Music Review – MARILLION: SCRIPT FOR A JESTER’S TEAR (1983)

Script for a Jester's Tear (Deluxe Edition): Amazon.co.uk: MusicSCRIPT FOR A JESTER’S TEAR (LP, EMI, 13 March 1983, 46:45) – score: 64%

Musicians: Fish – vocals; Steve Rothery – guitars; Pete Trewavas – bass; Mark Kelly – keyboards; Mick Pointer – drums, percussion
Additional musicians: Marquee Club’s Parents Association Children’s Choir – choir (on “Forgotten Sons”); Peter Cockburn – newscaster’s voice (on “Forgotten Sons”)
Producer: Nick Tauber; Engineer/Mixing Engineer: Simon Hanhart; Recorded at The Marquee, London, December 1982 – February 1983; UK Album Chart: 7; BPI Cert: Platinum (300,000+).

Marillion deliver an assured debut LP with a growing confidence in their song-writing resulting in a reasonably consistent collection. The production is weak, however, lacking dynamic range and musically the rhythm section fails to jell successfully – with band founder member Mick Pointer’s drumming lacking personality and rhythmic drive (something that would be rectified for FUGAZI with Ian Mosley joining the band). Fish’s lyrics tend to be wordy and are often dense and overly-literate, but he does grapple with subjects of the modern-day grounding them with a post-punk conscience.

Side 1:
1. Script for a Jester’s Tear (Fish, Rothery, Trewavas, Pointer, Kelly) (8:40) ****  With lyrics grounded in a relationship break-up, the song weaves through various musical segments from the expansive to the quietly acoustic. More confident than the songs on their debut EP. Rothery and Kelly show their instrumental skills and ear for melody. It fades over its final lamenting appeal from Fish. Hampered only by Pointer’s robotic drumming.
2. He Knows You Know (Fish, Rothery, Trewavas, Kelly, Pointer, Minnitt, Jelliman) (5:23) ***  Hesitant, rhythmic song in which Fish sings of drug abuse over a wash of lush keyboards from Kelly who also provides a fluid mid-song solo. Tewavas’ stuttering bass lines give the song its underlying tension. Released as a single on 31 January 1983 peaking at #35 in the UK singles chart.
3. The Web (Fish, Trewavas, Kelly, Pointer, Rothery, Minnitt, Jelliman) (8:48) ***  Dense and highly literate psycho-analytical lyrics compete for attention with musical dynamics resulting in a promising, but ultimately not fully satisfying merger.
Side 2:
4. Garden Party (Fish, Kelly, Rothery, Trewavas, Pointer, Jelliman, Minnitt) (7:16) ***  With its stuttering rhythm prompted by Trewavas’ excellent bass work and complemented by Fish’s witty lyrics, which take a stab at social snobbery, this was an unexpected chart success for the band. Whilst it was relatively punchy and concise there were still rhythmic complexities within and an excellent Kelly keyboard solo that made it stand out on the radio. Released as a single on 6 June 1983 peaking at #16 in the UK singles chart.
5. Chelsea Monday (Fish, Rothery, Trewavas, Kelly, Pointer, Minnitt) (8:17) ****  The song that points the way forward for the band’s sound. It would become the template for their future approach with its ambient dynamics, Rothery’s clean guitar lines and Kelly’s lush keyboard backdrop.
6. Forgotten Sons (Fish, Rothery, Trewavas, Kelly, Pointer, Jelliman, Minnitt) (8:21) **  Fish goes political with his comments on the Irish situation and the associated victims of the violence. He delivers an angry and abrasive vocal over a musical backdrop that does not successfully marry with the lyrics.

Single B-sides (not on album)
1. Charting the Single (Fish, Rothery, Trewavas, Kelly, Pointer) (4:51) ***  An apt title for this simply structured song, which attempts to capture a new wave feel with its pulsing bass and repetitive chorus hook. The lyrical subject is the promiscuous rock and roll lifestyle. B-side to “He Knows You Know” released as a single on 31 January 1983.
2. Margaret (Traditional) (12:17) **  Fun combination of two traditional Scottish folk songs – “Mairi’s Wedding” and “Loch Lomond”. The song opens with a ghostly Rothery guitar figure, which along with his mid-song solo, is the only thing of recommendation here. Recorded live at the Edinburgh Playhouse, 7 April 1983 and used as the B-side to “Garden Party” released as a single on 6 June 1983.