March 21, 2018 Marillion – Script for a Jester’s Tear 35 Years Later
If ’70s Progressive Rock was dominated by pioneers like King Crimson; Van der Graaf Generator; Gentle Giant; Genesis; Rush; Yes; and Emerson, Lake & Palmer, then in the ensuing decade, the then sidetracked genre was championed by bands like Pallas (“March on Atlantis”), Pendragon (“Alaska”), Solstice (“Brave New World”), Castanarc (“The Fool”), IQ (“The Last Human Gateway”), and Marillion (“Market Square Heroes”).
Of this batch, Marillion was the most prolific, waving the genre’s flag proudly and making sure that it remained planted on the musical map of Rock music. So, for those who might have forgotten the Tolkien-inspired band; more so, for the sake of music lovers of the current generation who are looking for something complex and cerebral – there is no better time to add Marillion’s discography on one’s playlist than now. That is an additional 18 albums on one’s collection and listening pleasure – from 1983’s Script for a Jester’s Tear to the latest, 2016’s Fuck Everyone and Run. So, good timing! You can listen to Marillion’s debut work while celebrating its 35th anniversary.
Formed in 1979, in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, England, Marillion was comprised by Mick Pointer (drums), Steve Rothery (guitar), Mark Kelly (keyboards), Pete Trewavas (bass), and Fish (vocals) when they released their first full-length, Script for a Jester’s Tear, on March 14, 1983, via EMI Records.
The well-written script opened with the drama of the title-track, which started with a piano-led lamentation that then transitioned into a playful, Medieval-styled mid-section that conjured an image of a bustling king’s court. The mood then turned gloomy and dark with marked flourishes of distorted guitar along side lush organ, then bleeding into an epilogue of anthemic guitar ad-lib as well as glassy chimes and bells. This was followed by the rockin’ stomper “He Knows You Know,” vibing off something more sinister and metallic, courtesy of the scathing guitar as well as punchy bassline. Another nine-minute, textured epic, “The Web” undulated with its spider-like guitar plucks, keyboard melodies, and heat-of-the-moment guitar interlude.
Opening Side B of Script for a Jester’s Tear was the eventually upbeat “Garden Party,” tackling social elitism and snobbery. Here, the influence of Rush was very apparent, especially in Fish’s vocal timbre and phrasing that recalled that of Geddy Lee, as well as the rhythm section’s symphonic shots and overall structure. The ensuing “Chelsea Monday” was initially a bit bluesy and starry, then breaking into a stellar mid-song guitar-led instrumental interlude, and ending in a piano coda.
Finally, Marillion pulled down the curtain strings as they delivered the Tribal and angular energy of the first section of “Forgotten Sons,” displaying vestiges of the band’s Punk and Post-Punk beginnings; then proceeded to the mid-section in a gracefully flowing rhythm; and ultimately, wrapped up the entire jester’s show with the majestic Yes/ELP/Styx-reminiscent, horn-adorned denouement.
In 1988, after Marillion’s fourth album, Fish quit the group. His replacement, Steve Hogarth, in fairness, did a great job in wearing his cap ‘n’ bells and filling his bright, big pair of jester boots. With Hogarth fronting the band, Marillion pursued an equally, if not more compelling, Progressive musical path. However, no matter how far they have come, Script for a Jester’s Tear will always have a special place, not only in Marillion’s history, but also in the hearts of the band’s loyal fans and enthusiasts of the entire Progressive Rock itself. So, participate and choose a role in reenacting Marillion’s classic script one more time, and shed a tear or two as we pay nostalgic remembrance to the 35-year-old album.