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Marillion - Fugazi CD (album) cover





3.97 | 1293 ratings

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4 stars Like a fair few other acclaimed rock albums from the 80s, Fugazi is a solid album but falls short of masterpiece class. It is very consistent and there are no weak moments from amongst the 7 tracks but there are not too many moments that suggest brilliance of an elusive level in rock music, generally speaking or with specific reference to the 80s. It is ultimately held back by a limited palate of influences and styles, a trait which again can be observed in well loved 80s rock albums as well as some of the more popular 90s prog.

Stylistically, Fugazi offers even more compelling evidence that Marillion never really had as much to do with Genesis as is often made out to be in the prog world. Trewavas's driving Geddy Lee-esque basslines underline Steve Rothery's fondness for Gilmour even as Fish channels singers like Hammill, Hodgson and Waters, with only his tone somewhat resembling Gabriel. Some of the overwrought sentiment in places in Script for a Jester's Tear has been weeded out and this album is even more bitter, angry, direct and unrelenting. That is, even more unlike Genesis. Marillion don't seem to have much time for subtleties and prefer to grab you by the collar. Therein their strength and weakness.

Marillion also appear to pay heed to the soundscapes of the 80s and there are moments where the music evokes the famous Thriller album. That also means the production is not the most desirable. Ian Mosley in particular is rather loud and it gets a bit tiresome as you are getting through the album. On the other hand, he propels the more hard rocking moments like on the title track well. To be fair, Marillion needed to stay in tune with the 80s and chose to dress up their trademark Celtic flavours in 80s clothes. I think they did it very well.

Musically, this album is very strong on melody and most of the 'tunes' are very memorable. But I have to say the arrangements tend to give away their influences. For example, the dark riffs accompanying the stanza that concludes with the line "This world is totally fugazi" strongly evoke Wall-era Floyd. As such, Marillion appear to be quite fond of Wall-era Floyd. At places like the above mentioned, this may be a bit too obvious whereas on, say, She Chameleon, they are able to interpret their influences in their own light and produce something that stands out more.

Still, Marillion's trump card is singer and lyricist Derek Dicks aka Fish. His lyrics possess depth and yet have a directness of feeling that makes them very compelling and really gets me to relate to the music. And he sings the lines with passion, as always. Well, yes, I am sure any professional singer gives his passionate best to his work but Fish is truly able to communicate his passion to me and that is special. His best suit, and the one he usually relies on, is to deliver an angry and bitter viewpoint of the world with conviction but he does it well time and again. His voice is not very attractive and I am not sure his range is exactly massive either but that never gets in his way.

That is in the end the story of the album and the band's Fish-era output. They tend to get overshadowed by the imposing personality of their singer and his words. But he is not really an unbelievable vocal virtuoso and, as mentioned before, tends to play carefully to his strengths. This results in a very focused and consistent album that somewhat lacks diversity. 4 stars for one of the more worthwhile prog rock albums of the 80s.

rogerthat | 4/5 |


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