Marillion–My Mature Musical Meal

Sometimes no matter how hard you urge, cajole, and pester your friends and loved ones…they just don’t like the music you like. Regardless of your persuasive techniques and glowing reviews they don’t like the band, the album, or the genre.

I lived my entire adult life trying to convince every friend I’ve ever had to give DOCTOR WHO a try with absolutely no takers (my wife won’t even watch an episode with me). I also had zero success in trying to advance Celtic music.

Prog too is a strange category of musical simmerings that seem to resist popularization with many, if not most, of average listeners. I will write more on the idiocracy (thank you Mike Judge) of American music listeners at a later date.

But without casting any more stones at my friends and family I likewise can turn the same criticism upon myself. Subject, thy name is MARILLION.

For the longest time I just didn’t get this band of Brits. Why? I think I just plain wasn’t ready for their sound, sophistication, and true progressivity.

I was initially attracted to them when I first encountered their name around 2000 on either Amazon.com or some internet prog station. As a Tolkien lover their name had an immediate draw. Around 2004 I discovered that they were sending out free sampler discs of their music to anyone who e-mailed a request and signed up for their online list. Within a matter of several weeks I had in my mailbox their free CD compilation: CRASH COURSE—An Introduction to Marillion. This freebie (which reminded me so much of the “loss-leaders” that one could send away for in the mid/late 1970s) had 8 tracks and clocked in at 61:13. Their generosity and love for their fans would also be “lost” on me for years.

I think I listened to it once and then put it aside for close to a decade. I just didn’t “get it” though their song Man of a Thousand Faces did strike my cortex as catchy and worth a re-listen. Why didn’t I appreciate their brilliance? Upon reflection, I think it’s because it wasn’t what I was looking for at that moment in my sonic odyssey and my preconceived prog filters were looking for a sound that was more classic (1st wave) Genesis/Yes/Floyd than the cross-pollinated “H” and company were laying down. Marillion were too complex and “outside the lines” of what my limited prog senses could accept.

But now years later and thanks to the recommendations of two PhDs (Birzer & Woods) I have become enthralled and entranced by Marillion. I am well on my way to completing (at least) the post-Fish discography and have been having the time of my life catching up on treasures that were there all the time just waiting for me. CRASH COURSE is in my auto CD player more times than not as I cruise around town and I now count Marillion as my favorite band of current bands (i.e. groups still actively writing & recording new music/albums, touring, and playing festivals). Steve Rothery is my favorite active guitarist (reminding me so much of my all time axe hero Andrew Latimer) and the English Elf of the 4-string, Pete Trewavas, is the finest Bass player in rock today. From Seasons End to Sounds That Can’t Be Made, I love it all.

Marillion are not a cookie-cutter, by the numbers, prog band that simply patch together epic fantasy lyrics, killer guitar riffs, and noodling keyboard synths. Marillion produces human music of great depth, beauty, pathos, emotion, and complexity. The songs are not always immediately accessible a like bright and sparkling champagne but rather roll around on the palate like a deep, earthy, and multi-faceted 40 year old Scotch whisky. Some music is likable and accessible like tasty chicken noodle soup with its clear salty broth. Marillion is a thick and rich clam chowder which not all children will or can instantly savor. A decade wasted for me because I was looking for something as symphonic and melodic as Kansas or Barclay James Harvest. But I am grateful to be late to such a source of sonic nourishment than to never have arrived again.

Mellotron set to 11

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One Response to “Marillion–My Mature Musical Meal”

  1. bradbirzer Says:

    Reblogged this on Progarchy: Pointing toward Proghalla.

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