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Afraid of Sunlight Intro

Introduction: Afraid of Sunlight was Marillion's fourth Hogarth-era release. After the bleak introspection of Brave, many fans might have expected something a little lighter in tone. At first listen, one might be tempted to think that AoS was that album but scratch the surface and you have an album that has an emotional intensity rivalled by none.

The theme of the album is the destructive nature of fame. The (long since defunct) Freaks mailing list resonated with argument and counter-argument about whether the album is truly conceptual, with a story running through the songs or not. For what it is worth, I feel that the album is thematic and shows snapshots of various people destroyed directly or indirectly by their own myths and fame: Elvis, Malcolm Campbell, Kurt Cobain, OJ Simpson, Mike Tyson, John Lennon, even Phil Spector, a man destroyed by this prodigious drink and drug intake whilst being responsible for some of the most memorable singles of all time, whose production values are apparent on Beyond You.

The songs run through those which are directly linked to these individuals (Gazpacho, Out of this World, King) to those which muse more generally on the themes (Afraid of Sunrise/ Sunlight and Beautiful) and which seem to be concerned with people's obsession of reaching the heights of fame that the Elvises and Cobains had, regardless of the consequences.

Cover notes The cover for AoS is a dirty child with angel wings growing from his shoulders. Behind him a halo of flame burns brightly. The moniker and album title are in a modified rounded san serif font. It has emerged that this cover was a late replacement for the originally-proposed cover, and features the son of Bill Smith.

The back cover shows a purple-tinged version of Christ the Redeemer, the huge statue that stands over Rio, clearly referring to the 'dayglo Jesus' from Afraid of Sunlight, the song. It was this image that was originally proposed from the front cover. The record company and some band members were concerned that it might give the impression they were a Christian band. Behind the dayglo drop-shadow, we see an image that corresponds to the ring of fire on the front, but which looks more like a crown of thorns; apt for the Christ figure. All this is over a montage of a desert-scape, possibly the Nevada desert of the title song, a rain spattered window and eventually what might be a blurred image of flames. I wonder whether this refers back to the four elements, earth, fire, wind and water, that appeared on Seasons End.

At the bottom of all this on the vinyl version, and on the inner cover on the CD are four panels which merge into one another. All feature the crown of thorns. The first features a figure standing on a desolate beach, maybe 'telling it to the ocean' then a field of crops with a twister in the background fades into the second panel which mainly features the tail fin of some sixties US car. Dave Rogers emailed to say "I reckon that's the tail fin from a '59 Cadillac, a bit of an 'icon' in its own right. It's the sort of car that fits in with the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, and would think it a popular accessory of the stars." Furthermore, Dave sourced the picture to the left from that certainly looks about right.

This merges into panel three via the spray of a breaking wave. The third panel features a body shot of a gold lam├ęd suit with a string tie. If it is not actually him, the picture is clearly meant to call to mind Elvis. This merges into the last panel via a field of poppies. These symbolise two things to me; heroin (or rather opiates) and secondly, with the twister earlier (and adding in the fact that I did the Dark Side of the Moon/Wizard of Oz thing the night before writing this) maybe this is a reference to Judy Garland. The final pain shows a half lit face of a sweating, moustachioed man. I think he may have a black eye. I don't know whether this is true but I think it might be boxer Jake La Motta, who inspires parts of Gazpacho.

Song Listing

Songs with a link have explanations.

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