Marillion - Afraid of Sunlight Deluxe Edition

Marillion – Afraid of Sunlight: Deluxe Edition

One of the things I most admire about Marillion is their ability to take risks and try new things, both in terms of their sound and their approach to marketing the band itself. To the former, Marillion have continued to surprise both fans and critics with albums like Brave, Afraid of Sunlight and Radiation. To the latter, Marillion took control of their own music through Racket Records and pioneered the crowdfunding movement with Anoraknophobia.

Afraid of Sunlight finds itself in that unhappy period when Marillion were out of favour with EMI after the protracted and ‘un-Kayleigh’-like offering, Brave. I must admit, it took me a good few years to get into Brave, after the more radio-friendly Holidays In Eden. As for Afraid of Sunlight, I abandoned that at the HMV listening post in disgust halfway through Afraid of Sunrise. It wasn’t until I heard some of the album’s tracks from the Rotterdam concert extracts featured on Made Again (the whole concert represents discs 3 and 4 of this release) that I went and listened to the album properly in full. As with Brave before it, this is clearly how the album is supposed to be heard. I fell in love with the album back then and regard it now as one of my three favourites from Marillion’s impressive catalogue (the other two being Misplaced Childhood and Marbles).

The songwriting on this album is exquisite, the dynamics rich and varied and the sheer emotional gravitas utterly astounding. The second half of the album, in particular (which I had eschewed that time in HMV), is one of the most powerful series of songs I have heard on any album in my life. Following the melancholic loneliness of Gazpacho, the spiky punk of Cannibal Surf Babe and the majestic balladry of Beautiful, the doomed ambition of the deeply tragic Out of This World is like a staging post for the fatalistic hopelessness which the album careers towards in the climactic denouement of King.

I could wax lyrical about every track on this album, but I suspect most readers have already heard it (and possibly already own a copy) and are wondering if this re-issue is worth picking up. On the documentary from the Blu-ray, I was interested to note that the Michael Hunter re-mix has been put together from the original tapes, rather than the mix that ended up lost amongst various other recordings at Parr Studios. As a consequence, this is more than just a ‘tarting’ up of the original recording. The overall recording is cleaner and crisper and Rothery’s guitar parts, in particular, benefit from this. Of most interest, I think, is Out of This World which was put together from what was available and which has quite a different balance in places (some of it great, one or two parts I prefer on the original). By the end of the album, I had noted a number of sections that sounded quite different to Dave Meegan’s original (which I’ve listened to many times over the years). Is it like hearing a new album? Of course not, but it is much more interesting than the usual slew of remasters.

Value for money isn’t really a problem with this re-issue as it features the original mix, the new re-mix, a double live from the Afraid of Sunlight tour and a Blu-ray with lots of bonus features, all for less than £30. However, the B-sides and bonus tracks from the bonus disc of the EMI 1999 remaster are only present as files on the Blu-ray and not on an audio disc, which is a pity as I feel that Mirages, not least, is good to have on CD. This means that this release would likely accompany fans’ 1999 remasters, rather than replace them. Another factor to be considered is that whilst the sound quality of the concert is excellent, I’m sure I’m not the only Marillion fan who feels like they have more than enough of their live albums.

For any prog fan who doesn’t yet have a copy of Afraid of Sunlight, this release is well worth investing in as you get two different versions of one of the best prog albums ever released, along with an engaging live performance from the tour and, with the CD, a Blu-ray packed with extras and an extensive booklet. For the Afraid of Sunlight fan, this is also worth your while as Michael Hunter’s re-mix is superb and provides the listener with an opportunity to hear what another producer can do with the tapes nearly twenty-five years later. Overall, this is excellent value for money and, on a final note, I’d add that Steve Hogarth was right all along and I’m pleased that the Day-Glo Jesus is now the album’s front cover.

Disc 1: Afraid of Sunlight (Michael Hunter 2019 re-mix)

01. Gazpacho (7:25)
02. Cannibal Surf Babe (5:44)
03. Beautiful (5:11)
04. Afraid Of Sunrise (5:00)
05. Out Of This World (7:53)
06. Afraid Of Sunlight (6:50)
07. Beyond You (6:09)
08. King (7:01)

Disc 2: Afraid of Sunlight (Dave Meegan 1995 original mix)
01. Gazpacho (7:27)
02. Cannibal Surf Babe (5:44)
03. Beautiful (5:12)
04. Afraid Of Sunrise (5:01)
05. Out Of This World (7:54)
06. Afraid Of Sunlight (6:49)
07. Beyond You (6:10)
08. King (7:03)

Disc 3: Live at the Ahoy, Rotterdam (29th September 1995)
01. Intro (Skater’s Waltz) (0:46)
02. Incommunicado (4:55)
03. Hooks In You (2:58)
04. Gazpacho (6:16)
05. Icon (1:10)
06. Beautiful (5:32)
07. Hotel Hobbies (2:03)
08. White Russian (7:08)
09. Easter (6:11)
10. Mad (2:52)
11. The Opium Den (3:47)
12. Hard As Love (6:33)
13. The Hollow Man (5:13)

Disc 4: Live at the Ahoy, Rotterdam (29th September 1995)
01. Kayleigh (4:08)
02. Lavender (4:18)
03. Afraid Of Sunlight 6:57)
04. Cannibal Surf Babe (4:51)
05. Cover My Eyes (4:15)
06. Slainte Mhath (4:45)
07. King (7:20)
08. Splintering Heart (7:20)
09. No One Can (5:36)
10. The Great Escape (5:46)
11. The Uninvited Guest (4:27)
12. Garden Party (7:38)

Disc 5: Blu-ray
Afraid of Sunlight 2019 (stereo and 5.1)
Documentary Film
1999 Remaster Bonus Tracks
Jams and Demos
Video of Beautiful

Steve Hogarth – Vocals, Additional Keyboards & Percussion
Steve Rothery – Guitar
Mark Kelly – Keyboards
Pete Trewavas – Bass, Backing Vocals
Ian Mosley – Drums & Percussion
~ With:
Barbara Lezmy – Additional Backing Vocals (on Cannibal Surf Babe)
Wendy Paige – Additional Backing Vocals (on Cannibal Surf Babe)
Hannah Stobart – Additional Backing Vocals (on Beautiful)

Record Label: Parlophone
Format/Catalogue#: 4CD/Blu-ray – 0190295477219, 5LP – 0190295477226, Digital
Date of Release: 1st November 2019

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