Season's End


Sanctuary Records, 1989

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


1989 marked a difficult year for the band Marillion. Well, maybe difficult isn't the correct word. After all, they had weathered the storm of separating from their frontman/singer Fish... the question was, could the band survive without him? More importantly, would Marillion's fans accept the new singer, whoever the band selected?

The selection of Steve Hogarth might have been a little startling to some people. Fish had been very theatric in his own ways; Hogarth seemed content to let the music speak for itself, and he was just the mouthpiece for that music. Needless to say, the combination of Hogarth with the remaining members of Marillion was as natural as eggs with ham, and the fans welcomed Hogarth with open arms.

Seasons End, the first outing with Hogarth as lead vocalist, showed that not only could Marillion survive without the specter of Fish, but they could also thrive. If anything, Hogarth's vocal style helped to draw people's attention to the music - and how beautiful it had been all along. (This isn't meant as a slam against Fish; if you've read any of the previous reviews, you'll know I liked his style of singing as well.)my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The 1997 re-issue of this album, like all of Marillion's releases to that point, includes a bonus disc of material - which we'll get to soon enough. For now, let's focus on the album proper - and what an album it was! Radio might not have been looking at Marillion in terms of airplay anymore, but the band proved that no less than four of these tracks could easily have been the next "Kayleigh". Why Marillion never reached that level of fame with this release, I don't know.

Look at the opening track "The King Of Sunset Town," and try to convince me that this song doesn't have vocal and musical hooks that would have won over the toughest audience. (In a sense, the song did, since Marillion fans are some of the most passionate towards any group - and I do mean that as a compliment.) Try and convince me that "Hooks In You" isn't as powerful a song as anything any radio-friendly band was doing at that time. Try and convince me that "Easter" isn't both a beautiful, touching number and a track that can evoke strong imagery. In fact, don't try - fact is, you won't be able to convince me.

What is unique about Seasons End is that the disc is immediately approachable; unlike some of Marillion's earlier albums, you don't necessarily have to listen to it four times to appreciate the inner beauty of the material. (Again, that's not meant as a slam - just what I've noticed from my experience listening to Marillion's works.) In fact, albums with Hogarth as the singer have proven to be more accessible than works with Fish, in general.

The only "complaint" I would have is a minor one - why wasn't "The Bell In The Sea" included on the original album? It's another beautiful song that shows off the power of Hogarth's vocals paired with the solid musical skills of the band.

Oh, sure, some people might question including three versions of a song like "The Uninvited Guest" (the original, the 12-inch version, and the demo) - but as long as it's this strong of a song, who cares? It is interesting, though, that only about half of Seasons End is featured on "The Mushroom Farm Demos" - compared to other Marillion re-releases which feature usually the entire album.

While Seasons End might not have lit the charts up for Marillion like some of their earlier works, this disc proves to be a high-water mark for the band creatively. Hogarth proved to be a perfect fit with the band, making the transition from Fish to Hogarth practically seamless. Marillion hadn't lost their creative and musical purity - and they are to be commended for a wonderful release. It might not be their best-known album, but Seasons End ranks as one of Marillion's best.

Rating: A-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2001 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.