This Strange Engine - Introduction

Introduction: This Strange Engine was Marillion's fifth Hogarth-era studio album. The tone is somewhat more mainstream than its predecessor (despite containing a seventeen minute progressive epic in the title track) and the album is fairly gentle in terms of tone, partly due to the fact that Steve Rothery had been playing on acoustics with his solo Wishing Tree project.

The album contains a wide range of styles and influences from Slavic folk to Caribbean salsa. An Accidental Man is quite similar in vocal melody to the Police's Wrapped Around Your Finger and the start of 80 Days calls to mind the beginning of Queen's Friends will be Friends.

This album also sees the return of the Mellotron and Moog-style sounds (now via soft synths)   with several great widdly widdly solos and the keyboards again assume the prominence that they had on Afraid of Sunlight album.

The theme of the album is memory, although not all of the tracks obviously fit into this pattern. In general, the lyrics on the album are straightforward to understand and so I have not bothered with One Fine Day or Accidental Man. The title track and 80 Days only received entries due to the fact that Steve H had given succinct views on each song in a radio interview I found on the web.

Cover notes: The cover for This Strange Engine is picture of a copper steam engine that is strongly reminiscent to the one that appears on some versions of Pink Floyd's Relics. It was designed and built by a chap called Andrew Gent. In the centre of the engine is a port hole through which we can see a heart being held in licking flames by clamps.

The back cover is simply a close-up of the port hole with the centre blacked-out and replaced by the titles of the songs.

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