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Marillion - Misplaced Childhood CD (album) cover





4.25 | 2093 ratings

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4 stars This concept album is a seamless suite (every song segues into the next) of superb songs that ostensibly depict the troubled childhood of Marillion's larger-than-life lead singer Fish. Those looking for endless bits of outstanding instrumental prog are going to be disappointed, for Misplaced Childhood is very much a singer/songwriter's prog album rooted in the 80s. It also contains enough tragedy-laced beauty to attract anyone with an open mind.

The wonderful synthy opener Pseudo Silk Kimino sets the tone for this album, with guitarist Steve Rothery and keyboardist Mark Kelly laying the groundwork for Fish's powerful vocals and arguably even more powerful lyrics. It soon breaks into Marillion's definitive pop song, the glorious Kayleigh, which conjures up all sorts of images of love among the ruins of the bitter Thatcherite UK experience. The almost-as-memorable Lavender (a penny for your thoughts, my dear!), which actually had to be extended for a single release, then follows.

The five part Bitter Suite is a soundscape over which Fish initially recites a poem, before a Steve Rothery solo leads into an moving description of Fish's encounter with a French prostitute (which musically echoes Lavender). Parts IV and V (Misplaced Rendeszouz and Windswept Thumb respectively) are both achingly beautiful and brief. Heart Of Lothian is one of those pieces that makes comparisons with middle-era Genesis (or rather Peter Gabriel vocals with Mike Rutherford on guitar and Tony Banks on synth ... a combination that didn't really happen, I believe!) inevitable, yet there is a delightful flavour to this majestic song that is Marillion's alone.

Waterhold (Expresso Bongo) is an ultra-busy piece in which underated drummer Ian Mosley gets to shine. It segues into the relatively forgettable Lords Of The Backstage (which has one of those stuttering offbeat rhythms prog bands are obliged to churn out from time to time), but there is nothing ordinary about the epic Blind Curve. Incorporating some delicate Steve Rothery acoustic guitar moments and atmospheric Mosley drumming, this album centerpiece is one of the more emotionally gripping tunes a progger is likely to encounter, although it's worth repeating that Marillion's strongest card is Fish, and not one of the instrumental players.

The mood gets so intense that it almost needs a lighter pop-rock song like Childhood's End? to lift the dense fog of desperation that is likely to descend on anyone who listens to this album properly. Childhood's End? is one of those songs that may not sound that great on its own, but has its own visceral power and purpose within the context of this album. The closer White Feather is just that ... two minutes of instrumental neo-prog to wind down a lovely work of art.

This pop-prog masterpiece is surely one of the finest releases of the 80s (in fact it is Marillion's own Script For A Jester's Tear that tops it!). It should be said though that while I think Marillion was a dominant player among its contemporaries, I don't rate these guys among my top 50 prog bands. Also there's the fact that I was 12 when this album came out and that may have prompted a sentimental attachment that elevates Marillion's worth to beyond what a new listener may perceive when he or she first hears this band/album. Whatever the mitigating factors might be, I love this album. ... 71% on the MPV scale

Trotsky | 4/5 |


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