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Seasons End - Intro

Introduction: Seasons End was the fifth Marillion studio album and features the debut of former Europeans/ How We Live man Steve Hogarth on vocals. With many fans viewing Fish as irreplaceable, Hogarth had a difficult job ahead of him. So, how does Hogarth compare?

The honest truth is that Hogarth doesn't compare. Hogarth contrasts. Where Fish would have been bitter and twisted, Hogarth is optimistic - take the two eras' comments on the Irish Troubles; Fish with the barbed anguish of Forgotten Sons, Hogarth with the plaintive lament, Easter. In general terms, Fish is Lennon using horizontal tones - dissonant and harmonic, keeping close to the cadences of speech, to Hogarth's McCartney with vertical tones - consonant and melodic - the clearly musical mind always creating ways for his words to swoop and soar.

The change has made its mark. The dark brooding clouds of Clutching at Straws have given way to something that wants to rise up out of its misery. When Steve Rothery's guitar cuts into the soaring opening of King of Sunset Town you get the sense of exuberance that has returned to the band. The lyrics are less personal, yet no less impressive, the subjects broader yet treated with an intelligence that is all too rare in rock music. This is no facile Scorpions doing Wind of Change nonsense.

This is adult, in depth, in your face and it admits it doesn't know all the answers. For all that songs like Easter and Season's End are hopeful, neither are naive. Berlin see Marillion growing more and more angry at what they do not understand, finally lashing out blindly, screaming, 'Why?' into a wind and then calming once more bringing themselves under control yet retaining their frustration and indignation. How many bands can do that?

So, it's a change. It's a change, sure. A change for the better? Well, who knows what would have happened if Fish had stayed? We got what we got, and I for one like it.

Together with his lyrical collaborator, John Helmer, Hogarth offers much less for these pages than does Fish. This is not to say that Hogarth is a weaker lyricist, merely that he tends to use more direct imagery. However, Hogarth/ Helmer tend to used images from classic literature, and Christianity far more frequently than did Fish. What you will find here may not necessarily unlock your understanding of the songs as it might have done in Fish-era, but more probably serve to illuminate what you already knew.

Cover notes: The cover for Seasons End is an abstract featuring four panels each containing one of the four elements of early philosophy; Earth, Fire, Water and Wind - a image appropriated many times in popular music - and an image from the past. Earth has a feather, clearly one from a magpie, although the image is not actually taken from a Marillion cover but drawn by designed Carl Glover. Wind has a belled cap falling out of shot. It is actually the one that hangs from Torch's pocket on the front of Clutching at Straws.

The chameleon on the fire panel would initially appear to be the one from Fugazi but was another Carl Glover rotring pen image. The clown picture seen 'going under the water' is the same one as in Fugazi, the under water part being that which is obscured by the Jester's hanging arm on the Fugazi cover. Later versions of the cover have an added reflection. Around the edge of the cover are the orbits of two bodies signifying the seasons.

Either side of the album title are two identical stylised snowflakes, clearly referring to the Seasons End line about it never snowing again. At the top, the old, 'Mars bar wrapper' logo is back. Inside the gatefold, the panels reappear but with different pictures and over lays. The one for sky was the cover for Hooks in You, and the background from earth was the Uninvited Guest cover. Clearly the cover is designed to reassure the public that it's still Marillion hiding inside regardless of who is singing.

Songs with a link have explanations.

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