According to the dictionary Glimmer means to shine faintly with a wavering light, which is interesting as I think Shimmer would be an equally meaningful title for what is a rather fascinating album from the Dave Foster Band. This release is one that uses lots of strong musical passages to get its point across. Through the entire album Dave Foster himself glimmers on the guitar, proving that his association with Steve Rothery is a symbiotic one in which both parties gain significantly in the process.
Take …Or You Steal Some with its creeping bass lines and it’s arpeggio guitar lines that form the thrust of the track. Vocalist Dinet Poortman’s excellent, breathy, and often fiery, vocals add much power and passion to the music the band offer. The song has tasteful guitar work from Dave and a solid rhythm section playing throughout, it’s a rather splendid track that draws you into the music. As does Chasing An Echo which has heavy bass keyboards and slide guitar from Dave that weaves it way through the track hypnotically. This song grows on you with repeated plays, as indeed does the whole album. It’s is a very mesmerising with lots of great highlights and is very ‘Marillion’ in parts, in the sound sculptures it paints, yet it has its own identity and uniqueness retained. Dive In is a little lighter but with a funky backbeat to it, it is a very bouncy number with crashing power chords that elevate the track once again. Dinet’s vocals really grab the attention with her great bland of power and subtlety proving a winning formula. Again, Dave delivers some snake slide guitar that impresses greatly, as does the really excellent solo he offers in the closing moments, blistering stuff!
Opening track Every Waking Moment is another blistering assault on the ears with lots of feedback and sustained chords and notes being used to good effect. Although it is when the song opens up sonically that the real crunch takes effect, and it is very satisfying when it does. The skill being employed here is very high indeed, especially when Dave delivers another fiery guitar break over a strong throbbing bass part and keyboards. This is really strong and exciting music being played here, barnstorming even. Memory Box is, on the face of it, a somewhat lighter track but don’t be fooled as within its grooves are some searching lyrics about keeping secrets and not being open. This is definitely a radio friendly track with lots contained within its four minute running time. Run is similar with real presence and punch. Again, this rocker is very satisfying, the more I hear this album, the more impressive it becomes. It is a definite grower, the synths looping on this song are most memorable and create a great atmosphere and add to a really good track.
Stigma is another hard hitting track with good power chords alongside a powerful lumbering bass line and good keyboards. This creates a fantastic sound, harmonious and yet powerful at the same time. There are good guitar fills from Dave in this track too, this is a very powerful performance that has melody and dynamism. Another excellent solo rounds the song out well. I love this guitar solo over the crunching rhythm section. I really like this track, it’s possibly the best on the album. The RulesHave Changed is hinged on a spidery guitar riff and more crunchy chord work that drives the song along nicely. The riff is repeated again, as are the punchy chords, which, combined with Dinet’s excellent vocals, work really well and create a great atmosphere. More guitar lines are added as the riff powers up before another fine Dave Foster solo really impresses.
This album has really grown on me over the past few weeks as I find much to appreciate and to enjoy within its grooves. It is a very accomplished and well produced set of songs where nothing outstays its welcome. Several of the tracks are absolute belters and make the album highly worthy of your attention as it is really very good indeed. I highly recommend it, now to check out his earlier releases I think.
Kite Parade, the brainchild of multi-instrumentalist, singer songwriter Andy Foster, follow-up the critically acclaimed ‘The WayHome’, released in 2022, with second album ‘Retro’. The new release features six brand news songs, continuing from its predecessor with emphasis on melodies and big choruses, drawing influences from bands such as Frost*, It Bites and Genesis. Once again, guest drummers NickD’Virgilio (Big Big Train) and Joe Crabtree contribute and all the mastering and mixing duties are supplied by Rob Aubrey (Big Big Train, IQ).
Majoring on Andy’s love of all things ‘Prog, Rock and interesting Pop’, this new album is a must for lovers of the power pop tinged progressive rock celebrated by the likes of John Mitchell and Jem Godfrey with superb songwriting and shed loads of delicious guitar riffs and licks and heavenly vocal harmonies. The high energy, pulsating punch of opening track Retro hits you right where it hurts but the melodies are always there to provide beauty along with the brawn. Power prog? pop rock? I have no idea, it’s just bloody entertaining and leads you firing on all cylinders to Speed Of Light, a dynamic, hard-edged and even harder rocking track that has a dark underbelly but still returns with a fabulously catchy chorus, Andy’s music is seriously addictive, let me tell you that!
Let’s just kick back a bit and take the foot off the accelerator with the passionate sentiment of the Pete Smith penned semi-ballad Wonderful. The fervour and intensity of the vocals match the dazzling charm of the music to deliver a song that has heart and soul and puts a huge grin on your face with its anthemic feel. That warmth inside continues with wistfully nostalgic opening to the glorious Shadows Fall where you really feel Andy playing on his inner It Bites (circa ‘Once Around TheWorld’, if I’m being precise!). This sumptuous track reminds me of hazy summer days and a longing for times gone by. A stylishly complex piece of music but one that always wears its heart on its sleeve, the elegant saxophone that winds its way around is just genius and the harmonious vocals deliver a proper welling up of emotion.
Legendary progressive musician Steve Thorne contributed the lyrics for the final two tracks and you can see a slight difference on the darkly delicious Under The Same Sun which opens with a seductive guitar riff and pointed vocals. Fractious and recalcitrant until another fantastic chorus is delivered, there is a restive energy running throughout this addictive and up-tempo song and that is shown to perfection by Daz Atkinson’s fiery guitar solo. The end of album album epic Merry-Go-Round finishes things off in mighty fine style, although Andy says you’ll have to ask Steve Thorne for the definitive meaning behind the song! A fine example of symphonic, power-prog, this elegant, at times haunting, fourteen and half minutes of music ebbs and flows magnificently. The music builds patiently, drawing the listener into its comforting embrace along with the impassioned, heartfelt vocals, Jessica Chambers superb backing vocals especially worthy of note. There’s an unruffled pride to the song, the music is superbly intricate and leading you on a willing journey into the subterranean depths where time seems to stand still. The hushed stasis is broken by a dawning of light, an impish feel engendered by the music and the vocals brighter and more powerful and a lighter feeling atmosphere. What a stunning way to close out the album.
In ‘Retro’, Kite Parade have given us a stylish addition to the ranks of pop tinged power prog, a sublime collection of perfectly crafted songs that should be a must for any fan of melodic prog and a release that puts a smile on your face and , in this day and age, we could all do with a dose of that, couldn’t we?
The Oculist is a boundary-pushing prog metal project that defies conventions. With their unique fusion of musical styles and genres, The Oculist is set to make a mark in the metal scene, their debut single, Swan Dive, is just the beginning.
The Oculist has been formed by two longtime musical collaborators Adam Dunn and Çağrı Tozluoğlu (aka Philamelian). Duo started their journey for this release with spontaneous recordings which lead to instrumental pieces influenced from the vast waters of metal fusion and prog. While these demos were progressing by added sections and developed arrangements, the idea of adding vocals to these songs came up as they were in one of the writing sessions and talking about their common interests of politics, true crime podcast series and altered state of consciousness.
The project’s backbone, the groove department, features two extraordinary musicians, Simon Fitzpatrick (Carl Palmer Band) on the bass and James Wise on Drums.
Prepare yourselves for six minutes of a modern metal and electronic soundscape, ebbing and flowing as Adam’s precise vocals deliver a stentorian, primeval assault. Çağrı’s mellifluous keyboards fly around incessantly, it’s a full on musical onslaught with Adam’s thunderous, monumental guitars and James’ dynamic drums a superb driving force. The electronica and ambient textures blend perfectly giving a feel of a manic melding of Threshold and Machinae Supremacy to my ears, and that is definitely no bad thing! This track is certainly one of the freshest pieces of music I have heard this year and I cannot wait to hear the full album when it comes out as it is highly promising indeed!
This review of ‘Beyond Tomorrow’ by Ruby Dawn will be slightly different from usual and, rather than describing the music, instead I will comment on the feelings this music evokes whilst listening to it.
First, a look at he history of the group. Formed in 2019 by Carola Bear, at that time a mainstream Teacher who wanted to express lyrics she had written herself musically. To that end, she searched out musicians who could help turn that vision into a reality and she found musicians who would support her in that vision, these being Dave Salsbury on guitars, Ian Turner on bass and vocals and Adam J Perry on drums. Together they worked on their own songs and attracting the interest of Ireland’s Progressive Ears label) who support lots of upcoming prog bands and artists), they ultimately secured a deal.
The album is very much an expansive and immersive one that uses a plethora of soundscapes and timbres to present something quite unique. You can hear elements of music like Pink Floyd and Porcupine Tree, along with a more ambient style of musical voicing. This excellent sounding release marries feeling, strong musicianship and a slightly different vocal phrasing to good effect. The music has a lot of extremely fluid and powerful guitar work from Dave Salsbury who plays up a storm here and it is very pleasing to hear his skilful playing.
I’ve spent a few weeks with this album, really waiting for it to sink in fully and now I think it is definitely beginning to click with me. This is a grower that warrants time and, possibly, the use of headphones to really allow the music to seep into your mind fully. However, when that moment happens, it is very powerful stuff indeed. I am reminded of Steve Hogarth’s unusual vocal stylings at times along with the modern Marillion sound, the inclusion of an ambient sound is also very satisfying as it allows the quirkiness of the group to come through well.
I am really enjoying this music as it has much to commend it, anyone who is prepared for something different will find much to appreciate and to enjoy within its grooves. The album rocks and also shimmers excellently, it evokes feelings of both frustration with how the world is but also offers a hope for better times, of awareness, acceptance and understanding for each other. This is a good thing, music should have meaning and should help instruct as well as entertain. Progressive music should question, encourage debate and thought. It can be a force for change, I feel this album has that potential to do just that, challenging attitudes and perspectives and showing a different way in which to be and to live.
This music brings out those feelings in me and inspires me to be a part of a world that is prepared to engage, to accept others where they are in their lives and to be there when they need support. I think this is something we can all do, be the change rather than being the problem. Allow this music to guide you in such unfamiliar settings and benefit from the satisfaction and fulfilment that can come as a result.
These may be heady thoughts but, somehow, I find this music very inspiring to hear and I appreciate it’s sheer existence. It makes you feel better for hearing it, it is not especially upbeat lyrically, rather it is sincere, which is highly acceptable to these ears. Here are a band who are pushing forward, making music of worth for the open minded and that is totally acceptable to me.
There is, among its twelve tracks, some blistering, scorching guitar work and a highly dynamic rhythm section. Add in the fluid keyboards of Carola and her excellent vocals and it all combines to make a great melting pot of ideas and influences to create something both different and yet familiar sounding.
Heartily recommended, this music should be available from your Doctor as it is good for your heart, soul and well being. This album can be a balm for your troubled or bruised spirit, it is that special. I urge you to get involved with the marvellous music, let it influence your worldview, it is that good! Highly Recommended indeed!
Echoes and Signals is a musical project by Russian songwriter, guitarist, vocalist and record producer Fedor Kivokurtsev. The project’s title refers to the ‘unity of opposites’ concept, which is the central category of many philosophical discourses.
I’ve been a fan of Fedor’s work for a long time and it’s always a joy to know he is working on new music so, when he told me about this new album, I was very excited. Fedor told me that the new album, “…is the continuation of (2021 release) ‘Mercurial’, and the whole cycle is related to Carl Jung’s researches on alchemy as a Metaphor for psychological processes. In particular ‘Lunar’ is something around the subject of Anima.”
And this explanation is continued on the website;
The moon. It fascinates and leads astray, it inspires and destroys, it can give strength and can drain. The moon is the source of the greatest danger and the greatest blessing.
Moonlight shines in the darkest night showing thousands of ways to go. Some of them are making you run in circles, some of them are going nowhere, but there are few that can guide you through the dark.
This album is the continuation of the journey started in “Mercurial”. We have to face something irrational, something that can not be described with the words, something that lies somewhere very deep inside us.
“Keep your eyes wide open, keep your mind wide shut”.
The mellifluous opening of Amygdala with its mysterious undertones and hushed vocals opens the album in an understated way, there’s something almost disconcerting about this short piece. The Witching Hour has a symbolic, edgy atmosphere with a staccato drum beat and guitar riff adding to the enigmatic vocals to deliver something ethereal and other worldly. You’re left on the edge of your seat and holding your breath as you get deeper and the superb Porcupine Tree-esque instrumental section really adds to the drama and feeling of unease.
The movement of the moon across the sky, lunar cycles and phases – all this serves as clues and landmarks. Ebb and flow, daily rhythms, the human endocrine system and many other things depend on the lunar cycles. Invisibly, the moon affects us and our condition, and this cannot be avoided.
Title track Lunar has light and airy feel, the vocals dance across your synapses, touching your mind and soul and the celestial music adds to the supernal aura. There’s power there though when the music bursts into life. Once again, there’s a supernatural feel as the track moves into a darker instrumental section, this is post-prog rock at its absolute best, music that affects you deeply and directly. Serpentine begins with a mystical, secretive air, pared back and equivocal, the vocals are low and precise and the song moves along inexorably towards its guarded conclusion, a deliciously dark composition that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.
It could be a soundtrack to a deep and meaningful Sci-Fi film with its shimmering keyboard heavy intro but there’s a sharp, chaotic edge to Mana as it opens up into its ten minute plus running time. Epic in scope and delivery, this track is another superb piece that has a real feel of early Haken combined with some classic Ultravox and is one of the stand out songs on this dazzlingly elaborate album. Involving, mesmerising, hypnotic and, at times, damn heavy, it’s a personal favourite of mine.
Let the fire burn as long As it needs to become coals The wind will carry your fear far with cinders Leaving space to grow…
Cryptic and guarded, there’s a melodic elegance to Cinders and a stand out chorus too making it perhaps the most commercial track on the album but that’s not a criticism, it is still a fine piece of songwriting and what’s wrong with a memorable chorus that you can’t get out of your head? The spaced out introduction to Gravity fits perfectly with the song title before a monolithic riff and thunderous drum beat take centre stage. Calming vocals bring something quieter to the track but there’s always that primeval force hidden in the background and occasionally being let loose. Another track epic in length and dynamism and one that verges more on prog-metal than post-prog showing Fedor’s stylistic virtuosity as it ebbs and flows between a rock and a hard place.
And I saw the dark After I’d reached the point The center of the black hole The point of no-return
The chiming keyboards and edgy drums and guitar give an almost frantic feel as Roots begins but that becomes more composed, even the potent chorus feels deliberately reined in. There’s a pleading tone to the voice, forlorn and lost maybe, does the dark envelop us all in the end?
And I know Some things are meant To become gold Inside the burning fire
The brief, burning flame of Cassandra closes out the album in style, a glorious three minutes of music with heartfelt vocals and an organ-like synthesiser that left me emotional and yet hopeful, after all, some things are meant to fade away…
Powerful and moving, ‘Lunar’ is one of those albums that transcends music to become something much, much more. It is written in such a way that you make your own interpretation and it will affect us all in different ways. Personally I felt emotionally moved by what Echoes and Signals have created and I implore you to make the journey yourself and see where it leads you.
Cairo, the genre-defying project founded by the multi-talented Rob Cottingham return with the stylish ‘Nemesis’, and album that taps into contemporary global concerns and demonstrates the band’s impressive, genre-defying approach with menacing, angular riffs, pop rock hooks and electronic soundscapes that all beautifully complement powerful and emotive vocals.
Recorded with John Mitchell at Outhouse Studios, this release ventures into familiar ‘CAIRO rocks’ territory with the dynamic, moving epics. There are also some exciting departures for the band venturing into more melodic rock areas and even a short keys-based orchestral instrumental which doffs a cap to the likes of the sadly, recently departed Vangelis, and acts as a prologue into the title track.
The opening two tracks are firmly in the ‘hard rock meets prog’ arena. Asleep At TheWheeland Tripwire both major on crunching guitar riffs from the talented JamesHards and thunderous drumming from the energetic Graham Brown. The dynamic and elegant bass playing of Paul Stocker keeps things on the right course and the flourishes are added by Rob’s excellent keyboards. Add into this the charismatic vocals from Sarah Bayley and you have two songs that will satisfy ardent hard rock and prog metal fans anywhere.
There’s a complete musical u-turn with the beautiful Glow where Sarah’s haunting vocal takes centre stage, this girl certainly has a wide range to her voice and it’s delicate, almost fragile, timbre here is a joy to behold. Everything goes all melodic rock when the guitar chimes in, reminding you of prime 80’s Heart, especially when Rob’s spiralling keyboards fire up. It really is a fantastic piece of music. Rogue has an energetic opening and proves to be an upbeat and uplifting slice of pop/rock and the balladic The Love is an elegant, wistful track that bleeds a melancholic grace, simply divine.
The epic New Beauty is an utterly captivating and involving seven minutes plus of progressive tinged rock pomp and splendour that beguiles and entertains in equal measure and continues to showcase the vocal talents of the wonderful Sarah Bayley who, surrounded by these prodigiously talented musicians, elevates this album to another level. Deja Vu is a winsome three minutes of refined music where Sarah and Rob deliver a wonderful vocal duet, one that lingers long in the mind. The 80’s return on the fantastic Jumping On The Moon, a proper ‘banger’ that flies along at a hectic pace and drags you along happily in its wake.
The orchestral wonder of Save The Earth always has a portentous note of warning in the background, the sophisticated music delivering an enlightened message and is a perfect foil and prologue to the final, title, track Nemesis. The longest track on the album is also my favourite, which is saying a lot with the calibre of songs on offer. A proper Cairo epic and one that stops you in your tracks, the polished, restrained introduction then sees Rob’s calm vocals delivering an important message. This is pop edged hard rock at its best, the delightful music ebbing and flowing with the mood and the vocal harmonies between Rob and Sarah are just superb. Add in a wonderfully uplifting guitar solo from James and you have a fantastic close to a sensational album.
Cairo seem to have found their niche with the elegant, epic pop and prog infused hard rock that they deliver. This is sophisticated, elegant and polished music and ‘Nemesis’ showcases a band at a creative peak. Simply a superb release and one that you really should buy…
It’s time for something that’s a little bit left-field and it honestly doesn’t get more left-field than the quirky, Canterbury-esque musings of The Weever Sands. When the subject matter is a troublesome week in the life of Phea the Pheasant then you know we are in for an idiosyncratic journey.
‘Secrets Of The Pecking Order’ is the third album by The Weever Sands and the press release certainly grabbed my attention!
“The album might be described as a small-scale fusion of Post-Rock minimalism and Canterbury style Prog, uses Zappa-like collage techniques, and features ArminRave (ex-Pavor), Dyanne Potter & Jan Christiana (Octarine Sky/Potter’s Daughter), Geo Schaller (Ex-Guano Apes producer), and Leslie Penning (ex-Mike Oldfield, whose folky minimalism is an overall influence for us).”
The album follows the line of classical 70s concept albums in using an animal protagonist to tell a human (and here a slightly bizarre) story:
“Our third album tells the hilarious story of Phea the Pheasant and his troublesome week, transformed into a Post-Prog adventure with many influences from the Canterbury Scene. The Weever Sands are joined by fabulous musicians for the seven tracks – one track for each day – to present a listening experience crammed with folky-jazzy harmonies, melodious bass lines, strange audio drama, rapid rock solos, tons of different sounds, and lots of humour. Animals rule! Enjoy!”
See what I mean? Let me tell you why I think this album is one of the most entertaining releases of the year and one that will leave a huge grin on your face…
Individual, strange and off-the-wall are all words that could be used to describe this unique ‘post-prog’ release that deals with seven days in our protagonist, Phea’s life. The music is as distinctive and singular as the concept would lead you to believe and brings to mind the work of bands like Gong and The Cardiacs and modern artists like Emmett Elvin and Join The Din. Art Rock for the outsider? it certainly sounds like it with the story being told via wonderfully eclectic keyboards flute and some rather excellent, if mad as a box of frogs, guitar playing. Flute, sax, keyboards and even a recorder are used to maximum effect to give this musical experience a feeling of wonder and make believe, prog by Terry Pratchett? you wouldn’t be far wrong!
With track titles like Monday. Phea wakes early from a bad dream and ponders the saying ‘free as a bird’, glowing with disbelief and Friday. On the Nerd Bird to San José, Phea meets a fancy Tech Chick and messes it up completely this release stays on the right side of whimsy but is always tongue in cheek and the music has that pastoral England sound to it, hazy days and nostalgia leaking out of the wry amusement engendered in absolute spades. You really have to listen to the album in one sitting and in the right order to get the most from Phea’s troublesome week. Do that and you will enjoy a singularly unexampled jaunt into the furtive mind of one of the most imaginative and creative collectives I have ever heard.
I am trying not to disclose too much about the music here as I feel you need to discover the fine print involved for yourselves but you really must listen to this album at least once because then you can decide for yourself if it is utterly mad or utterly brilliant. I’ve listened quite a few times and definitely fall into the latter category, prog by Terry Pratchett it is indeed and, if you loved Pratchett’s books as much as me, then you’ll love this album too!
King’s X first came to my attention through an article in Kerrang, of which I was a regular reader, they certainly sounded intriguing. This was proven when I found a promo copy of their debut album ‘Out Of The Silent Planet’ in a local record store, well it was actually a tiny shop tucked in a very narrow street, Swordfish in Needless Alley in Birmingham City centre. Neither of these exist there now and have been replaced by another shopping mall. Swordfish relocated, as I discovered last year, and is still an interesting place to visit.
Back to King’s X , this set is a collection of their first six albums for Atlantic, ‘Out OfThe Silent Planet’, ‘Gretchen Goes To Nebraska’, ‘Faith Hope Love’ , ‘King’s X’, ‘Dogman’ and ‘Ear Candy’, along with a whole slew of single versions and live tracks that complete the package. There is also a tasteful and informative booklet that gives more information about the band and the history surrounding these albums.
The music is, in the main, sensational, although I do feel that the band made a misstep with the overly grungy ‘Dogman’, an album that disappointed me greatly upon its release, time to see how I feel about it twenty-plus years later…
The debut and sophomore releases albums both sound excellent and prove that this group had value and that they could deliver live on stage, as was proven when I saw them at Nottingham Rock City in the early 1990’s. They were crafting a different sound, one in which melody and harmony were met with real crunch and power to make something special. The distinctly Beatles influence in the harmonies and voices made for a very unusual sound and one that really worked, along with the fiery and often psychedelic guitar of Ty Tabor and the solid whump of DougPinnick’s muscular bass driving the music forwards, this was a new style of rock, a very impressive one too! ‘Out Of The Silent Planet’ contained some great songs like Goldilox, which has great vocals and great guitar tones and solos. This was 1988, to be fair, but listening again thirty-four years on you can still sense the sheer brilliance and innovation the group offered the casual rock fan. Unsurprisingly the U.K. took them to their hearts and, whilst they may not have become huge, they certainly garnered much acclaim.
Even better was their sophomore album, ‘Gretchen Goes To Nebraska’, which carried the style further, marrying crunching guitar and multi-part harmonies in a truly exciting amalgam, as displayed on the blistering rocker Over My Head and the gorgeous Summerland, both of which had the magic combination. Also of note is the funky take Everybody Knows a Little Bit of Something, which is another fiery performance. Over all of this you hear all sorts of influences, apart from the Beatles you can detect the funkiness of Sly Stone, Jimi Hendrix like guitar virtuosity and James Brown, to name but a few. There are also delicate acoustic parts like in The Difference (In the Garden of St. Anne’s-On-The- Hill) that allow this band to make one of the outstanding albums of the late 80’s and one that still impresses today.
King’s X continued by making the third excellent album in three years with ‘FaithHope Love’ in 1990. Opening with the strong, stirring We Are Finding Who We Are to kick things off in style. Doug Pinnick’s bass and vocal really drive this track along, the Beatlesesque It’s Love follows with its blend of vocal harmonies melded to a solid riff. I have to say this album has its moments but is not a strong as the previous two, maybe they were running out of ideas or the touring had taken its toll. Moanjam is still a great workout/jam for the band and things improve with I Can’t Help It, Talk To You. We Were Born To Be Loved and the nine minutes of Faith Hope Love with its spirituality clearly present. Whilst King’s X had christian faith, they wisely didn’t let that define them. These things are individual and personal, they recognised that and acted accordingly.
The next we heard from the band was their self-titled, fourth album which was another strong set of songs, although heavier and moving towards the grungy sound that they would explore more fully on the ‘Dogman’ album. This album brought changes, they split from long-time friend and manager Sam Taylor and opted to employ Brendan O’ Brien’s services as producer. He had previously produced albums for the likes of Pearl Jam and The Black Crowes and he bought a 90’s grunge rock sheen to the band. This the album on which I lost interest in the band as I didn’t feel their sound worked for me any longer. That was 1994, so nearly thirty years ago now, and, in retrospect, that was possibly a misjudgement on my part as upon rediscovering this album, it is far better than I recall. Whilst the sound may be more brutal and harsh, it still rocks strongly. In addition, much of what endeared me to those earlier albums is still present in places. The song Shoes, for example, rocks with a vengeance. In fact, overall, the album is a slow burn that sneaks up and overpowers you making a solid impression and I actually like it now.
The final album in this set is 1996’s ‘Ear Candy’, an album I completely ignored despite my friend Steve saying it was a good one. Well, surprise, surprise, he was right. Although it disappointed the critics, ‘Ear Candy’ is a great album full of psychedelic touches, strong songs and inspired tracks like opener The Train, that has more than a whiff of Enuff Z Enuff about it. A Box is anther fine song on offer here but, sadly, this album was to be their last for Atlantic after which they spent most of the next two decades on independent labels, releasing a lot of albums that sank without a trace until 2005 when they were signed to Inside Out (prior to that becoming part of Sony Music) and released the excellent ‘Ogre Tones’ and ‘XV’ albums and a live set. Recently they have released ‘Three Sides Of One’ which is a definite return to form.
King’s X continue still and, whilst much older now, they are still making good music that mixes psychedelic rock, some progressive elements and fabulous harmonies. This set is an excellent summation of their days with Atlantic as you will find much strong, vibrant music and is highly recommended, especially for fans of the band.
Jay Danley and Derek Wylie, two musicians from Canada, have reunited to bring their love for progressive music forward and into the world.
Having played together many years ago, the two have collaborated on a new project that celebrates their love for classic progressive rock in the styles of early Genesis, Pink Floyd and King Crimson while bringing fresh new ideas into the mix.
Their first release, ‘Connections’, is thematically joined by the idea that human beings have a strong need to connect and communicate. This was powerfully demonstrated during the pandemic as people dealing with isolation took to the internet and other forms of communication to reach out to others.
The striking album cover of a radio transmitter covered in ice gives that classic 70’s prog vibe and this is continued by the elegant music that is contained within this sophisticated release. Consisting of six tracks of what could be called space/prog/psychedelia with some fluent jazz touches, ‘Connections’ is a varied and mature album of thoughtful and contemplative music that connects with you on a cerebral level. The voice overs, full of conjecture about whether we are alone in the universe and other quandaries, add a definite Pink Floyd edge to the album but it is the dextrous musicianship of Messrs Danley and Wylie that shines on all the tracks.
Whether it is the smooth and languid keyboards/synthesisers of the refined opener Alone, interspersed with some fine guitar playing or intricate, intelligent composition of Change, this deliberately introspective album will get you thinking. Connected dances lightly on your synapses with some fluid piano and guitar exchanges, The In Between has a more spaced out, sci-fi feel as it talks about the building blocks of the universe and Listen is a full on jazz/prog piece with some rather impressive guitar playing as a foundation. Everything comes to a close with the polished, stylish Surfacing, a reflective, soul searching way to end the album.
Inspired by the likes of Floyd and Crimson it may be but ‘Connections’ easily finds its own way in the current musical status quo, Danley / Wylie have created something of substance here and I’m really looking forward to where they go next.
‘Seasons End’, first released in 1989, is the last release in Marillion’s series of EMI era deluxe re-issues. It is also the most pivotal album in the band’s history as it marked the beginning of the ‘h’ era of Marillion with Steve Hogarth as the vocalist. Steve Hogarth has been around ever since and has imprinted his mark and class on the Marillion brand so indelibly that it is hard to remember what it felt like at the time when he emerged from virtually nowhere to replace Fish. This deluxe re-release gives us the opportunity to re-evaluate ‘h’s debut with the band.
Whilst we can look back on this album as an assured and high-quality album it belies a period of great uncertainty leading up to its recording and release. Following great success with albums and singles the future of Marillion was far from clear after they parted company with Fish in 1988. There was an assumption by many that the band could not survive without their charismatic front man, but the remaining band were confident in their music and knew that Marillion were far more than just a backing band for Fish. A largely fruitless search for his replacement commenced with tapes received and various auditions, (including Stuart Nicholson of Galahad). Meanwhile around the same time Steve Hogarth’s band How We Live was coming to a disappointing end due to a lack of success and he was thinking of leaving the music business entirely, such was his disillusionment. Ian Mosley spotted his potential from a tape sent in of Hogarth singing the How We Live song ‘Games in Germany’ and the band agreed to give ‘h’ an audition. Even at that point it took a mutual friend of Hogarth and Mosley, Daryl Way of Curved Air, to persuade ‘h’ to consider doing the audition as he was seriously considering joining the touring band of The The for a major tour instead. To cut a long story short Hogarth eventually agreed to join the band and they set about writing their first album together. So what did they manage to put together?
Most readers will know ‘Seasons End‘ well, and will be most interested in the remix and additional material, but there may be some new to this album. Therefore, we will go through the album, and there may be some things even the most devoted fan may not know or gain new insights into this album. After initial and deceptively easy writing sessions at the Mushroom Farm studios near Brighton the band convened at Hook End Manor Recording studios in Oxfordshire, formerly owned by DavidGilmour. The ‘Seasons End‘ writing and recording sessions were deceptively easy for the band, as they came to discover at the far more problematic sessions for the follow-up album ‘Holidays in Eden.’ In truth the ease of the process was because much of the music had already been written in previous unused sessions with Fish for the album after ‘Clutching at Straws’ which, of course, did not happen. Additionally, before Hogarth joined, they had also looked for lyricists to help, including asking Van Der Graaf Generator’sPeter Hammill (who declined) and a peculiar meeting with the eccentric Viv Stanshall, which persuaded them that he was probably not a great fit! They eventually commissioned lyricist John Helmer (of the punk band The Piranhas) to produce some lyrics to go with their music, which definitely gave the album writing sessions quite a head start. Helmer composed the lyrics independently of the band, but in the fascinating accompanying video documentary ‘Seasons Change’, Steve Rothery did share he suggested the idea of doing a song about ‘Berlin’ due to the band’s connection with the city, and the concept for the lyric which eventually emerged as later song, ‘The Collection’. Significant elements for King of Sunset Town, The Uninvited Guest, Seasons End, Berlin and The Space… (plus the eventual ‘B-Sides The Release and The Bell in the Sea) were all in place for the album which the band worked on together to hone with Hogarth.
What all the band agree upon is that there was immediately a chemistry with Hogarth which reinvigorated the band, who felt rather liberated from the shadow of their former front man. It was also clear that this album was not going to sound like some of the more baroque old style progressive rock with which they had emerged in the early 80’s. It is apt that the first song on ‘Seasons End‘ is also the first song Steve Hogarth sang in his audition outside Pete Trewavas’ house (as it turned out he was allergic to Trewavas’ cats!) One of the things which impressed the band and helped persuade them to offer Hogarth the vocal role was his ability to immediately improvise the vocal melody in the audition. In his excellent autobiography ‘Marillion, Misadventures and Marathons’Mark Kelly recalled: ‘By the time he got to the refrain “watch a big wheel turning round…” we knew we had our singer’. Hearing Hogarth belt that out so dramatically and clearly on this remix one can understand the excitement of the band back then – there was definitely something special about this guy! Apparently, some of the music for King of Sunset Town is based on the aborted ‘Sunset Hill’ song with Fish (on the bonus disc of the 1999 remaster of ‘Clutching at Straws’), but a comparison will show King of Sunset Town is a polished and stirring piece a very long way from the embryonic ‘Sunset Hill’. There is an atmospheric synth, bass and drums opening before Rothery comes in with an anthemic guitar line, and the song recedes to the vocal section and Hogarth’s memorable opening line:
A Ragged Man come shuffling through, A Puppet King on the 4th of June
The original lyric was largely written by John Helmer, but whilst the album was being recorded the Tianenmen Square massacre was occurring in China on June 4th, 1989, watched with horror by the band on the TV news at Hook End Manor studios. Hogarth incorporated elements of that event in the lyrics, including the rhyming ‘puppet king’ of Chinese premier Deng Xiaoping and a later reference to ‘Before the 27th came…’ about one of the units of the Chinese army sent to attack the protestors. It is a testament to Hogarth’s lyrical skill that the introduction of this theme helped elevate an already good song with a fantasy feel into one of the finest opening songs on any Marillion album with a contemporary political perspective. It certainly announced Hogarth as a significant talent in his own right with his own distinctive lyrical and vocal skills. It also marked that the band were moving away from the intensely personal ‘confessional’ type introspection of much of Fish’s lyrics, and focusing on a wider range of issues and subjects.
Famously Hogarth had a bucket of tapes for ideas and from it he produced the almost complete and wonderful Easter, originally intended for his band How WeLive. Rothery added a beautiful, lilting guitar solo, apparently improvised from the start in the form which is still played today – intuitive, fluid and evocative. JeanPierre Rasle’s pipe playing added a subtle Irish flavour to the song. Hogarth has described it as his ‘Skye Boat Song’ for the Irish, and shared in his ‘Corona Diaries’ podcast that it is partly inspired by the poem ‘Easter 1916’ by W.B. Yeats. The gentle folky, melodic style is certainly a world away from the caustic, rocking anger of much of ‘Clutching at Straws’, signalling that this band was going in quite a different direction, and it remains one of the finest songs in the Marillion musical canon. The Uninvited Guest is a very different beast, with its origins in some ideas played around with at the aborted Dalnagar castle sessions with Fish in 1988. Ian Mosley starts the piece with a quirky drum part before the band drive it along at quite a furious pace, but with a hint of whimsy although the lyrics are rather sinister. The Uninvited Guest ends with a ‘cuckoo’ noise, indicating an invasion into our nest. Lyricist John Helmer has revealed it was about the shadow of AIDS in the 1980’s, the ultimate unwanted ‘guest’ in sexual relationships. Hogarth tweaked some of the lyrics and there may be a tongue in cheek reference to the previous singer, or maybe not?!
One of the most prescient songs on Seasons End is the outstanding title song with Helmer lyrics about climate change. A simple chiming guitar riff slowly emerges from the synth mists along with Hogarth’s mournful voice and there’s a real feeling of something portentous as the song builds. This is another piece with its roots in the Dalnagar sessions and an embryonic version of the music with different lyrics can be heard in ‘Beaujolais Day’ (another song available on ‘Clutching at Straws’ 1999 remaster. Fish later recycled some of the lyrics for ‘Fortunes of War’ and ‘Just Good Friends’.) This thought-provoking piece is a real showcase for Hogarth’s vocal range, rising gradually in passion. There is a sense of magisterial progression as the song gathers power but with restraint up to a tasteful guitar solo and an orchestral keyboard peak (which always made it a prime candidate for adapting for the 2019 ‘With Friends with the Orchestra’ project.) Hogarth’s evocative, echoing final words: ‘You never miss it till it’s gone, so say goodbye, say goodbye’ bring the main theme to a close but Marillion flow on with a wistful coda of tinkling synths, a subtly floating guitar motif, gentle throbbing bass and shimmering cymbals, whilst in the distance ‘h’ dreamily reprises some of the lyrics. It is a haunting, gorgeous finale to an ageless song still sadly relevant today.
Steve Hogarth shared in the ‘Corona Diaries’ that a waving hand from a window in Holloway Women’s prison was the inspiration for his emotive lyric of Holloway Girl, and is one of only two songs from ‘Seasons End‘ which was fully formed in the studio writing sessions with nothing drawn from previous sessions. Strangely, in the ‘Seasons Change’ documentary Hogarth stated that he has ‘never been quite been sure about it’. I view this as one of the most under-rated Marillion songs. Right from the start with Pete Trewavas’ unique opening playing the pick over his bass strings to give that distinctive metallic intro into Rothery’s subtle spectral guitar line as the tempo and volume increases to Hogarth’s impassioned cry ‘One day Freedom will unlock your door, so hold on, believe on…’ this is a song which grabs you and speaks for many of the poor inmates of the prison. Hogarth learned from a TV documentary that many Holloway inmates would have benefited far more from help with their mental health issues than from incarceration. This is also a real collaboration musically between ‘old Marillion’ and ‘new boy’ Hogarth with ‘h’ writing the music for the verses and Mark Kelly composing the more anthemic chorus passages.
Berlin is a city with a special meaning for Marillion as they recorded their most successful album ‘Misplaced Childhood’ there at the famous Hansa studios, and it turns out Hogarth also had some interesting experiences in this city with such a turbulent history. It probably helps to recall that Berlin was still a divided city back in 1988/9 when Rothery suggested it would make a good theme for a song to lyricist John Helmer. Berlin is probably the song most similar to their earlier much more old school ‘Prog’ style. This is hardly surprising as musically it can trace its roots back to the Dalnagar sessions with Fish in ‘Story from a Thin Wall’ (available on ‘Clutching at Straws’ 1999 remaster). Indeed, musically ‘Story from a Thin Wall’ is almost identical to Berlin so it seems they felt they were on to something. Fish later used the powerful lyrics from that song on ‘Family Business’ on his solo debut, but Marillion replaced them with some excellent new lyrics. Berlin may be one of Helmer’s best lyrics as his words seemed to capture the tense, desperate atmosphere of a city split by a wall built by a dictatorship imprisoning its population on one side and a rather hedonistic lifestyle on the other side, seemingly feverishly generated by the shadow of oppression over the wall. Hogarth sings it with such intensity and the band put on a stellar performance. An atmospheric opening led by Rothery’s delicately played guitar, supported with some suitably restrained bass and percussion, supports the scene setting vocals of decadence and desperation from Hogarth… and for the first time ever in a Marillion song a suitably seedy saxophone from Phil Todd emphasises the decadent ‘Cabaret’ feel of this city. It simply reeks of Berlin of that era. The whole piece recedes in the middle section with crows ominously crowing over a synth and guitar soundscape. The atmosphere changes and the tempo quickens as Hogarth screams passionately ‘With a Hole in our Hearts’. The whole band drives forward with a tidal wave of rock as Hogarth recites a litany of ‘the quick and the dead’, presumably all the sorts of varied people who yearned to cross the wall to freedom, many of whom were shot over the years. Balancing along the top Rothery teeters with a tortured and twisted guitar solo reflecting such desperation. This all fades to a mournful synth wash with ‘h’ reprising the opening lines about ‘the Mascara’d Blonde from the Berliner bar’, seemingly fated to endlessly repeat her prostitute life without hope. Berlin was a powerful statement, clearly designed to be a centrepiece of the album, with outstanding lyrics and great rock music fused together with such skill and impact… but the good thing is that in some ways that the Fall of the Berlin Wall less than a year after the album was released soon made this feel very much like a period timepiece – and that’s not a bad thing!
On the original vinyl release of ‘Seasons End‘ the little gem After Me was not included, and was released as the B-side for the single release of Hooks in You. It was available on the CD and cassette version and it is rightly on this deluxe edition in all it’s delicate beauty. Rothery picks out a gorgeous acoustic guitar intro with Hogarth’s richly resonant voice dripping with regret, singing words written for his then wife about how little time they were spending together. Halfway through a tinkling, shimmering keyboard cues in a much more assertive passage with the whole band backing his increasingly impassioned vocals. The finale with Rothery’s climbing arpeggio guitars is derived from the final section of another 1988 Dalnagar session song, ‘Voice in the Crowd’, (which as the name suggests Fish took the lyrics for the title song of his ‘Vigil’ debut solo album, and is another song available on the 1999 ‘Clutching at Straws’ remaster edition) – but this is a song which Hogarth very much owns with his own rather personal and touching lyrics.
Hooks in You was formed in the studio with Hogarth out of a cracking riff Rothery was jamming which Hogarth loved and they pulled together a cracking 3-minute rock/pop song. The high energy rock launches in spectacularly with drums and bass in 7/8 under the chopping guitar riff before a keyboard fanfare underpins that infectious Rothery riff, which Rothery has likened to It Bites whom he was into at the time. The lyrics are lightweight fluff about a girl having ‘Hooks in You’ – it’s simple, straightforward and just great fun. There’s no deep meaning or complexity – it’s just rock and roll, and also indicated that Marillion were not afraid to dive into some of the Van Halen type ‘hair rock’ type anthems popular at the time. The direct commercial appeal of this song marked it out as a single but in hindsight it may not have been the wisest choice as the first single of the album as it was so unlike anything Marillion had ever released, and it only reached Number 30 in the U.K. charts.
The finale of the album is the expansive and elaborate drama of The Space… In the ‘Seasons Change’ documentary Rothery shares that the music for this piece had its origins again in the 1988 Dalnagar sessions which he says was inspired by seeing Pink Floyd at Wembley. One can certainly hear the more expansive ambition of this piece with a relentless orchestral keyboard string intro with Hogarth’s echoey voice describing the fickleness of fate, as Mosley and Trewavas join in rhythmically. Rothery’s guitar swoops wraith-like above this increasingly weighty musical vehicle as it drives forward. The song then opens out with the refrain ‘The Space around the stars is something that you know’ with some lovely flowing piano from Mark Kelly underpinning the main driven theme. The initial opening section is recapitulated with added power, before the whole piece drops into a more introspective and restrained passage. However, this is a brief respite before the main musical storm returns with particularly Rothery’s overarching manically spasming guitars and Kelly’s choir keyboards. The final section commences with the echoing Hogarth proclaiming anthemically:
‘Everybody in the Whole of the World, Feels the same inside, Everybody in the Whole of the World…’
The band take it home majestically with sweeping synths and stately drumming and The Space… seemingly just fades away into the distance. It’s quite a dramatic and ambitious finale for the album. Hogarth explained in the 1997 remaster edition sleeve notes that the lyrics were partly inspired by seeing a tram in Amsterdam ripping the side off a car without even slowing down, and wondered whether the driver even noticed the great damage his vehicle had casually inflicted (indeed, the demo version of this song on the Blu-ray is called ‘Amsterdam’). Hogarth went on to state rather poetically ‘I have occasionally been the tram. And I have often been the car.’ There is also a rather curious song writing credit for this song, which apart from the usual band members, includes Colin Woore, Geoff Dugmore and FergusHarper. These were all previous band mates of Steve Hogarth in The Europeans (and Woore was also in How We Live). It eventually emerged that Hogarth had used the exclamatory ‘Everybody in the Whole of the World’ vocal section in an unreleased song by The Europeans called ‘Wrap me in the Flag’, and the opening vocal melody of ‘Amsterdam / The Space…’ had its origins in a How We Live song which never came to anything. Hogarth had used those sections thinking that as he had more or less written them that it was OK to recycle them in this song, but at the time of the album release this did cause a bit of a controversy. These former Hogarth band mates were subsequently all co-credited on the 1997 remaster, and it appears that Hogarth and Woore are now reconciled on this issue as the last line of this edition’s sleeve notes is a ‘thank you’ to Colin Woore for inspiring The Space… – who knows how we influence each other sometimes?
That’s the album – so what do you get with the deluxe edition, particularly if you are already familiar with the original album?
Michael Hunter has done the remix with his usual care and attention as is his way – he’s like an extra member of Marillion such is his intuitive relationship with the band and their music. To be fair, the original mix of this album by Nick Davis, who on the back of his good job on his first album as a producer went on to produce Genesis, was already of a very good standard. What we do not have here is the totally transformative experience heard with the massive improvement in the remix of ‘Fugazi’ which was frankly rather shoddy originally. This remix is definitely more dynamic and ‘brighter’ (if that makes sense) with more of the subtle nuances standing out, such as the ‘Cuckoo’ at the end of The Uninvited Guest. Seasons End does seem to particularly benefit from the remix with Hogarth’s gorgeous tone of voice full of restrained power and feeling and Kelly’s keyboards so lush. The improvements are not startling or revelatory which is a compliment to the original production, but they are noticeable. Of course, one’s perceptions about the differences in this remix will be largely affected by the quality of one’s sound system. The more you invest in such systems the more you are likely to hear some subtle improvements and differences… and if you’ve spent a LOT of money on your system you will REALLY want to hear those differences, even if in truth you may need the auditory senses of a bat to actually hear them! (😊)
As is customary with these deluxe editions CD’s 2 & 3 are of a live gig associated with this album. On previous deluxe editions these shows have been of shows contemporary with the release of the album, but on this occasion they have chosen to use their brilliant performance of the album at the U.K Marillion weekend in Leicester in May 2022. This has been the source of some disappointment from some fans because… well, I’m not entirely sure why? Some fans just don’t like change, which is ironic when you consider this album marked the biggest change in the history of the band. My guess the main reason the band did not include a recording from their first tour with Hogarth in 1990 is that there is already a cracking version of the 1990 Leicester show from that tour released on the ‘The Official Bootleg Box Set Volume 2’ in 2010. Normally that would have been the ideal live show to include with such a deluxe edition, but if the band had included it one can already hear some fans complaining that this material had already been released… and to be fair they would have had a point. However, another reason for using the 2022 live recording could be to show just how well this gem of an album has aged in the last 30+ years. The Leicester De Montfort 2022 show is an excellent performance with fantastic clarity of production and thrilling performance. Another difference between the 1990 show and the 2022 show (apart from the total lack of any Fish era material) is that the audience were now so much more familiar with the album and sang along and rapturously received such masterpieces as Easter, Seasons End, Berlin and the stellar, celebratory B-Side The Release with such joy. Holloway Girl really shines in this show, right from Trewavas’ cool metallic bass pick intro to Rothery’s steepling guitar runs and Hogarth’s impassioned vocals. This recording also completely dismisses any notion that Hogarth is starting to lose his voice – yes, he’s over 30 years older so his voice has aged and is not identical to 1989, but in some ways he has grown into these songs so much and wears them with such assurance, confidence and passion. Oh… and the other reason you won’t find me moaning about having the 2022 show on this deluxe edition is because I was there – it was a stunning gig and joyous experience. The main show featured only the ‘Seasons End‘ album and the associated B-Side The Release as the band now realise that one instrument they really do need to protect for a full three intense nights in a row is Hogarth’s voice, particularly as he does not hold himself back with the intensity and passion of his vocals. CD 3 comprises the encore of only two songs, but when those two pieces are the excellent and stirring epics of Gaza and The Leavers that was quite enough to satisfy the crowd.
The main attraction for many of these deluxe editions are the extras, including the ‘Seasons Change’ documentary in which each band member and the producer NickDavis are interviewed at the legendary ‘Crooked Billet’ pub in Oxfordshire where Steve Hogarth made his debut live with the band in a packed room of a country pub with hundreds in the roads outside! Previous editions have often interviewed the band collectively, but an advantage of individual interviews is that you hear more from band members whom are usually more reticent in a band / group setting. It is particularly interesting to hear more from drummer Ian Mosley, whom you can tell STILL loves being in this rock band after an early career of theatre and session work. This documentary is well produced by Tim Sidwell whom is becoming a past master at these presentations by Marillion.
The Blu-ray includes the album in 5.1 Audio which reveals the album in gorgeous surround sound clarity if you have the equipment. It sounds massive, expansive and more resonant in this splendid 5.1 version. The B-Sides and Bonus tracks from the ‘Seasons End‘ 1997 remaster are also included on the Blu-ray, including the excellent The Bell in the Sea and The Release. These are two more songs with roots in the 1988 Dalnagar sessions also available on the ‘Clutching…’ 1999 Remaster. ‘Tic-Tac-Toe’ provided a lot of the music for The Release, and ‘Shadows on the Barley’ was the basis for The Bell in the Sea. There will be some fans without that previous 1997 remaster disappointed that these tracks are confined to the Blu-ray on this edition. Interestingly there are also some previously unreleased demos of songs and song ideas, including a couple of cool string grooves from Dalnagar sessions which may explain just why this was a band who were confident that they still had something to offer without Fish. The Audio content is completed by a ‘Montreal Bootleg’ from a gig in 1990, presumably to satisfy the desire of some fans for an audio show from that era. As the name suggests the sound quality is not superior but for a bootleg it is very good quality, but to be honest if I want a show from this era I would put on the later ‘Rock Steady’ show.
The Blu-Ray is jam packed full of video content, including 3 promotional song videos which now look like curious time pieces. The Uninvited Guest does provide some fascinating imagery with Hogarth suspended in mid-air maniacally in an armchair! The previously released early documentary ‘Stoke Row to Ipanema’ is an interesting look back to a band striking out in a new direction with a new front man. Last and certainly not least, one of the crowning elements of this deluxe edition is the ‘Rock Steady’ Concert Film, which is the TV show recording of the audio show from Leicester De Montfort Hall in 1990, previously released on ‘The Official Box Set volume 2’ in 2010. The quality of the performance and the filming is excellent, with plenty of great close ups of all the band members (although Kelly seemed a little under -represented in that department!) Looking back now it is hard to believe that this was Steve Hogarth’s first tour with the band, such is the incandescent and staggeringly confident nature of his performance. What is also remarkable is the assured way he handles the Fish era material, especially Warm Wet Circles and Script for a Jester’s Tear – he was not trying to be Fish, but inhabited these iconic songs with his own personality.
Once again, the deluxe edition book and lyrics are decorated inside with some great artwork from Simon Ward and Rich Wilson provides some interesting sleeve notes. The box set artwork has caused some debate with some fans disappointed that much of the original cover design has been ditched or only subtly referenced. To be honest, I can understand why the band wanted to re-package the artwork. The original cover was a conscious effort at that crucial juncture in their career to remind fans that Marillion were still around with the original classic logo still in place (for the last time) and photographic imagery subtly referencing Fish era elements, such as the Jester’s face and hat. Fast forward 34 years later and there is absolutely no need for the band to re-use such self-conscious imagery and it felt entirely appropriate to leave the old logo and those other references well behind and use more subtly presented images of the Four Elements.
Personally, I can distinctly recall getting ‘Seasons End‘ when it first came out with some trepidation as I was a great Fish era fan. What was this ‘new bloke’ going to sound like and what he done to ‘my band’?! At the time I do remember thinking this is ‘pretty good’ – I may even have thought that rather grudgingly, such was my feeling for Fish at the time! However, as the years have gone by, I have increasingly come to realise that this album was far better than ‘pretty good’ to say the least. It is an excellent transition album, utilising some of the elements of their previous manifestation fused with a new style and sensibility introduced by an equally charismatic but very different front man.
What this deluxe edition of ‘Seasons End‘ most certainly does do is underline and remind us what an outstanding ‘debut’ album this was for the Hogarth era of Marillion. ‘Seasons End‘ was a magnificent re-birth of the band and ignited a different trajectory in their career, and this excellent deluxe edition cements its place as one of the finest albums in the history of Marillion.
CD One – Holidays in Eden 2023 Remix
King of Sunset Town
The Uninvited Guest
Hooks in You
CD Two – Live at De Montfort Hall, Leicester, 29th May, 2022) (pt 1)
King of Sunset Town
The Uninvited Guest
Hooks in You
CD Three – Live at De Montfort Hall, Leicester, 29th May, 2022) (pt 2)
‘Seasons End’ 2023 Michael Hunter Remix – 5.1 Audio Version:
Same Track listing as CD 1
B-Sides, Demos & Early Versions
Strings Groove (Dalnagar Castle – August 1988)
String Groove (with Synths) (Dalnagar Castle – August 1988)
Amsterdam (The Space… Demo – March 1989)
Easter (Demo – March 1989)
Hooks in You (Early Version – March 1989)
At the End of the day (The Release – Early Version – March 1989)
Sunset Town (M8 idea – H Dictaphone – March 1989)
(All tracks below previously released on 1997 remaster edition)
The Uninvited Guest (12” Mix)
The Bell in the Sea
The King of Sunset Town (Demo)
Holloway Girl (Demo)
Seasons End (Demo)
The Uninvited Guest (Demo)
Bell in the Sea (Demo)
Montreal Bootleg – Le Spectrum, 2nd & 3rd February, 1990
The King of Sunset Town
Script for a Jester’s Tear
Warm Wet Circles
That Time of the Night (The Short Straw)
Heart of Lothian
Hooks in You
‘Seasons Change’ – Documentary Film (83 Mins)
‘From Stoke Row to Ipanema’ – Documentary Film (63 Mins)
Rock Steady Concert Film
Live at Leicester de Montfort Hall, 1990 (90 mins)
Hooks in You
The Uninvited Guest
Steve Hogarth – Voice
Steve Rothery – Guitars
Mark Kelly – Keyboardsm
Pete Trewavas – Bass
Ian Mosley – Drums & Percussion
Phil Todd – Saxophone (Berlin)
Jean Pierre Rasle – Pipes (Easter)
Progradar would like to thank Fraser Marshall of the website:
‘Marillion – Explanations of Song Elements’ for his permission to refer to his blog about some of the background to the songs.