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Thread: Featured Album: Marillion - Marbles

  1. #1
    That's Mr. to you, Sir!! Trane's Avatar
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    Featured Album: Marillion - Marbles

    https://www.seaoftranquility.org/ima...on_marbles.jpg

    Marillion - Marbles

    marillion_marbles.jpg

    Tracks Listing:
    CD 1 (53:38)
    1. The Invisible Man (13:37)
    2. Marbles I (1:42)
    3. Genie (4:54)
    4. Fantastic Place (6:12)
    5. The Only Unforgivable Thing (7:13)
    6. Marbles II (2:02)
    7. Ocean Cloud (17:58)

    CD 2 (45:08)
    8. Marbles III (1:51)
    9. The Damage (4:35)
    10. Don't Hurt Yourself (5:48)
    11. You're Gone (6:25)
    12. Angelina (7:42)
    13. Drilling Holes (5:11)
    14. Marbles IV (1:26)
    15. Neverland (12:10)

    Line-up:
    - Steve Hogarth / vocals, hammered dulcimer (1), addit. guitar (4)
    - Steve Rothery / guitar, bass (10)
    - Mark Kelly / keyboards
    - Pete Trewavas / bass, acoustic guitar (10,13)
    - Ian Mosley / drums


    Here is what our own Duncan Glenday had to say about it on SOT

    The prodigal son has returned, and with biblical magnanimity, all is forgiven.

    Marillion, the granddaddies of the British neo-progressive rock movement of the '80s and the early '90s, was widely credited with saving prog from the brink of extinction. Albums like Misplaced Childhood and Script for a Jester's Tear were masterpieces of their new style of prog, and in the decades to come, they will doubtlessly be recorded alongside the best of the big-5 of the 1970s. But after the departure of charismatic frontman Fish, Marillion's releases were good for one or two releases then fell into a slowly descending spiral until it plunged into the mediocrity of Anoraknophobia, and the band seemed doomed. Marillion had left home to seek its fortune, and in the collective opinion of much of the prog community, they failed.

    So there were low expectations for Marbles, released in 2004 to the accompaniment of much pre-release marketing hype.

    But behold the return of the prodigal! After floundering in the wilderness the band has finally found its new identity and with Marbles, they have delivered an excellent body of work. The music on Marbles is softer and more atmospheric than on their Fish-era works, almost spacey in parts, elegant and relaxing. The impeccable rhythm section is omnipresent but never in the way. Some songs are very approachable and a few are even (shock-horror) radio friendly! But despite those occasional pop overtones, each piece contributes significantly to the overall opus and you will find that this very cohesive record starts out sounding good, and improves with each listen.

    Marillion's guitar work and keyboards were always excellent and that tradition continues, in fact Steve Rothery may be at his best ever here, sounding Gilmour-esque in places. There are long instrumental passages which occasionally build into lush walls of sound, yet at all times, there's enough space for each instrument to shine. Dave Meegan's production work is simply excellent.

    We've read comments saying that the singing sound strained. Not so. Expressive, perhaps. Steve Hogarth's vocals have evolved into a relaxed but emotional delivery which is the diametric opposite of Fish's dark and angry timbre. The songs are still moody, some are deep, but Fish's desperate anxiety has left the band and they now come across as an altogether more confident act, comfortable with their impressive musicianship. A friend used the description "more ethereal and sublime than their earlier work". He's right, and he could have added more "sophisticated, mature, dreamy, stirring or plaintive",

    Some of the song structures are sophisticated, all are deeply textured, constantly shifting, yet consistent to their message. Three of the 15-or-so songs are over 10 minutes long. There are 4 songs called Marbles I", Marbles II" and so on, each of which is a short 2-minute piece. You could program your system to play them one after the other, they form a sort of suite, sharing common threads, building up and pulling back and building again until "IV" ends exactly as "I" started. Dispersed as they are across the album, they add an elegant touch of sophistication. And then there's "Ocean clouds", a 17-minute piece that may be one of the better prog epics released in years. But beware: If you don't get the double-CD, you won't get this track. And you do want this track, so be sure to order the right version of Marbles.

    Most of us were expecting Anoraknophobia Mark-II, and thank goodness, we didn't get it. Marbles isn't quite up to the standard of Misplaced Childhood, and it sounds nothing like Fish-era Marillion. It is close, in quality, to Brave or Afraid Of Sunlight. But judge this double-CD on its own merits, you will be pleasantly surprised.

    Welcome home to the prog world, Marillion. You've changed but you're back, now stay put and don't leave us again!




    my music collection increased tenfolds when I switched from drug-addicts to complete nutcases.

  2. #2
    Member lazland's Avatar
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    Good review of an exceptional album. This is one of the finest albums I own, and, in my opinion, proved an awful lot of doubters wrong.

    I would also recommend the live tour DVD, Marbles on the Road, a really good recording of the band in London.

  3. #3
    I've always liked that one. It has real intensity and creativity. I didn't dislike Anoraknophobia or .com at all, but I thought the band was going nowhere or lacked focus between 1997 and 2004. With Marbles, in spite of the diversity, they seemed to have found themselves again somehow and created a more cohesive and ambitious album. Well, it was also the time when H started to mumble.

    I would just have to create my own version which would combine the regular one and the long one. Not a big fan of The Damage or Angelina.

    Thinking of this album makes me realise how much I miss Dave Meegan's work with them. Sadly I don't like Mike Hunter's sonic approach.

  4. #4
    The eons are closing
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    Posters here already know my thoughts on Marbles, but I have to disagree with the reviewer regarding the period right before Marbles - its likely my fave H era with the band. Sure TSE is a bit of mess being the first post EMI disc, but the others are rather fine discs, each disc with its own identity.

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    Member Jerjo's Avatar
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    Their last truly great album, a very powerful and moving work.
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  6. #6
    Member since March 2004 mozo-pg's Avatar
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    Trane's favourite band.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mozo-pg View Post
    Trane's favourite band.
    You must have it confused with Marbles starring John McLaughlin (with Larry Young, Buddy Miles and Billy Rich)

    Marbles.jpg

  8. #8
    I'd started to hop off the Marillion train when this came out, this got me back on the train again. It's one of their stronger ones, IMHO.
    If you're actually reading this then chances are you already have my last album but if NOT and you're curious:
    https://battema.bandcamp.com/

    Also, Ephemeral Sun: it's a thing and we like making things that might be your thing: http://www.ephemeralsun.com

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    This may be Marillion's all time best. I think it is the best of the Hogarth era for sure, and for me began a creative resurgence for the band that has continued to this day.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by SteveSly View Post
    This may be Marillion's all time best. I think it is the best of the Hogarth era for sure, and for me began a creative resurgence for the band that has continued to this day.
    It's probably my #2, just behind Afraid of Sunlight. So yeah, a really great album.
    If you're actually reading this then chances are you already have my last album but if NOT and you're curious:
    https://battema.bandcamp.com/

    Also, Ephemeral Sun: it's a thing and we like making things that might be your thing: http://www.ephemeralsun.com

  11. #11
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    One of the best.
    The single disc version really didn't do it justice and was unfortunately more widely available upon release. I believe this has been rectified a few years ago with the new reissue which is only the double album version.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LeFrog View Post
    One of the best.
    The single disc version really didn't do it justice and was unfortunately more widely available upon release. I believe this has been rectified a few years ago with the new reissue which is only the double album version.
    Agree, the single disc left off the best song on the album IMO "Ocean Cloud". The double is the must own from this one.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Interstellar View Post
    I've always liked that one. It has real intensity and creativity. I didn't dislike Anoraknophobia or .com at all, but I thought the band was going nowhere or lacked focus between 1997 and 2004. With Marbles, in spite of the diversity, they seemed to have found themselves again somehow and created a more cohesive and ambitious album. Well, it was also the time when H started to mumble.

    I would just have to create my own version which would combine the regular one and the long one. Not a big fan of The Damage or Angelina.

    Thinking of this album makes me realise how much I miss Dave Meegan's work with them. Sadly I don't like Mike Hunter's sonic approach.
    I never listened to this album until last year. I was really shocked at how much I liked it, since none of the Hogarth era had appealed to me very much. Marbles is mellow and nocturnal, but not pointlessly dour and overwrought.

    I'm with you on The Damage and I'm not crazy about the following Don't Hurt Yourself either. But Angelina is one of my favorites on the album. Beautifully written and remarkably smooth and creamy production. I'd have to go with The Invisible Man and Neverland as the other favorites, but there are a half-dozen other keepers.

  14. #14
    One of my faves to this day, although I don't revisit it often. It came out just months after I "discovered" Marillion, and I pre-ordered it but too late to get my name in the book. (Though I finally did with Sounds That Can't Be Made, years later.)

    It's a bit of a slow-burner, but in the best possible way. I listened to it so many times over the spring/summer of 2004. I burned CD-R copies to keep in my car, so that I wouldn't damage the box or original discs.

    This one is right up there with Afraid of Sunlight, if perhaps not as great as AoS in my opinion.

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    I haven't played it in years- to be honest when I play Marillion now, it's mainly the EMI ones I turn to- but I do like most of it. 'The Invisible Man', 'Ocean Cloud', 'Fantastic Place' and 'Neverland' are the obvious highlights.

    That more dramatic, epic style is what they excel at, rather than the more ordinary 'commercial' tracks like 'You're Gone' and 'Don't Hurt Yourself'. I find these a bit generic. They used to have militant fans who would cast aspersions on people's musical taste for saying things like that- calling you 'prog snobs' and all that.

    'Angelina' and 'Drilling Holes' are quite neat. Oh, looking back on what was on here, I liked 'The Only Unforgivable Thing' as well.

    ISTR liking the follow-up Somewhere Else more than most fans (save a couple of duds like 'Most Toys'). It didn't have that 'trying too hard' feel that things like 'Deserve' had.
    Last edited by JJ88; 08-31-2020 at 05:33 PM.

  16. #16
    ^^ I liked Somewhere Else quite a bit as well. I even kinda liked "Most Toys", but I really never warmed to "See It Like A Baby".

    Tracks like "Somewhere Else" and "A Voice From the Past" still get me in the feels.

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by LeFrog View Post
    One of the best.
    The single disc version really didn't do it justice and was unfortunately more widely available upon release. I believe this has been rectified a few years ago with the new reissue which is only the double album version.
    Okay, I'm turning in my prog credentials. I swear until I started reading this thread I had no idea there was a two CD version. Good Grief!
    It's a Good Thing I Don't Have Super Brain Powers Or You'd All Be In A Thousand Little Pieces Right Now (Forever Einstein).

  18. #18
    Moderator Poisoned Youth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Meme Prog Mutation View Post
    Okay, I'm turning in my prog credentials. I swear until I started reading this thread I had no idea there was a two CD version. Good Grief!
    Many people didn’t know. I remember that at the time.
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  19. #19
    This single album stuff is for the birds make the album and put it out without the games. That bring said I think it is a great album and as most all albums, it grows on you with repeated listens.

  20. #20
    Member Camelogue's Avatar
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    I admit to getting off the Marillion train after Fish left. Never got through this one. Maybe I should check it out again.
    Last edited by Camelogue; 08-31-2020 at 09:23 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Poisoned Youth View Post
    Many people didn’t know. I remember that at the time.
    What happened is that the band conceived it as a double album but their distributor wouldn't have it. So they sold the double album on their website and made a single disc version available in shops. It's only with the reissue from a few years ago that the original double album was finally available everywhere and the single disc discontinued.

  22. #22
    That's Mr. to you, Sir!! Trane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mozo-pg View Post
    Trane's favourite band.
    Just during the Script, you little Jester

    Quote Originally Posted by SunRunner2 View Post
    You must have it confused with Marbles starring John McLaughlin (with Larry Young, Buddy Miles and Billy Rich)

    Marbles.jpg


    Quote Originally Posted by Poisoned Youth View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Meme Prog Mutation View Post
    Okay, I'm turning in my prog credentials. I swear until I started reading this thread I had no idea there was a two CD version. Good Grief!
    Many people didnít know. I remember that at the time.
    Actually it's when investigating this album that I discovrered that as well. Hence mmy reason to feature it - and why I listed the 2 disc affair track-list in the OP



    Quote Originally Posted by Camelogue View Post
    I admit to getting off the Marillion train after Fish left. Never got through this one. Maybe I should check it out again.
    TBH, by the time of Straws, I was already +/- out, though I still kept attention until Strange Engine, but lost the thread afterwards, especially aftyer hearing the very cruddy Anorak

    My top 3 H-era albums being (no pref order):

    Brave
    Strange Engine
    Marbles.

    Of course ltwo weeks ago, I would've been unable to list a third one (Marbles)
    my music collection increased tenfolds when I switched from drug-addicts to complete nutcases.

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    I remember finding a cheap copy of the one-disc version second hand, not that long after it was released. I did later order the 2cd version from them anyway.

  24. #24
    I normally keep ear’s length away from bands like Marillion but, spurred on by positive comments from people whose tastes are similar to my own, this actually turned out to be pretty damned good.

    Tone down the lyrical drama a bit and I can get behind this.

  25. #25
    cunning linguist 3LockBox's Avatar
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    I like it

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