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Anoraknophobia - Introduction

Introduction: Anoraknophobia is the eighth Marillion album with Steve Hogarth, and their twelfth of their career overall. The album was created in an innovative way. The band asked their email mailing list whether they would be prepared to fund the album in advance. Over 12,000 people said yes, and stumped up the cash required, and a year or so later, received the album. The first 7,000 people to sign up for this groundbreaking scheme were credited on the album sleeve, in a special edition.

The major effect of the pre-funding was that Marillion did not have to sign any of the sub-standard deals they were being offered by record companies. The band paid for the making of the album, the producer of choice - Dave Meegan - and the wages of the band and their staff with the fans' orders. It also meant they were able to go to EMI, their previous home, and get an advantageous distribution deal from them.

Additionally, the band was able to keep its own song rights, rather than signing them away to publishers for a short-term gain.

The full story of this remarkable album can be found on the Marillion website at For anyone who, reading this in the future, thinks to themselves - 'But this is how most albums are funded..!', remember it started here, with Marillion, a band oft derided for supposedly living in the past...

And so, on to the album itself... What did we get for placing our faith in the band?

Anoraknophobia is the most interesting, absorbing and contemporary album from the band in many years. Free from record company pressure to write another Easter, or [shudder] Kayleigh [/shudder], the band produced an album full of new sounds, new methods of writing and new magic. I remember hearing Quartz, Between You and Me and Map of the World at Dingwalls in Camden, London, a few weeks before it was released. My heart leapt! Everything I could have asked for appeared to be coming true.

And then it dropped through the door. On my first listen, my love for the band was rekindled. It had seemed to me that the band had been in the slight doldrums for a couple of albums - not that there wasn't magic to be found, but it didn't seem to be there in every song. But now it was back. From the opening chords of Between You and Me, to the dying embers of the last seconds of If My Heart Was A Ball, It Would Roll Uphill, it was back. Funky, grooving, rollicking... Great big fat slabs of bass, the thunder and crack of the drums, the crunch of Steve Rothery's guitar, Mark Kelly's atmospheres and, of course, Steve Hogarth's plaintive, emotive voice.

Themes on the album are varied, but centred around the pivotal notion that gave rise to the title. Anoraknophobia - A fear of anoraks, right? A dislike of the trainspotter, yeah?

Uh-uh. Nope. H says: "[...] to declare a passion is to expose yourself to ridicule, and I personally would much rather have a world full of people that were passionate and believed in something and cared about something, than a load of two-dimensional types who stood around smirking and pointing at other people. I really just wanted to say, 'We know you're all anoraks, and there's nothing wrong with it! We're anoraks too!'"

The point of the title Anoraknophobia was no fear of it. "Anorak no phobia".

Cover notes: The simplest cover Marillion have ever produced. Cartoony, primary coloured, it eclipses even Brave, in this respect. The font is a simple san serif, Arial style font, with no messing about with it.

Featuring nine, differently-coloured versions of the anorak 'Barry', the cover seems to have divided the fans. As a fan of the Mark Wilkinson artwork, my initial reaction was one of 'What is this?' However, he grew on me!

One complaint that is reasonably valid, is that Barry bears more than a passing resemblance to a certain unlucky character in South Park. Sure stands out on a CD rack in HMV, though. Especially if you happen to be the sort of person who accidentally ensures your favourite band's CDs end up at the front of a section...

It has subsequently come to light that Barry wasn't an entirely original creation. In fact, he was actually stolen from a Japanese Nissan commercial promoting their theft-proof cars; 'Barry' had the coat hanger in order to break into cars!

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