The hardest part of any band, especially one who is known for progressive rock, is indeed that, progressing. How you do create new music that has no boundaries when many want you to stay pigeonholed in your past? Will your hardcore fans go along for the journey, or will they refuse to appreciate any new direction? Such was the case for Marillion, who after straddling the line between progressive rock and pop with such albums as “Brave” (a progressive rock concept album) and “Afraid Of Sunlight” (more straight ahead but equally as dark), started being influenced by the brit-pop scene around them (most notably, Radiohead). The band’s 1997 album “This Strange Engine” and their 1998 follow-up, “Radiation”, are seen by most fans as a “transitional period” for the band. Released in 1999, “Marillion.com” continues down this transitional path, yet the band seems quite comfortable with the journey they are on. Two songs, ‘Interior Lulu’ and ‘Tumble Down The Years’ were written and recorded for 1998’s “Radiation” but were held back. Steve Hogarth (lead vocalist) explains, “…we decided not to include the tracks on the “Radiation” album as we thought they both needed more work on the arrangements and then re-recording. We spent several days jamming around the groove of ‘Tumble Down the Years’ before we finally settled on something we all felt would be a major improvement on the earlier version. ‘Interior Lulu’ was completely rearranged. Steve Rothery [guitarist] showed up one day with a demo of a different approach for the beginning of the song – the fretless bass groove against a conga rhythm – and a new ending emerged from a chord sequence that Mark [Kelly, keyboards] came up with, married together with the ‘Primrose Hill’ lyric which I had actually written a couple of years ago in Browns café, Oxford. I was a lot happier with the development of the lyric now and the song finally seemed to draw to a more natural end, musically.” Many of the tunes had their impetus during the “Radiation” sessions as well (‘Deserve’, ‘Rich’, ‘Go!’,’ ‘Enlightened’ and ‘Built-in Bastard Radar’), leading to the band having more than enough material to choose from. The result of these sessions show the band acknowledging their past but refusing to be pigeon-holed by it, as showcased in the two closing tracks, ‘Interior Lulu’ and ‘House’. The latter of which, if you closed your eyes, could be heard in a jazz club. A much more even-keeled album then “Radiation”, “Marillion.Com” proves the band ready for the 21st century.
For more information on Marillion, check out the following links:
The official Marillion website
Marillon on Wikipedia
Marillion on ProgArchives