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Script for a Jester's Tear

Review by Gary Hill

Marillion in these days were often dubbed a Genesis clone. Certainly there is basis for that assessment. They sounded a lot like Peter Gabriel era Genesis. I’m going to probably tick off some Genesis fans (and remember, I’m a Genesis fan) by saying that for me this album and the next two are more consistently powerful (and the lyrics certainly have a lot to do with that) than any single release by Genesis. Again, I love Genesis and hold some of their older discs very high in my pantheon of music, but these things are nearly mythically – especially this album and Misplaced Childhood.

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Track by Track Review
Script for a Jester's Tear

Starting with a moody keyboard segment accompanied by vocals, this grows gradually. At around the half minute mark it moves out into a different (more dramatic melody) and the vocals seem even more intense. Still, this only remains a short time. Instead of continuing a full new melody is created and Fish delivers some more classic vocals over the top of this. As he wails “the game is over” at the end of the verse they again raise the stakes with a more powerful musical arrangement. We move out from there in a more guitar oriented motif and Fish continues his lyrical statement. When he announces “the game is over” on this they shift out into a fiery instrumental section with a scorching guitar solo. From there it’s back into the previous motif for more vocals. When they power out into the next instrumental foray it’s based on the same musical structure, but even more intense. At around the half way mark they drop it down to near silence and then return to moody keys for the next vocals, delivered much more gently. This time it’s built back up more slowly and Fish’s voice really drives this for a while. This is quite evocative and powerful and explodes out when Fish gets very pronounced once more. We fire up from there in a new melodic motif that’s purely magical. As Fish asks, “can you still say you love me?” the band weave their musical lines around and eventually fade away to end this.

He Knows You Know
This feels angry and more hard rocking. It wastes little time jumping into it. There’s a more stripped down approach for the verse, but keyboards and backing vocals are added to the arrangement. Fish seems about ready to take someone’s head off with this as he spits venom from his microphone. Before the two minute mark, Fish’s “walking with the dead” signals a drop back to a mellower segment. He pulls the next vocals across this tapestry and then they power it back up. Next we’re treated to an incredibly powerful keyboard solo dominated instrumental movement. Guitar takes a turn after this, but the keys continue to ply their trade alongside. They continue by alternating these sections until it drops down and we get a phone ringing. After a voice says, “hello,” we hear a shouted “don’t give me your problems.”
The Web

The first line of this is among my all time favorites from anyone, “The rain auditions at my window.” They move through a verse in a triumphant and powerful sounding melodic progressive rock motif. It drops way down to atmospheric ballad stylings for the next vocals. Again Fish sounds quite angry at times here. Eventually this works through and the band power up in a wonderful progression that’s among the best of the disc. There are no molds broken here, but the band create another wonderful journey by alternating mellower segments and harder rocking ones. They create melody and majesty. This is just another incredible mini-epic of modern progressive rock. OK, it’s old school now, but at the time it was modern. The transition from the “decisions have to be made” section to the guitar oriented ballad approach that follows is wonderful. It’s just one part of this incredible journey, though.

Garden Party
There’s a soaring sort of melody that opens this and the rhythm section has a sort of bouncing from side to side feeling to it. This is different from the rest of the music we’ve heard thus far, but no less effective. They drop it way down to a gentle movement for a while. Fish vocals are gentle and a cool keyboard line comes in over the top. As Fish sings “oh, God, not again,” they power out into another occurrence of the opening motif. We can hear the sounds of this “Garden Party” in the mix here and there. Fish puts in some of his most theatric Gabrielesque vocals here. They continue with the alternating harder rocking and mellower sections as they continue on. For those with problems with foul language it should be mentioned that there’s a very blatant “f bomb” dropped during the course of this one.
Chelsea Monday

They start this one with a bit of percussion and some sound bites. It builds gradually as bass guitar and percussion drive it for the first couple lines. Some textural sounds float over this backdrop after a while. This one goes longer than any of the rest before it leaves the mellow territory (two minutes or so). They fire out into another stellar melody when they do and the guitar solos tastefully overhead. This runs through sans vocals for a minute and a half or so and then they move it down to an almost Pink Floyd like melody (guitar based but picked and very sedate) for the next vocals. This grows up into a melodic, but more voluminous arrangement and Fish’s vocals first reach “angry” level for this number. They continue bringing the intensity (in terms of additional instrumentation and power and emotion) up as they keep going. It seems about to take a gradual downward shift and a voice speaks over the top. This is the beginning of a very gradual fade down. They turn it from gradual to quick though and wind up back in seriously sedate territory. Fish delivers some more vocals over this background. Eventually we get a very abrupt ending after some time working through this mellower section.

Forgotten Sons
The sounds of a radio searching the dial for a channel gives way to a rapid fire prog arrangement. Eventually this is traded in on a more melodic section and then the two are merged. They work through like this for a time and there’s a cool section later where a guitar screams, somewhat in the background as an announcer’s voice reads off the lyrics while Fish screams them in a somewhat distant mix. This gives way to a rather Pink Floyd like jam (still with Genesis elements) after that. This takes it to a false ending. When it comes back up its to a martial rhythm section and Fish has a doubled vocal line – similar to the announcer / Fish section earlier, but with it seeming like both are Fish. This is dramatic and incredibly powerful. Much of this is delivered as a prayer and at one point Fish seems to spit out the “Amen.” We get a whole new segment later. It’s a soaring progressive rock arrangement triggered by an “approach….friend.” They grow this one and at times we can hear a children’s choir (or so it sounds) in the mix. They continue building this to ever more passionate heights until they crescendo to end it.
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