Marillion
Script for a Jester's Tear


4.5
superb

Review

by Matthijs van der Lee USER (219 Reviews)
February 26th, 2010 | 137 replies | 13,051 views


Release Date: 1983 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A sadly overlooked classic that everyone interested in classic 70's prog should have given a listen.

Marillion is an 80’s band that very well could have been a 70’s one. Originally founded as Silmarillion, after one of J.R.R. Tolkien’s books, the group developed a sound quite akin to classic 70’s progressive acts such as King Crimson, Pink Floyd, and especially, Gabriel-led Genesis. The group had already been inspired by these groups in their very early days, but when vocalist Fish became the group’s creative leader not too soon after their formation, it were his poetic, introspective lyrics and theatrical vocals that became the centre of Marillion’s sound.

The band’s debut, Script for a Jester’s Tear, is excellent proof of this recognizable sound, and other than that, an often overlooked prog classic. The bands that had so inspired Marillion were all past their prime; Floyd had released their last classic The Wall on the doorstep to the 80’s, Genesis was now steadily turning into a Collins-led pop rock band, and while King Crimson remained one of the most enduring and innovative acts of their era, even in the new decade, their dabbling into electronic guitaring with new front figure Adrian Belew was nothing like the sound that made a classic such as In The Court of the Crimson King possible. Enter Marillion: a band determined to revive the characteristic 70’s style of prog rock.

The main selling point of the group remains Fish. His vocals are not at all unlike Peter Gabriel’s. The main difference is that Gabriel’s voice is raspier and more controlled, while Fish’s takes more pleasure in creating sudden expressions, as well as displaying a slight sense of paranoia. The title track that tilts things off is introduced excellently by the singer, who, accompanied by a simple keyboard arrangement, builds up his vocals from a soft crooning until an explosive climax:

‘So here I am once more in the playground of the broken hearts
One more experience, one more entry in a diary, self-penned
Yet another emotional suicide overdosed on sentiment and pride
Too late to say I love you, too late to re-stage the play
Abandoning the relics in my playground of yesterday

I'm losing on the swings, I'm losing on the roundabouts
I'm losing on the swings, I'm losing on the roundabouts
Too much, too soon, too far to go, too late to play, the game is over
The game is over

So HERE I AM once more in the playground of the BROKEN heart
I'm LOSING on the swings, losing on the roundabouts, the game is OVER, OVER…’


The band perfectly accompanies him, especially Mark Kelly’s dramatic and calculated keys and Steve Rothery’s emotion-packed guitar playing standing out. Unlike many other (both old and new) progressive acts, Marillion does not at all let itself go into overly technical parts, just to show off their virtuosity (which they very definitely possess). All the six lengthy tracks on Script for a Jester’s Tear are carefully arranged, and as such, the band is not as overly bombastic or explosive as some of their counterparts, which some may seem as a negative, but actually only adds to the group’s originality. Drawing the comparisons to their 70’s foregoers is unavoidable, but Marillion shows a restraint and carefulness in their music that only strengthens them, and one that really no other prog band had managed to achieve before. This is one of the features that makes them special next to what has already been done.

The rest of the record is very consistent, although never quite reaching the height of the title track. The Web (a superb showcase for Rothery’s talents) and closer Forgotten Sons are two other very worthy epics, and the necessary break is provided by the 5-minute He Knows You Know, highlighted by the almost vicious snarls Fish puts out. Chelsea Monday is perhaps the only moment on the album that drags in parts. As a whole, it definitely takes time to grow, especially the middle part sinking in a bit later, and aside from the hard job one will have deciphering the lyrical content, negatives are scarce.

Noticing the artsy cover, it is already before listening that you’ll be able to see Script for a Jester’s Tear is something quite special. A grand achievement for such a young band, who managed to bend the laws of prog just enough to keep things interesting. It is no surprise the jester pictured on the cover is still iconic for the group. Marillion favours songwriting rather than showing off, and that makes this record unique in the genre. Nevertheless, you will be amazed by the virtuosity of especially the charismatic Fish, Rothery and Kelly. The title and art make this look like another of those over-the-top epic affairs. Rather, I would refer to Script as a restrained epic.

Script for a Jester’s Tear’s Marillion was:

- Derek William ‘Fish’ Dick ~ Vocals
- Steve Rothery ~ Lead Guitar
- Mark Colbert Kelly ~ Keyboards
- Peter Trewavas ~ Bass Guitar
- Mick Pointer ~ Drums


Essential listening:

Script for a Jester’s Tear
He Knows You Know
The Web
Forgotten Sons




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user ratings (154)
Chart.
4.2
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Nagrarok
February 26th 2010


8239 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This record is quite well-known where I come from, I was surprised it didn't have a review here and managed to write up one sort of spontaneously. No, this is NOT the start of a discography.

Metalstyles
Staff Reviewer
February 26th 2010


8357 Comments


good review. I remember hearing some Marillion when I was younger, and it was sadly boring as all hell to me.

Nagrarok
February 26th 2010


8239 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I believe they also got into this pop rock era and scored a few hits there. I think you'll mean those, meaning it will be nothing like this. But since you're not big on classic prog, I will not urge you to listen to this. I'm eager to know whether this is what you meant by different reviewing.

Metalstyles
Staff Reviewer
February 26th 2010


8357 Comments


yeah I believe it is their pop rock shizz I've listened to then. And well, it pretty much is what I had in mind, when I told that you should break out of your comfort zone. Obviously I didn't expect you to jump straight to death metulz ;)

Nagrarok
February 26th 2010


8239 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Well, I actually considered reviewing the entire Death discog (really the only straigthforward death metal band I like), but I would run out of things to say I think.

BigHans
February 26th 2010


26454 Comments


Never heard of them. If I saw the band name and song titles I wouldve thought they were Power Metal.

Nagrarok
February 26th 2010


8239 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

A power metal band writing song called 'Garden Party'? No way.

BigHans
February 26th 2010


26454 Comments


Yeah, would probably be more like "Slaying the Monolithic Dragon then going to a Garden Party, Part 1"

Nagrarok
February 26th 2010


8239 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Slaying the Mighty Dragon in the Garden of Eden after a Bloody Battle in the middle of a Tea Party: Overture

Anyway: ABOUT THIS REVIEW

NeutralThunder12
February 26th 2010


8742 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

great review Nagrarok, as a huge 70's progressive fan, I find this album to be pretty damn awesome too. Finally, a review for it. Hey, check out my new Maiden review, its for Killers, my second review for them so far.

Nagrarok
February 26th 2010


8239 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I was busy reading that while you commented here. And if you have heard this album, why not rate it? Many users simply seem to forget that. And this one needs it, as you can see.

LepreCon
February 26th 2010


4082 Comments


Oh man Nag you officially rule for reviewing Marillion, old Marillion is just boss! I'd pos just because its an early-Marillion review but it's a good review as always

Jethro42
February 26th 2010


12438 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Glad to see this masterpiece being reviewed by you Nag.
Too bad that drummer Ian Mosley was not part of the line up yet.
I can't give this a 5 just for this reason. Brillant review for a brillant debut album. Pos.

Greggers
February 26th 2010


2375 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I've heard of Marillion but never listened to them, I'll make sure to check them out at some point, good review mate

Nagrarok
February 27th 2010


8239 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks all. This here album deserves more than just 31 votes.

Too bad that drummer Ian Mosley was not part of the line up yet.


I was already waiting for sputnik's possible prog authority and oldest member to comment ;). I haven't heard anything else from Marillion, but the drumming here is nothing really special indeed. I'll probably check out some of the follow-ups, their other early work is supposed to be really good.

EVedder27
February 27th 2010


6088 Comments


Guess I missed this yesterday. Sounds really interesting and I think I'm gonna have to spin this later today.

Nagrarok
February 27th 2010


8239 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I'll be eagerly awaiting your opinion.

EVedder27
February 28th 2010


6088 Comments


Just as I thought, it is really really good. I definitely get a little bit of a Genesis vibe from them. Also the guitar is absolutely awesome.

Jethro42
February 28th 2010


12438 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I'll probably check out some of the follow-ups, their other early work is supposed to be really good.

Everything they did with Fish is excellent. You also find numerous songs that stand out here and there after his departure. 'Seasons End' is a post-Fish album I like.

I definitely get a little bit of a Genesis vibe from them.

Genesis are obviously their biggest influence. But Marillion have developed their own style and sound, subtly blending classic prog and neo-progressive. And yes, Steve Rothery is a very talented guitarist with an inventive and melodic playing.

Here's where the band was the closest to the sound of Genesis imo (especially part II):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qvf-I_Kzru4
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XWs2aQIiCKg

scotish
April 4th 2010


835 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

my mum liked these guys. can't say I'm as enthusiastic; maybe the rating is a bit on the harsh side, but I don't really haven't had the patience for this sort of overblown stuff anymore since Quadrophenia



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