The relics in the playground of yesterday
Let’s check out the newly released super deluxe box set of Marillion’s “Script for a jester’s tear”. This is the classic 1983 debut album from Marillion. It might be the best debut album of all kinds in the history of man. The original album review as well as the review of the deluxe vinyl box set including the new live concert will come at a later date. This review will focus on the unique stuff for this box which is the Blu Ray-disc.
Now, this deluxe box is awesome. It contains a lot of great stuff. First of all the original album is remixed 2020 by Andy Bradfield & Avril Macintosh. The remix is fairly similar to the original mix, but I think the drums and the bass are deeper and “fatter”. There seems to be more power in the remix. The differences are quite small anyway.
We also get a DTS-HS Master Audio 5.1 mix. These 5.1 mixes could be something, it all depends on what they have done with it, goofed around or really done something interesting. Here the drums are even heavier and they have a slight echo in the sound picture. It sounds like they are playing in a cathedral. They have also played around with the format and there are several sound effects that I feel are more of gimmicks. There are echoes on Fish’s voice as well as on some original sound effects. I do like the novelty of the 5.1 mix, but I don’t think it will be my preferred choice when I want to listen to Script in the future.
One of the best items on the Blu-Ray is the 93 minutes long documentary called “Sackcloth and greasepaint”. It’s a very good documentary. Sometimes documentaries in these kinds of boxes are more or less promotional material where talking heads pour praise over the band or album. No, here we get rather personal and true interviews with band members of early Marillion. They start with the very first line-up from the seventies. Drummer Mick Pointer and bassist Doug Irvine started what would become Marillion. In 1979 guitarist Steve Rothery joined and in 1980 founding member Doug Irvine left the band due to an old promise to himself that he would quit the band if they had not made it when he turned 25! New bassist Diz Minnitt and singer Fish joined the band. Later on before the first single and LP keyboard player Mark Kelly joined and at last the band sacked Diz and replaced him with Pete Trevavas.
The story of the band is exhilarating. It gives a very good understanding of how they worked for their dreams. The first LP was recorded with founding member Mick Pointer on drums, but after Script he was also sacked and eventually Ian Mosley joined the band before the second LP. As we all know Fish himself was sacked from the band in 1988. The band has a history of sacking members, it is clear. Fish was interviewed in his studio in Scotland and the other Marillion members including Mick Pointer and Diz Minnitt were interviewed at Marillion’s home quarters of The Racket Club. The obvious “elephant in the room” is that also Fish would eventually be pushed out in the cold. It is not mentioned by anyone in this film but it is felt at all times. Especially in Fish’s eyes there is an unspoken sadness.
The documentary is long and covers a lot of interesting things. Like how Rothery wrote large parts of “Grendel” a long time before the band change name to Silmarillion and later Marillion. Another piece of information that was interesting was that Rothery nowadays didn’t like the sound of his guitar on this first LP. I agree that it is even better from Fugazi and onwards, but I still love his guitar work on Script also, and the “Market square heroes” EP also.
Another thing was discussing Fish’s lyrics. He actually writes the lyrics independent of the music. Then he joins the lyrics and the melodies from his singing in concert with the music the band has created. The lyrics for “Garden party” were written after a visit to Cambridge before he joined Marillion for an example. The documentary is one of the best things with this box.
We also get a completely new live concert from the era, live at the Marquee Club December 29th, 1982. One of the two shows recorded from a three-night stint at the Marquee. The show of the 30th was already released in the box set “Early stages – The official bootleg box set 1982-1987”. The set lists are identical but it is nice to get a new show on disc anyway. The stage banter in-between songs and some performances are slightly different. More on that subject when I review the vinyl box set of this release.
Also included on the Blu-Ray is the 2020 remix of the “Market square heroes” EP including the title track, “Three boats down from the candy” and the majestically “Grendel”. Also added is a new remaster of another b-side from the era, “Charting the single”.
A nice addition on the BR is the whole “Recital of the script” live video (in SD). I have the dvd of the live show, but it’s inclusion here is an added value. That video contains part of the show from Hammersmith Odeon on April 18th 1983.
Finally we get three promo videos. “Market square heroes” is a rocker, with the single overdubbed on concert footage. “He knows you know” is a much more produced film with Fish as a mental patient and his nightmares. It may have been influenced by Pink Floyd’s “The Wall”. Lastly we get the funny video “Garden party” where the boys are playing mischievous boys pulling jokes on fancy people on a garden party in Cambridge. Fish says in the interview that he always wanted to be an actor and I see why. And oh, there is a snippet of live material from the Dec 29th show including a post-concert interview with Fish as he is getting down from the high of the show.
However, regardless of all the good stuff that is included there is also a very strange omission. Where are the demos from the 1997 2-disc remastered edition? The Fair Deal Studios demos for “Greandel”, “Chelsea Monday” and “He knows you know” are missing! The three songs make up for 31 minutes of music and it could surely fit onto the second disc in the new box as it is also only 31 minutes long. Maybe they wanted to keep that disc “clean” as an exact copy of the “Market Square Heroes” EP, but no, they have added the b-side from the “Garden party” single, “Charting the single”. So inconclusive.
The second cd is more likely incomplete, and perhaps a mistake actually. The previous two super deluxe box sets, “Misplaced childhood” and “Clutching at straws”, have included all demos that were presented in the 2-disc versions from the 90s. On the case of “Clutching at straws” we even got more demos added.
All in all this is full of nice stuff. The 5-disc box set is well worth a buy and I give it two thumbs up!
Contents on the Blu Ray:
• “Script for a jester’s tear” album 1983
o 96/24 Stereo LPCM
o DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
o 96/24 5.1 LPCM
• “Market square heroes” EP 1982
o 96/24 Stereo LPCM
• Live at the Marquee Club, December 29th 1982
o 96/24 Stereo LPCM
• “Sackcloth and greasepaint” documentary (93 mins)
• “Recital of the script” live video, Hammersmith Odeon April 18th 1983 (81 mins)
• Promo videos
o “Market square heroes”
o “He knows you know”
o “Garden party”
• Live at the Marquee Club December 29th 1982, snippets + interview (11 mins)
Released: March 2020