they deliver their best work since Brave. The fact that it is a double length album of consistent quality is also very admirable.

I'm sure prog fans will debate for years in regards to the inherent "progginess" of the album, but I find it easy to recommend this album. Hogarth era Marillion fans will find much to celebrate here.

4.5 rating rounded up to 5.

Highlights: "The Invisible Man", "The Only Unforgivable Thing", "Ocean Cloud", "The Damage", "Don't Hurt Yourself", "Drilling Holes", "Neverland"

Report this review (#774611)
Posted Tuesday, June 19, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Hearing Neverland one remembers because this band is so good and beyond the norm. The bells of the end conclude the best possible deployment of such energy and emotion. Moreover, the lyrics touch me deep. Paradoxically Marbles enjoyed as an album both diverse and homogeneous, with three key props from the progressive perspective as the aforementioned Neverland, The Invisible Man and captivating Ocean Cloud. In each one continues to discover small gems in its various sections. The four short Marbles I to IV contribute in bringing cohesion. And I want to highlight Drilling Holes, another great contribution to this masterpiece, with just five minutes but well used, with a great work of Hogarth and Rothery. In fact in all the work so, as well as the rest of the group.
Report this review (#918545)
Posted Sunday, February 24, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars Marbles is my favorite album and probably always will be so this review is probably quite biased! I discovered Marbles about 3 years ago while systematically listening to all of H era Marillion. At the time Marlbes didn't really grab me as much as Brave and This Strange Engine, but with repeated listening Marbles just seems to get better and better! There is so much going on in this album, lots of little things and unique sounds that I notice every time I listen to the album, literally every time I hear this album something else jumps out at me. The atmosphere created in Marbles is just incredible, I really can't put my finger on what makes it so good, it just flows from one song to the other so perfectly despite the fact that lots of the songs in Marbles are very different, ranging from the epic Neverland (album highlight along with the Invisible man) to the short and calming 'Marbles' songs. Overall I would recommend this album to pretty much anyone who likes music with emotion! There is a awesome mix of long and epic prog songs and upbeat single type songs such as 'Don't Hurt Yourself' and 'You're Gone' on this album and I think most people would find something to love. Absolutely no hesitation in giving this album the full five stars. Epic album.
Report this review (#955735)
Posted Wednesday, May 8, 2013 | Review Permalink
2 stars It's a very boring work. Mostly it consists of slow laid back tracks, with spacy guitar, spacy keyboards, a little meatier bass, prolongated singing. Some if these songs are nice if lightweight (Angelina, for example) and would be welcome as breaks in a more diverse album. But not only one CD, but TWO filled with such lifeless stuff? And they also book-end the disks with two of the most boring epics. Another one, the 17 minute Oceancloud, in the middle of the album, is more dramatic, but still short on melody.

It is telling the most memoriful tracks are the two quasi hit singles, the simple country-dance-ish Don't hurt yourself, and You're gone with its techno-ish loop - obviuosly outdated, but still giving the song some kick. So, to sum up, you could say that the aim here is for atmosphere, with a couple of pop songs for the extra buck. But there is nothing original in the atmosphere they aim at, and there are examples out there in same style, but with much more melody and substance.

Report this review (#997009)
Posted Saturday, July 13, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars When I bought and heard MARBLES for the first time I said: "Wow, Marillion has practically reformed heir sound and worked intensely to create a memorable album". But, I was listening only to the single version of the album. Then, years later I could manage to hear the complete version with the two CDs and luckily I was able to get the newest version of it with both albums and I said: "Wow, this is definitely one of the best albums Marillion has". In my opinion the first album of the 2 CD set contains one of the most beautiful songs: "The Only Unforgivable Thing" and one of the best songs of Marillion ever "Ocean Cloud" a complete epic of almost 20 minutes. Incredible, impressive, awesome, amazing, enjoyable from beginning to end!
Report this review (#1023226)
Posted Sunday, August 25, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars I used to have a problem with Hogarth-era Marillion: as a huge Fish-era fan, post-Fish Marillion just weren't the same and seemed to pale by comparison. Then I realised I should think of the two eras as completely different bands and stop constantly comparing the two. I'm glad I did because I really came to appreciate the new Marillion and discovered some great music.

Marbles has some great tracks that compare to the best material of any rock band. In particular The Invisible Man is a haunting, enigmatic masterpiece. Don't Hurt Yourself is another classic - a brilliant evocation to live in the moment and let the past - both good and bad times - go. Ocean Cloud and Neverland are two more fantastic, long songs, combining intelligent, emotionally-charged lyrics with beautiful, dramatic music.

All the other tracks here are good, often quite mellow, melodic tunes, but I don't think any other song scales the heights of those four stand-out tracks. As such, I think Marbles is an excellent addition to any prog collection, but I don't think it quite qualifies as a masterpiece.

Nb. this is a review of the 2CD version - the single CD doesn't contain Ocean Cloud, one of the very best songs, so I strongly recommend the two disc version.

Report this review (#1116507)
Posted Sunday, January 19, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars Marbles is Marillion's return to form after their wilderness years - post AoS/TSE, where the lamentable Radiation and Marillion.com saw the band shunning some of the cinematic and epic approach to attempt to appear relevant to the shallow and trendy early 21st century. Indeed, even Anoraknophobia, which DOES feel like Marillion, tries desperately to slip into a pair of trendy jeans that really don't fit them with drum loops and uncharacteristic atmospheres. That was the 21st century, indeed.

Thankfully, an epiphany of sorts seemed to have hit between the two works. 'I've lost touch. I shouldn't admit it, but I have...'. With those words, Steve Hogarth seemingly threw away the shackles of trying to stay relevant, and Marillion soared into their first bona fide classic in 7 years.

Marbles could easily have been their best prog album. With the remarkable Ocean Cloud, the aforementioned Invisible Man, and the superlative closer Neverland, this album contains some of their greatest work. Indeed, much of the album is still top drawer material - Fantastic Place, The Only Unforgivable Thing, Angelina and Drilling Holes all crackle with inventiveness and creativity, and excellent performances.

However, like all double albums, there is just too much on it. Genie is superfluous and mawkish offering nothing to the album, and 'Don't Hurt Yourself', whilst the lyric is certainly not bad, is just plain annoying. You're Gone sounds like a slightly better attempt at being a track from Anaraknophobia and The Damage doesn't move me.

However, curiously, the recurring Marbles theme is endearing and overall makes it appear quasi-conceptual. As an album, It could have been a Brave, but just falls short overall. Perhaps less really might have been more in this case. However, when it is good, it is very,very, very good indeed. Neverland remains my all time favourite Marillion moment. One they've still to beat.

Report this review (#1188359)
Posted Sunday, June 8, 2014 | Review Permalink

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