Marillion – Misplaced Childhood (1985)

A leap of faith

I found “Misplaced childhood” in a used records bin at Camden Market in London in 1985. I was stricken with the LP-cover right away. It seemed to talk to me, and I somehow knew the album would be great. The hit single “Kayleigh” would be known to most within a year, but I had never heard about Marillion at that point. It was a leap of faith. Something I hardly ever did or do.

Marillion became one of my favourite bands. It was a glorious era with Fish at the helm. When the band kicked him out in 1988 I felt personally betrayed. I gave the new singer one chance, but it didn’t work out between us, and I am not listening to new Marillion at all.

Luckily, the four albums made with the original band have been re-released with extra content as well as numerous live recordings from the early years. I have something like fourteen shows released on albums or in cd-boxes from the Fish era.

“Misplaced childhood” is a concept album loosely based on Fish’s childhood experiences. It’s a magnificent album that in my eyes stands up to Floyd’s “The dark side of the moon”. It’s a pity that (old) Marillion never got around to making a double album like Floyd’s “The Wall” or Genesis’ “The lamb lies down on Broadway”. How glorious it would have been.

The intro of “Pseudo silk kimono” by a wall of synthesizers is forever connected to our living room in my childhood home in Skövde. When I got home from London I put the album on my father’s old Dual vinyl player. The sound was unlike anything I had heard. The melancholic first song is soon followed by two hit singles, “Kayleigh” and “Lavender”. They are great, but “Kayleigh” was somewhat over-played on radio and on a million eighties compilation albums. Now, many years later when the fatigue of it has subsided, it is again a killer song.

The fourth song “Bitter suite” is one of two long medleys on the album, we get one on each side. The symphonic rock elements of Marillion shines here. Drum, guitar, bass and keyboard in blissful concert. All the players in Marillion are great, but my favourites are Steve Rothery on the guitar and Ian Mosley on drums, one of the best drummers I know.

The first side of the LP is closing with the third single, “Heart of Lothian”. It is a perfect live song with Pete Trewavas’ pumping bass and Ian Mosley’s drums backing Mark Kelly’s synthesizer and Steve Rothery’s guitar. Fish’s singing is as heartfelt as all over this album. The song is often sung with full lungs by the audiences.

The second side starts with the menacing “Waterhole (Expresso bongo)” and all too soon it jumps into the brief “Lords of the backstage”. Suddenly, it’s only the fantastic ending of the album remaining. It starts with “Blind curve” that clocks in at nearly 10 minutes. The drums are in the front. Fish’s voice is clear and his heart if full of longing. It is so eighties and so not eighties at the same time. Rothery treats us with a guitar solo as if they were a hard rock band with fluffy long hair.

Then the album gets even better. Twice! “Childhoods end?” is only not the best song because “White feather” is following it up. What a majestic finish to a superb album! Drums and guitar play heroes again. It’s classic Marillion, and solo Fish, to end with the best song, the most fan friendly song that is at its best live. They really want to go out with a big bang. “White feather” has the peace message that is so strong in Fish’s lyrics. It has always been a very sweet song in my mind.

I can’t rate “Misplaced childhood” without the nostalgic feelings from my own childhood, the years my taste in music was formed. To me it is a corner stone in the soundtrack to my teen years. It is just so hard to separate music and memories with an album like this. I won’t do it!

Rating: 10/10

Side A:

  1. Pseudo silk kimono
  2. Kayleigh
  3. Lavender
  4. Bitter suite
  5. Heart of Lothian

Side B:

  1. Waterhole (Expresso bongo)
  2. Lords of the backstage
  3. Blind curve
  4. Childhoods end?
  5. White feather

Best songs: “White feather”, “Bitter suite”, “Blind curve”

Produced by: Chris Kimsey

Media: Gatefold, vinyl, Germany, 1985

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