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Happiness Is the Road, Vol. 1: Essence

Happiness Is the Road, Vol. 2: The Hard Shoulder

Released: October 20, 2008


Rating: 3.41 (rating on ProgArchives.com)


Genre: rock > neo-progressive


Quotable: --


Album Tracks, Disc 1 (Essence):

  1. Dreamy Street [2:02]
  2. This Train Is My Life [4:50]
  3. Essence [6:29]
  4. Wrapped Up in Time [5:06]
  5. Liquidity [2:12]
  6. Nothing Fills the Hole [3:23]
  7. Woke Up [3:40]
  8. Trap the Spark [5:43]
  9. A State of Mind [4:33]
  10. Happiness Is the Road [10:05]
  11. (blank) [1:59]
  12. Half-Full Jam [6:48] (unlisted track)

Album Tracks, Disc 2 (The Hard Shoulder):

  1. Thunder Fly [6:24]
  2. The Man from the Planet Marzipan [7:55]
  3. Asylum Satellite #1 [9:32]
  4. Older Than Me [3:11]
  5. Throw Me Out [4:01]
  6. Half the World [5:08]
  7. Whatever Is Wrong with You [4:16]
  8. Especially True [4:37]
  9. Real Tears for Sale [7:34]

Music by Marillion. Lyrics by Steve Hogarth.


Sales (in millions):

sales in U.S. only --
sales in U.K. only - estimated --
sales in all of Europe as determined by IFPI – click here to go to their site. --
sales worldwide - estimated --


Peak:

peak on U.S. Billboard album chart --
peak on U.K. album chart --


Singles/Hit Songs:

  • Whatever Is Wrong with You (10/1/08) --


Notes: The hidden track that closes out disc 1 “is listed as Half-Empty Jam on the download version, but was changed just prior to the CD release of the album.” WK


Happiness Is the Road
Marillion
Review:
“Released exclusively on www.marillion.com on 20th October, 2008,” MAHappiness Is the Road is Marillion’s 15th studio album, released as two separate album-length volumes respectively entitled Essence and The Hard Shoulder.” WKHappiness Is the Road is that rare breed of double-CD that is rich in great songs, with really very little in the way of filler. In short, this is a great CD.” GB

“Alongside their signature rock orchestration, Happiness Is the Road also references elements of pop, dub and soul and draws influence from artist’s as diverse as The Beach Boys and Marvin Gaye to Interpol, The Doors, Traffic, Pink Floyd and David Bowie. The album also sees Marillion experimenting with a host of new instruments including, Dulcimers, Glockenspiels a Harmonium, French Horns and even Sleigh bells a Harp and Zither.” MA

The first album, entitled Essence, “is the more ambitious of the two.” GB It “is an adventurous musical trip exploring life’s biggest question: ‘What’s it all about?’” MA “With… quieter, layered passages focusing on Mark Kelly’s keyboards,” GB it “starts out hazily, foggy, moody, repressed in cuts appropriately titled Dreamy Street, Essence, and so on.” MT “The music here actually recalls the musical ebb and flow of Marbles…Song titles like…Woke Up and Nothing Fills the Hole also seem to suggest a running conceptual theme about the search for personal meaning. Regardless of what it’s about, this is quite simply gorgeous sounding music, and nowhere more so than when the vocal chorus kicks in with a thundering crescendo of glorious sound on the track A State of Mind.” GB

This is followed by the more reflective sounding title track, where Hogarth’s nearly spoken vocal weaves around Kelly’s haunting keyboard textures. From there, H’s vocal grows to a more impassioned wail, as Steve Rothery’s guitar soars above it all.” GB “Inspiration…came from H’s visit to the doctor during mid-tour stress-exhaustion. The Dutch doctor prescribed not drugs, but a book called The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle; the book expounds on man’s addictive tendency to obsess with past and future whilst denying the present moment – the only real thing in life – and the only path to happiness. This proved to be the creative ‘essence’ for the lyrics of this” MA “highly introspective set.” MT

The second CD, subtitled The Hard Shoulder, “is another beast altogether,” MT both “meatier and a good deal more propulsive, the yang to Essence’s yin, lush as all get-out and vaulting, muscular.” MT It “finds the band stretching out and displaying their musical chops a bit more.” GBShoulder is the release that finally reconciles and indexes the old Marillion with the new, which should bring exclamations of surprise from even the most grizzled reactionaries.” MT

Thunder Fly opens the second disc with a muscular sounding guitar riff that somewhat recalls The Beatles’ ‘Paperback Writer,’ while at the same time continuing the ebb and flow with dreamy sounding keyboards and vocal harmonies. This song is definitely a standout, ending with yet another one of Rothery’s soaring guitar parts.” GB

The Man from the Planet Marzipan is “punchy as hell, an infectious rhythm trapping the listener deliriously into offset beats and floating keyboards.” MT It “finds the rhythm section of bassist Pete Trewavas and drummer Ian Mosley locking into a tight little funk groove that serves as the launchpad for more of Kelly’s keyboard textures and Rothery’s dazzling guitar wizardry. The band basically plays their asses off here.” GB

“The synth-orchestral swells alone in Asylum Satellite #1 will quicken the heart of every progfan alive, recalling…Pink Floyd, and the hallowed mellotronic elders, while Steve Rothery is, if anything, even more experimental in his tones and effects than has previously been the case during a long evolutionary refinement of approach.” MT

“The Beatles influence once again rears its head in Throw Me Out, where the string arrangement recalls the psychedelic, yet decidedly British feel of the Sgt. Pepper era, while Mosley’s drumming kicks things into a more modern context.” GB

First single, Whatever Is Wrong with You, “which celebrates a lover’s eccentricities,” MA “is an uptempo rocker where Mosley’s power drumming eventually makes way for a searing guitar solo from Rothery.” GB “Marillion have once again invited fans to be a part of the process with a contest (the winner will receive £5000) to make their own video for the first single and upload their interpretation to YouTube. The winning video will be determined on December 1 by the video most viewed on YouTube.” MA “In addition, there will be a further £5000 prize for the video judged by the band to be the best.” WK

“Marillion have bypassed record companies in the past [such as with Anoraknophobia in 2001) and Marbles in 2004] by asking fans to pay for albums before recording began, thereby securing funds for studio time.” KY “In return, buyers would receive a special edition box-set with book-style special artwork containing both volumes.” WK “The album’s artwork was created by the Spanish artist Antonio Seijas in cooperation with Marillion’s long-time designer Carl Glover.” WK “As with Marbles, the names of everyone who pre-ordered before a certain date are listed in the special edition.” WK

In an unprecedented move, Marillion also “made the album available for free [on September 19, 2008] on peer-to-peer file sharing networks as 128 kbps WMA files. When any of these tracks is first played, a pop-up box appears asking listeners to give the band their email address in return. This was used to contact downloaders with offers on Marillion merchandise. Everyone who submitted their e-mail address is also given the option to download the tracks as 128 kbps MP3 files without DRM, but is asked not to share these on any networks.” WK “Paul Williams, who edits record industry publication Music Week, said Marillion had always been ‘pretty ground-breaking in terms of doing things differently and they have a very loyal fanbase’…Taking that into consideration, he said, the download plan would ‘probably work for them quite successfully.’” KY

Subscribers of the ‘Front-Row Club’ can order a high-quality (256 kbps) download. “In most of the world, the physical formats are only available via mail-order from the band’s website; as of October 2008, retail versions are available in the USA and Poland only.” WK


Review Source(s):


Related DMDB Link(s):

previous album: Somewhere Else (2007) Marillion’s DMDB page


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Last updated March 10, 2011.