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Marillion Early Stages: The Official Bootlegs 1982-1987 album cover
4.54 | 112 ratings | 5 reviews | 68% 5 stars

Essential: a masterpiece of
progressive rock music

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Live, released in 2008

Songs / Tracks Listing

Live at the Mayfair, Glasgow, 13 September 1982
1. Garden Party
2. The Web
3. He Knows You Know
4. She Chameleon
5. Three Boats Down from the Candy
6. Market Square Heroes
7. Forgotten Sons

Live at the Marquee, Part 1, 30 December 1982
1. Garden Party
2. Three Boats Down from the Candy
3. Grendel
4. Chelsea Monday

Live at the Marquee, Part 2, 30 December 1982
1. He Knows You Know
2. The Web
3. Script for a Jester's Tear
4. Forgotten Sons
5. Market Square Heroes
6. Margaret

Live at Reading Festival, 27 August 1983
1. Grendel
2. Garden Party
3. Script for a Jester's Tear
4. Assassing
5. Charting The Single
6. Forgotten Sons
7. He Knows You Know
8. Market Square Heroes

Live at Hammersmith Odeon, 14 December 1984
1. Assassing
2. Garden Party
3. Cinderella Search
4. Punch and Judy
5. Jigsaw
6. Chelsea Monday
7. Pseudo-silk Kimono
8. Kayleigh
9. Bitter Suite
10. Heart of Lothian
11. Incubus
12. Fugazi

Live at Wembley Arena, 5 November 1987
1. Slainte Mhath
2. White Russian
3. Incubus
4. Sugar Mice
5. Fugazi
6. Hotel Hobbies
7. Warm Wet Circles
8. That Time of the Night
9. The Last Straw
10. Kayleigh
11. Lavender
12. Bitter Suite
13. Heart of Lothian

Line-up / Musicians

- Fish / vocals
- Steve Rothery / guitars
- Mark Kelly / keyboards
- Peter Trewavas / bass
- Mick Pointer / drums & percussion*
- John Martyr / drums and percussion**
-Andy Ward / drums and percussion**
-Ian Mosely / drums and percussion***
-Corie Jonas / backing vocals****

*discs 1, 2 & 3
**disc 4
***discs 5 & 6
****disc 6 only

Releases information

6CD collectors box
EMI Records BOOTBOX 1 (2008) UK
EAN: 5099924308427

Pre-Ordered Version comes with free exclusive A4 print of Mark Wilkinson's new box set cover artwork signed by Fish, Steve Rothery, Mark Kelly, Pete Trewavas, and Ian Mosley.

Release-date: 17 November 2008.


Thanks to Grendelbox for the addition
and to E-Dub for the last updates
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MARILLION Early Stages: The Official Bootlegs 1982-1987 ratings distribution

(112 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(68%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(25%)
Good, but non-essential (5%)
Collectors/fans only (2%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

MARILLION Early Stages: The Official Bootlegs 1982-1987 reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Jim Garten
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Retired Admin & Razor Guru
4 stars First of all, I'd like to give a vote of thanks to EMI for supplying a copy of this set for review ahead of the 17th November release date - many thanks for the support guys.


In 1982, British progressive rock as a genre was in the doldrums - the giants of the 1970s had lost their way with bands such as ELP lacking inspiration and trading on diminishing returns, Pink Floyd seemingly imploding after Roger Waters's overblown concept 'The Wall', Yes looking for a new direction (and with Trevor Horn in the producers chair, and Trevor Rabin on guitar duties, treading a more AOR path), even the previously mighty Genesis heading in an ever more radio-friendly direction. however, something was stirring in the underground.

Across Britain, musicians were coming out of the woodwork to play the pubs & clubs, revisiting the sounds & feel of progressive rock's heyday; bands such as Pallas, Twelfth Night, IQ, Pendragon & Solstice (even older bands such as Magnum and The Enid) began performing to ever increasing crowds of those disillusioned with technically proficient, visually spectacular, but ultimately soul-less gigs in huge arenas. and the standard bearers for the burgeoning New Wave Of British Progressive Rock were Aylesbury based Marillion.

This set of live CDs from the BBC's 'In Concert' vaults and EMI's own recordings, captures Marillion in the years from 1982 to 1987, a period which under the leadership of charismatic frontman/vocalist Fish (Derek Dick to his mum & dad.) saw them make the leap from the pubs & clubs, to major festivals & finally to arena headlining status in their own right. It is in the tracks repeated on various discs from this set where you see them growing and progressing (to coin a phrase): Garden Party (formerly known as The Garden Party Of The Giant Cucumber Massacre) appears in all but the 1987 recording, He Knows You Know in the first three concerts, together with anti war protest Forgotten Sons (just as relevant now as then), and early stage favourite, the 20 minute Grendel, a track they never in my opinion really nailed in the studio, appears in the 1982 Marquee set, and again in stupendous form on the Reading Festival recording from 1983 (ironically, the last time they played the piece on stage) - as an aside, She Chameleon is played in the 1982 Glasgow set, a full 2 years before it appeared on their second album Fugazi: slightly different lyrically & musically, but the same song nevertheless.

The first of these recordings, from Glasgow's Mayfair in September 1982 the week after the band had signed to EMI Records is a mixed affair; Marillion as a young band, having only just attained their first recording contract already had a strong and loyal fan base, and in addition had the bare bones of what would become future stage favourites. The versions recorded here, however suffer from a poor sound balance (Stephen Rothery's guitar being virtually inaudible throughout), and what appears a fairly nervous performance - far from being faster than the eventual studio recordings, as is usually the way, the versions here are slow and considered. Despite this, however, Fish's commanding stage presence & the early versions of the (at the time) unreleased first single Market Square Heroes & what would become the debut album closer 'Forgotten Sons' save the day.

In 1982, Marillion had a spiritual home - the Marquee in London's Wardour Street; it is on residencies here they honed their live reputation, and it is one of their final Marquee gigs which is represented in full here by the second and third discs of this set (recorded and mixed by their new best friends, EMI). One of three post Christmas gigs in December 1982 from which crowds had to be turned away due to Marillion's now huge popularity (at one point, Fish virtually apologises for having to play Hammersmith Odeon in future.) and one of their final stepping stones to the larger halls their as yet unreleased first album would guarantee them, these recordings, made only three months after the Glasgow gig, see Marillion as a far more confident & coherent force; the playing is tighter and more assured, the sound balance considerably better, the crowd, packed in like sardines as they were, hugely enthusiastic, and rightly so. The set list is very similar to the Glasgow CD, but here includes the epic Grendel (the confines of the Marquee being ideal for Fish as Grendel to pull a punter out of the front row & ritually dismember him) and the first recorded instance of their playing Script For A Jesters Tear; at the time a new track they had debuted on these three shows, this is recognisably a very early version, with Mellotron replacing piano in the opening & some of the lyrics still at a formative stage. As usual, the set is closed with the usual threesome of Forgotten Sons, Market Square Heroes and the playful if maybe a little over-long crowd favourite, Margaret.

By August 1983, the new progressive rock bands had been taken to the hearts of the rock press, and the Reading Festival, which at the time was the number one music festival for aspiring bands to play, was packed with the new breed, but pride of place again belonged to Marillion, who'd played there mid- Sunday afternoon the previous year, but here made a return on Saturday evening, second on the bill and direct support to an Ian Gillan led Black Sabbath. The year had been a good one for the band, with sold out shows across Britain & Europe, the debut album riding high in the charts, the only down point being the departure of Mick Pointer from the drum stool, temporarily replaced here by session men John Martyr (?) & Andy Wall on drums & percussion respectively. Playing to approximately 40/50,000 people in the open air, subtlety is a casualty, with Marillion having a whale of a time & playing full blown progressive ROCK. Opening with what is to my mind the strongest version now available of Grendel - ironic, as this is the last time it was played live - Marillion's popularity is immediately in evidence, with the crowd singing along to every word (something noticeable throughout this CD) and the band play off this enthusiasm throughout their 75 minute set. Grendel closes with a Mellotron and guitar swathed coda which bears more than a slight resemblance to Yes's Starship Trooper & then it's into yet another version of Garden Party with the Reading Festival choir lustily singing back during the call & response section (unsurprisingly strongest on their response to "I'm rucking."). Script For A Jesters Tear is followed by the first of the new songs here, an almost complete Assassing, soon to be the opening track of the second album, and Charting The Single, Marillion's arch swipe at the vagaries of the record industry, and also their next single. With these behind them, Marillion are back in familiar, but understandably populist territory, closing the main set with a storming rendition of Forgotten Sons featuring Fish on superb form, before returning for encores of He Knows You Know, and the predictable, but inescapable Market Square Heroes, which the crowd's singing and the band's evident enjoyment of the moment closes the set on a massive high. much to Black Sabbath's chagrin, as they had to endure much of the crowd still calling for Marillion's return as they took the stage themselves an hour later - I know - because I was there.

Speaking of being there, I was also at London's Hammersmith Odeon just over a year later when disc 5 of the set was recorded by the BBC for their 'In Concert' series. In the intervening period, the second album Fugazi had been released to a mixed reception, reaching number 5 in the UK charts and showing the band's starting to move away from the symphonic progressive rock of their original influences, to forging a sound more recognisably their own. The Hammersmith Odeon disc sees Marillion in confident rock band mode, with a much more focussed, cleaner and tighter sound (courtesy of Ian Mosley now being installed on drums/percussion), yet losing none of the warmth toward the fans they were known for. Overall, the new material sits happily alongside established favorites Garden Party and Chelsea Monday, which had been given a wash & brush up, but these older songs were already beginning to sound dated against the newer, more hard edged songs such as Assassing and the single Punch And Judy. The real gem of this disc though, and a prime example of Marillion's confidence at the time is their decision to showcase an entire side of their at the time unreleased album Misplaced Childhood. This is given an expansive introduction by Fish describing it as their new direction, and the direction many people wanted them to go in (read into that what you will); the selection chosen (which thankfully excluded the future single Lavender) is virtually unchanged from the version eventually released on album, with only a few lyrical differences and is received enthusiastically - although it could be said at that stage in Marillion's career any new material would be given a good reception, Part one of Misplaced Childhood showed this band at the peak of their creativity & this is reflected in the reaction of the Hammersmith audience. The set closes with the incisive Incubus - a high point from the Fugazi album - and a rousing version of Fugazi itself, with the audience in fine voice during the "where are the prophets..?" closing section.

The sixth and final disc of the series from November 1987, is recorded at London's cavernous Wembley Arena, the band playing a gig in aid of muscular dystrophy on the back of the commercial success of the Clutching At Straws album; this is also Marillion by royal appointment, the show being attended by Prince Edward (which Fish jokingly alludes to in the intro to Fugazi, stating if he explained what the title meant, he'd end up in the Tower Of London). By this time, the band were seasoned professionals, and the 10,000 seat venue must have seemed a long way from playing the confines of Glasgow's Mayfair, a mere 5 years previously. I have to admit I'm not wholly familiar with the Clutching At Straws album, my only knowledge based on the Gazza Ladra live album from the same tour, and the hit single Incommunicado (strangely missing from this gig), but the selections here highlight Marillion's sound becoming more guitar based, with Rothery playing well throughout, ably supported by Kelly's always fluid lines. If I had a criticism, it would be that the gig comes across as a little too workmanlike, with the previous connection to the crowd seeming to fray at the edges (Fish urging the singalong to Fugazi sounds a little forced); this could be down to the venue itself, Wembley Arena being notorious as a soul- less barn - similarly it could be the fact this gig was recorded just a few months prior to Fish's departure from the band, but whilst this is not Marillion merely going through the motions, the warmth of previous performances on this set is noticeably down by several degrees.

So there you have it, a six CD retrospective of Marillion live during the Fish years; from struggling band playing the clubs to multi million album selling international success story; if you're an established fan of the band, this is without a doubt a full five star release, a true essential purchase - seen overall, though, even given the sound problems & nervous performances on disc 1, and the usual warts & all qualities of any live album without overdubs, this set still stands up as a solid 4 star release - a good reminder of exactly how good they were in the early years.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Everyone that has heard or seen this band in the 80s knows they were capable of reproducing their studio albums just perfectly in a live context. Fish's voice still had its full range and his performance was always expressive and involved. The band didn't change or improvise much around the studio material but added just that extra bit of energy that makes a live rendition valuable.

With this boxset compiling 5 concerts from the 82-87 period we get a dazzling overview of their career. Each of these shows had previously been 'available' as bootlegs, but the sound quality in this box doesn't sound like bootlegs at all. All CDs sound great. Some even perfect, with all instruments well balanced and resonating loud and clear.

CD1: September 13, 1982, at Mayfair, Glasgow

A historical document. This must be the earliest recording of such quality. The sound is OK but a bit dry and the performance is a bit nervous and shaky. Maybe the guys didn't hear each other play very well, but fact is that they sound rather chaotic at times, with the drums often out of sync with the other instruments. Point of interest: definitely She Chameleon in its premature version, entirely different from the 1984 studio track. 2 stars

CD2-3: December 30, 1982, at Marquee, London

Three months later and this band's growth as a confident live unit is impressive. This is a very tight and energetic set presenting the entire Script album and the Marquet Square Heroes EP. In other words, every song they penned till that day. As a bonus you get the jamming fun of Margaret, a different version from the one that was previously available on the Cucumber Massacre 12". 4 stars

CD4: August 27, 1983, at The Thames Side Arena, Reading

Live at the renowned festival and man did they deliver. I wasn't there (without doubt playing Lego at the time) but my impression is that they really had the entire audience behind them. And what a forceful set. Grendel and Forgotten Sons come in a 'definite' version and also the early Assassing is interesting, with less keyboards and a different guitar bit in the middle. Great performance, with one Andy Ward from Camel on the drumkit! 4 stars

CD5: December 14, 1984, at Hammersmith Odeon, London

Come 1984, Marillion peaks for me with their harder-edged Fugazi album. This concert is every bit as stunning as Real to Reel, but the extended setlist makes this one of course much more fun. Point of interest is the try-out of a couple of Misplaced Childhood tracks. Those opening chords of Pseudo Silk Kimono send shivers down my spine, every time again. Incubus and Fugazi are brilliant closers. 5 stars

CD6: November 5, 1987, at Wembley Arena, London

Their gig in Brussels 2 days later was my first ever live concert! I was in total awe. The CD doesn't bring that experience back as my increasingly critical ears now hear Fish's voice missing some of its earlier range and precision. I'm also not a fan of female soul singers backing up rock bands. I wasn't a fan of those in 1987 neither, but I probably wasn't thinking straight from staring too long at Lisa Dalbello's mini-skirt during the opening act. We've all been 16 right? 3 stars here.

Superb boxset that makes me remember why these guys were my favorite band in my teenage years. The official 80s live albums either missed the duration and the coherence of a full concert experience. This boxset has 5 such experiences on offer. A must have for all freaks out there.

Review by Warthur
5 stars Following on from the earlier Curtain Call boxed set of live Fish-era material which was released on Marillion's Front Row Club, it turns out that EMI got in touch with Fish and his ex-band and invited them to help them trawl through the EMI vaults and put together a lavish boxed set of Marillion concerts from the same period. What results is an incredible collection of Marillion rarities - and when they decided to call this one Early Stages, they weren't kidding. Of the five shows collected here, four of them are from before the release of Misplaced Childhood, three are from before Ian Mosley joined the band and the group entered the studio to record Fugazi, two are from before Script for a Jester's Tear was released and one show even predates the recording of the Market Square Heroes EP!

When it comes to that first disc, the existence of a high-quality recording of a Marillion show from before they even released their first single is explained when Fish alludes to the concert being recorded for broadcast by Radio Clyde. The setlist consists of the two shorter songs from the Market Square Heroes EP - Market Square Heroes itself and Three Boats Down From the Candy - plus four of the six songs from Script For a Jester's Tear (only Chelsea Monday and the title track are missing), plus a super-rare rendition of She Chameleon from Fugazi in a much earlier version of the track. The versions of Three Boats Down From the Candy and Market Square Heroes are extremely close to the versions on the EP - only to be expected since they'd be recording the studio versions within the month - whilst the Script songs are a little rougher around the edges - they're very close to the album versions, but there's spots where you can tell that later on the band would do some polishing and tightening up. Nothing major, mind - just a boost to a song's tempo here, a tweak to Fish's vocal performance there, a slightly less aggressive guitar tone from Steve Rothery over there.

The most startling difference is in the prototype version of She Chameleon, the lyrics of which are more or less exactly the same as the Fugazi one we're familiar with but the music is utterly different - an up-tempo, almost jaunty piece entirely inappropriate for the subject matter. To be honest, it's not one of the band's best compositions, so dropping the tune and doing a complete rewrite was probably the best call. But as for the rest of the disc captures a fine performance from the band, the sort of energetic effort which doubtless helped them snag a major label record deal.

Discs two and three document a very special concert - the last ever gig of Marillion's legendary run of concerts at London's Marquee Club, the spiritual home of the early neo- prog movement. As Fish mentions to the crowd, they performed something like 14 gigs there in the space of a year, but their increasing success meant they were forced to move to larger venues such as the Hammersmith Odeon. (The crowd are not pleased by this news, but Fish makes a good case for its necessity, pointing out the large numbers of people who were having to be turned away from the Marquee concerts as a result of the band's exploding popularity.) Of course, the group make sure their farewell concert is a cracking one, and Fish slyly lets slip that fans wishing to see them play the odd concert at the Marquee in future might want to look out for them under the name of the "Skyline Drifters" - a pseudonym the band used for secret gigs at the time.

The setlist for this concert consists of the entire Script For a Jester's Tear album - the recording of which was still not completed at this time - as well as the whole Market Square Heroes EP (and yes, this includes a rendition of Grendel). It's topped off with Margaret, a goof-off track based around a simple Highland song which the band often closed their early gigs with - it's nothing particularly musically compelling, being mainly an excuse to prompt the audience to dance like crazy and to end the gig on a feel-good note. In general, the sound quality of this concert is a bit patchy at first but is markedly improved on the second disc, and overall is on a par with the quality of the first disc; as far as the performances go, obviously the Market Square Heroes tracks are delivered more or less in the way they were on the EP whilst the album tracks are closer to their final forms than in the earlier set.

The third concert in the box is another special one in the history of the band - their legendary appearance at the 1983 Reading Festival. This was a particularly important gig in the history of the band for two reasons; firstly, it's the last time they ever performed Grendel onstage, and secondly it includes Andy Ward - from the classic Camel lineup - on drums, taking place as it did after the firing of Mick Pointer and before Ian Mosley joined the band. The band are on top form and bursting with energy on this high-quality sound recording; the vast Reading crowd is clearly pleased to see them, and Fish in turn is vocal about how thrilled he is to be playing to such a crowd. (I imagine the band were also excited to be playing with one of their musical heroes!) The result is a great gig with fantastic renditions of all the songs on offer - including an early appearance of Assassing, already more or less in the form it would take on Fugazi, and what I consider to be the definitive recording of Grendel.

Next up is a Hammersmith Odeon appearance from towards the end of the Fugazi tour. For the most part, the setlist leans a bit more towards Fugazi material, with only Garden Party and Chelsea Monday appearing from Script For a Jester's Tear - but what's really interesting is the preview of material from Misplaced Childhood, the studio recording of which hadn't even commenced yet! When Fish announces it he states that the album will consist of two tracks - Side One and Side Two - but obviously on the album we actually got the different sections of the composition got their own names in the track listing (though were still a continuous piece of music). What we get on here is the tracks from Pseudo-Silk Kimono to Heart of Lothian, mostly in the form we know and love from the album with a few mild differences to the lyrics here and there. (In particular, the chorus to Kayleigh is completely different). Aside from the lyrics, the most major difference is the absence of Lavender, which would be inserted to round out the side later on. The inclusion of this fascinating insight into the development of the album - and the enthusiastic reaction of the crowd to the preview - makes this a fascinating live document, and the high recording quality and the confident performance makes it on the whole a great listen. Another notable thing is the way the closing title track from Fugazi seems to have taken the place of Market Square Heroes and Margaret as Marillion's usual close-of-concert song at this point.

The final concert in this set is a Wembley Arena appearance from the Clutching At Straws tour. Recorded a few months after the release of the album (and about four months after the Live at Loreley set), it's interesting to note the crowd singing and clapping along to the new material - they embraced the Clutching songs quickly, it seems! As on Live at Loreley, which the set list closely resembles, the integration of female backing vocals into the older material is done with a deft hand and the band are at the peak of their powers. It does rather cut off suddenly at the end of the Misplaced Childhood portion of the show - usually on that tour there'd be an encore or two following on - but otherwise this is a fine way to round off the set, particularly since the set consists entirely of post-Script material - a nice rebalancing considering that four of the six discs on here consist of almost nothing but!

On the whole, this boxed set offers nothing less than the ultimate collection of live Fish-era material. Even better, so far as I can tell none of the material on it is replicated on any of the other live releases from this period - so if you want yet more live Marillion with Fish at the helm, Recital of the Script, Real to Reel, Live at Loreley, The Thieving Magpie and Curtain Call are all there for you to dip into. Even then, if you've collected all of those I still think this is worth it to round out the set, particularly if you are a fan of the Script for a Jester's Tear era since it is so well-represented here. Plus the price is very reasonable for an epic 6-CD boxed set like this. Nothing less than five stars is due.

Review by VianaProghead
5 stars Review Nš 451

"Early Stages: The Official Bootlegs 1982-1987" is a box set containing six separated live albums of Marillion and was released in 2008. It contains five different live concerts from the band with their former vocalist Fish and it was recorded at several venues in the UK between 1982 and 1987. The packaging was designed, as usual, by Mark Wilkinson, who designed all Marillion's covers in the 80's. He went to work with Fish as a solo artist after his departure from the band.

The set contains the following concerts and the following tracks: CD 1: Live at the Mayfair, Glasgow, 13th September 1982. Tracks: "Garden Party", "The Web", "He Knows You Know", "She Chameleon", "Three Boats Down From The Candy", "Market Square Heroes" and "Forgotten Sons". CD 2: Live at the Marquee Club, London, Part 1, 30th December 1982. Tracks: "Garden Party", "Three Boats Down From The Candy", "Grendel" and "Chelsea Monday". CD 3: Live at the Marquee Club, London, Part 2, 30th December 1982. Tracks: "He Knows You Know", "The Web", "Script For A Jester's Tear", "Forgotten Sons", "Market Square Heroes" and "Margaret". CD 4: Live at the Reading Festival, 27th August 1983. Tracks: "Grendel", "Garden Party", "Script For A Jester's Tear", "Assassing", "Charting The Single", "Forgotten Sons", "He Knows You Know" and "Market Square Heroes". CD 5: Live at Hammersmith Odeon, London, 14th December 1984. Tracks: "Assassing", "Garden Party", "Cinderella Search", "Punch And Judy", "Jigsaw", "Chelsea Monday", "The Pseudo-Silk Kimono", "Kayleigh", "Bitter Suite", "Heart Of Lothian", "Incubus" and "Fugazi". CD 6: Live at Wembley Arena, London, 5th November 1987. Tracks: "Slainte Mhath", "White Russian", "Incubus", "Sugar Mice", "Fugazi", "Hotel Hobbies", "Warm Wet Circles", "That Time Of The Night", "The Last Straw", "Kayleigh", "Lavender", "Bitter Suite" and "Heart Of Lothian".

The original studio tracks were originally released in different forms: "Grendel", "Three Boats Down From The Candy" and "Market Square Heroes" were originally recorded on their debut EP "Market Square Heroes", in 1982. "Margaret" was originally recorded as the B side of their single "Garden Party", in 1983. "Charting The Single" was originally recorded as the B side of their single "He Knows You Know", in 1983. "Cinderella Search" was originally recorded as the B side of their single "Assassing", in 1984. "Garden Party", "The Web", "He Knows You Know", "Forgotten Sons", "Chelsea Monday" and "Script For A Jester's Tear" were originally recorded on their debut studio album "Script For A Jester's Tear", in 1983. "She Chameleon", "Assassing", "Punch And Judy", "Jigsaw", "Incubus" and "Fugazi" were originally recorded on their second studio album "Fugazi", in 1984. "Pseudo-Silk Kimono", "Kayleigh", "Bitter Suite", "Heart Of Lothian" and "Lavender" were originally recorded on their third studio album "Misplaced Childhood", in 1985. "Slainte Mhath", "White Russian", "Sugar Mice", "Hotel Hobbies", "Warm Wet Circles", "That Time Of The Night" and "The Last Straw" were originally recorded on their fourth studio album "Clutching At Straws", in 1987.

While Fish was in the band he had recorded four extraordinary albums and each of them is presented in some fashion across these vintage concerts that were done for the BBC. It's a very healthy release with a lot to absorb even for the most hard core of Marillion's fans. There's a sixteen page booklet included and there are no real photos to speak of but instead all small type commentary that addresses each of the CD's or shows individually. It's packaged in a deluxe box with art by long time Marillion artist Mark Williamson and each CD comes in a sleeve that presents different artwork and lists the tracks on the back. This is a rather pricey item, really. But believe me, this well worth the investment indeed.

Conclusion: "Early Stages: The Official Bootlegs 1982-1987" is an excellent box-set with great live performances from Marillion. It's an indispensable set of live shows from the band for all Marillion's fans, especially for Marillion's fans that particularly love the band in Fish's era, like me. However, it represents slightly differences between all the live concerts. CD 1 represents an historical document. It's probably the earliest live document from the band with such quality. The sound is good but the performance isn't absolutely perfect, probably because the band was nervous and shy. On CD 2 and CD 3 the sound is also good and shows a band more confident and energetic. However, I think Fish interrupts too often and for too long between the songs when he explains the context in which every song was written. I think it cuts a bit the rhythm that a live show must have. Relatively to CD's 4, 5 and 6, they're simply amazing. The sound is perfect and all the three live shows are astonishing. They're at the same quality level of some other great live performances from the band like "Recital Of The Script" and "Live From Loreley". So, the rating I can give to this-box set is 5 stars.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Latest members reviews

4 stars Upon learning of a new Fish-era live Marillion 6-disc box set to be released by EMI in late 2008, I was thrilled. This set does not disappoint in the least. Although the sound quality of the first two CDs is not as perfect as the legendary Curtain Call set (or the remaining 4 discs of Early St ... (read more)

Report this review (#198073) | Posted by Disconnect | Friday, January 9, 2009 | Review Permanlink

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