MSH SfaJT Fugazi MC CaS SE HiE Brave AoS TSE R10 dotcom ANP Marbles SWE HitR StcbM L=M FEAR WFftO

Market Square Heroes - Intro

Introduction: Market Square Heroes was the first official release from Marillion. With the monster-length (ha ha..!) Grendel on its b-side, the 12" was certainly an EP rather than a normal 12" single. The single suffers from a rather murky production; Market Square Heroes sounds muddy and hopelessly dated. Rothery's guitar is buried in the mix rather than cutting as it would become on the remix on the Punch and Judy B-sides. 3 Boats and Grendel also have sub-par productions which mar the whole effect but nevertheless, the single served as a harbinger of what was to follow.

In many respects, the single is the source of the tiresome 'Marillion = Genesis clones' argument. Even the song Script for a Jester's Tear, which is somewhat whimsical and uses some imagery in the perceived classic prog style, is a million miles from the sound of the EP. Perhaps the most serious folly is in Grendel. A part of it sounds uncomfortable similar to Apocalypse in 9/8 from Genesis' Supper's Ready and another section is reminiscent of the same band's White Mountain. In retrospect, the band probably regretted this. Mark Kelly has commented that they later deliberately kept away from some areas of their natural style for fear of reviving the old clich├ęs.

Lyrically, Grendel is closest to Genesis territory; a narrative tale with a modern moral stylistically similar to something like Can-Utility and the Coastliners. The song itself hasn't been played by Marillion since 1983 and never by the post-Pointer Fish-era line up, though Fish did resurrect the epic for some shows in 2012. Market Square Heroes might be said to be similar to Genesis' The Knife; a cautionary tale about the true nature of revolutionaries, though MSH is routed firmly in the culture of asset stripping and unemployment that the Conservative government employed throughout the eighties, The Knife less obviously rooted in its contemporary politics. Three Boats Down from the Candy is very much a contemporary (a)morality piece and is vastly different from the style of Genesis.

Marillion always claimed their influences were wider than Genesis; something that emerged more on their later releases. The reader will have to forgive me for not discussing all the ELP/ Yes/ other prog band influences (which is not to mention bands like The Who, Kinks, Beatles & Hendrix etc. which the band also admired) that might be present, I am not sufficiently familiar with more dribbly end of the prog spectrum to comment. It is certainly true to say that the EP is very much a stepping stone from their influences to their own sound. Script is much more the sound of a band getting to grips with and coming to terms with their own sound, Fugazi much more so and Misplaced Childhood completed the transition.

Note: Some of the analysis of the MSH E.P. is by someone called Torch, a member of the Freaks Mailing List in its early days. His analysis was offered to me by Jereon Schipper of The Web Online, who felt it worthy of archiving. I've never found out his real name and he probably has no idea his words are up here, but if he does, please contact me!

Cover notes: The cover for Market Square Heroes was by Mark Wilkinson, who has also painted covers for Judas Priest and worked on the Judge Dredd Megazine. The Jester's tortured face was based upon a Polaroid of Wilkinson's own face upon which he extended the lips into that vicious, tortured grimace. The liner to the remastered Real to Reel/ Brief Encounter has a copy of this Polaroid in the collage.

Behind a benevolent-looking mask, the jester's internal feelings are revealed; a clear metaphor for the revolutionary of the title song.

Additionally, I noticed the cover of Fairport Convention's 1976 album Gottle O'Geer album, whilst looking online for info about Leige and Leif. Mark Wilkinson admits this cover was a major inspiration for the Marillion jesters.


  1. Needs updating as Fish has played Grendel recently.

  2. Check out the rear cover of David Essex's 'Out On The Street' for another 'Jester'


Thanks for your comments.

All comments are moderated, so apologies if it doesn't appear right away!