Radiat10n - Introduction



Introduction: Radiation is the sixth Marillion album with Steve Hogarth, and their tenth over all. It is the first album produced by the band themselves and it must be said that the sound is not as dynamic as fans have come to expect. The band have commented that they were restricted by finances and even re-used old tapes rather than using new ones.

Talking about the album to Roger Lotring in February 1999, in an interview entitled A Conversation with Steve Hogarth of Marillion, Steve Hogarth was asked to comment on the fact that Radiation seems to create an atmosphere that is simultaneously relaxed, and at the same time sad;


Hogarth "[Laughs] That's a good question. Well, simultaneously relaxed and sad is probably the answer to that question. [Laughs] It's a frame of mind I'm generally in. I sort of have an underlying sadness in my psyche which is often running parallel to goofing around, or actually outwardly seeming very light hearted. When I write, it's the sadness and the introspection and the pain, really, that comes through in the words. And when we sit down and jam 'em and arrange the songs, then the feeling that's actually going on in the studio tends to infuse itself into the music. I think what really happened was that when I wrote a lot of those words, I was going through a really low point in my life. I had some domestic problems, and a lot of that pain was coming out in the words. When we came to put the songs together as a band, the atmosphere in the studio - which was quite a relaxed and cool one - infused its way in. And that's why there's that intriguing sort of paradox between what the words are saying and the kind of vibe that comes off the music, which is actually, in places, quite light-hearted. "

Lotring: "It is just really an interesting ride to listen to this album and have it pull such diverse emotions, from a listener's point of view. "

Hogarth: "Yes, I'm sure it must. I find our albums quite difficult to listen to, to be honest, for that reason. Of course, for me, it's even worse, because it sort of takes me to all the places I was at when I was writing the words; I have all that baggage to contend with as well when I listen to them, so I tend to leave 'em alone. "

Musically, the album has a wide variety of sounds, from the 'Laurel and Hardy-esqe' (according to Steve R - it sounds more like Noel Coward to me - Music Hall Ed) Costa Del Slough, to the Beatles-eque 3 Minute Boy and These Chains, to their first ever stab at the blues - Born To Run and the John Barry-esque Cathedral Wall. And, to me, this is one of the albums (comparative) weaknesses. Marillion sound like they're doing other people rather than themselves. Sure, Marillion pull off a more convincing Hey Jude pastiche than the Gallagher brothers but there was a band called The Beatles who were the masters at it. Unlike the albums that flank it, this one hints at places to go rather than quite reaching them. Only The Answering Machine, Under The Sun, Cathedral Wall (for all it's Bond-like tones) and A Few Words For The Dead really hit the mark as great Marillion songs, and Costa Del Slough is the sort of joke that some fans find hard to stomach. I appreciate not everyone will feel the same about this, so I hope you can respect my personal opinion rather than flaming me into oblivion!

(Since writing the above back when the album came out, I've found I like the album more and more, although I still feel comfortable with what I wrote. Like the following album, Radiation is very much a band in metamorphosis, and the sounds on the album are great (although the production still seems flat). - Ed - Nov. 2002)

(Revising this twelve years later, I’m astonished that I ever expressed such reservations about the album, which I think is cracking! I didn’t even remember that I had ever felt differently, but thinking about it, I think seeing the songs live made a big difference. And yes, the production may be a little flat, but I prefer the original version of the album to the 2013 remix- Ed - Nov. 2014)

Because the lyrics are pretty straightforward, I've not included entries for The Answering Machine or Now She'll Never Know.

Cover notes: The cover of Radiation features Christine, the partner of designer Carl Glover in a long black dress standing in front of a blood-red sea. In her hand is what looks like a loose collection of reeds or stalks. Her head is obscured by a billow of flame that blows away into the cloud laden sky. The letters 'io' in both the band name and the album title are replaced by an orange '10' signifying this is the tenth album. The font used is an emboldened mono-space font, OCR-A, available as a commercial font from http://www.myfonts.com/fonts/linotype/ocr-a/. (Thanks to *Nados for that information.) The back cover shows a mirrored view of the un-tinted seascape below a monkey-puke yellow panel with a distorted radiation symbol upon it. Some commentators have noted the plume resembles the smoke seen in the background of Fish's Sunsets on Empire album sleeve.

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