earMUSIC [Release date 27.11.20]
Thirty years in the making… well, ok, thirty years in the planning, Marillion’s much sought after keyboard player, Mark Kelly at last releases his “solo” album, the appropriately titled “Marathon”.
He’s enlisted the help of a number of ace musicians… guitarists Pete Woods and John Cordy; drummer Henry Rogers, and nephew Conal Kelly on bass. The inspired decision was bringing in Oliver M Smith on vocals. He treats each song’s lyrics (written by the band’s Keith Reid equivalent, Guy Vickers) with real respect, subtly changing his voice’s tone and timbre to suit the mood. It’s very impressive.
Together, they assembled the constituent parts in Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studio.
The disappearance of world famous pilot Amelia Erhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, somewhere over the Pacific Ocean, in 1927, is one of the album’s focal points. ‘Amelia’ is a song in 3 parts. Part 1, ‘Shoreline’, an instrumental, gives us a sense of place. Part 2, ‘Whistling at The Sea’ Kelly goes on to ponder the tenuous hold we have on life, and in Part 3, the focus moves forward, to the speculation that a find of buried bones, on a small Pacific island, had given up the brave adventurer’s last resting place.
This opening suite, despite being something less than epic, celebrates the power of grown up rock music, and grown up themes. It’s sharply observant, full of humanity, illuminated by insights on life in general. And yes, it has some excellent tunes.
And the subject matter, knitted together by eloquent musicianship and beautifully blended arrangements, is compelling… a natural union of words and music, giving birth to some plangent progressive rock.
Like his parent band, Kelly doesn’t neglect to provide accessible entry points, ‘When I Fell’ is a graceful, elegantly structured ballad, leaning gently but firmly into a more commercial sound. ‘Puppets’ again strikes that balance between artistry and accessibility. The song’s subtle collision of pop’s and prog’s musical values provides some of Kelly’s most interesting material.
The futuristic, twenty minute, 4 part suite, ‘Twenty Fifty One’ closes the album. Kelly switches his keyboards into Space Odyssey mode, and everybody else follows suit.
The instrumental passages are a treat. And again, Oliver M Smith’s expressive voice (inhabited by the ghost of Peter Gabriel) acts as our guide, carefully capturing the sense of wonder that sparks our imagination, as humanity reluctantly beats a path to the stars. ****
Review by Brian McGowan
The latest Facebook Live session from Canadian singer-songwriter Josh Taerk was streamed on Sunday 22 November.
More about Josh: http://getreadytorock.me.uk/blog/?s=%22Josh+Taerk%22
David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 22 November 2020.
UK Blues Broadcaster of the Year (2020) Pete Feenstra presents his weekly Rock & Blues Show on Tuesday at 19:00 ( BST, GMT+1) as part of a five hour blues rock marathon “Tuesday is Bluesday at GRTR!”. The show is repeated on Wednesdays at 22:00, Fridays at 20:00). This show was first broadcast 24 November 2020
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Featured Albums w/c 23 November (Mon-Fri)
09:00-12:00 JEFF SCOTT SOTO Wide Awake (In My Dreamland) (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 LAZARUS DREAM Alive (Pride & Joy Music)
14:00-16:00 RONAN FURLONG The King Of Leaves (Thoroughbred Music)
Power Plays w/c 23 November (Mon-Fri)
L.A. GUNS All That You Are (Golden Robot Records)
THE DUST CODA Limbo Man (Earache)
EBBA BERGKVIST & THE FLAT TIRE BAND 68 Twin (indie)
IRON SAVIOR Souleater (AFM Records)
IVY GOLD This Is My Time (indie)
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