on 8 October 2000
Misplaced Childhood belongs to a time and a place forever locked inside me. I was 17, in love for the first time and just coming to grips with my own identity. The lyrical content and the sheer tumbling, turbulent emotion of the album chrystallised the experience of being 17 in 1985. The album's centrepiece 'Blind Curve' is pretty much a metaphor for adolescence emerging clumsily into adulthood, confused and insecure about the world and everyone's place in it. 'Kayleigh' was of course the Big Hit. Number 2 no less, and a more perfectly structured love song has yet to be written. Marbled through with bitterness, regret, and finally simple joy, Misplaced Childhood remains a sublime journey through the consciousness of a confused soul. And that's just what I was in 1985. An adolescent dream made real.
on 18 October 2006
My favourite Marillion album from the Fish era has always been Fugazi but 'Misplaced Childhood' certainly has to be one of the most accomplished rock albums of the 1980s. For long time fans like me, it also takes one back to that great year (I was ten), when Marillion seemed to be in every paper and magazine, and on the radio constantly. We also got to see Fish in tartan suits and his kilt.
Again, only Marillion would be brave enough to attempt to make a concept album in 1985, but it is a triumph of music over people that it performed so well, and still sounds so good now.
Modern Marillion fans may harp on about the merits of 'Brave', but for me, 'Misplaced Childhood' will always win hands down when it comes to the better concept album.
The concept is alot less straightforward here than on 'Brave' however. It's based on a bad acid trip suffered by Fish, which caused him to have some spooky 'visions' which in turn caused him to envisage a drummer boy. He went on to scribble down his experiences as a child and a young adult with the young boy acting almost as a muse.
'Pseudo Silk Kimono' starts things off with some lush, misty sounding keyboards, and links superbly to the band's mega hit signature theme, 'Kayleigh'.
'Kayleigh' may still be a perennial radio favourite a la Van Halen's 'Jump', but it still remains an almost perfect four minute rock song. Lyrically romantic and powerfully played, 'Kayleigh' is highly unrepresentative of the band's sound, but it opened the eyes and ears of the nation to Marillion and their overall style as countless people went out and bought the album.
'Lavender' is very similar to 'Kayleigh' in terms of the commercial success it helped the band to achieve. It provided them with another top ten single and remains a lovely piece of rock whimsy.
'Bitter Suite' is very much the spine of the first 'side' and shows the band returning very much to the type of atmospheric, moody music which made their debut 'Script For A Jester's Tear' so absorbing. Lyrically enthralling with effective musical pastel shadings, it's an understated piece which reels you in as the listener.
'Heart Of Lothian' closes the first suite of linked music and is still a joy to these ears with it's football stadium chant style and soaring guitars and keyboards. It lifts the gloom of the previous track beautifully and provided the band with a top thirty single.
'Waterhole (expresso bongo)' is a stark piece with plenty of underlying menace as Fish continues to rant about his obvious dislike of 'wide boys', as mentioned in the previous track.
'Lords Of The Backstage' has the potential to be a top tune with an oddball rhythm section and a memorable theme. However, it seems to end just as it's begun which is a shame.
'Blind Curve', like 'Bitter Suite' on the first half of the album is a dark, moody atmospheric piece which shows the lyrical concept of the album gaining in depth, as a drug addled Fish sees the image of the drummer boy on his staircase. It ends as a political rant which leads into the excellent 'Childhood's End?'
'Childhood's End?', like 'Heart Of Lothian' is effective in that it brightens up the subject matter, which on the previous track is very dark indeed. It's a lively track with lots of top guitar and keyboards and a soaring chorus.
'White Feather', like every closing track on Marillion albums up to this point has a highly anthemic, almost military feel. It closes the record perfectly and makes you want to press play once again.
It's difficult to dissect 'Misplaced Childhood' track by track. You have to look at it as a whole, and 'Kayleigh', 'Lavender', 'Heart Of Lothian' and 'Childhoods End?' notwithstanding, the album is a wonderfully moody, atmospheric, epic work that flew in the face of fashion then (despite reaching number one in the album chart), and continues to do so now. The great thing is that 'Misplaced Childhood' is all the better for it.
on 2 December 2009
One of the best albums ever made.....ooh big statement.
Marillion, when I was 17 were completely at odds with my musical taste.I was into The Jam,The WHO,Northern Soul and being a mod really.But of course in pubs and clubs you hear things, and I heard 'Kayleigh'. One day in John Menzies (remember them?), I thought I'd buy this album just to see what all this 'new prog' was all about. Twenty six years later I can still say this is one of the best albums I've ever heard. Musically,lyrically and the track order is almost perfect.
If you've never heard this album.....you really should.Don't lend it to your mates....they'll keep it....
on 17 December 2000
I was watching the Young Ones, which the Australian Broadcasting Commission first showed about 11.30pm. In one episode the boys were watching the little blob of light and Neil was humming along to the tone signal. Then he mournfully enquired why they didn't play any music he liked, like Marillion. Now, understand that I was living in Townsville, in North Queensland, about as far away from the world as you can get, but I figured that if Neil liked something it must be good. So, next day I went to my favourite record shop and asked the proprietor if he'd heard of Marillion. "Oh God," Gary said. "I knew it wouldn't take long." He sold me a copy of Misplaced Childhood. I took it home and was utterly and completely blown away. The lines about the Magdelene are still hauntingly beautiful.
The test of a truly great album is that you listen to it on release, again ten years later and again in another ten and it is still as powerful and relevant as the first time.
This is great album.
Originally released in 1985 it spawned two massive hit singles in Kayleigh and Lavender and it is amazing even now to hear how they fit into the whole even though you may have heard the former so often you may be sick of it.
Those are not really the highlights either. My highspots are Heart of Lothian and Childhood's End. The sudden switch from Lords of The Backstage into Blind Curve literally makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.
Great words and vocals from Fish, great playing from the rest, this was to be the first Marillions finest hour. The follow up Clutching at Straws was good but not as good as this.
If you don't own or haven't heard this album yet you should.
on 28 August 2007
I bought this LP (yes LP) in 1986 and the CD a few years later. One word, brilliant! Up there with the Floyd, Genesis and The Beatles as far as concept albums are concerned. Buy this if you have at least one musical bone in your body.
on 13 September 2001
It seems you really did misplace your childhood... It's an album that by its very existance made growing up a more fulfilling experience... identifying with songs of lost love and memories gone by, and yet leaving the listener with a thoughtfull optimism which is really what makes the album work well as a whole, yet the majority of tracks stand out on their own merits both musically and lyrically.
Unlike other concept albums every song adds to the journey from the starting point "Pseudo Silk Kimono/Kayleigh" to its end "Childhood's End/White Feather", an effortless, beautiful experience.
I definately recommend this album to anyone old enough to remember the singles Kayliegh & Lavender - when you hear them here in context they send shivers down the spine!!
on 14 November 2015
Misplaced Childhood maybe felt a bit like Marillion were going glossy commercial after Fugazi, which was in places so depressing it made you want to take medicine. In many ways this is Marillion's masterpiece, though. There was never any doubt that the band could play, and that Fish had vision as a songwriter. This album is where it all gets realised.
The first two records did, it has to be said, have a bit of an undergraduate feel in places. Sixth form, even. Some inelegant mixed metaphors and unwieldy use of language in places let those albums down - although it's fair to say that the overwritten element as well as the slightly bonkers vibe meant that both are still well worth a listen.
Misplaced Childhood, then. It's totally psychedelic but not in a magic mushies kind of way. It's almost like something out of a James Joyce or Alasdair Gray novel. It also reminds me (in a way) of William McIlvanney's "The Kiln" - it is someone delving deep, deep into the past and being surprised at every step, as the Jungian shadow-self jumps out at strange moments and chucks all colours of realisation over everything.
Misplace Childhood, then (again):
Pseudo Silk Kimono - not really a song. More of an intro. It kind of clears the psychic space for the story the listener is about to be plunged into...
Kayleigh - very Phil Collins in the vocal pitch glides. Powerful imagery here: "dancing in stillettos in the snow", "loving on the floor in Belsize Park", "moonwashed" halls. The song takes place in a kind of dual time - overpowering memory that takes the speaker back to the time, overlaid with/switching to a slightly more prosaic 'now'. That the resulting song doesn't really exist in either is a narratological triumph.
Lavender - a slightly over-the-top prelapsarian vibe. Made genius by the fact that in the song prior to it (Kayleigh) he's on about writing a song. and he doesn't write it - he encounters it while out walking. Like the writing was on the cosmic wall. So while the song - if you hear it on the radio - might sound a bit dippy, in context it is as sharp as a brand new knife.
Bitter suite - there's a touch of TS Eliot going on here, disparate scenarios strung together for weird juxtapositional value. I'm not crazy about Fish's attempt at talking French here (Paul Weller on Down in the Seine is far superior) but the track really works - it brings things back into the present.
Heart of Lothian - I've never been to Edinburgh but I have always had a fascination with the city. The shamanistic repetition of the phrase "stop the rain" at the start of the song is almost too much for me. I almost puke with joy when I hear it. Then the guitar starts up. Just wow. At this point in the narrative, it's like the stars start to align, and the protagonist has that kind of a stepped off the plane, back home feeling. While the city's nightlifers are having it large for the weekend - "anarchy smiles on the Royal Mile". The chorus on this is massive - in any other band's song it would be bombastic, but on this, it's majestic. Your heart just soars.
Waterhole - a genius piece of existential dysphoria. Don't play it next to David Sylvian's "Backwaters" or you might disappear into the air.
Lords of the Backstage - very simple and direct, almost like a narrative bridge more than an actual song. He's now a "lord of the backstage" but faltering on the stage of life. Got to the top and found nothing there.
Blind Curve - kind of a continuation of the previous track. Biting ennui with more behind it than simple discontentedness. Ends up a bit overblown - or so it seems, but hang on a second...
Childhood's End - there is a sense of emotional deblockage here that make the overwroughtness of Blind Curve make sense. This is a record where no track makes full sense unless you hear it in context. And this one is an absolute classic - the record's themes all unite here and there is a sense of truce. And realisation that time has nothing to do with it: "I can do anything". A truce with existence itself - "there is no childhood's end". Oh, and that skyward synth riff (not unlike BYC by Cockney Rejects, of all the mad coincidences...) another great, great moment.
White Feather - this is total, complete genius. The story's been told, the denouement has been presented. But you can't just disappear just like that. So here, now that the protagonist's divided self has un-divided, a call for non-nationalistic solidarity.
Would Marillion ever get close to this level of genius again? It's all so humanistic and well crafted. The answer is ... kind of. There are moments in the album that followed this that are as good as it gets, like "Just For The Record", "That Time of the Night" and "Exile on Princes Street" but for the full Marillon experience, Misplaced Childhood is end to end fantastic.
Recommened? Yes. Buy two copies in case you lose one or wear the first one out.
on 23 November 2009
Misplaced Childhood was released by Marillion in 1985 as their 3rd studio album following their debut Script For A Jester's Tear (1983) and Fugazi (1984). Fugazi is considered by many to be their strongest, more diverse release with songs rather than fragments but Misplaced Childhood carries certain strength and originality I am really attracted to. It was to be the one before last studio album of Marillion with Fish as vocalist. Neither their last common album nor the many albums coming out of the separate ways of both Marillion and Fish, in my mind exceeded the greatness of Fugazi and Misplaced Childhood.
Misplaced Childhood is a sort of a fragmented story with many different topics going on, but do not try to find too much underlying meaning in the concept, as it was a fruit of an acid overdose by Fish...at the pretty bad time for him personally. He was on tour and dealing with the break up with his long term girlfriend as well as the death of his friend whom the album was dedicated to. The overall concept although extremely poetic and confusing seems to have forgiveness to self and rejection of war as main themes somehow coming out of it. 'I will wear your white feather, I will carry your white flag, I will swear I have no nation, 'cos I'm proud to own my heart' becomes the most important final statement Fish leaves us behind.
Musically this album is a sort of a fragmented rock opera with hardly enough music to carry everything the vocalist wants to express. It is a very even album and it should be listen continuously as a concept album it is, but my most favorite parts are Blind Curve, a long suite composed of 5 parts and Lavender. The climate of this entire album is, to me at least, one of a kind.
It feels like it was just yesterday when I was in third year of secondary school as a prefect policing the bike sheds, when my prefect partner Gary played the opening three songs of Misplaced Childhood. It must have been something like 30 years ago, I don't really want to think to deeply about how much time has passed, but those opening three songs touched a part of my soul and heart that no song had ever touched before. It felt like I was Dorothy stepping out of the monochrome world of Kansas into the technicolor world of Oz. The multi-layered tracks, of Kelly's mythical keyboards, the haunting beauty of Rothery's guitar, and the soulful rhythm section of Trewavas and Mosely all combing with the siren call of Fish's evocative vocals, within seconds had me enthralled with their beauty and emotional punch.
It was a march made in heaven, music to make your heart sing or weep combined with lyrics that were so emotional that they couldn't help but speak to a love struck teenage boy. Songs of love, loss, heartache, pride and pain Misplaced Childhood was easily the peer of any of the so called prog classics. Where Marillion stood apart from their peers and those who went before them was in the working class nature of their music, where Genesis and Yes were firmly rooted in the middle and upper classes, the music of Marillion transcended the class boundaries of the genre and spoke to those of us across the divide.
With Misplaced Childhood we could relate to the songs, a simple kids song becomes a love letter to the lonely, Heart of Midlothian becomes a rallying call for the Braveheart Generation and White Feather becomes a call for all us who felt disenfranchised and lost.
Even now the power of Fish's lyrics remain pertinent to our world
"Soup ladies poised on the lips of the poor
I see children with vacant stares, destined for rape in the alleyways
Does anybody care, I can't take any more!
Should we say goodbye?
I see priests, politicians?
Heroes in black plastic body-bags under nations' flags
I see children pleading with outstretched hands
Fish may have said that "we are proud to own our hearts, because these are our hearts", but for 41 minutes Fish you held both my heart and soul in the palm of your hand.