1984 (reissue 1998 EMI Records)
It’s a challenge to review an album whic is so close to your heart. It was an immediate succes in the spring of ’84 when I got my hands on “Fugazi”, the second album by British prog band Marillion. In ’91, a bizarre dimension was added when I, like the main character on the cover, ended up lying on the bed after I suffered a cerebral infarction. I also lay there completely naked, logically: in the hospital that is often the dress code for patients. At the rehabilitation center I had a large poster of the album on the wall of my room. Sometimes I would get comments from the staff about the striking resemblance. The fugazi was complete. I was a fugazi with all my heart. I am a fucked up warrior.
Immediately Marillion goes to war with the fiery Assassing. I don’t stand a chance when I hear the song, they chop me down all the way. Under the inspiring rhythms of their new drummer Ian Mosley, everyone is as unleashed as a cow that is allowed to leave the stable in springtime. Mosley has a resolute style in which he whacks out one accent after another and meanwhile he sprinkles with nice grooves and fills. Hear Pete Trewavas go crazy on his bass guitar. Steve Rothery and Mark Kelly are also doing excellent things. What especially lifts the song is the sharp rhythm guitar and later those effervescent keyboards. Fish is a story in itself. He makes his way through everything with his sharp, biting voice that you can think of as a true machete. What the combative language virtuoso does vocally is artistic. Assassing is a convincing harbinger of things to come.
The subsequent vivid Punch & Judy has a delightful neo-prog keyboard riff that is supported by a creamy guitar riff. The great thing about this song is that with its short playing time it has just the right size. Marillion knows what dosing is.
With Jigsaw Marillion delivers a beautiful ballad and that beauty obviously has a lot to do with the immeasurably beautiful guitar solo. At the time, I saw Marillion live. It was quite an experience to be in the middle of the sing along audience. It all became fun when at the end of Jigsaw Fish shoved off an imaginary ring from his finger and threw it into the audience. Every time I play the last few bars of the song I get flashbacks of that time.
What Marillion does so well on “Fugazi” is to vary in atmosphere. Each song is a clearly self-contained unit, while the mutual cohesion is enormous. Take the songs Emerald Lies and She Chameleon. Emerald Lies sounds quite industrial for a long time, but under the leadership of Fish who sings ‘hot tears melt this icy palace’ there are still warm sounds in the spectrum. She Chameleon is a very different kind of song. It is infused with church organ sounds and has a brilliant keyboard passage, definitely Mark Kelly at his best.
The last two songs, Incubus and the title track Fugazi, show a Marillion that rises above itself. Incubus is for a long time a delicious progsong including a characteristic passage with broken guitar chords, until the atmosphere becomes dark and Fish starts singing with his head voice. What follows is one of Rothery’s best guitar solos ever. The song ends quite bombastic and meanwhile Fish is giving all he has in a very biting vocal. As mentioned, the album ends with the title track and the finale of that deserves so much appreciation, not only does the track ends fantastically, but also the album. A wonderful keyboard figure is the eye-catcher. How everyone plays around it is great class.
In 1998 the album was remastered and released together with a bonus CD. For the die hards this extra CD is quite interesting. The first three tracks are the usual subjects, but after that we get four previously unreleased demos of some album songs. Among others we hear early versions of Punch & Judy and Incubus. Personally, I like these tracks enough to listen to more than once. It’s a fan thing, though.
“Fugazi” is an album that has a hold on me for years. What a pleasure for your ears. In the context of this review, the disc has often been in my CD player. Regretfully the last word of this review is written.
© Dick van der Heijde 2022