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(69:17; Cult Metal Classics)
We all have musical regrets in our lives I am sure, and one of mine is not knowing anything about the 80’s progressive music scene until after the event. Yes, we all knew about Marillion, and I heard some Pallas, but that really was the sum total of it as far as I was concerned. Years later I became involved with keyboard player Steve Leigh after he formed Landmarq, and then I heard the Quasar album, and did also know he had been in a band called Tamarisk but that was the sum total of my knowledge of that band until now. Record label Cult Metal got in touch with singer Andy Grant and Steve, and the result is a compilation which features both demo tapes (1982’s ‘Tamarisk’ and 1983’s ‘Lost Properties’), remastered from the original master tapes, along with some bonus numbers (and it is also available on vinyl!). Andy and Steve had both been members of Chemical Alice prior to Tamarisk, a band now famous for Steve’s replacement, Mark Kelly, then joining Marillion. Both demos also featured Richard Harris (drums), Peter Munday (guitar) and Mark Orbell (bass), but I am not sure if they are also on the additional tracks. For some reason the second demo is placed first on the CD, with the four songs in the same order, then the first demo (again same running order) with the additional tracks at the end. To say I was blown away is simply an understatement. If someone asked me to choose between this CD and anything from Marillion in the last 20 or so years then there really is no competition, this is way superior. This is neo prog, genuine honest to god neo prog, not influenced by Marillion as such as they were very much in the same scene at the same time, but as they had the same influences there are bound to be some similarities. There is a naivety here, of musicians who had already been around and knew what they wanted to achieve but were also still very much at the beginning of their career. The result is a collection of songs which feel incredible genuine and great fun. When asked my favourite period of Marillion I will normally say I prefer the material prior to ‘Script’, and this is in the same musical ballpark. Great vocals, strong hooks, dynamic rhythm section, a guitarist and keyboard player who intertwine, or support each other, or go off on their own but always staying true to the form and style of the music. As the original tapes were both available and usable, the production is also much better than I expected which is a bonus. This is a huge discovery for me, and I love it. The only question I guess is now that this album is out, what next? Please let there be a new album in the works, please!!!
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