RECORD STORE TALES PART 66: The First Time I Heard Marillion
Winter – spring, 1999. The last couple of years had been a messy string of bad dates, break-ups, and bad music. Heavy metal, at least in this town, spent most of the 90’s in a coma. I had been stretching out and selectively buying different kinds of music, just due to the sheer lack of quality and selection in new metal music. I don’t think that really changed until Iron Maiden roared back with Brave New World. I noticed a seismic shift, a growing pulse, in metal at that time.
Working in the store, I got to try anything I wanted. I had explored Brit-pop, Australian indi bands, a little electronica, and a lot of mainstream stuff, as long as it had some guitars or aggression to it.
One day, the same guy who sold me that rare Oasis live album walked in. He had a whole bunch of remastered albums for sale, among them three Marillion discs: Script For A Jester’s Tear, Fugazi, and Misplaced Childhood. These were the remastered versions with the bonus discs. Absolutely impossible to find in town. Even hard to get on the leading websites, such as HMV.com and CDnow.
Now, I had definitely heard of Marillion, but never heard Marillion. I had read about them in M.E.A.T Magazine, and my buddy Tom had a dozen Marillion posters on the wall. I thought they would be my kind of band, just I had never stumbled upon them before.
I called Tom.
“Tom! I just got three Marillion remasters in. Misplaced, Fugazi, and Script. Do you want?”
“Oooh…he didn’t have Clutching at Straws, did he?” Tom asked. I replied in the negative.
“Listen,” Tom said. “You have three great albums there, but if you want to try some Marillion, go for Misplaced, before you try the other two. You’ll like Misplaced. The other two can be kind of dense at first.”
I took Tom’s advice, and bought Misplaced. I brought it to the cottage with me that weekend, and listened to the whole thing on my boombox.
What an experience, immersed in the music at the lake, nobody around, hearing Fish’s smooth voice and sometimes jagged enunciation. This Fish guy, I didn’t know what he was on about yet, but I was intrigued by three things:
- He looked cool.
- His lyrics were very poetic, unlike any I’d heard before.
- He was Scottish, just when I was starting to get interested in my own Scottish half-background.
“Kayleigh” jumped right out at me on the first listen, but soon “Heart of Lothian” followed. Then “Lavender”, “White Feather”…the album really spoke to me! I get it! It’s about girls, right?
In the same Oasis article mentioned above, I talked about being an obsessive compulsive collector. Well, after buying Fugazi and Seasons End in short order, I was off to the races. I went to their website and bought everything. Every friggin’ thing.
Everybody at work hated Marillion. Everybody! I remember being at a record store party once. This guy named “German Mike” was there, he was somebody’s friend that had flown in. From Germany. Anyway, they were on the topic of whatever new bands were happening at the time. I broke in, saying, “I’ve actually been going back to discover old bands. I’m really into Marillion right now.”
“Fuck Marillion,” said German Mike. He later puked potato chips all over his shirt.
Nah, sorry German Mike. I’ll stick to Marillion, but maybe you should cut the chicken chips!