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Marillion - Misplaced Childhood CD (album) cover





4.25 | 2093 ratings

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4 stars After the disappointing "Fugazzi" (even the band will admit this), Marillion is going to deliver a far much better album. A concept one. I think it is necessary to put things again into perspective here. Prog rock was a dying genre in these days.

Just think about the crap that the giants were producing around this period : Yes, Genesis, Tull, Crimson etc. It is quite remarkable that a band was able to dinamize the genre again and be very popular on stage at the same time.

This is another good reason to be thankful to Marillion and never forget their great value.

This album was my first contact with the band, many, many years after its release (2001 to be precise). The first spins I gave to it were pleasant, but I was not submerged by admiration, I should say. I rediscovered it three years later when I entered in my Marillion-mania mostly born out of "The script". I bought a great deal of the Marillion discography, and I must say that "Misplaced Childhood" grew significantly in my scale of musical value then.

I purchased their first eight albums in the double-CD format with lots of valuable bonus tracks for each of them. At that time, they were all very reasonably priced (around 13 ? or so). This album is no exception to the rule. The second CD will feature the whole of "Misplaced" as the band has recorded just before flying to Berlin at the famous Hansa studio (where Bowie recorded "Heroes"). It is very interesting to listen to earlier version of each track and find out how close to the final product they were although the track sequence was not yet finalized.

The genesis (no play on words here) of the album came out the destructed mind of Fish. As he will outlined in the superb booklet that goes together with this double CD version. At this time of his career he was seriously addicted to alcohol.

He will describe this period as such : "I'd been paying the price. My big on / off relationship had finally bit the dust, left behind in a haze of exhaust fumes as I careered off in search of my elusive grail. I was off balance and quickly lost in a depraved wilderness in which I soon made a home.

The touring lifestyle fed my addictions on every level and when the bus dropped me off at my newly acquired house in Albert Street, Aylebury I found myself very alone and dislocated from all the distractions that had fed my desire to escape commitments, responsibilities and realities. I was faced with long periods of quite empty days and very dark nights".

Then, Fish will enter his acid trip which he described as such : "An enveloppe arrived. Inside there was a short letter from an old girlfriend with the recommendations to digest the accompanying contents - a tab of very strong acid". He will only swallow half of it but due to euphoria, he will get the second one a few hours later. Then he will get on his bike and head for Steve's house...Steve had to drive him back and lock him. Fish will describe that night as a : "long white-knuckle roller-coaster of a night".

It was in this state of "mind" that Fish will : "scribble my lyrics in my lyric book on the off chance of catching something from the trip". And "Misplaced" was born.

Marillion took it on tour in the late 1984 (the first half of it). As Fish will humoristically mention (and he has a great sense of humour) on a boot recorded at the Hammersmith Odeon on December 14, 1984 : "We are now going to play a part of the album that will come up in May/June of next year. It is made of two tracks called : side one and side two ! At that time, their record company, although pleased with the development of "Misplaced" was rather nervous to release a concept album with no singles to be aired. In 1985, it was not really common. But the band knew that two singles would come out : "Kayleigh" and "Lavander".

So, this was the hectic genesis of "Misplaced". Apparently, the recording sessions were on par. Steve tells us : "We had a lot of fun in the three months we worked in Berlin but I think we all probably aged at least three years during our time there" !

Pete adds : "It was also the very first time that we had money to spend and the time to spend it" !

But, again, Fish describes these sessions with lots of details: "To give you a tantalising taste of the debauchery, I could mention the bedside phone book at the hotel with lists of escort agencies dealing in home delivery of beautiful women who took care of most of my weekly wages and left me resorting to banging on band members'doors at 4 AM looking for loans" !

A few others epic moments such as : "stripping off naked in a restaurant for a bet, having a bottle of Jack Daniel's with the band name on it in my favourite brothel, throwing bricks over the Wall trying to set land mines off, deliberately taking out EMI executives with huge quantities of alcohol and sleeping through playbacks so they'd give us good reports when back home, my first and last heroin experience etc. etc.".

Sex and drugs and rock'n'roll, are very good indeed...(Ian Dury, RIP). Although the other members are less explicit about their own behaviour, these three months must have been quite a fun...

Although this album is a very good one, I can hardly rank it at the level of a masterpiece. Actually, I have rated very few to this level (TIAB being one exception). This album is really Fish's one. He will play it in its entirety for the twenty years anniversary of its release. I attended one of his concert in April 2006 and I must say that it was a very emotional moment. To hear this excellent work as well as to see Fish on stage. He is a great entertainer and a born showman. It is amazing to hear such a voice coming out such a strong body.

There will be some very good moments but too few of a powerful caliber like one could hear in "The Script". Very poppish and melodious singles of course with "Kayleigh" and "Lavender". I quite like the intro as well as "Childhoods End". There is also a wink at another great concept album during the very end of "Bitter Suite". One can hear Fish singing "Reing On Me" which can be heard on "Love, Reign On Me" from Quadrophenia (The Who).

The double CD version is of great added value, and you should not hesitate to get it if still available at a reasonable price. Four stars.

ZowieZiggy | 4/5 |


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