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Marillion

Brave

Review by Greg Olma

Marillion took a turn in 1994 by releasing this concept album during a time when the music scene was really into grunge.  Not only was it a brave (pun intended) move, but it also went the complete opposite direction of their previous effort Holidays In Eden.  That record was more pop-oriented and less about prog and concepts.  It is loosely based on a true story of a teen girl found on a bridge who either couldn’t speak or refused to talk, and the police reached out to the public to find the girl’s family.  The band also started on what would ultimately be their “new” sound by creating soundscapes interspersed with songs.  This disc, while challenging as it may be, is also a gem in the Marillion catalogue.  There are a few tracks that you can go back and listen to on their own, but the real way to experience this record is to listen to it from start to finish.  It works much better as a singular piece as opposed to individual songs.  If you are into the Steve Hogarth era of the band, this is a must have in the collection.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2022  Volume 5. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2022.

Track by Track Review
Bridge
The record starts with some sound effects and then morphs into a very cinematic type of score.  It lays the foundation for this conceptual story.
Living With The Big Lie
Marillion music took on a very different approach once Hogarth came i,n and this piece is a perfect example of that change.  It is very much mood music and has a soundscape sort of feel.  It does have a loose song structure but somehow it all works.  There is a small part in the middle that harkens back to “Bridge” in that it is very soft and cinematic but quickly hits your ears with a very rocking ending.
Runaway
This track also starts slow but does build into one of my favorites on the disc.  Hogarth puts in a great vocal performance.  Steve Rothery also shines as he adds a very emotional solo.  As with most of the material here, the songs start off slow and almost brooding, but each one builds into something special.
Goodbye To All That
The idea of doing a prog concept record in 1994 must have seemed like a fool’s errand, but they did it unapologetically and made it work.  This track is broken into five suites with each one having its own identity but yet still managing to work well together as one piece.  The first suite titled “Wave” has that dreamy, slow sound with a very distant vocal from Hogarth.  It builds into a manic rocker that gives way to the second suite call “Mad."  As that suite closes, the next two, “The Opium Den” and “The Slide,” are both very atmospheric and go back into that soundscape mode.  The last Suite “Standing In The Swing” starts off slow again but builds into a bit of a rocker ending this twelve-minute journey on a high note.
Hard As Love
I find this cut to be one of the more straight forward numbers on the disc.  There is a section in the middle that get mellow, but overall this is a rocking track that focuses more on the song and less on the atmospherics.
The Hollow Man
This piece starts of with just keyboards and vocals, but midway through the rest of the band joins in.  It is a weird choice for a single but this one was the second single to be released from the album.
Alone Again In The Lap Of Luxury
Now this has "hit single" written all over it.  It starts off with a nice guitar riff from Rothery and then settles into one of the less moody pieces on the disc.  They even manage to make the title of this song into a catchy chorus but unfortunately, this type of music wasn’t in favor back in 1994.
Now Wash Your Hands
I don’t know why they have this track listed separately as it is actually added to the previous song.  Either way, it is a short mellow piece that helps more the story along.
Paper Lies
This is another one of the more rocking tunes on the disc and it would have made a good single, as well.  Musically, some of the track hints back to the Fish era.  There is just a vibe about this piece that makes me feel that this had parts that were written but never used when Fish was in the band.
Brave
Things go back to the soundscape mode for this slow, moody tune.  It doesn’t really start moving until halfway through and even then it is very mellow and focused more on the story than the song.
The Great Escape
I can see how some people felt that this was not a good record because when you take each song as a separate piece, many of them don’t really make sense but when you listen to it as a whole, it all melds into one long song and you hear the story unfold.  This one starts off with keyboards and vocals but slowly adds the other instruments until it climaxes leading into the next piece.
The Last Of You
Again, this number is listed separately but is in fact part of the previous track which is in the middle, sandwiched along with “Falling From The Moon." This section has more of a frantic performance with Hogarth yelling out the lyrics.
Fallin’ From The Moon
As previously mentioned, this is the last section of the song started by “The Great Escape." It moves along nicely with some great guitar work from Rothery.
Made Again
The record ends with another piece that starts off mellow and then builds into an uplifting track.  After listening to many tunes that had the sound of a dreary, overcast English day, it is nice that they ended the concept with something that sounded uplifting and sunny.
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