Album review: MARILLION – The Singles Vol.2, 89-95

MARILLION - The Singles Vol.2, 89-95

EMI [Release date 22.04.13]

This collection is a reissue of the now deleted 12-CD box set (2002) when all the singles had a nice repro card sleeve.

The album charts the band’s more commercial Hogarth era from 1989 (and ‘Season’s End’) to 1995 when the band’s EMI swansong was ‘Afraid Of Sunlight’.

On recent albums Marillion have thankfully returned to this more direct and commercial sound whilst still continuing to push the musical envelope when necessary.

The early Hogarth albums included a large proportion of ear candy that was perfect for single release.  If this collection lacks the card sleeves, and indeed the tactility of the original picture disc, 12” and 7” versions, it does collect all this output in one easy to digest place and across four discs.

Included with the main tracks (mostly single edit versions) are the additional songs that never made the albums.  But songs like ‘The Bell In The Sea’,  ‘I Will Walk On Water’  and ‘Sympathy’ (a single-only release in 1992) are worthy of investigation in their own right.

Proportionally, there are more pieces from around the time of their second Hogarth-era EMI album ‘Holidays In Eden’ with this period stretched across one and a bit disc.  That album has always been a long-term favourite of mine and especially ‘Dry Land’ the song Hogarth brought with him from How We Live and here included in 7” edit format and live.  This was the time when bands had the luxury of issuing a single in four different versions and it would also yield such things as enamel badges and posters.

‘Cover My Eyes’ – especially here in its Mike Stone remix format – is a good enough advertisement for early 1990s radio-friendly AOR.

One slight omission is the exclusion of the promo-only ‘acoustic’ single released in February 1994.  This would have easily fitted on Disc 3 and formed a nice bonus on this reissue.  Similarly a radio edit version of ‘Cannibal Surf Babe’ released in 1995.

The reconstituted band’s tenure with EMI was to be severely tested when their third offering for the label was a concept piece with few radio accessible tracks.  However the album ‘Brave’ did yield the superb ‘Alone Again In The Lap Of Luxury’ and this period of the band’s history is also reflected with the inclusion of several non-album tracks such as the instrumentals ‘Winter Trees’ and ‘Marouatte Jam’.

Disc Four rounds things off with more live tracks and those plucked from the album ‘Afraid Of Sunlight’  (‘Beautiful’ and ‘Afraid Of Sunrise’).

By 1995 Marillion had left EMI and started out on their self-made path which continues today.  But this collection charts those formative Hogarth years and for many the awkward progress as they won over the Fish die-hards whilst developing and refining their current sound.  This might even be one of the few places you’ll find a version of ‘Kayleigh’ by the current line-up of the band.

Collectors should note that this reissue omits two tracks (only album versions) from that original 12-CD set and that many tracks have already been available as bonuses on the various EMI album reissues.  Sadly, the booklet information is minimalist with only the track listing (no release dates or any differentiation between singles) and no illuminative essay.   But if you missed them first time round (or missed the superior card cover release) – or have only recently discovered Marillion via ‘Sounds That Can’t Be Made’ – this well-priced singles collection is essential.  ****

Review by David Randall

David Randall presents ‘Assume The Position’ on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio every Sunday at 22:00 GMT.

David Randall plays a selection of new and classic rock in his weekly show first broadcast 14 June 2020 including reference to the Feature series “2020 Vision”.

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