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Dragon Phoenix View Drop Down
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Direct Link To This Post Topic: Grendel - what’s the deal?
    Posted: October 11 2004 at 13:27

Although I have five Marillion CD's, it was on visiting this forum that I first learned of the existence of the song Grendel. Apparently famous and well appreciated, but not on any of their regular CD's. So I bought a 6 Euro Marillion compilation CD just for this song, and it is indeed well worth while.

And now I'm really curious. What is the deal with this song? Where did it originate, and why is it not on one of their regular CD's? 

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 11 2004 at 14:28
It originates from the Norse 'Beowulf' legend: this was adapted by John Gardner into a book called 'Grendel' which examined the legend from the monster's point of view.

Marillion were performing this song in their very earliest days, but due to its 17+ minute length, it was considered too long to be included on their first album, by which time they had dropped it from their live set anyway, excepting one last performance in 1983, when they used it to open their set at the Reading festival (and I was there! ).

It was originally only released as the 'b' side of the 12" single version of 'Market Square Heroes' (ah, the heady days of vinyl 12" singles).

And yes, the middle section is a direct rip off of 'Apolcalypse in 9/8' from 'Supper's Ready' (Stephen Rothery admits this......now).

Hope the above helps DP, no doubt, if I've got any of the details wrong, I shall now be shot down in flames

***ducks***

Edited by Jim Garten

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 11 2004 at 14:37

I'd just add that you need to remember that when it was made, it would have taken up an entire side of an LP (No CD's!). I supect the band didn't want to do that at such an early stage of their career, perhaps because they didn't feel the song was strong (or originalWink) enough to occupy half an album.

Great track though.

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 11 2004 at 14:39
I think you hit it on the spot Jim Garten.,except the Genesis ripoff part is more towards the end...minor detail though
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 11 2004 at 14:45

I concur with everine here.Grendel is a wonderful progressive rock tour-de force.Yes it has elements of Suppers Ready,and perhaps the guitar solo is too long, but for me it is the most wonderfully theatrical piece of its type.I remember playing it on the 12" Single huddled up with my girlfriend before the fire and we both were mesmerised!

I think that this is one track that every progressive rock fan should own, a timeless classic.

BTW a live performance of it can be seen on "The Web" video but whilst I have a copy I do not know if it is still available or released on DVD.



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Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 11 2004 at 14:52
Thanks Jim, this has been very helpful indeed!
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 11 2004 at 16:02

When Marillion played live, back in the early 1980s, Grendel was the towering centerpiece of their live performance - the one everyone wanted them to play. It was released as the flip side to the 12" Vinyl single release of Market Square Heroes, with Three Boats Down from the Candy filling up the remaining space on the A side.

None of these 3 tracks made it onto "Script..." (with the arguable exception of "Market Square Heroes"), but all are included on the 24-bit remastered CD - which is awesome, BTW, much better than the vinyl release - and I'm a vinylholic (1980's vinyl was generally thin, flexible and horrible). 

All Marillion's videos are available on DVD, AFAIK.

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 11 2004 at 16:11

[QUOTE=Jim Garten], excepting one last performance in 1983, when they used it to open their set at the Reading festival (and I was there! ).

QUOTE]

ME TOO!

Perception is truth, ergo opinion is fact.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 11 2004 at 16:16
Originally posted by emdiar emdiar wrote:

[QUOTE=Jim Garten], excepting one last performance in 1983, when they used it to open their set at the Reading festival (and I was there! ).

QUOTE]

ME TOO!

Me Too!!!

(And the year before, when they closed the set with it...)

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 12 2004 at 07:39
Originally posted by Certif1ed Certif1ed wrote:

When Marillion played live, back in the early 1980s, Grendel was the towering centerpiece of their live performance - the one everyone wanted them to play. It was released as the flip side to the 12" Vinyl single release of Market Square Heroes, with Three Boats Down from the Candy filling up the remaining space on the A side.

Grendel was indeed, a great spectacle live, mostly for the end section, where fish nearly always pulled a member of the audience up on stage and 'devoured' the poor soul. I only saw them play it live once which was good. However, I do remember the first time they DIDN'T play it (Xmas '83 at the Hammy Odeon) and boy, the audience were not very pleased at all.

Fish though was a star though and gave a little speech about there simply not being enough time to play the entire back catalogue. They did do 'Margaret' which was a song loosely based on a Highland song and was another highlight of the Marillion set back then. Fish appeared in the upper circle (much to the amusement of everyone up there) running along the isles and singing as he went.

Comical sod

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- Clement Atlee, on Winston Churchill
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 12 2004 at 08:04
Originally posted by Certif1ed Certif1ed wrote:

Originally posted by emdiar emdiar wrote:


Originally posted by Jim Garten Jim Garten wrote:

, excepting one last performance in 1983, when they used it to open their set at the Reading festival (and I was there! ).


ME TOO!

Me Too!!!


(And the year before, when they closed the set with it...)



So you both remember Black Sabbath's embarrassing headline set with Ian Gillan on vocals, then....... - do you remember who headlined the Friday and Sunday, though?

Amazing - 21 years later, 3 guys, total strangers, remember a rainy day in a field west of London (we may have been standing next to each other) - ah, nostalgia, eh?

God, I'm old!



Edited by Jim Garten

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 12 2004 at 08:26

Yep - the Stranglers headlined on the Friday - and were A-MAZING!!

Thin Lizzy headlined Sunday and rounded off a superb weekend with a stormin' set.

Highlights - more prog than you could shake a stick at (for a rock festival); The Enid walking off with most bombastic performance.

Lowlights - Steel Pulse getting bottled off by a bunch of xenophobic morons. I was really looking forward to chillin' to some reggae with my Sunday joint...

Oh, and then there was THAT "Black Sabbath" set. Spinal Crap, more like

I still have the T-Shirt, with every band listed, and the slogan "The Last EVER Reading Rock".

...until the next one

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 12 2004 at 11:14

You guys have been to some classic shows. I wish I was as old as you lot

My first Reading was 1986. I saw Hawkwind. They were excellent, and 'Lords of the new church' Thought they were crap

Saw The stranglers there in '87. They were very good indeed. Better than Alice Cooper who was headlining, and who I went to see. I was quite young folks.

Never seen Marillion  Did see the Enid at Reading, though. Think that was 1987 too. They went over my head a bit, I was still in prog training and predominantly in metal mode.

Ultimately bored by endless ecstasy!
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 12 2004 at 18:30

Dragon:

As Cert notes, there is a fabulous remastered set of Marillion's first eight albums: Script for a Jester's Tear, Fugazi, Misplaced Childhood, Clutching at Straws, Seasons End, Holidays in Eden, Brave, and Afraid of Sunlight.  Each has two CDs, the first of which is the "album" itself, with the second containing additional songs, plus alternative versions, demos, etc.  "Grendel" appears on Disc 2 of the first set.

The set is also neat because when you line up the sides of the jewel cases, it spells out "Marillion" (i.e., Script has an "M," Fugazi has an "A," Misplaced has an "R," Clutching has an "I," Seasons has a double "L," Holidays has an "I," Brave has an "O," Afraid has an "N").  Each one also has a thick booklet that contains all the lyrics, plus comments by the band members.

If you can find this set, you would do well to buy it.

Peace.

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 13 2004 at 03:37
Originally posted by Certif1ed Certif1ed wrote:

Lowlights - Steel Pulse getting bottled off by a bunch of xenophobic morons


You were standing next to me!!! I took p*ssed off refuge in my beer & tried not to listen to 'Big Country'

Other highlights for me (apart from the all the prog, of course - Enid, Solstice, Pallas et al), were my first experience of Stevie Ray Vaughan, which had me melting in a pool, and the big surprise for me on the Sunday, Steve Harley - 100% pure class!

Jon Lord 1941 - 2012
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 13 2004 at 08:56

When SRV hit the stage, I thought they had cranked up the PA to play a hitherto unheard of mix of "Voodoo Chile" by Jimi Hendrix. About a third of the way through, I realised that someone was actually playing this on the stage, as people around me stood up in awe to pay respect to the genius of Stevie Ray.

I agree with you on Big Country - why???

They could have had Twelfth Night or IQ instead, and had a neo-prog full house

Hmm. Maybe we need a "Festivals Reunited" thread...

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 13 2004 at 11:47
I saw Marillion Very early on at a small venue in Manchester (England) circa 1982/83 and was sat right in front of the small stage - When they played Grendel Fish literally smacked me round the head and he also theatrically brutalised several other front row occupants.....All part of the act for Grendel...
Play me my song, here it comes again
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 13 2004 at 14:45

As you say Maani, the remasters are excellent. I think the double disc versions are now being deleted, and reverting to the single discs without bonus tracks. I picked up a new copy of the single disc remaster of "Script.." for 3 this week (Fopp has it for anyone in the UK who's interested!).

What I particulaly liked about the double discs was that the bonus tracks were on a separate disc, the original albums being just that.

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 13 2004 at 15:58

Originally posted by Jim Garten Jim Garten wrote:

It originates from the Norse 'Beowulf' legend: this was adapted by John Gardner into a book called 'Grendel' which examined the legend from the monster's point of view.

That's right!! Fish's main idea was to vindicate the ugly and the marginal, who is always oppressed and ignored by the system because it favours the normal and the beautiful. Fish takes Grandel's side, so to make the beast ultimately victorious the song ends when grendel has just defeated and devoured Hrogarth, Grendel's best friend.

I don't think the final lead guitar is too long: it's long enough to leave a splendid impression for the listener and leave them wanting more, specially because of its captivating melodic lines and Rothery's crystal clear performance. One thing for sure, 'Grendel' was recorded in a time when Marillion was yet to find their own maturity as performers and writers (well, Mosley wouldn't take too long before he joined in, and Fish had some more brilliant lyrics to write in marillion's first "proper" albums) - yet, it's a great epic, as well as Twelfth Night's 'Sequences', Pallas' 'Rise and Fall' and IQ's 'The Last Human Gateway'.

Regards.

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 20 2004 at 04:25

I updated my review to include the bonus tracks (at last!), and 3 things hit me:

1) I didn't realise how close to the mark I was with my comment "The towering centerpiece...". Grendel was originally an 8-minute instrumental called "The Tower", which had its roots more in early Twelfth Night (Live at the Target - pre Geoff Mann era) than Genesis.

2) There's a lot of Camel's influence in Grendel - but with Marillion's uncanny ability to layer melodies and the aggression in the darker passages, this is easy to miss. Rothery's guitar style especially darts between a Steve Hackett flavour and a smoother Latimer-like style, but also shows much originality. I don't find any of the guitar solos to be quite long enough, as there is no bluff, just wonderful melody and soaring air-guitar worthy moments.

3) I too thought that Grendel was the end result of excessive enthusiasm by an immature band finding its feet - but Marillion had been gigging for practically 5 years solid by this time, and "The Tower" was a staple part of their set. I discovered on close re-listening, and setting the whole piece under my aural microscope that there is a lot more to this piece than initially meets the ear. It's taken me 22 years to realise this, as I bought the "Market Square Heroes" EP practically on the day of its release, and have often struggled with the recording of Grendel.

Today, I saw the light! The (remastered) recording is BRILLIANT and dead easy to overlook - and I'm saying that as a Marillion fan from 1982 who practically followed them around and loved it when they played Grendel live - I just never "got" the recorded version. Now I've got it, by George, and life is good!

The "deal" with Grendel is that it is a masterful piece of timeless prog which rewards the patient listener on revisits. Revisit it today!

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