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Marillion Less Is More album cover
2.79 | 403 ratings | 16 reviews | 7% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 2009

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Go! (from, 1999) (5:02)
2. Interior Lulu (from, 1999) (7:32)
3. Out Of This World (from Afraid Of Sunlight, 1995) (5:08)
4. Wrapped Up In Time (from Happiness Is The Road, 2008) (3:40)
5. The Space... (from Seasons End, 1989) (4:52)
6. Hard As Love (from Brave, 1994) (4:58)
7. Quartz (from Anoraknophobia, 2001) (5:48)
8. If My Heart Were A Ball It Would Roll Uphill (from Anoraknophobia, 2001) (5:12)
9. It's Not Your Fault (Previously Unreleased) (3:33)
10. Memory Of Water (from This Strange Engine, 1997) (2:37)
11. This Is The 21st Century (from Anoraknophobia, 2001) (5:40)
12. Cannibal Surf Babe (from Afraid Of Sunlight, 1995) (Live) (3:27)

Total time 57:29

Line-up / Musicians

- Steve Hogarth / lead & backing vocals, piano (4,6,9,11), dulcitone (1,7,8), dulcimer (2,5,11), glockenspiel (2), finger cymbals, shaker, bell tree, rainstick, tambourine
- Steve Rothery / acoustic guitar, Portuguese guitar (2,10), electric guitar (4,7),
- Mark Kelly / piano, harmonium, Hammond & pipe organ, autoharp, glockenspiel, backing vocals
- Peter Trewavas / acoustic bass, xylophone (1,2,7), acoustic guitar (3,11), backing vocals
- Ian Mosley / drums, Moroccan bongos (2), skulls (7)

- B. Hartshorn / bass harmonica (1)
- H S Ensemble / strings (1)
- The Preston Bisset Singers / chorus vocals (4)
- S. Audley / bowed glockenspiel (5)
- R. Hazlehurst / Fx (7)

Releases information

Studio album including new acoustic arrangements of 10 songs from the back catalogue between 1989 up until 2001, plus an unreleased track and one Live recording

Artwork: Simon Ward

CD Intact Records ‎- Intact CD16 (2009, UK)

Thanks to progshine for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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MARILLION Less Is More ratings distribution

(403 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(7%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(22%)
Good, but non-essential (32%)
Collectors/fans only (27%)
Poor. Only for completionists (12%)

MARILLION Less Is More reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Three weeks are gone from the day of release of new Marillion studio album, and - just four members reviews on PA? No collaborators are interested at all?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Review by lazland
4 stars Less is More is the new Marillion album, made up of acoustic or semi electric versions of old tracks, something the band have actually done before in the shape of a gig at Oswestry The Walls restaurant a few years ago, a gig I was honoured to go to and the CD of which is still available.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3.5 stars rounded up to four.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Latest members reviews

3 stars 'Less Is More' is an acoustic album from Marillion, released on 2 October 2009. It contains rearranged songs dating back to 1989 as well as a previously unreleased song entitled "It's Not Your Fault" and a hidden live track, "Cannibal Surf Babe." Marillion have performed numerous acoustic live sets ... (read more)

Report this review (#2980812) | Posted by Magog2112 | Monday, January 8, 2024 | Review Permanlink

1 stars I idolize Marillion. I love their music. However this semi-acoustic reinterpretation of their repertoire is a major misfire. I remember Yes in one of their live concerts turned Roundabout into a Samba. Musicians can have fun on stage. In the studio is a different matter altogether. Go do ... (read more)

Report this review (#2377012) | Posted by iluvmarillion | Monday, May 4, 2020 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I was a little disappointed with this one. It's just that it's a bit strange to me that an album focused almost exclusively on acoustic instruments would place the instruments so far back in the mix. I found myself several times wanting to reach back somewhere deep into the soundscape to gra ... (read more)

Report this review (#881043) | Posted by The Progmatist | Sunday, December 23, 2012 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Recently Marillion has become my favorite band, and I was really anxious to get this preordered. I only write now because it seems that there isn't too much said about this brilliant album. It's no wonder this record didn't find its' way to everyone's cd stand. After all, it is a collection ... (read more)

Report this review (#631775) | Posted by Passionist | Sunday, February 12, 2012 | Review Permanlink

4 stars the re-visits after "Happiness is the Road" - and once more, the lurking dangers of producing new music without having re-assembled forces after the enormous effort that, at least. "Essence" came to be ( see, to underline this thought, the only song on "Less is more" that's rather superfluous is ... (read more)

Report this review (#610463) | Posted by rupert | Sunday, January 15, 2012 | Review Permanlink

2 stars I was a fan of the "old" Marillion with Fish as the singer. And although I enjoyed "Brave", I never followed Marillion's releases with Steve Hogarth after that. Somebody recommended "More is Less" to me, so I thought I would give it a try. It was a totally "fresh" approach, because I didn't know ... (read more)

Report this review (#245206) | Posted by madnil | Monday, October 19, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars something else! i am probably still enthused by the influence of last friday's L=M show where i finally managed to pick up this platter and had the beauty of it unfolding before my very eyes and ears as the evening proceeded. i then basically locked myself away for the weekend with it and tho ... (read more)

Report this review (#245188) | Posted by iguana | Monday, October 19, 2009 | Review Permanlink

1 stars More or less is less than more! First of all I have to declare that I don't have sympathy for acoustic albums of electric bands. As second step I'd like to understand some things about acoustic albums: 1. Why the songs are often in a gravier tune than the original version? 2. Why the singer ... (read more)

Report this review (#243992) | Posted by progpromoter | Saturday, October 10, 2009 | Review Permanlink

2 stars This was an unusual album as a Marillion fan. During the first couple of listens all I wanted to do was hear the original versions. Slowly and surely these new arrangements started to sink in and ended up thinking....'hmmmm I quite like that version of Hard As Love' and 'that version of Memory of Wa ... (read more)

Report this review (#243050) | Posted by La Villa | Monday, October 5, 2009 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Marillion have done a nice job re-interpreting some of their classic tunes, and there really are quote a few sublime moments on this recording. Kudos go to Ian Mosely for what must be considered admirable restraint in the percussion section ! We all know he likes to have a go and make himself ... (read more)

Report this review (#243027) | Posted by Progfan1958 | Monday, October 5, 2009 | Review Permanlink

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