Marillion (Fish vs. Hogarth)


I bought the compilation album "The Best of Both Worlds" by Marillion from the local record shop a few days ago.  Two or three years ago I caught an obscure music program on TV around midnight one day where I saw some Marillion videos featuring Fish.  Although I was much less familiar with early Genesis then, I remember getting mildly intrigued by this unknown (to me anyway) Genesis sound-alike band and discussing with a friend about it.  Of course soon after that I began to notice Marillion being mentioned on Paperlate and among G-fan circles as a band very much influenced by Genesis.  Even then I did not feel any urge to check out their music until finally curiosity got the best of me when I happened upon their CDs at the record shop.  I thought I'd be safe and try their greatest hits first as I do with all other unfamiliar bands, so I chose the double-disc compilation.  Plus at $19 it seemed like a good bargain.

Before the first song was over it became evident to me what an understatement it is to say "Marillion is influenced by Genesis"  They were to Genesis what Oasis was to the Beatles or what Radiohead is to Pink Floyd.  In other words, tribute band in disguise.  If anything, Marillion's sound was much more faithful to the original comparing to the other two, which may or may not be a good thing.  Several songs could easily pass off as rare unreleased Gabriel-era tracks if it weren't for the a more modern production.  For instance, the similarities between "Market Square Heroes" and "The Knife" are hard to ignore.  While I have always been of the opinion that originality is an overrated concept in pop music, such blatant borrowing of musical ideas doesn't sit well at all with me.  So as I was listening to disc one of this album my brain was filled with mostly negative thoughts such as "What a rip-off!" despite the fact that I found some parts of the music quite beautiful. 

I changed my mind however as soon as I started to listen to disc two.  Frankly I was astounded by how much I loathed Marillion with Steve Hogarth.  To give you an idea I nearly did not finish listening to it even one time.  The songs are so uniformly bland that the Fish era stuff seems positively masterful in comparison.  When I forced myself to give the CD a second chance today I managed to go through the entire disc without paying the least bit of attention to any single passage in it.  In the end it made me wonder why I didn't simply buy a "Journey" album if I ever wanted to treat myself to an emotionless tenor coupled to largely forgettable music.  If any of you out there are considering buying later Marillion albums involving Hogarth, do yourself a favor and avoid them like the plague!  Believe me you will thank me for it.

After the trauma of listening to disc two, I went back to disc one for the next few days and began to see it in a much more favorable light.  Although some passages still sound too familiar to be completely comfortable (e.g., the keyboard solo about 45 seconds into "Incommunicado", I have to admit it takes a great deal of skill to pull off pseudo-Genesis so well.  Fish's lyrical style falls somewhere between PG and PC, more personal than the former and more literate than the latter.  I have even decided that I liked Fish's voice, although he tends to over-exaggerate at times and ends up sounding like a caricature of PG.  I thought he did a terrific job on "Punch and Judy" my favorite song from the CD.  The chorus was irresistible.  Other personal faves included "Script for a Jesters Tear"and "Assassing" where he sounded like Peter's lost twin brother.  "Kayleigh" is a very catchy love song, but repeats the phrase "break your heart" a bit too many times.  "Lavender" makes it easier to imagine how Peter would sound singing a "Ripples" type ballad.  It always cracks me up that at one point during "Forgotten sons" Fish sounded like Daffy Duck with a British accent (there, now I've lost the one Marillion fan who is still reading at this point).

Oh yeah, I agree that I would have liked Fish to be Phil's replacement :)





Larry wrote: 
>"This Strange Engine" is an incredible album, the title track being >simply "unF&#^*king believable.. all >15 minutes of it!! By the end >the song is so absolutely gut-wrenching that apparently when played >live, Hogarth can't finish the song because he is in full tears and >completely broken down..


>I think Hogarth is one of the most unique singers in all of music.. I >simply can't begin to think of anyone >that sounds REMOTELY like him.. >I happen to love his voice.?br>

Sorry to say I can not disagree more with the above statements.  Thanks to all you Hogarth fans and your unanimous objection to my assessment of post-Fish Marillion, I suffered through that second disc of "Best of Both Worlds" yet again yesterday on my way home.  I was looking hard for any redeeming values that might be hidden in the said CD, but failed once again to find any.  However, I was finally able to pinpoint the single most important reason for this contempt:  it was Hogarth's voice.  His lead vocals are so inane that it ruined the music for me.  There is nothing unique about his voice as he sounds like most mainstream rockers in the 90's. Granted, Hogarth has a good vocal range, but some of his high-pitched screamings were so "gut-wrenching" that I almost projectile-vomited.  "The Great Escape" for instance, could have been an enjoyable instrumental if Hogarth's incessant vocalizations could be removed from it.         

I hope no one takes the above comments personally, but I had to get it off my chest.




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