Gather ’round the glow of your computers children, and get your hot chocolate in hand, for it is time for a look at another Marillion Christmas CD. The Jingle Book is a doubly clever title, for Marillion’s Christmas song for 2006 was a cover of “That’s What Friends Are For” from The Jungle Book. A surprising choice, it is rather movie accurate and partly acapella. There is also the traditional and always silly Christmas greeting from the band. In what may also be a Marillion tradition, this short message requires multiple takes!
The bulk of the CD is a live set from Poland in 2006. The festival setting lends this CD a different atmosphere than other live Marillion discs. From the sonics to the feel, The Jingle Book doesn’t work like typical Marillion sets. There are only a few long bombers, lots of singles, and no tracks earlier than Seasons End. Decent quality audio will satisfy all but the pickiest of fans; remember this amounts to an official bootleg.
An ass-kicking “Separated Out” was chosen for opening position. This song, among Marillion’s most energetic, would have got the crowd’s attention. Drummer Ian Mosely is a monster on “Separated Out”, which is immediately followed by the band’s hit single “You’re Gone”. The mosh pit vibe gives way to ethereal dance. Floating like smoke in the air, “Fantastic Place” and “Easter” are rolled out in powerful performances. Talking is minimal though Steve “h” does attempt some Polish.
Afraid of Sunlight is given a nod with the ballad “Beautiful”, and progressive epic “Out of this World”. “Beautiful” is as lovely as its name, and has the feeling of celebration. The mood darkens immediately on “Out of this World”, as there are very few positive songs about nautical disasters. Steve Rothery’s immaculate guitar tone sings its own song, sad but hopeful.
The beat picks up with the electrifying “Accidental Man” from This Strange Engine. As a highlight from that often overlooked album, “An Accidental Man” does not get showcased often, and this organ-heavy take is satisfying. Boppy Beatles-y single “The Damage” (from Marbles) is sheer delight. With genie now out of the box, “Neverland” begins a long slow climax. As one of the most dramatic of all Marillion epics, “Neverland” haunts the air like burning incense. Then like a halogen light, Rothery brightens it up with his un-immitatible string magic. Consider the heart that “h” puts into his singing here, combined with Rothers’ liquid guitars, and this could be the best ever live version of “Neverland”.
Rolling into the encores, “Between You and Me” and “Cover My Eyes” exude glee and positive vibes. There is much common ground between the two albums those songs are taken from (Holidays in Eden and Anoraknophobia) so it is unsurprising that they work together so well in the encore position. A brilliant pairing, crisp and refreshing like Sauvignon Blanc with a healthy avocado salad.
As with any past Marillion Christmas CD, you can’t buy this anymore and the chances of stumbling upon one in the shops are nil, even with the help of all of Santa’s elves. However you can still download it and the others by joining the official Marillion webUK fan club. Members receive three thick, glossy full colour magazines, the Christmas CD, and other downloadable content. Worth thinking about, or adding to your Christmas list.