Clutching At Straws [VINYL]
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The opening salvo of 'Hotel Hobbies/Warm Wet Circles/That Time Of The Night' illustrates the concept of the struggling writer trying to keep the demons of alcoholism at bay and ultimately failing. It's an awesome opening salvo of vocals and jaw dropping musical ability that leaves the listener quite breathless.
'White Russian' and the prophetic 'The Last Straw', show that Marillion are still quite adept at writing and performing big, show stopping epics, while 'Incommunicado', 'Sugar Mice' and the excellent 'Slainte Mhath', prove that the band were becoming more proficient in terms of delivering accessible, radio friendly tracks without selling out in any way.
Both Fish and Steve Rothery seem to dominate proceedings with some truly outstanding individual performances, and Ian Mosley's drumming is real masterclass stuff at times, especially in the first three tracks and 'White Russian'. Terrific stuff.
Chris Kimsey's production is, once again, right on the money and when you consider that 'Misplaced Childhood' could have been a real millstone around the band's neck, that 'Clutching...' is as strong an album as it is should be viewed as a real achievement.
I'm of the opinion that if Marillion had continued on this path with Fish at the helm, they would be sitting now with the same gravitas and worldwide popularity as Iron Maiden or even U2. As much as I love the Steve Hogarth era albums and fully respect the direction the band now follow, I do find myself returning to the Fish era records and feeling a little sad that the big man had to quit the group in the manner that he did.Read more ›
One or two tracks just don't fit. These will stand out to you and you'll skip them. The rest is pure genius; timeless, and accomplished. A great album, with a surprisingly 'light' yet technically brilliant and intricate sound.
This album should never be confined to history. Fish and the boys did good here.
But then I heard Clutching at Straws. My, what an album. Again, losely concept in nature (see also Pornografitti), about a slowly dieing alcoholic and the trappings of fame (would that be you at the time, Fish?), it's another example of concept and exectuion on the highest level. Emotional, bleak, bitter, sensitive & moving, this is the band's finest hour. Ironically, their last as the original line up too.
"Hotel Hobbies" drifts into your head as a gradual fade in, and sets the scene perfectly with noodley bass as night becomes day, with references to hookers, bell boys, cocaine and whiskey. Fish's voice builds in volume and angst through the 2nd verse as we approach the 1st guitar highlight of the album. Steve Rothery's guitar rips into the 1st solo with a dive bomb on the low E string using his whammy bar, before firing off ascending high notes that have the hairs on your skin standing up.
"Hotel Hobbies" is actually part of a 3 song suite, and segues nicely into "Warm Wet Circles" with it's beautiful twangy Chorus enhanced arpreggio riff (2nd guitar highlight). More fabulous metaphor and allusion from Fish as the suite moves into it's final 3rd, "That Time of the Night (The Short Straw)", with gently pumping bass and atmospheric keys. The song builds to a crescendo with Fish bellowing out "Warm Wet Circles!Read more ›
In a rash moment about 5 years ago I gave 'Clutching at Straws' away so I had to buy it again in this version. Until Misplaced Childhood Marillion were nothing special. That album was a sort of self-reflective (and indulgent) opera that must have had their record company predicting their impending demise, but which was ironically their biggest commercial success. I see that album as a prologue to Clutching at Straws, a much more intelligent exercise in demon exorcism. Fish's lyrics could often be too heavy in their use of imagery which makes them seem pretentious when alalysed in detail but what they do masterfully is create a slightly drunken and sombre mood in which morose reflection cannot be avioded. Listening to Warm Wet Circles you can't help but place yourself in some God-awful 80s underground wine bar on a suburban high street (probably exactly the location it was written) drinking heavily and remembering old girlfriends. Fish was openly exposing his fears and failures on record with angst-fuelled sincerity long before Kurt Cobain and Eddie Vedder were praised for giving the world the same thing.
Musically, Marillion were the perfect keyboard-five-piece.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Rebought this after not thinking about Marillion for 30 years - blimey it's good. For me, they'd got MOR and dull at Kayleigh and Fish's "poet" pretensions were all a bit... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Brian
brilliant and finally got round to buying on CD after daughter found VinylPublished 7 months ago by Grumps62
For some reason, I did not own this album on CD or Vinyl. I have seriously missed out on one of the best prog rock albums ever produced. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Ade