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Marillion - Market Square Heroes CD (album) cover





3.90 | 117 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Review Nš 11

This is my first review on Progarchives of a Marillion's work. I chose this EP, to begin my reviews about this group, because it has a very important meaning for me. I bought this EP in 1982 soon it was released in my country, Portugal. A great school friend of mine, who is no longer among us because unfortunately passed away some years ago, showed me this musical work made by a new and obscure band, at the time, a new British group called Marillion.

We were both great Genesis' fans, and we became completely astonished when we listen for the first time this EP. We were sincerely convinced that certainly would have to be someone from Genesis behind this new musical work. The similarity between the music performed by Marillion and the Genesis' sound was so big, that for us there might be something hidden that could explain that. However, the time would come to prove us, that this wasn't really true.

Marillion was formed in England in 1979 and was one of the first neo-progressive bands to emerge in the 80's. They became associated to the neo-prog style, with other compatriot groups, formed at the same time, such as Pendragon, IQ, Pallas, Galahad, Twelfth Night and Abel Ganz, among others. However, they are known as the most successful band to emerge from U.K., in the 80's, in the progressive rock scene. With this EP, they created the neo-prog sub genre, although some consider that 'A Trick Of The Tail' of Genesis, was the first neo- progressive album in the history. Anyway, Marillion was the group that developed and solidified this new progressive sub genre.

The emergence of Marillion and their peers was very important to the progressive music. The punk rock movement, developed between 1974 and 1976, reached its peak in 1976 with groups like Ramones, in New York, and Sex Pistols and The Clash, in London. This musical movement was against the progressive rock, considering that it was elitist and unpopular. Some progressive bands began to simplify his music making a more commercial approach to the pop style, while others pure and simply disappeared. For many prog fans, it was a big betrayal. It was in this new and complex context that Marillion and the other mentioned groups, arrived, formed and developed the neo-progressive sub-genre.

The line up on the EP is Fish (vocals), Steve Rothery (guitars), Mark Kelly (keyboards), Pete Trewavas (bass) and Mick Pointer (drums).

The cover art of this mini-album was designed by Mark Wilkinson who created all the Marillion artwork until 1988. He also created almost of the Fish solo artwork, after he left Marillion to pursue his solo musical career.

'Market Square Heroes' has three tracks. The first track is the title track 'Market Square Heroes'. It's a very pleasant and simple rock song with a great melody. Despite being a little bit commercial and be not a very progressive song, it's a compelling track that immediately shows their superior songwritting skills. This is an excellent song and a great start for a long and important musical career from a great group. The second track 'Three Boats Down From The Candy' is the B side of the single and clearly shows the band's progressive lines. Lyrically, it deals with a broken misinterpreted and desperate love. Musically, it's a more intricate song than the previous one, where the band members display their technical skills, in contrast with the more accessible previous song. It's the most melodic song on the EP and remains as a very good track. The third track 'Grendel' is the lengthiest track on the album. It's an epic and complex song inspired by the John Gardner's book 'Grendel'. This is an adaptation of the Anglo-Saxon poem 'Beowulf' by Marillion. This track is, in my humble opinion, one of the best from the band, and it's also one of their most progressive too. This composition is frequently compared (mostly unfavourably), with 'Supper's Ready' of Genesis. Curiously, this EP was produced by David Hitchcock, who also had produced the Genesis studio album 'Foxtrot', with 'Supper's Ready' on it. So, this happy or unhappy coincidence, forced a big comparison between both pieces of music.

Conclusion: For all what I wrote before, 'Market Square Heroes' is an excellent debut work from a band that appeared in such difficult circumstances for the progressive rock music. Not many bands in the history of progressive rock music can claim to have started their musical career with a work with this degree of quality. By the other hand, Marillion never was an ordinary group. 'Market Square Heroes' peaked number 53 in the English singles chart, which might be not too much for a more directed oriented commercial band, but for Marillion, I'm absolutely sure, that this was more than they had hoped for. And so, 'Market Square Heroes' soon became an important landmark to the progressive rock music. It managed to be a kind of a breath of fresh air in the progressive music scene. And we all know very well, how it was so desperately needed in those troubled and difficult times for the progressive rock genre.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 4/5 |


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