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Marillion - Misplaced Childhood CD (album) cover

MISPLACED CHILDHOOD

Marillion

 

Neo-Prog

4.25 | 2093 ratings

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jamesbaldwin
Prog Reviewer
5 stars Marillion with this Lp record a prog classic with minimal arrangement effort and maximum commercial feedback. "Misplaced Childhood" is a concept album that develops as a single suite, and Marillion would have liked to be just a suite like "Thick As A Brick", but the record company has imposed them to indicate each song.

The first side opens with "Pseudo Silk Kimono" (2:13, vote 7+): slow, meditative, based on the keyboards. A good preamble to the second song, the most commercial of the album, "Kayleigh" (4:03, vote 7,5/8): strophe, refrain, guitar solo, strophe, refrain. Here are the Marillion: commercial melodic rock, great cleverness, purring sound, with a soft production. The drums have a good, full sound (Ian Mosley); guitar is very fluid, thin, not at all heavy; good bass (Pete Trewavas) and good keyboards; voice like Gabriel's, but more nervous, snappy. No more instruments than the four of the typical rock complex. Production of the album completely homogeneous, arrangements without any real alternative to the guitar solo (Steve Rothery). Yet it works. It works very well!

There is nothing really brilliant, innovative, particularly original, such that I can say: this is a new form of art, they have the gift of pure talent. Marillion are very epigonic of Genesis, Yes, Pink Floyd... But they can processed them obtaining an excellent synthesis. Marillion can get the best with the least amount of effort. Because if it's true that they don't have that quid of the gifted, it is equally true that they don't have the typical defects of progressive. In fact, the sound, considering that we are in the mid-eighties, is good, clean but good: it's not muffled, it doesn't have the usual defects of the eighties. The group has no virtuosos, and they doesn't linger in solos: it's the synergy of the instrumentalists that produces the result. This is true team play. The compositions are synthetic, they go straight to the point, with excellent progressions, without wandering, without getting lost in the cerebral masturbations in which many bands are forwarded when they prolong dramatically a song with endless variations on the theme. Marillion put a lot of meat into the fire, don't digress, and with a purring sound, express emotions through music, voice and lyrics. For example, the transition lines on the piano (Mark Kelly) between "Kayleigh" and "Lavender" (2:27, vote 8,5) by itself is much more inspired than entire records of some symphonic rock groups (I don't name them!). Lavender's progression with its epic melody reaches climax, and represents the highest point on the album. Too bad that Lavender ends after only two and a half minutes: they had to prolong it another minute, as they did with the single disk!

They sacrificed the song for the suite, in fact Lavender fades into the recited suite ("Bitter Suite", 5:53; Vote 7,5/8), which creates a variation at the usual rhythm punctuated by drums, vocals, guitar solos. But here, after the recitative, the rhythm returns and the guitar plays again the Lavender melody. Finally, the rhythm changes, there are some excellent instrumental passages, the voice of Fish is not beautiful but it's very expressive, the singer knows how to do it, puts his heart (and we feel it!), it's not the cool virtuosic song of some prog groups, here we are close to classic rock given the synthetic capacity of the composition, the classic arrangement and the pathos transmitted. And so we approach "Heart of Lothian" (6:02, vote 8+), with a very evocative progression, which then flows back into the epic mood, touching another climax, yes, "I was born with a Heart of Lothian", sings Fish, with an anthem rhythm that would be an exceptional stadium song. And in fading the first side closes. Great. Short, inspired, pimp, catchy, yet without tricks, without overdoing, direct. They know how to do it, they will not be geniuses, but they can compose music of excellent quality, and play it and interpret it with the heart, obtaining great pathos. Vote side A: 9.

The second side is slightly smaller, more homogeneous, more rhythmic and less melodic, based on a long central piece. The first two short pieces (Waterhole -Expresso Bongo- 2:12; Lords Of The Backstage -1:52; vote 7,5) are the same song with a change of rhythm, the drums are always present, sometimes they may be slightly lumpy, but the voice of Fish and the guitar by Rothery act as a counterpoint, and so we get to "Blind Curve" (9:29; vote 8+) that towards half stops the beating on the snare to make room for a guitar phrasing that echoes to create an evocative atmosphere where finally the voice of Fish in one of his dramatic "crescendo" finally arrives at the climax (the only one on the second side), asking, desperate to have his childhood back, childhood that he can not find anymore. Then the rhythm starts again, and Blind Cruve end playing again the epic Lothian melody by guitar; then Rothery intones another rhythm, always very strong, as in all the second side, to propose another classic rock song, "Childhood's End?" (4:32) which has a good crescendo, even if it doesn't reach the climax.

The last piece ("White Feather"; 2:23, vote 7), as indeed the last fading movement of Heart of Lothian, is not particularly significant, it is functional to the text. Vote side B: 8,5.

So this short album closes, which runs away perhaps too quickly but without a weak moment. The fact is that you listen with pleasure, without effort, and never get bored, despite you find always the same arrangements. I bought this record when it came out, in 1985, I was a teenager, and sounded hypnotized by Lavender, Heart of Lothian and Kayleigh: I liked the record right away, that melodic rock punctuated by a pulsating drums, a gritty voice and solos guitar was immediately addictive to me, I really felt the epic of the moment. The second side has no successful singles like the first, it is less varied, but holds well. It is a miracle how they can achieve such high results without doing anything truly original, but the beauty of this music consists precisely in its usability, in the synergy that is created between the melody and the sound of the group. So, what rating to give? It would be more a four and a half stars that a five- stars, because the vote would be more an 8.5 / 9 than a 9 (in my particular ranking the 5 stars start from the vote 9). But I see the representation of Marillion for neo-prog and I see the pleasure I have listening to this album, so

I give vote album 9. Rating: Five Stars.

jamesbaldwin | 5/5 |

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