Marillion’s “A Sunday Night…” Is A Great Listen For Any Night Or Day

Courtesy:  E.A.R. Music/Eagle Records

Courtesy: E.A.R. Music/Eagle Records

Marillion’s new live recording A Sunday Night Above the Rain was released in North America this week.  The double-disc recording is a piece that any fan of the veteran progressive rock band will want to add to their personal music library now that it is available to the masses.  The primary reason that audiences will want to add this new live recording to their personal music library is the band’s performance of its most recent album in its entirety along with a handful of other songs to complement the performance.  The second reason that Marillion’s fans will want to add this recording to their personal music libraries is its total run time.  Between its two discs, ASNATR offers audiences just over two hours of music.  The audio quality of those two-plus hours (technically two hours, two point four minutes) is expert.  All three factors together make Marillion’s new live recording well worth the money for any fan of this well-established band.

The central point of the success of A Sunday Night Above the Rain is the fact that the band’s set list in this show is comprised almost entirely of the band’s hit 2012 album Sounds That Can’t Be Made.  That album’s eight total tracks are spread across the record’s two discs.  They are accompanied by a handful of extremely rare songs from the band.  In the case of Marillion, the use of the term rare is not just thrown around.  Rather only perhaps two of those remaining five songs come directly from the band’s previous releases.  And those songs themselves have very rarely been performed live by Marillion.  The others are even rarer.  This makes the recording’s five remaining performances more than just part of the whole.  They become collectively a bonus in and of themselves.  Though, together with the other eight tracks from Sounds That Can’t Be Made, they become bonus material, too.  And that only serves to make this live recording even more enjoyable.

The songs included in Marillion’s set list are on the surface, great additions to the show.  On a deeper level, the very fact that the band would perform one of its albums in its entirety and do so for a live recording is even more important in itself.  That’s because while not entirely unheard of for a band to perform one of its albums in full, a band of such high regard doing so and for so many years as Marillion is less common.  It helps A Sunday Night Above the Rain stand out and establish its own identity even more.  That in turn makes this an even more special record for Marillion’s fans to add to their own home music libraries. All together, the performance of Sounds That Can’t Be Made alongside the rarer songs equals out to a performance time of just over two hours. To be more precise, it equals out to approximately two hours and two point four minutes. That is a lot of music for audiences to enjoy. And along with the last of this recording’s positives—the audio mix—those two factors and the set list together make ASNATR even more a great listen or Marillion’s fans.

The last factor worth noting in the release of ASNATR is the concert’s audio mix. Every concert venue around the world presents its own challenges when it comes to recording concerts.   Whether it be an American venue or one such as Center Parcs in Port Zealande, where this concert was recorded, balancing audio levels both for those in attendance and for potential home release takes painstaking and expert work. And that work paid off in the case of ASNATR. Neither front man Steve Hogarth’s vocals nor the music of his band mates covers the other at any point. Recording/Mix specialist Michael Hunter deserves his share of applause for maintaining that balance even in the recording’s softer moments. He shows that he can handle every moment from beginning to end. The end result is a recording that will allow listeners to capture so many nuances with each listen. The very fact that not every nuance can be caught in just one listen is in itself a testament to Hunter’s talents. Those talents are the finishing touch to a live recording that is one of this year’s best live CD recordings.

The CD side of ASNATR is available now in stores and online alongside its DVD and Blu-ray presentation. Each can be ordered online direct from Marillion’s website at http://www.marillion.com/shop/. They can also be purchased at the band’s upcoming live dates, the next of which will be Friday and Saturday, August 8th and 9th at the Cropredy Convention in Oxford, UK. The band’s latest tour dates are listed online at the band’s official website and Facebook page, http://www.marillion.com and http://www.facebook.com/MarillionOfficial. Fans can also go to either site or to the band’s Twitter page, http://twitter.com/marilliononline to keep up with the latest news from the band. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

“Sounds…” Re-Issue Offers Audiences Even More Enjoyable Sounds

Courtesy: Eagle Records/E.A.R. Music

Courtesy: Eagle Records/E.A.R. Music

Veteran British progressive rock band Marillion released its seventeenth full length studio release in 2012. The album, Sounds That Can’t Be Made, was met largely with positive reviews from fans and critics alike. A little over a year later, Eagle Records and E.A.R. Music re-issued Sounds That Can’t Be Made with an extra bonus. That bonus is an extra disc that boasts variants of songs from the original album. Those variants include a handful of live and in-studio performances, a demo of another song, and a previously unreleased song that kicks off the whole thing. That song is an incredibly emotional piece titled ‘Wrapped Up In This.’

‘Wrapped Up In Time’ was a fitting way to open the bonus companion disc to Sounds That Can’t Be Made. This deeply emotional piece is a perfect opener for the album’s bonus disc. The song’s introspective, almost mournful lyrics will leave anyone with a heartbeat in tears. Front man Steve Hogarth sings in this previously unreleased song, “Things got wrapped up in time/Like the past and the present/Or the perfect line/In a song/They take their time/And when they’re gone/They take their time/You can’t have them back/For the time for them has gone/Their time has gone.” Hogarth perfectly catches the emotion of someone remembering lost loved ones here. This is especially true when he hits the high notes in the song’s chorus. The control he exhibits over his voice is incredible. His use of vibrato even better illustrates the pain in the song. The addition keyboardist Mark Kelly’s performance only serves to add to the song’s emotional depth.  Anyone left dry-eyed by the song’s end simply isn’t human.

‘Wrapped Up In Time’ is a fitting opener to the bonus disc included in the new re-issue of Sounds That Can’t Be Made. That’s because it is so beautiful yet heart wrenching at the same time.  On the completely opposite end of the spectrum, the band’s original take on its song ‘Lucky Man’ is just as interesting to hear as the final product.  The final product that is on the originally released album is a joyous piece celebrating happiness with what one has in life.  Hogarth sings in this song, “Some of us want diamonds and trinkets and gold/The perfect body and the perfect skin/Witnesses to their good deeds/Willing accomplices to their sin/Some of us pray for absolution/Some want sex and call it love/But freedom  to cheat’s not something I need tonight.”  He goes on to sing in the chorus, “I truly am/A lucky man/I have everything that I want.”  His words ring loud and clear.  We as people are never truly happy.  We should be happy with what we have, where we are, and who we are.  The final take on the song is a full on rock song.  One can close one’s eyes, take in the music and lyrics and see all of the images of which Hogarth sings being book ended by a camera spinning, pointed up at a shining blue sky.  The original demo take on the song is noticeably different from the final product.  It starts off much softer and doesn’t have the full on rock feel of what’s on the album.  It’s more piano driven.  When the choir comes in, its effect against Hogarth’s piano playing is just as powerful as what is presented in the album take of the song.  It definitely is one of the highest of points on the re-issue’s bonus disc.

Both ‘Wrapped Up In Time’ and the original demo take of ‘Lucky Man’ are wonderful additions to Marillion’s newly re-issued album.  There is at least one more addition to the re-issue’s bonus disc that merits noting.  That song is the band’s live performance of the title track from its recent release.  This nearly eight-minute performance taken from the band’s 2013 performance in Holland is a prime example of what makes Marillion such an extraordinary band in a live setting.  Hogarth’s vocals soar as he sings, “Aurora Borealis/Shimmering green and blue/Indigo and violent/Like phantoms half-imagined/Something unreal/But realer than everything/Seeing all the planet’s love floating in the air/Caressing you every day.”  The semi-psychedelic sounding lyrics gain even more power in the song’s live performance.  That’s thanks not just to Hogarth, but to the talents of his band mates, too.  Guitarist Steve Rothery is right up there with the likes of Dream Theater’s John Petrucci as he makes his way through the song.  And drummer Ian Mosley keeps the whole band together with this less-is-more style playing.  There are no major flashes or fills from Mosley.  He keeps a solid beat and adds a little musical spice where need be for lack of better wording.  Put simply, the band’s performance of the album’s title track is something that audiences must hear for themselves in order to fully appreciate it.  The same applies to each of the songs included on the bonus disc of Sounds That Can’t Be Made (Special Edition).  Audiences that give these variants a chance will agree at just how impressive each one is.  They will agree that the songs collectively make this record a solid re-issue and a re-issue worth hearing.  It is available now in stores and online.  More information on this and other releases from Marillion, as well as all of the latest news from Marillion is available online at http://www.marillion.com, http://www.facebook.com/MarillionOfficial and http://twitter.com/marilliononline.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Marillion’s New LP Is A Work That Everyone Should Hear

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Records/E-A-R Music

British prog-rock band Marillion has been making music for the better part of three decades.  In that time, the band has managed to remain largely successful without much (if any) help from mainstream radio and television.  Now, Marillion has shown yet again why it is still one of the music industry’s best (largely) unknown acts with its newest release, Sounds That Can’t Be Made.The title of this new album is fitting in that while the eight tracks that comprise the album’s playlist aren’t sounds that can’t be made.  They are sounds that few other bands would even think to make.  The album’s opener, ‘Gaza’ is in itself a very deep and provocative piece.  It’s a multi movement piece that makes commentary on the state of the Gaza strip.  Front man Steve Hogarth sings in this song, “For thirteen years/The roads have all been closed/We’re isolated/We’re denied medical supplies/Fuel and work are scarce/They build houses on our farms/The old men weep/The young men take up arms.”  Those last two lines, “The old men weep/The young men take up arms” is such a powerful visual.  It’s no chore to see the juxtaposition of the two.  These lines are just a tiny piece of what makes this such a powerful opening to the band’s new album.  Backed by equally emotional music, there’s no doubt that this will easily become a favorite of every Marillion fan.  It’s just one of the high points of this underrated work.

Another song that fans will appreciate is the almost equally long, ‘Montreal.’  This piece is said to have come from Steve Hogarth’s own personal experience while on tour.   Countless songs have been written over the decades about life on tour.  And they all generally have a very similar sound about them.  But that’s not necessarily the case with ‘Montreal.’  There’s a very old school prog-rock influence here as Hogarth sings about the band making a stopover in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  There’s no vibe of life on the road being miserable, etc. etc.  Rather it’s lyrically very mundane.  Yet with the musical backing, the band has once again crafted a piece that’s so powerful.  Listeners can sense at least a longing for home as Hogarth sings of staying in touch with his wife via Skype, after having landed at the nearest airport and making its way to its hotel.  It comes together for yet another impressive piece of this musical puzzle.  It all makes the near fourteen minute run time entirely worth it.

Both ‘Gaza’ and ‘Montreal’ are powerful pieces thanks to the bands ability to translate its music and lyrics together so seamlessly and effortlessly to its audiences.  There’s one more piece here that audiences will appreciate though, for its musical and lyrical power.  That song is the album’s penultimate piece, ‘Lucky Man.’ Again, that combination of music and lyrics makes this a hard hitting piece.  Hogarth sings, “Some of us want diamonds and gold and trinkets/The perfect body/And the perfect skin/Witnesses to their good deeds/Willing accomplices to their sin/Some of us pray for absolution/Some want sex/And call it love/But freedom to cheat /Is not something I want tonight.”  What audiences get here is another socially conscious song that given the proper attention will really get listeners to think without being preachy.  This is what so many bands get wrong, but Marillion has gotten right.  ‘Lucky Man’ tries to lead by example.  It in its own way, tries to get listeners to think before they complain about having life so bad and being content with what they have.  It’s little things like this that have made Marillion such a successful band for three decades.  And it’s little things like this that will continue to make the band a success as long as its members agree they want to continue making music.

Sounds That Can’t Be Made is available in stores and online now.  It can be ordered online via Eagle Rock Entertainment’s website, http://www.eagle-rock.com.  The band is currently touring in support of its new album.  It will be in Sao Paulo, Brazil tomorrow as part of its tour of South America and Mexico.  Fans can get a full listing of tour dates online at http://www.marillion.com/tour, and http://www.facebook.com/MarillionOfficial.

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.