The 2003 edition of the annual Marillion Christmas CD featured a front cover picturing the guys lounging in their pajamas, lazily smoking pipes. These discs are usually pretty loose assemblies of song, and it looks like Rothery is already into the wine.
The annual Christmas message is first; this time they just want to wish you a lovely Christmas and a happy, happy New Year. Onto the music! “Stop the Cavalry” is considered a Christmas song in the UK, and Marillion’s is hastily assembled with keyboard samples covering most of the instruments. There are plenty of jingle bells to keep things seasonal-sounding.
“Seasons End” begins with “O Come O Come Emmanuel” as if often does, morphing it into an original seasonal song. This live version comes from a 2002 Christmas tour, as released on a DVD called Christmas in the Chapel. It was never released on CD, so this is the only physical CD you can get with any of it. Expect the usual mindblowing weightiness. From the same show, they also perform the carol “Gabriel’s Message”, dark and gothic. “Stille Nacht” (“Silent Night”) is a capella from a German Christmas show, and it is beautiful. Finally Marillion and the Racket Records folks have their way with “The 12 Days of Christmas”, modifying the words for their own needs. As usual, the song wears thin fast.
There’s non-seasonal material too, which is often the case. “I’m the Urban Spaceman” (The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band cover) is a Steve Hogath home demo, dating back to ’96. This rarity is originally from a Hogarth solo EP, a neat curiosity.
“Neverland” was brand new; the Marbles album was still fresh and this would have been some of the first live material available from it. It’s a full-on 10 minute epic, performed with professional passion.
These Marillion Christmas albums usually have one seasonal song and then a bunch of rarities. In 2003 at least they included a few extra seasonal tunes and carols to make it feel like you’re actually listening to a Christmas CD. These being fan club discs, it’s hard being too critical. This one was fun, with only “The 12 Days of Christmas” to annoy you.
3.5/5 Christmas stars
- Happy Christmas Everybody! (1998 – Webfree 1)
- marillion.christmas (1999 – Webfree 2)
- A Piss-Up in a Brewery (2000 – Webfree 3)
- A Very Barry Christmas (2001 – Webfree 4)
- Santa and His Elvis (2002 – Webfree 5)
- Say Cheese! Christmas With Marillion (2003 – Webfree 6)
- Baubles (2004 – Webfree 7)
- Merry Xmas to Our Flock (2005 – Webfree 8)
- The Jingle Book (2006 – Webfree 9)
- Somewhere Elf (2007 – Webfree 10)
- Pudding on the Ritz (2008 – Webfree 11)
- Chile for the Time of Year (2014 – Webfree 17)
- A Collection of Recycled Gifts (2014 – Compilation with new Christmas material)
- Christmas Tour 2014 – Live at the Forum (2014 Abbey Road “instant live”)
- A Monstrously Festive(al) Christmas (2015 – Webfree 18)