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Marillion - Misplaced Childhood

On June 17, 1985, the album "Misplaced Childhood", "Marillion's" third studio album, was released.


Let's start with a small confession. We will always have a warm corner in our hearts for a Marillion. Despite parting ways with Fish at the height of their success, despite going in the direction of "Trip Hop" on the "marillion.com" album from 1999 and despite the "Gaza" (yes, yes a 17 minute work on "Gaza") from the album "Sounds That Can t Be Made "from 2012.


We will never forget that this band revived a glorious genre that was dying until it was about to pass away. There is no doubt! All neo-prog, post-progressive, prog-metal bands, owe their very existence to a Marillion, and that alone is enough for you to keep reading, even if you are not a fan of the genre.


So, to understand why this band deserves so much respect, let's go back to the beginning, as always.


From the end of the 70's punk is on the rise, disco reigns supreme, the new wave and electronic are beginning to establish themselves and around the corner the British heavy metal revolution, which is only in its infancy, is about to erupt. There is no place for progressives in the music world at that time. This distress is causing the giant bands of the genre, like Jethro Tull, Yes and Genesis to look for new directions and they are indeed flirting with pop and mainstream as can be heard on their albums from the early 80s.


At the same time, a band was formed and adopted the name "Silmarillion" after the book series by fantasy writer J. R. R. Tolkien. This band decides to swim against the current, go against the flow, not succumb to pressures and not be influenced by existing trends. Contrary to all expectations and against all odds, the band manages to get a recording contract and release their first single in 1982 and their excellent debut album "Script for a Jester's Tear" in 1983, not before changing its name to Marillion to avoid a copyright lawsuit.


In the same year, Marillion manages to fill out "Hammersmith Odeon" in London and film there the final performance of the tour, a performance that will later be released on VHS tape in October of that year and become a cult show, also in the our own library. Marillion was warmed up by none other than the amazing Peter Hammill from Der Graaf Generator.


At the beginning the various music critics and magazines did not know how to define the band at the beginning. For example, metal magazine Kerrang included the band in a video collection along with hard rock and heavy metal bands. Others saw the Fishh singer and his charismatic performance on stage as an imitation of Peter Gabriel in his heyday at Genesis.


They did not know how to characterize the band's style, so they had to invent a new name for it. Neo-Prog because it was clear to everyone that the progressive had been dead for long. But to the devout lovers of this mighty genre it was clear that this was in fact "Same old Bess in a new dress" and that the style of music they loved so much had been revived, just like the Phoenix that catches fire only to rise again from its own ashes.


But that was not enough, because the band swept away not only the audience that had been thirsty all these years for progressive music, but also young bands which suddenly popped up like mushrooms after the rain.


The highlight of this renewed musical revival, was in the band's third album from 1985 - "Misplaced Childhood", the subject of our coverage, as for the first time in years he was released a full concept album and even in progressive rock style.


When we talk about a full concept album we mean one piece, one long song that includes a number of sections that connect to each other in Crossfade, with one central theme common to all the tracks on the album. To understand the daring and magnitude of the achievement, try to think about who genres ruled the music world in the mid - 80s and understand how Marillion were unique.


But this whole story does not end here, because at the peak of the band's success immediately after the release of the album and the release of the single "Keyleigh", which conquered the tops of the charts all over the world, this band stands on the stage of the Ramat Gan Stadium and played the first side of the concept album from beginning to end, and there are no words to describe the catharsis your faithful servant experienced during that performance.


So what do we have in this album that makes it so special?


The album is based on the childhood and adulthood of singer Fish, who conceived the plot from beginning to end during a long 10-hour acid trip, he claimed. The album addresses issues related to the singer's life, such as lost love, sudden success, internalization and acceptance and lost childhood, until its optimistic end.


For example, the song "Kayleigh" was written about Fish's girlfriend who goes by the name Kay Lee and the change in the name is meant to obscure her original identity. The "Heart of Lothian" refers to the county in Scotland from which Fish comes. The song "Lavender" refers to another love story in Fish's innocent childhood and so on.


The album opens with the soft and delicate "Pseudo Silk Kimono" led by Mark Kelly's synthesizer and Steve Rothery's guitar effect, and we're already out with Fish for the adventure of a lifetime.


Immediately after that he meets us in the cross-fade hit "Kayleigh" and it is very difficult to ignore the polished and sweeping guitar melody of Steve Rothery that actually leads the whole song.


The third track "Lavender" is one of the most beautiful and beloved on the album and the reference to the familiar folk song Lavender Blue is clear, only that here everything gets a "progressive" taste.


In the fourth song we finally come to a short progressive work in 5 parts "Bitter Suite" which is steeped in heavy dynamics and a lot of rhythm changes, just like is written in the 'progressive" manual book.


The fifth track "Heart of Lothian" sounds like a direct sequel to its predecessor, with excellent guitar work by Steve Rothery and a calm and soft fade-out keyboard that finishes the first side of the album.


The other side of the album opens with Rothery's melancholic guitar howl in "Waterhole (Expresso Bongo)". A piece that becomes rhythmic with Ian Mosley's complex and rolling drumming and Mark Kelly's xylophone keyboards that just make you want to get up and dance.


Immediately after that came "Lords of the Backstage" with the unusual syncopations that is actually a corridor to a five-part mini-suite that came right after it.


The "Blind Curve" mini-suite is one of the best and most exciting pieces on this album. How can one remain indifferent to the voice of a Fish that simply penetrates your heart, wanders you between the ascents and the rooms and leaves you suspended between peace and pain. How can you ignore Steve Rothery's perfect solo, starting at 1:48? A solo that puts him on a par with the "feel", warmth and emotion that David Gilmore has in playing, and this is no exaggeration. And what about the instrumental and melodic segment starting from the 4:20 minute of the mini suite? Simply perfection in its incarnation.


The track "Childhoods End?" is perhaps the most "poppy" track on the album led by Pete Trewavas' bouncy bass playing and funky beats throughout the verses. The title of the poem includes a question mark and the negative answer to the question is at the end of the poem.


Finishes this excellent album is "White Feather" with the New Wave fragrance and the guitars a-la "U2" and "Big Country".


The album Misplaced Childhood marks the band's highlight. Unfortunately, this highlight is also the one that will eventually eliminate it (at least in this successful lineup). The band will move on from here to a fourth album with Fish "Clutching at Straws" from 1987, after which Fish will leave the band due to musical disagreements. Fish will return to the album in 2015, to celebrate 30 years, as part of the "Farewell to Childhood" series, in which he played with his band from beginning to the end. The performance was part of the triangular album "Farewell to Childhood: Live in Europe 2015-2016" which Fish later released.


For Listening: Spotify, Apple Music


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