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





4.23 | 1960 ratings

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3 stars Script for a Jester's Tear is an emotionally troubled ride through the world of Marillion's front-man Fish. It is in your face and theatrical to a degree which I don't think Peter Gabriel Ever Achieved. Fish lays a formidable and anguished performance. Speaking of Gabriel, I think Fish sounds more like him here than he will later. Sonically, Script could have come from no other decade but the 1980s, gated drums, fat pounding bass lines, processed guitars and uncomplicated heavy synthesizers set the tone. On top of that, there is scarcely a major key to be heard on Script. It is not an album for a sunny day.

This lays down an important qualifier for Script from a Jester's Tear: you have to be prepared for the sound of 1980s rock steeped with even more pretension than it might usually entail. However I do not think you should take that as an ill omen. As far as I have heard, Marillion is singular in its ability to take that generic 80s sound and do something truly interesting with it. It still sounds good after 27 years unlike so many other productions from the decade.

I will say though that this album does lack diversity. Marillion have chosen a sound and they stick to it. There is perfect counterpoint in the last album I reviewed, Acquiring the Taste by Gentle Giant. They are all over the map, but Marillion have the tendency to retread the same motifs. Therein lies my biggest criticism for the band and the album. There are 7 tracks, the average length of time clocking in at just about 8 minutes. 5 of 7 are over 8 minutes, nothing is longer than 9 or shorter than 5. Each of them have hard rock film noir back up to the same gut wrenching vocal performances. Rather than getting a new song it feels like your merely getting a variation. The general theme is broken hearts and self loathing and disestablishmentarianism, all Fish staples.

I've forgone my usual track by track take on Script for a Jester's Tear because I think I would be saying the same things a few too many times. The best song on the album is the title track. Script is Marillion distilled to a homogeneous state. By 5 minutes in you've heard all the variety you are going to get, and by minute 40 I find it begins to wear. Never mind the plethora of bonus material which comes packed with the 1997 CD re-master.

I generally do not mention bonus tracks in my reviews as I prefer to take on the album as it was when it was released and not as some studio exec thinks it ought to have been. This is especially the case on the re-master because it effectively includes the Market Square Heroes EP, which should be reviewed on its own merits.

If you are enamoured with the Marillion sound you probably already have this album and you think it is a lot better than I do. If you are new to Marillion, it is good, but not as good as the essential Misplaced Childhood. The same themes reappear there but they are taken up by a more mature and exploratory band to maximum effect. Script for a Jester's Tear is good enough for three stars out of a possible five.

R-A-N-M-A | 3/5 |


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