also by Marillion:
The peak of Marillion's work with Fish, Misplaced Childhood has a much imitated, but never bettered style. They threw off their podgy excesses, verbal diarrhoea and poorly-disguised Genesis influences of their first two albums, and came up with a beautiful, lyrical and coherent piece of music. Fish's lyrics of a screwed up (rock star?) guy delving into his past are strong, and while they'd still appeal to English students they're much less pretentious than his previous stuff. The band fit together perfectly, playing a fine variety of melodic rock tunes with some great dynamic contrasts.
The two sides each form a continuous suite. The first, after the dark, unison keyboard-laden overture "Pseudo Silk Kimono", contains their two major hit singles "Kayleigh" and "Lavender". Sure, these were over-played and will annoy pop-haters, but they are still perfectly-crafted songs and contain some fine melodic guitar soloing (Steve Rothery seems to have been influenced by Pink Floyd's Dave Gilmour). The high point of the album lasts a whole twelve minutes, with Bitter Suite and Heart of Lothian. The dynamic build-up of the former is perfect, with Fish half-speaking over melodramatic keyboard chords, before the beat kicks in, and finally a climax with a shimmering guitar solo. "Heart of Lothian" is a great piece of theatrical Scottish willy-waving, starting with another amazing full-band crescendo.
The second side is generally less memorable than the first, but still full of fine tunes. It starts with a couple of sarcastic-toned short pieces with off-beat thumping rhythms. The centrepiece is another suite "Blind Curve", again with some good melodramatic dynamic contrasts. The protagonist seems to have sorted himself out by the more laid-back "Childhood's End", before finishes with the plodding unison anthem "White Feather".
It's lost some of its sparkle over the years due to over-familiarity, but it deserves a 9 all the same given my affection for it.
November 1, 2003