Marillion

From Academic Kids

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Current lineup

Marillion is a British progressive rock group formed in 1979. They are one of the most popular exponents of the sub-genre known as neo-progressive.

The band was formed as Silmarillion after J.R.R. Tolkien's book The Silmarillion in 1979; due to heavy rotation in the first years, Steve Rothery is the only remaining original member. The band name was shortened to Marillion in 1980, following the threat of legal action from the Tolkien estate. The group released its first single, "Market Square Heroes", in 1982, with an epic song "Grendel" on the B-side of the 12" version. Following the single, the band released their first full length album in 1983.

Lineup

Studio album personnel since 1982:

There were also three drummers (Jonathan Mover, Andy Ward and John Martyr) who joined and left the band in quick succession between the departure of Pointer in 1983 and the arrival of Mosley in January 1984. However, easily the most significant personnel change event in Marillion's history is the departure of lead singer Fish in 1988 and the arrival of his replacement, Steve Hogarth in 1989.

History

The early works of Marillion contained Fish's poetic and introspective lyrics, melded with a complex and subtle musical tapestry to create a sound that was reminiscent of the early works of Genesis, while acknowledging other influences to progress beyond that sound. This was evident from the first album, which ranks as one of the most accomplished debut albums of any progressive rock bands. Fugazi, the second album, was not of the same quality (mostly because of apparently ridiculous production circumstances), but contained sophisticated song material.

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Misplaced Childhood

Their third and commercially most successful album, Misplaced Childhood, was quite possibly their most cohesive work. The brave decision to create a concept album (considered hideously unfashionable at the time) paid off, with great success both for the album (which was number one in the UK) and for the singles spawned from the album. One of these, "Kayleigh", charted at #2 in the United Kingdom.

The fourth album, Clutching at Straws, also followed a concept, but did not quite achieve the same popularity. However, the lyrics remained as clever as ever, with the song "Warm Wet Circles" arguably representing the most carefully crafted piece of poetry in the entire genre.

The departure of Fish to pursue a solo career, reminiscent of Peter Gabriel's departure from Genesis a decade and a half earlier, left a hole that would be difficult to fill. Both Marillion and Fish continued to release albums, but neither of them managed to even come close to the commercial and (arguably) artistic success of the first four albums. Both sides also had substantial problems with their record companies. After tedious legal battles, informal contact between Fish and the other four band members apparently did not resume before 1999. Both sides have made clear though that a reunion will never happen.

After the split, the band turned to Hogarth, the former keyboardist and sometimes vocalist of The Europeans, to fill the hole that Fish left. Hogarth stepped into a difficult situation, as the band had already recorded demos of the next studio album, which would become Seasons End, with Fish on vocals, and using Fish's lyrics. After Fish left the group, taking his lyrics with him, Hogarth set to work, crafting new lyrics to existing songs with lyricist and author John Helmer. The demo sessions of the songs from Seasons End with Fish vocals and lyrics can be found on the bonus disc of the remastered version of Clutching at Straws, while the lyrics found their way into various Fish solo albums such as his first solo album, Vigil In a Wilderness of Mirrors, some snippets on his second, Internal Exile and even a line or two found its way to his third album, Suits.

Hogarth's second album with the band, Holidays In Eden, was the first he wrote in partnership with the band, and includes the song "Dry Land" which Hogarth had written and recorded in a previous project with the band How We Live. Holidays in Eden is considered to be Marillion's most commercial and mainstream album, containing mostly radio-friendly songs. However, it was followed by Brave, a dark and richly complex concept album that took the band 18 months to release. The album also marked the start of the band's long time relationship with producer Dave Meegan. An independent film based on the album, which featured the band, was also released. While critically acclaimed, it did poorly commercially, but it is now considered to be one of the best progressive rock albums to come out of the 90s.

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Afraid Of Sunlight

The next album, Afraid Of Sunlight, was released in a hurry, and it became the band's last album with record label EMI. The album itself, however, is also considered to be one of Marillion's classic albums. One track of note on the album is Out Of This World, a song about Donald Campbell, who died while trying to set a speed record on water. The song, in turn, inspired an effort to recover both Campbell and the Bluebird K7, the boat which Campbell crashed in, from the water. The recovery was realized in 2001, and both Steve Hogarth and Steve Rothery were invited to the occasion.

What follows is a string of albums and events that saw Marillion struggling to find their place in the music business. This Strange Engine was released in 1997 with little promotion from their new label, and the band could not afford to make tour stops in the US. However, their dedicated US fanbase decided to solve the problem by raising the money themselves to give to the band to come to the US. The fundraiser worked well, and the band was able to tour the US. The band's loyal fanbase, combined with the internet, would eventually become vital to the band's existence.

The band's tenth album Radiation saw the band taking a drastically different approach in an effort to sound more modern and reflect the influence of more modern bands like Radiohead. The album was received by fans with mixed reactions. marillion.com was released the following year and showed some progression in the new direction. The band, still unhappy with their record label situation, decided that it would be worth tapping into their loyal fanbase and seeing if they would help fund the recording of the next album by pre-ordering it before recording even started. The response from the fans was overwhelming, and they were able to raise more than enough money to record and release Anoraknophobia in 2001. The band was able to strike a deal with EMI to also help distribute the album. This allowed Marillion to retain all the rights to their music while enjoying commercial distribution.

The success of Anoraknophobia allowed the band to start recording their next album, but they decided to leverage their fanbase once again to help raise money towards marketing and promotion of a new album. The band put up the album for pre-order in mid-production, and the fans once again responded overwhelmingly. Marbles was released in 2004 with a 2-CD version that is only available at Marillion's website - as a thank-you gesture to the 17000 fans who pre-ordered Marbles, their names were credited in the sleeve notes. The band released the singles You're Gone and Don't Hurt Yourself, both of which reached the UK Chart in the Top 10 and Top 20 respectively, thanks again to the fans. Following this, they released a download-only single, The Damage (live), recorded at the band's sell-out gig at the London Astoria. It was the highest new entry in the new download chart at number 2. All this has succeeded in putting the band back in the public consciousness, making the campaign a success.


Discography

Studio albums

All of the albums up to Afraid of Sunlight were subsequently reissued in double-CD sets containing extensive bonus material.

Miscellaneous

Live albums

Real to Reel and Brief Encounter reissued as a double CD set (1997)

External links

fr:Marillion nl:Marillion no:Marillion pl:Marillion pt:Marillion

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