Given the 25-plus years since this album’s release, the large cardboard sleeve, the 12-inch black disc, and the ‘old school’ needle/groove interface, you’d hardly expect it to sound so contemporary, yet it does.
By 1987, Marillion had matured considerably from the charmingly naïve, post-punk, prog revival tunes of six or seven years previously – this is a band for whom Grendel and Market Square Heroes represented past history; the future lay in the measured guitar of Sugar Mice, the careful and atmospheric Warm Wet Circles and the understated darkness of White Russian.
Hardly a year later, the singer and lyricist of those songs would be history too. Clutching At Straws was Fish’s last studio hoorah with the band; for many, it was his defining moment lyrically.
This new vinyl version is a virtual carbon copy of the original, since the exact same production master tapes have been used for the pressing and the cover is identical – only the quality of vinyl used is different, coming in at a hefty 180 grams. This LP is a high-class product, but am I really hearing that little extra vinyl loveliness, or merely wishing hard that I can?