I 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.
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!
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.
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!
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!