Marillion – Brave

braveI got into Marillion through Mike. Time has gone on and much listening has occurred, as I now have several of their records here, either gifted to me by Mike or bought myself. There’s no going back now!

Going in, I knew it wasn’t gonna be easy. This band is crazy good, but it’s work to listen. Of course, it’s ultimately worth it (and how!), but you need to brace yourself and prepare.

Brave is no different. I snagged this 24 bit 2CD remaster, brand new, for $8. A steal and a score! I plugged it in and holy hell, this isn’t an album, it’s a fucking expedition.

Musically, emotionally, mentally, it’s a total wrench. I likely won’t do it justice, so bear with me.

You know this already, but this is a concept album, based on a true story of a young girl found on a bridge, walking around and refusing to speak. She did not seem to know where she was, or where she’d come from, or even who she was. So the album is an imagining of what might have led her to that point.

She’s tired of the world, she’s looking for meaning and some peace. Horrible things (domestic violence, sexual abuse) are throughout these songs. We even have to deal with the media. It’s a real slog to get through, only buoyed by Marillion’s excellent music which, even here, is going for beauty and sadness moreso than full-on rock (there’s a couple of heavier tunes, like Hard As Love or Paper Lies, but even they are just more to the story).

By the end, it seems that she may have been on the bridge to attempt suicide. Bleak, I know! But in Made Again it may be that someone talked her out of it, and this may have been the snap that led to her just wandering unaware of anything on the bridge. I don’t know if my hearing of it is correct, I’ll gladly learn from anyone who knows more about this than me.

You hope for her, you want to help her. It’s sad music, and a sad story, but in it there’s also redemption, I think. An acknowledgement that yes, life can be shit. Real, utter shit. But there’s always reason to stay. Sadness doesn’t have to last forever, and you don’t have to forget, but you can move on.

This is beautiful, and it’s stark, and it’s a total punch in the gut to listen to it. But at the same time it’s totally compelling, and it’s some truly incredible songwriting and storytelling.

Wow.

***

And after all of that on the album, I’d forgotten that mine is a 2CD set. There was another whole disc to get through!

We get a beautiful orchestral version of The Great Escape, acoustic versions of The Hollow Man, Alone Again In The Lap Of Luxury, and Runaway. There are demo versions of Living With The Big Lie, Alone Again In The Lap Of Luxury, and Dream Sequence. We also get an instrumental version of Hard As Love (perfect for karaoke anyone?), and a ‘Spiral Remake’ of The Great Escape.

There’s also the amazing Marouette Jam, which is a 9:44 master class in how to do prog rock correctly. And Winter Trees, a short, atmospheric tune that evokes landscapes and cold.

You know, it’s great to hear these versions and different looks, but I preferred the album proper. I’d say that the second disc is for fans who want to to dig down as far as they can go. I may get there one day, so having it here in the collection may pay off later!

***

Silly:

If you stick around (I wouldn’t recommend it), there’s a hidden track at the end of track 11 on CD2 at 31:44, a stupid squeak version of Scott Joplin’s The Entertainer and a few seconds of someone talking. I found this jarring, tasteless and unnecessary, given the rest of the project. At least it’s only about 30 seconds long.

Interesting:

Some online suggest that, because of the way it was recorded, this album is a template for Radiohead’s OK Computer. Greater minds than I can discuss this. All I know is that I like both albums a whole lot!

In Sum: 

I couldn’t listen to this all of the time, but what a record! Truly amazing work, real art that causes you to feel, and think, and grow. Kudos, Marillion. This one’s incredible. If you’ve read this far, thanks for your patience!

79 thoughts on “Marillion – Brave

  1. J. says:

    Great write up, Aaron. A band that have been on my list for some time, but I’ve yet to jump in. Not sure this is ‘entry level’ Marillion, but I’ll look out for it all the same.

    Like

    1. keepsmealive says:

      Thanks J.! This isn’t entry-level Marillion, I don’t think. Try Misplaced Childhood, maybe… Mike? Scott? Where should J. start!

      That said, this record is so well-realized, just amazing. If you see, buy with confidence!

      Like

          1. mikeladano says:

            For full transparency:

            DO NOT settle for the single CD of Clutching. You need the 2 CD.

            In 1988 Marillion recorded an album’s worth of demos for their fifth album, but there was too much internal strife and Fish quit. He ended up using the lyrics on his first solo album (which Uncle Meat counted as Marillion album in his top 5 Marillion albums list), and the band used the music on their first album with Steve Hogarth.

            Then they did the 2 CD reissue of Clutching, and included all these demos. For the first time you get the hear the music from the Marillion album, with the words and voice from the Fish album. Mind=blown.

            Like

                    1. keepsmealive says:

                      I should amend: I do own the 2CD Marbles (which you found for me in Taranna). And I have Best of Both Worlds and Made Again, which are 2CD sets but I think they came that way originally.

                      Like

      1. J. says:

        Misplaced Childhood is one I’ve spotted a few times, but the price has never been quite right to jump in and get it. I will, though – it’s an album that’s cover has been etched in my mind since I was wee (there was a stall at the Barrowlands that had the poster on the wall …)

        Liked by 1 person

                1. mikeladano says:

                  I know I was just thinking about 12 Bar Blues yesterday. I do want to do it! I’m in a bit of a rut right now, choosing “easier” albums to review that I’m more familiar with, due to lack of proper time.

                  Barrowlands is out and in the player now. It was recorded onto a cassette from the mixing desk, and they tried to master out the tape hiss. I’ll try not to worry about the tape hiss when I do up the review!

                  Liked by 1 person

                  1. J. says:

                    I know that feeling, Mike. When I’m stuck in a rut I find stuff I’m not overly familiar with daunting. Like to stick with stuff I love and know like the back of my hand.

                    Liked by 1 person

                1. keepsmealive says:

                  Oh not necessarily. I just seem to be making a collection, now, of the 2CD sets, so it seemed natural to think that way. Tell you what, if I ever get my hands on a 2CD of MC, you can have my Taranna copy of the single disc. Deal? 😉

                  Liked by 1 person

      1. mikeladano says:

        In the liner notes they state “If you listen carefully you may hear ghosts” or something like that.

        Incidentally if you like this, you would LOVE Marbles.

        Like

          1. mikeladano says:

            Hahaha well I was right, you did like it! That’s awesome. Yeah you have a pretty good Marillion collection going now! You have many of the essential albums for sure, I know you have Misplaced Childhood.

            One thing that’s hard to find but well worth it — an album called B’Sides Themselves. One of their earliest songs was a B-side called “Grendel” — the whole Beowulf thing but from the perspective of the monster. 18 minutes long. They played it live frequently in the early days but haven’t touched it for decades now. Fans still chant “Grendel”!

            Like

            1. keepsmealive says:

              I also found a few of their records at last year’s library book sale. It was on the last day, when it was $1 per bag, so I basically got them for nothing.

              Here’s my current list:

              Script For A Jester’s Tear
              Misplaced Childhood
              Brave (2cd)
              The Best Of Both Worlds (2cd)
              Made Again (2cd)
              This Strange Engine
              Marillion.co.uk
              Marbles (2cd)
              Less Is More
              Crash Course (8th edition) – you gave me this one!

              Like

              1. mikeladano says:

                I forgot about you having Marillion.co.uk! A little oddity for sure, but has one exclusive track, so a collectible. For “essentials”, you are missing:

                Fugazi
                Clutching at Straws
                Seasons End
                and maybe Afraid of Sunlight. Scott?

                Like

                1. keepsmealive says:

                  Yup, I got that .co.uk CD at the library sale in the pile I grabbed. Man, I have SO MUCH to review!

                  Ooooooo I LOVE FUGAZI!!! Oh wait, not the band. You mean an album by Marillion called Fugazi!

                  You guys were recommending Clutching At Straws to me too, I knew I needed that one.

                  I’ll keep my eyes peeled for the rest! Thanks!

                  Like

  2. mikeladano says:

    No worries dude you nailed it.

    Now about the “Spiral Remake” etc.

    As you know the vinyl has a fourth side with a hidden groove. If you drop the needle in one spot, you get The Great Escape and Made Again…happy ending. Another spot, you get the different version of Great Escape…and 20 minutes of water and waves under the bridge. UNhappy ending.

    Very cool how they did that. Very cool review!!!

    Like

    1. keepsmealive says:

      Oh whew! I was sure that I was gonna wake up this morning and have people who know than me about it say I had misheard the album! Seriously Dude, what a project!

      In the deep dark and dusty distant past of my memory, I remember you telling me about that double groove. I honestly think that ending up on the groove that leads you to the water sounds would totally ruin your day! Thanks for adding this info!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. mikeladano says:

        Yeah the double groove vinyl was a holy grail item for a while. Then they did a reissue which you kindly told me about, and I have that now. Unfortunately probably due to the double groove, that side is reaaaally quiet.

        Like

  3. Vinyl Connection says:

    I really don’t know how I feel about rock attempting to explore serious life issues. It’s only rock ‘n’ roll, after all. Rick Wright’s ‘Broken China’ ventured into comparable terrain, with mixed results. One for the robust of spirit, for sure.

    PS. Fortunately, those infuriating ‘bonus’ ‘hidden’ tracks you had to wait forever for (and weren’t worth hearing anyway) were a short-loved fad. Who ever thought this was a good idea?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. keepsmealive says:

      Rock is definitely for fun, but it’s a pure form of expression and, since life often sucks for people, I’d have to wager there are any number of songs out there that touch on serious issues. I can’t think of too many concept albums, though, that tackle things in quite this way. I see your point, but somehow Marillion made this a perfect vehicle and a very creative project, and since it all sounds like them anyway, I think it works out!

      As for hidden tracks, I’d guess bands had a 60 minute album and 74 minutes of space on a disc, so they decide to play. Not all of them have been bad, but you’re right, often they don’t need to be there!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Vinyl Connection says:

        Yes, it’s the whole album approach that somehow seems very intense. I’m certain that if I had a different day job I’d respond differently though. And having said all that, your review would definitely have me grabbing ‘Brave’ if I saw it at the right price.

        Like

        1. keepsmealive says:

          I haven’t had enough coffee yet this morning, but maybe others out there can name other records like this, that attempt similar things?

          If I may ask, what is it you do for a living? Based on your comment, I’m guessing mental health, or law, or police work, something along the lines that you deal with people in crisis? My lovely wife has worked as an intensive case manager in a hospital mental health unit for ten years (and before that, three years as a counsellor in a maximum security prison). She often chooses to not watch films or TV shows (especially horror and crime stuff), for example, saying she doesn’t need any more of that in her head! It’s not entertainment to her!

          I definitely recommend Brave for the right price. I got mine from an Amazon secondary seller for $8 (plus flat-rate shipping). But this is the 2CD version. If you don’t care about the bonus tracks, you might even get the single disc version cheaper!

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Vinyl Connection says:

            Right on the money there Mr. I’m with your wife – ‘Too close to work’ I’ll often say to Ms Connection (who also works in the health/human services area). Which is also why I support and respect any sincere effort to communicate about difficult topics. Generally the more we discuss the difficult stuff, the more chance for change and healing. Sermon ends. 🙂

            Like

            1. keepsmealive says:

              Yup, bottling it up is no good. Talking annd working leads to healing. But it ain’t always entertainment… although in this case, I’d argue that the music is so beautiful and it’s so tastefully handled, it’s a worthwhile listen. Good luck finding your copy! 🙂

              Liked by 1 person

    2. Phillip Helbig says:

      “I really don’t know how I feel about rock attempting to explore serious life issues.”

      Right! More “Big Bottom” and such songs! 🙂

      Seriously, if it is done well, why not? The Wall, say, does a good job, whereas, in my opinion, Country Joe McDonald does not.

      The problem in exploring serious life issues is that of preaching to the choir. On the other hand, bands like Jethro Tull, Iron Maiden, Pink Floyd, the Beatles, Rush, Kansas and several others have shown that rock lyrics can be more than “shake it up baby now”.

      Liked by 3 people

Put yer words here:

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.