What does it sound like?:
“Afraid of Sunlight” was Marillion’s 8th album, and released in 1995. Though critically well-received (well, for Marillion), their appeal was becoming a little more selective at this time. some listeners not liking their band to write songs they want to, and mature with time and experience. The original album had a shiny 90s sound and the remaster makes them sound perhaps a little more indie, and their then current influences – John Lennon, U2, The Beach Boys, the better end of later Genesis – more apparent. Both have some well known tracks – “Beautiful” (a bit wet, if you ask me, but perhaps welcome when getting together with “your lady”), “King” (great), and “Out of this World”, which has Steve Rothery providing a typically tasteful/ lovely/ reassuringly brief solo. “Afraid of Sunlight” remains a rollicking, impassioned number. The edits and revisions of the remastered/ remixed versions of these tracks are really different emphases of the same thing; I found the older “Gazpacho” and “King” more congenial, but then my ears are older, and I like things a bit busier.
The two versions of “Afraid of Sunlight” come with a blu-ray of bits which was not on the streamed version I heard, but there is a live show from Rotterdam in 1995. This underlines what a big sound they have live, and how on top of things they are in that context, giving great value for their fans. the show has 25 tracks, 5 of which were form the new album, with plenty of old, including 7 tracks previously done with their previous singer. Plenty of “Brave” works as well as you might expect, being their finest album up to there. I prefer the newer version of the older songs, myself, and always found the loud-mouthed declamatory vocals of you-know-who off-putting, so these tracks in a newer form suits me. I can see why Steve Hogarth now does as little as possible from the earliest version of the band, as it focuses too much on past and more immature work. As ever the band are tasteful, tight, and on-top of what they do, and I’m sure it looked lovely, too.
What does it all *mean*?
That Marillion can keep going, making the music they want, sponsored by their fans so that they don’t have to deal with the “endless compromises” that “shatter the illusion of integrity” (see what I did there?) is only because of the warm relationship the band has with their fans, and the quality of their product. Think how dismal many other progressive bands are these days, playing the same old sets and arrangements, their last decent albums generally 4 decades ago. So whatever Marillion do, they are obviously doing something right. I think it is their mix of emotional depth, artistic freedom, and good chops that does it, as does the fact that, MOSTLY, they seem to get on with each other. After 30 years with Steve Hogarth, it does seem the marriage has worked. It was doing very well when they had been together just 6 years, as this album shows.
Goes well with…
Tea, water, windscreen wipers, cooking supper.
November 1st, 2019
Might suit people who like…
Marillion, song-based progressive rock, mainstream crafted pop music for the mature rock audience, folks who don’t give a crap about edgy/ hip/ music journalist received wisdom type music.