Notes: A reissue includes a second disc with a demo of “He Knows You Know,” an alternate version of “Chelsea Monday,” and non-album tracks “Market Square Heroes” (two versions), “Three Boats Down from the Candy,” “Grendel,” and “Charting the Single.”
Script for a Jester’s Tear
The songs on Script for a Jester’s Tear (a fantastic album title, by the way) grapple with tried-and-true themes like substance abuse (He Knows You Know) and relationships gone wrong (the masterful title cut). Even if those were the only themes tackled, these songs completely satisfy as lead singer Fish’s poetic and introspective lyrics require repeat listening to completely absorb. Fish always has something to say and is never at a loss for a clever way to do so. He lashes out at the cultural elite in Garden Party with phrases like “smiles polluted with false charm” and “social climbers polish ladders, wayward sons again have fathers.” In the phenomenal album closer Forgotten Sons, Fish attacks warmongers “who order desecration, mutilation, verbal masturbation in their guarded bureaucratic wombs.”
Musically, it sounds like the rest of the band shuffled through instrumental bits and pieces until they found suitable background noise to accommodate whatever Fish retrieved from what one guesses is a vast collection of journals and diaries. That isn’t to say that the music doesn’t adequately complement the lyrics (the title track exemplifies how the music can enhance the drama of the vocals), just that neither appears to have been crafted with the other in mind.
With a proclivity for complicated imagery and dramatic flair, it’s no wonder that Fish and the boys drew frequent comparisons to the Peter-Gabriel-fronted-Genesis years. Still, while the style and sound may be similar, Marillion still deserves credit for launching a European progressive rock band in the early-‘80s that crafted a voice for itself that can’t be compared to anyone else.
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He Knows You Know
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