Marbles - Introduction

Introduction: Marbles  was the thirteen Marillion album, the ninth with Steve Hogarth. The band ran a pre-release order somewhat similar to that done for Anoraknophobia in 2001, however, this one was to provide a fund for the band to promote itself. Released in 2004, the album was soon hailed by many fans as one the band's very best. A two CD version of the album in luxurious hard slipcase form, featuring a book full of the names of those who had pre-ordered.

The album seemed to play to the band's strengths, with a mixture of epics, snappy rock songs, powerful ballads and emotive mid-paced tracks, though user polls have rarely agreed on the best songs.

The album is strongly personal in tone, with many glimpses into h's life, often in quite uncomfortably intimate detail. The Invisible Man sees the singer as a displaced soul in a world he know longer understands and in which he is powerless to intervene. Marbles contains vignettes of h's life as a young lad on a Doncaster housing estate. Genie, The Damage, You're Gone and The Only Unforgivable Thing hint at relationship difficulties, affairs and infidelities. By way of contrast, Neverland seems to be an affirmation of the importance of her love and support from h to his (then) wife.

Then there are songs like Angelina, Drilling Holes and Ocean Cloud, which seem less personal and unconnected from any grand theme but which are no less effective for all that. All in all, this is a powerful collection of songs that play to Marillion's collective and individual strengths. It was entirely just that the singles charted and that this album finally started to get the attention of a much wider audience.

Cover notes: The cover featured the half faces of graphics genius Carl Glover's niece Kezzie and nephew Jack morphed together, with marbles held over their irises, in a band across a black cover. On the campaign edition, there was a varnished marble over the top of this, only visible when it caught the light. This simple image was used in much the same way as the equally iconic Brave artwork ten years before, with a cohesive and instantly recognisable brand identity across all of the singles and the album, along with the marble icon.

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