Marillion - Seasons End (Deluxe Edition)

Marillion – Seasons End [Deluxe Edition]

So here we are once more… only we aren’t.  The final reissue in the series of albums Marillion released on the label that originally signed them in the 1980s, EMI.  Fittingly, Seasons End is the first Marillion album following the departure of enigmatic front man Fish, so there was plenty of apprehension, nervousness and expectation of what was to come, not only from the band themselves, but also their legion of loyal fans. Well, they didn’t have anything to worry about and the band have gone on to produce countless other revered albums over the last 34 years with the present line-up. The fact that very many of the songs on this debut album with Steve Hogarth as the new frontman continue to be played live to this day, not least a complete front-to-back performance in 2022, is testament to how good this album is and how popular it remains with the audience.

I’m not going to say too much about the music – I suspect that I am preaching to the already converted, and there has been a lot said about this album over the years. But what I am going to do is tell you about this re-release package because there is a wealth of really interesting stuff on it, and I do think that it is amongst the very best of their seven deluxe editions. So, just a few highlights about the music…

The opening track, King of Sunset Town, is a blinder. Anyone’s apprehension as to what the ‘new’ band was going to produce is completely assuaged, with its sophisticated complex intro, reassuring bassline from Pete Trewavas, first guitar solo from Steve Rothery and punchy drum fills from Ian Mosley. Steve Hogarth’s vocals are sweet and forceful and Mark Kelly’s keys seem somewhat maturer than before.  Straight into Easter, always a crowd favourite, and it cemented the fans’ realisation that Steve Hogarth could sing prog rock and prog ballads. Job done, Mr Hogarth, and the rest is history. The Michael Hunter remix is a delight.  The Uninvited Guest includes a very prominent cuckoo at the end of the remix, somewhat lost in the original. The title track, Seasons End, is a personal favourite. Rothery’s guitars – all of them – are as crisp as ever, and Hogarth’s vocals are packed full of emotion.

Berlin is a joy and the remix seems somewhat warmer than the original. Whenever I hear this song, I’m always reminded of how Europe changed that year, with the fall of the Berlin Wall on 9th November 1989, a mere six weeks after the original release of this album (I was living deep in Germany at the time); how prescient was that?  Does Mr Hogarth and/or John Helmer (who penned the lyric prior to Steve Hogarth joining the band) really have a sixth sense? And The Space… is a perfect end, with lots of intertwined themes, and don’t you just love that door slam at the end? It’s now an ’80s prog classic.

Generally, the new remix has lifted the whole album. I played the original and the new remix, track-by-track, back-to-back, and there is no doubt that the new mix is brighter, clearer, better defined throughout the musical register, without losing any of the warmth that we have become accustomed to.

And what about the package and its bonus extras? As soon as it was announced, with temptation-inducing pictures, there was some unrest about the change in the artwork. Of course, there will always be some nay-sayers in any social media group of the size that Marillion now enjoys, but I do think that the band have got this right. I remind people that this was the first post-Fish album, released in 1989, and a softly softly approach was taken in the transition to the new Marillion Hogarth era.  The original Jo Mirowski logo was retained, but the air-brush artwork from Mark Wilkinson was essentially moved on to a more photographic approach with subtle snapshots of times past; a chameleon, a feather, a jester and discarded clown painting, some reassuring aspects that all will be well.  Well… 34 years have passed and Marillion have gone from strength to strength, and so can park any concept of providing reassurance with this release; the original Marillion era is long gone and the re-issue warrants a fresh face, away from the Fish-era; this re-release has got that, and I love it. And if anyone wants to hark back to the original, well go and get it out from your record or CD shelf, because you all know you’ve got it somewhere. ‘Nuff said…

There’s more. Others, or maybe the same complainants about the artwork change, have complained that the CD live recording in the set is not from the 1990 Seasons End tour, but taken from the De Montfort, Leicester in 2022. Well, go figure… The 2022 show is exceptional, in its performance and production, and is worthy of any live Marillion collection. Look deeper though, because the package includes a 1990 bootleg recording from Le Spectrum in Montreal, presumably cleaned up to within an inch of its life. It’s really good, but not an exceptional recording and the hint is in the description – it’s a bootleg, and so we must thank the lovely guys at Marillion for providing us with not only an exceptional live performance of the album, but also an alternative ‘of-its-time’ live recording. They didn’t have to do it on this package so, to all the complainers, please stop…

Yes, there’s more. On the CD/Blu-Ray Deluxe, there are B-sides, demos and early versions for all the completists out there. Quite apart from the aforementioned ‘bootleg’ recording, there is a 90-minute concert film from 1990 (surely that goes some way to appeasing the nay-sayers criticising the apparent lack of live recording from the Seasons End tour?). It’s a bit dated (reminder: it was 33 years ago…) but it is a hugely enjoyable concert video for the archive and it stirs many memories for those lucky to have seen that tour. Other video treats include the 63-minute documentary From Stoke Row to Ipanema, in the event that some newer fans don’t already have it, and some promo films to go with the single releases. But the jewel in the crown is the 83-minute modern day documentary called Seasons Change. It tells you everything you need to know about what was going through the minds of this wonderful band and how they recruited Mr Hogarth. It’s fascinating stuff, well filmed with great sensitivity and honesty. Marillion have form in providing a documentary with their re-releases, but this is probably the most important and interesting one yet. It is the gateway to Marillion Mk II.

For all the technocrats out there, there are high resolution and 5.1 surround versions too, and for those of you who like the written word, there is a very careful and engaging essay from Rich Wilson, and some lovely new artwork as background to the lyric pages. Rich Wilson recounts some entertaining stories, including the recording session at Hook End Manor and the Crooked Billet gig that got the Mk II band started.

So there you have it. It really is a lovely package, worthy of every penny of its retail price. I love it, and I ain’t complaining about any of it. It will get a regular spin and I will fire it up on my telly plenty of times too. And, take it from me, the 5-LP version, which covers the album remix and the 2022 gig, is fabulous too. For all those people who continue to be rather unnecessary negative about the change in the artwork, well just look at Page 2 of the lovely 12” x 12” booklet in said vinyl set, and your complaints are unfounded. Just go and buy it; all of you will really love it (or at least almost all of you…).

2023 Remix by Mike Hunter
01. King of Sunset Town (8:04)
02. Easter (5:58)
03. The Uninvited Guest (3:52)
04. Seasons End (8:10)
05. Holloway Girl (4:30)
06. Berlin (7:48)
07. After Me (3:20)
08. Hooks in You (2:57)
09. The Space… (6:14)

CD2: Live at the De Montfort Hall – 29th May 2022
01. The King of Sunset Town
02. Easter
03. The Uninvited Guest
04. Seasons End
05. Holloway Girl
06. Berlin
07. After Me
08. Hooks in You
09. The Space…

CD3: Live at the De Montfort Hall – 29th May 2022
01. Gaza
02. The Leavers

Audio Content:
Seasons End 2023 Remix
48/24 Stereo LPCM
DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
~ Live at the De Montfort Hall, Leicester, 29th May 2022
01. The King of Sunset Town
02. Easter
03. The Uninvited Guest
04. Seasons End
05. Holloway Girl
06. Berlin
07. After Me
08. Hooks in You
09. The Space…
10. Gaza
11. The Leavers
~ B Sides, Demos & Early Recordings:
01. Strings Groove (Dalnagar Castle, August 1988)
02. String Groove (With Synths, Dalnager Castle, August 1988)
03. Amsterdam (The Space Demo, March 1989)
04. Easter (Demo, March 1989)
05. Hooks in You (Early Version, March 1989)
06. At End of The Day (The Release, Early Version, March 1989)
07. Sunset Town (M8 Idea H Dictaphone, March 1989)
08. The Uninvited Guest (12” Mix)
09. The Bell in the Sea
10. The Release
11. The King of A Sunset Town (Demo)
12. Holloway Girl (Demo)
13. Seasons End (Demo)
14. The Uninvited Guest (Demo)
15. Berlin (Demo)
16. Bell in the Sea (Demo)
~ Montreal Bootleg, Le Spectrum, 2nd & 3rd February 1990:
01. The King of Sunset Town
02. Slàinte Mhath
03. Script for A Jester’s Tear
04. The Uninvited Guest
05. Easter
06. Warm Wet Circles
07. That Time of the Night (The Short Straw)
08. Holloway Girl
09. Berlin
10. Seasons End
11. Kayleigh
12. Lavender
13. Heart of Lothian
14. Hooks in You
15. The Space…
Video Material:
Seasons Change Documentary (83 mins)
From Stoke Row to Ipanema Documentary (63 mins)
Rock Steady Concert Film, Live at De Montfort Leicester 1990 (90 mins)
Promo Films (Hooks in You, Easter, The Uninvited Guest)

Steve Hogarth – Voice
Steve Rothery – Guitar
Mark Kelly – Keyboards
Pete Trewavas – Bass
Ian Mosley – Drums, Percussion
~ With (on original album):
Phil Todd – Saxophone (track 6)
Jean-Pierre Rasle – Pipes (track 2)

Record Label: Parlophone Records
Country Of Origin: U.K.
Date of Release: 19th May 2023

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