It’s a story as old as recorded music: band gets years to write their debut album and are then expected to recreate the magic in short order for the follow-up. That’s precisely what happened when Marillion found themselves tasked with coming up with a successor to 1983’s Script For A Jester’s Tear.
The trials of making Fugazi are retold on The Performance Has Just Begun, the illuminating, and occasionally forthright, documentary that appears on the Blu-ray accompanying this latest four-CD/three-vinyl installment in the band’s extensive reissue campaign. A Spinal Tap-esque parade of changing drummers, protracted and unsatisfying writing sessions, and a general air of frazzled mania conspired to produce an experience that was the dictionary definition of ‘The Difficult Second Album’.
Fugazi has long existed in the shadow of both its iconic predecessor and blockbusting follow-up Misplaced Childhood. The problem was partly down to a frustrating and increasingly frantic songwriting process, which saw Marillion still attempting to come up with music in the studio – resulting in a set of songs that weren’t quite as strong as they could have been – and partly down to a brittle production that was a product of both its times and the extra-curricular interests of some of the parties involved.
Any questions regarding sound quality have been answered by a new stereo mix courtesy of Andy Bradfield and Avril Mackintosh, who did similarly sterling work on 2019’s reissue of Script…. Their remix is sympathetic but muscular – and they’ve finally given the title track the conclusion it deserves, swapping out the original’s whimpering fade-out for a proper ending. There’s also a 5.1 surround sound mix for those who crave the full immersive neo-prog experience.
Time has been kind to the original album. She Chameleon never really gets started no matter how much it’s been primped and polished, but Jigsaw, Incubus and the title track are as good as any Fish-era Marillion song. New drummer Ian Mosley, who replaced founder member Mick Pointer, is the secret weapon here – the plodding backbeat of their debut is a distant memory as he rattles his way the album’s seven tracks.
Yet it’s the 45-minute film of the band playing a Swiss TV show on the Blu-ray and the live set recorded at Montreal’s Spectrum Club in on June 20, 1984 that really represent Marillion at their best. A snapshot of the latter was provided on 1984’s Real To Reel live album, which featured a handful of songs from the same show, but this is a portrait of a band on the verge of fully-fledged stardom.