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Marillion - Fugazi CD (album) cover





3.97 | 1249 ratings

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4 stars Following the unexpected success of Script For A Jester's Tear (popular prog resurrection in the 1980's, our journalistic friends?), Marillion followed up in 1984 with Fugazi, an album that saw them progress leaps and bounds in both commercial nous and originality. Whilst still the undoubted kings of the healthy neo prog movement of the time, this release meant that they could no longer be regarded as mere Genesis, Yes, VDDG, or other classic band clones. They were a musical force to be reckoned with in their own right, and all the healthier for that as well.

The bitter and scathing lyrics first witnessed on Script were continued to devastating effect on the opener, Assassing, an unlikely hit single, based around the band's self styled "Spinal Tap" drummer period. Actually, by the time they recorded this, Ian Mosley, a former Steve Hackett Band member, had been recruited, sounded fantastic, and has been with the band ever since. It is a rollicking rocker, delivered with huge panache, and British chart watchers and buyers lapped up the strange big Scottish man with weird makeup.

Punch & Judy was another hit single, a clever song telling a story of marital strife and breakup, delivered with a caustic lyrical edge. Pop prog at its very finest, and herein lies the key to the massive success the band enjoyed with this and the follow up albums. They understood that they were writing and selling music in the aftermath of punk, and that commercial success would only come about if they happened to sound modern. They did, and that success was thoroughly deserved.

The highlight of the album, for me, is Jigsaw. I fell in love with this song when I first listened to it some twenty six years ago now. A beautiful and bittersweet chronicle of unspent love, it features an incredible vocal performance, added to a lyrical guitar solo by Steven Rothery which tells the story as well as the lyrics themselves, all backed up by some soaring keyboards by Kelly and the formidable rhythm section of Trewavas & Mosley. This is perhaps the greatest prog song of that particular era, and also shows me why, as much as I love IQ, Pallas, and Pendragon, why Marillion were the undisputed masters of this particular new wave of prog. The sound of a band at the top of their game, and only, for heaven's sake, on their second studio long player.

The quality does dip a little bit with Emerald Lies, a track, which if I remember rightly, was held over from Script, and it shows. As much as I love Script (I gave it a five star review a while ago), my love of this follow up album is based on the fact that it is a genuine progression, and this is a track which is absolutely not. In fact, it sounds naive in comparison with all else.

She Chameleon is a thoughtful piece of music, featuring some stunning keyboard work by Mark Kelly and an understated performance by Fish. Album filler, perhaps, but high quality for all that.

The album reasserts itself, though, in truly grand and grandiose terms with the two outrageously adventurous epics that were Incubus and Fugazi. I know for a fact that many people who bought the album on the back of the hit singles were converted to "true" progressive rock by these tracks. Songs which not only told a story well, but also in a fantastically well performed musical backdrop.

Incubus is a hoot. The poor girl ditches her weird bloke, moves on, only to find that he reappears at the local pub where she has come out with her latest love. Latest love pops along to the khazi, and ditched bloke begins to show her photos of the pair of them in what I will politely describe as compromising positions threatening to expose (literally!) them to the wider world, starting with the new bloke. Hilarious, incredible social commentary on the use of such work, and visionary, in that this is precisely what is happening the world over via internet chatrooms and social media sites. Brilliant.

The title track refers to an American slang for ambushed in the Vietnam War, or fu**ed up. Thus "This world is totally Fugazi". He's right as well. This track is the natural follow up and progression from Forgotten Sons on the predecessor album, both lyrically and musically. A tremendous way to finish an LP. When Fish asks "where are the prophets, where are the visionaries? Where are the poets?", he need look no further than the nearest mirror. A true poet and absolutely the reason why we fell in love with the band in the first place. It should also not be forgotten that the musicianship backing this lyrical poetry was of the highest order, themselves telling the story with menace.

Is this a masterpiece of progressive rock? Not if I am honest. If it didn't contain Emerald Lies and She Chameleon, I would say undoubtedly. However, these two dip it below the five star rating.

Therefore, four stars. An excellent addition to any prog rock collection, and the reason why neo prog was so damned good back then.

lazland | 4/5 |


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