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Chart Chat Classic Album Review : Marillion – ‘Brave’ (07.02.94)

Chart Chat Classic Album Review : Marillion – ‘Brave’ (07.02.94)

It’s hard to believe that this month marks the twenty year anniversary of Marillion’s top ten album ‘Brave’.  The album took nine months to write and produce with Dave Meegan meticulously listening to every tape listening out for any riff or link which could feature on the album.  The story came from a real life news story Steve Hogarth heard on the radio about a girl found wandering on the Severn Bridge.  What that was true, where she came from and what happened to her all came from Hogarth’s lyrical imagination.

Steve Hogarth admits that the band were initially unsure whether the fans would like the album.  He was right – initially I was very unsure.  Parts of it captured me, but other parts seemed more drawn out.  But what has surprised me is just how much this has grown on me – a little more each year.  Now I delight in sitting down and listening to the whole thing from start to finish, and really immersing myself in the story and expert musicianship on show.

The band played the album in its entirety for the fans last year and they admit that it is now even more of a struggle to play than it was twenty years ago.  That said the band and fans alike know it is a masterpiece which featured has featured among many lists including Classic Rock magazine’s top 30 albums of the 1990s.

To say this is a concept album for me is lazy journalism.  You can’t just lump in an album which happens to tell a story with overblown prog rock albums of the 1970’s. That said it does have to be listened to in its entirety, it’s not a package of hit singles designed to appeal to commercial radio stations.  If you have never owned a copy, or taken the time to listen here is my run through of the album track by track. 

Bridge

Atmospheric starter complete with eerie ship horns conjuring up pictures of the river and the bridge where the girl is found. As the lyrics say “when they ask her name / would she please explain / she simply chooses to say…nothing”.

Living With The Big Lie

The song gives us a first glimpse into the life of the girl as the lyrics describe her being alone at seventeen, and how she was made to feel worthless.  Musically it ebbs and flows between sparse instrumentation to heavy rock as it progresses.  Aside from the intro there are no short songs on the album, and this weights in a just under seven minutes long, but it doesn’t feel that long to the listener.

Runaway

This continues the insight into the girls life, describing her running away from her life.  The lyrics quote “so you cower in the towns forgotten places / and you make your bed with unfamiliar faces” and concludes with “did you cry when they dragged you home / poor little runaway”. For me as a song it is perhaps less immediate than ‘Living With The Big Lie’ but the crescendo’s serve well to add some drama to the accompanying lyrics.

Goodbye To All That 

i) Wave ii) Mad iii) The Opium Den iv) The Slide v) Standing In The Swing

A five part suite which runs for over twelve minutes and is arguably the centre piece of the album. This brings the story back up to date, and rather than dwelling on her past it looks at an appeal for information about the girl. Someone must be missing her, somewhere? ‘Mad’ sees Hogarth singing as the girl, a point he was keen to get across when the album was first released.  “Help me paint a picture / they say it’s a lie / tell me I’m mad / you’re a fine one to decide” scream her frustration at the situation she finds herself in.  The final three parts continue from her perspective and concludes with the line “easy / you said I was easy / this world sharpens teeth / eat your words…”

Hard As Love

For me this is a track which could have been selected as a single, and it’s one which still sounds great when played live.  Certainly one of the rockier moments on the album and still looking from the girls perspective she cries “well I hear that you were looking out to take me home / and I hear that you can handle it and you’re not scared / have you heard about the pictures on my bedroom wall?…”.   Definitely one of the albums highlights.

The Hollow Man

This became the only top forty hit from the album, peaking at no.30 upon its release as a single.   It’s a simple and straightforward song, played to a backdrop of a piano for most of it. “I think I have become one of the hollow men / as I shine on the outside more these days” are the lyrics which perhaps paint the most vivid picture.  A lovely track.

Alone Again In The Lap Of Luxury i) Now Wash Your Hands

A year after the albums release a film was made starring Josie Ayres as the girl and it’s hard for me to forget the imagery from that movie when listening to this song.  The film depicts her arriving home with her friends for lark about, fencing with golf clubs and smashing up vinyl albums.  The scene ends with her bleeding in the bath as she cuts her arms and legs.  It continues the theme of the girl wanting to escape her life with Hogarth singing “if only I had the nerve to leave this house / maybe somewhere by the sea… / take me somewhere, anywhere please!!!”.

Paper Lies

Another more rocky song but one which did not feature in the film of the story a year later.  “When you look into the mirror / do you see a face you hardly recognise” spill the lyrics as the girls story starts to head towards its conclusion. I think this is one of my lesser favourites but I rarely skip the song because as I mentioned earlier the album should be heard from start to finish.

Brave

The title track grabs you straight away and Hogarth launches into “what a brave, brave girl / never lied before” against a sparse musical backdrop.  We have really empathy with the girl by this point and it is now not long until we will find out what fate awaits her.

The Great Escape i) The Last Of You ii) Fallin’ From The Moon

Now here is where we miss having the vinyl copy.  The original release contained two grooves, one which concluded with water noise after The Great Escape (thus signifying the girl had leapt to her death from the bridge) and another ending with the track ‘Made Again’ where she survives and wakes to a whole new and bright world.  The CD format ended with ‘Made Again’, thus guaranteeing a happy ending every time though the two disc remaster included ‘The Great Escape (Spiral Remake)’ which was the one which ended with water noise.  It was this latter version which was selected as the ending to the film.

Although at this stage the ending to the story maybe unclear, the track starts with the distinctive lyrics “heading for the great escape / heading for the rave / heading for the permanent holiday” and ends with “I have fallen / fallen / from the moon / falling…”.

Made Again

And so to the ending of the CD, the ending where she lives to fight another day.  It’s a fine ending with Hogarth’s voice accompanied by just an acoustic guitar.  I will leave the last word to the final lyrics “I woke up from a deep sleep / I woke up from a bad dream / to a bright new morning / to a bright new world”.

The whole journey is an emotional one, for the band and for the listener.  But a journey worth taking.  As the sleeve notes advise – play it loud with the lights off.  Go on.  Just try it!

 

Ian Anderson (@chartchartuk)

16 February, 2014 Posted by | ChartChat | Leave a comment

Chart Chat Edition 743 – W/C 16.02.14

Chart Chat Edition 743 – Week Commencing Sunday 16th February 2014 

Introduction

Welcome to edition 743 of Chart Chat, the music review site which has been running for over fourteen years.  You can find us on Twitter as @ChartChatUK so feel free to follow us and pass comment on the weeks new releases yourselves.  As always we will take a look at the current top forty followed by some reviews of the weeks new releases.  There is a new edition published weekly so if you are new here then I hope you will choose to revisit.  

Chart Review

There were nine new entries, seven climbers, twenty three songs going down and one non mover on this weeks chart.  As predicted last week Clean Bandit featuring Jess Glynne held on at the top with ‘Rather Be’ despite trailing at the midweek point. Their continued success meant that Zedd featuring Hayley Williams had to settle for runners up spot with ‘Stay The Night’.

Pharrell Williams fell one to no.3 with ‘Happy’ but David Guetta featuring Skylar Grey went straight in at no.4 with ‘Shot Me Down’. Katy B climbed two to no.5 with ‘Crying For No Reason’ and DJ Fresh vs Jay Fay featuring Ms Dynamite went down three to no.6 with ‘Dibby Dibby Sound’. Will.i.am featuring Miley Cyrus fell three to no.7 with ‘Feelin’ Myself’ while Pitbull featuring Ke$ha went down three to no.8 with ‘Timber’.  Gorgon City & MNEK also fell three to no.9 with ‘Ready For Your Love’ and Katy Perry featuring Juicy J completed the top ten climbing one to no.10 with ‘Dark Horse’. 

Two new entries and two climbers were to be found in what remained of the top twenty.  Le Youth featuring Dominique Young Unique went straight in at no.11 with ‘Dance With Me’ and Vance Joy climbed back up one to no.12 with ‘Riptide’. Dapper Laughs got a new entry at no.15 with ‘Proper Moist’ and Imagine Dragons went up eleven to no.19 with ‘Demons’. 

There were five new entries and three climbers in the lower half of the chart.  Disclosure climbed seven to no.22 with ‘F For You’ and John Legend got a new entry at no.28 with ‘All Of Me’. Lorde went up nine to no.29 with ‘Team’ and Avicii climbed one to no.31 with ‘Wake Me Up’. The Irish Brigade got a surprise new entry at no.33 with ‘Roll Of Honour’ and American Authors finally entered at no.34 with ‘Best Day Of My Life’. Ellie Goulding scored a new entry at no.36 with ‘Goodness Gracious’ and Nina Nesbitt rounded off proceedings going straight in at no.40 with ‘Selfies’.

New Releases

A Great Big World featuring Christina Aguilera – ‘Say Something’

Christina Aguilera has only appeared once in the UK top forty during the past five years (with her no.16 hit ‘Your Body’ in 2012) but she has provided guest vocals to two top five hits over the same period; Maroon 5’s ‘Moves Like Jagger’ and Pitbull’s ‘Feel This Moment’. Most recently she appeared with Lady Gaga on a re-recording of her ‘Do What U Want’ single but this week sees her team up with A Great Big World on their single ‘Say Something’.  The track has been a worldwide hit and has already reached the top five in the US, Austria, Canada and New Zealand. The video was uploaded to Vevo on 20th November and has received over 33m views worldwide since then.  As for A Great Big World they are a relatively unknown duo but with a top three album in the US and Canada with ‘Is There Anybody Out There?’ they look destined for big things in 2014.

Embrace – ‘Refugees EP’

It’s been eight years since we last heard from Embrace with their ‘This New Day’ album.  It contained their only top three hits ‘Nature’s Law’ and ‘World At Your Feet’ and became their third no.1 album.  Now comes the release of their ‘Refugees’ EP which contains four tracks; ‘Chameleon’, ‘Decades’, ‘Bullets’ and the title track.  If successful it would become their nineteenth top forty hit but the omens are not good as the title track has already been available to download over the past couple of weeks and has yet to make any inroads into the top forty.  The band stated that they were keen to return to their early days when they would consistently release EPs with the aim that each track be as good as the first. As such there should still be a decent fanbase that will snap up these new tracks upon their release this week.  A new self titled album is also due for release later this year.

Kodaline – ‘One Day’

Although the first two singles to be taken from Irish band Kodaline’s top three album ‘Perfect World’ reached the top forty (‘High Hopes’ and ‘Love Like This’), the last two have stalled at no.75 (‘Brand New Day’) and no.74 (‘All I Want’) respectively.  This week sees the release of ‘One Day’ as the fifth single with the digital format containing the brand new tracks ‘Take Control and ‘Common Ground’ alongside a 2014 version of the main track. Next month sees them undertake a seven date sold out tour of the UK concluding at the O2 Academy in Islington, London. Given that this is a new version of ‘One Day’ fans may be more keen to buy it as a single so this could yet see them back inside the top forty.  The can be delighted with the success of their album and tour, and the chart position of this single is unlikely to be any kind of indicator for their future popularity.

M.A.D. – ‘Fame & TV’

There is rarely a shortage of boybands in the chart and M.A.D. are staking their claim for chart glory this week with the release of their second single ‘Fame & TV’ this week.  Their debut release ‘Toyboy’ did make the top forty but could not progress any further than no.37 so this will need to perform much better.  The accompanying music video has been viewed over 100k times during the first week of upload which is already a quarter of the views achieved by their debut single. The track is released as eight separate downloads to maximise its chart position, these being the Radio Edit, Michaels Version, Abs Live Studio Version, the Single Version, the Acoustic Version, the Welsh Language Version, the Piano Version and the Backing Track version.  This tactic worked well recently for The Vamps but I am less certain that it will help the M.A.D. boys into the upper reaches of the top ten.

NONONO – ‘Pumpin Blood’

Next up under review this week is ‘Pumpin’ Blood’, the new single from Swedish trio Nonono. The duo comprises of Stina Wappling alongside the production team Astma and Rockwell who have worked with recent chart starts Icona Pop. The digital format of the release contains four new mixes of the track; the Taken By Trees x Belief Remix, the Wekeed Remix, the Belarbi Remix and the Tony Senghorn Remix. The video was first uploaded to YouTube back in April and has received 3.6m views since. The band describe their genre as Urban-Indie and “melancholy yet hopeful with a bassy beat oriented foundation”.  They are due to undertake an extensive tour of the US during April and May but currently have no confirmed UK performances scheduled.  This has been picking up plenty of airplay and could well go on to provide them with a debut hit in the UK. 

Sam Smith – ‘Money On My Mind’

Next up is Sam Smith has already appeared in the charts courtesy of his vocals on Disclosure’s ‘Latch’ and Naughty Boy’s ‘La La La’. However this year sees him taking centre stage and he has a lot to live up to having already topped the BBC Sound Of 2014 poll and being confirmed as the recipient of this years Brits Critics Choice Award.  This week sees the release of ‘Money On My Mind’ as a single track download and an EP of remixes which include the MK Remix, the Le Youth Remix and the Salute Remix.  His debut album ‘In The Lonely Hour’ has been completed and is currently scheduled in for release at the end of May. The lyric video to the track received over 1m views in its first month while the official video has achieved over 900k views in its first two weeks.  This looks certain to be a big challenger for the top spot next Sunday’s top forty. 

Next Week…

Sam Smith should take over at the top next Sunday but watch out for a big new entry from A Great Big World featuring Christina Aguilera. Don’t forget to stop by next week when artists releasing new singles look set to include Foxes, Jake Bugg, Paloma Faith and Tiesto. Until then have yourself a good week.

 

Ian Anderson

16 February, 2014 Posted by | ChartChat | Leave a comment