Album review: MARILLION – Smoke/Mirrors (reissues)

MARILLION - Smoke/Mirrors (reissues)

earMUSIC [Release date 25.05.18]

You need deep pockets in 2018 to keep up with the almost constant Marillion ‘product’ output.  As well as the single CD Steven Wilson-Brave stereo remix, this month sees the release of Part 3 of the limited edition live album series.  This time, delving deep into the band’s back catalogue to the 2005 weekend convention, the last to be held at Butlins, Minehead.

That weekend kicked off on the Friday night with a canter through the band’s then current album Marbles.  That performance, although not available as part of this series, was originally made available on CD as Marbles By The Sea.   And although long out of print, completists can still purchase a 256kbps download from the band’s website.

The weekend also, naturally, spawned a DVD – Bootleg Butlins, filmed using just 3 cameras, and also long out of print, with second hand copies now selling at a premium.  That DVD ‘mirrored’ these two releases, capturing the up-tempo ‘Smoke’ set on the Saturday night, and the relatively quiet and mellow ‘Mirrors’ set on the Sunday.  The Friday performance was presumably omitted because of the release of Marbles On The Road DVD, recorded in London the previous year.

The quality of the performance here, and the recordings, just go to underline that while form can be temporary, class is permanent.

But even within this limited edition live album series, significant overlap of material is beginning to appear.  So, the question is, do you indulge?  Is it possible, for even Marillion die-hards to get too much of a good thing?

Well, there are some lesser spotted highlights, like ‘Separated Out’ from Anoraknophopia, and ‘Deserve’, ‘Rich’, and ‘House’ from Marillion.com (which will form the centrepiece of the 2019 conventions).  The latter gets a beautifully relaxed outing with some exquisite playing / singing and it makes you wonder why it doesn’t feature in set lists more often.  And Rothery’s sublime bluesy guitar lines on ‘Born To Run’ from Radiation also merit a special mention.

But as my wife succinctly put it, as I was listening to these two releases, ‘Is that another Marillion live recording (as she rolled her eyes skywards)??  Indeed, a Marillion obsession can be bad not only for your bank balance, but the stability of your marriage.

But what can you do?  The quality of these live recordings is second to none.  Resistance is useless.  ****

Review by Pete Whalley

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The latest Josh Taerk live session was streamed on Sunday 21 November. Next session 12 December. The video above was a Halloween Special, streamed 31 October.

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From 1 December the Featured Albums and Power Play segments will reflect those artists and tracks featured during 2021.

Featured Albums w/c 15 November 2021 (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 MEMORIA AVENUE Memoria Avenue (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 FANS OF THE DARK Fans Of The Dark (Frontiers)
14:00-16:00 HANNAH JAMES & TOBY KUHN Sleeping Spirals (Jigdoll Records)

Power Plays w/c 15 November 2021 (Mon-Fri)

THE FORGOTTEN Interstellar (FiXT Noir)
QUILL Riding Rainbows (indie)
DEAD REYNOLDS Uninspired (The Fort)
CAVALCADE Dreaming About (Golden Robot)
HANNAH ALDRIDGE Sinking (indie)
GREYHAVEN All Candy (Rude Records)



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