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Marillion - Script For A Jester's Tear CD (album) cover





4.23 | 1989 ratings

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5 stars My first set of reviews on the site were for (nearly) all of the Hogarth era Marillion albums. I neglected the place where it all started, and that needs to be rectified.

Because, whilst for many the 1980's was a dark and miserable place to be for 70's prog fans, for me it was a period of renewal in the genre, and this album was one of the main reasons for it.

I had read a review of Market Square Heroes in Sounds music paper, went out and brought it, lapped it up as any fan of classic Genesis would, saw them live in The Marquee in London before the LP was even released, where they did, of course, showcase most of this material. It blew my mind away and started a love affair with the band which has lasted ever since. Of course, the lasting impression was of that giant, mad, Scottish man with face paint whose voice carried with it just a little bit more of a passing resemblance to Gabriel.

The album starts off ever so strongly with the title track, a maudlin paean to love's lost dream. For a single bloke still in his teens, the bitterness and recrimination rang very true, and the exceptional guitar work by Rothery and Kelly's lilting guitars, combined with a strong bass section by Trewavas, all in the style of the prog I loved, was just too good to resist.

He Knows You Know was the single from the album, and continued off where the Market Square EP left off, commencing a tradition of strong singles that has lasted to the present day. It is catchy, sad, and angry, being a sorry tale of a young man descending into the chaos of hard drug use that has its inevitable end. The sad Jester alone in his bedsit indeed. The bass playing still amazes me now on this track, and the keyboards and guitar sing out an incredibly beautiful sad tale. The end section is angry and urgent.

The Web, which, of course, became the name of the fan club, is probably the one track that has, to these ears, not dated as well perhaps as the rest of the album. It is a long track at over eight minutes, but there is still much to enjoy. The differing moods keep the interest throughout, but it is still mainly one of sadness. I still listen to the musicians wondering how lucky I could be that a band had appeared that recreated, with a biting edge, my favourite type of music. Rothery, especially, sounds every bit as good as Hackett in his pomp with Genesis, and this is incredible given how young he was. Then, when Decisions Have Been Made, Mark Kelly comes in with quite the most exquisite keyboard passage which most certainly would have graced any Trespass, Nursery Cryme, et al. That is how good and relevant this band were.

Garden Party was another single, and is a scream. Hugely amusing with Fish basically ripping the mickey out of the landed gentry with their ridiculous ways, it was a decent seller. It also gave the name to one of the finest gigs I have ever been to at Milton Keynes to celebrate the success of Misplaced Childhood.

Chelsea Monday should be on the playlist of every single prog rock fan. It tells the most tragic story of a young aspiring actress/model who was found dead and splattered all over the gutter press. The lead guitar by Rothery soars and makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up in sheer emotion. It should be impossible for a band as young as this to be so good. A special mention is owing to Mick Pointer for his sterling drum work in the rhythm section some 4.5 minutes in. The closing section has Rothery soaring above Fish almost crying out the tragic end to a wasted life. An exceptional piece of work.

The album closes with Forgotten Sons, a song written in the aftermath of Britain's war in The Falkland Islands and bomb outrages by the IRA. It remains one of the finest anti war songs ever written in any genre. It is bitter, angry, spits out at you from start to finish, and is the best example of what Fish described at the time as new prog - bands who loved the old music, but had also lived through and learned from punk. The military timings of the denouement are not just clever, but also compelling.

I give this five stars. It is an essential piece for any discerning prog rock collection, not just because of the quality of the music, although that deserves the rating itself, but also to appreciate how important it and the band are to the second wave of prog which started in the UK in the early 1980's. It tells stories with vital and real images.

Although a vastly different band now, this started off a career that has delighted and intrigued me for most of my adult life. Eternally grateful.....

lazland | 5/5 |


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