Misplaced Childhood


Sanctuary Records, 1985


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


I have spent the better part of a year now listening to Misplaced Childhood, the third full-length studio release from British prog-rockers Marillion. No joke; I've spent more time than I'd like to admit listening to the original release on Capitol, and now this two-disc remastered, expanded edition, trying to decipher exactly what is going on in the storyline.

After a year of this, I can finally step forward and say: I still don't have a clear picture, nor do I ever believe I will. All I know is that Misplaced Childhood is an incredible album, though the expanded version does suggest a bit of overkill.

This disc was the release that made Fish and company recognized names in America, thanks to the minor hit "Kayleigh". Why this song didn't become an absolute smash hit I don't understand; it's got a catchy chorus, is well-written and executed, and succeeds on many different levels. But it rightfully did garner the lads some attention, and still sounds as fresh today as it did back in 1985.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Let's focus in on the album proper for a while. This release, which runs without segues between the songs, tells the story of a young man who is forced to face off against the demons of his childhood after breaking up with his love. One could question how much of this was autobiographical, as the sequencing of songs and the subject matters seem to occasionally stray into areas that appear to be too close to reality for the band. Check out the references to songwriting in "Kayleigh" or the piece "Lords Of The Backstage" if you need proof.

In the end, it appears that our hero discovers the answers he was looking for - amazingly, they're within himself, as we learn in "Childhood's End" - but also discovers that had he continued in the relationship which ended, it would have led to disaster anyhow. And while the album proper ends on a note of hope with "White Feather," it suggests that the story is far from complete.

The first time you sit down to the original content of Misplaced Childhood, it might seem difficult to get through, due to the heavier lyrical content as well as the fact there are no breaks between the songs. Yet the album flows naturally, and it subsequent listens allow the listener to discover the intrinsic beauty of the music and words. Even after listening to these songs as intensely as I have over the last year, I have yet to tire of this album.

One would tend to think that Misplaced Childhood could only be made better with the inclusion of some singles and the original demo version of the album. Sure, singles like "Lady Nina" and "Freaks" are fun to listen to, and though they get a little redundant, hearing singles for "Kayleigh," "Lavender" and "Heart Of Lothian" are interesting. But hearing the entire Misplaced Childhood album in two very similar forms back to back does get to be on the tedious side, even with a slightly modified track order and one piece cut from the final work. The inclusion of this piece is for the diehard fans.

Still, Misplaced Childhood remains Marillion's high-water mark - at least for the Fish era of the band. How could the band try to top such a work? The answer: they wouldn't... at least, not immediately, with the release of the Brave Encounter EP, which we'll take a look at soon.

Rating: A-

User Rating: A


An absolute masterpiece, and nearly flawless slice of progressive rock genius. Fish always had a high, almost emotional connection, to his songs, and that's no more true here, from Kayleigh, to Hearts of Lothian, and Blind Curve and Childhood's End. Sheer brilliance.

© 2000 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Sanctuary Records, and is used for informational purposes only.