Released in 1991, Marillion’s sixth album is the latest of to get bulked up into a deluxe edition. Holidays In Eden comes in a three-CD/single-Blu-ray set or four-LP vinyl collection, with a new remix, beautiful packaging and bonus material. For the band’s completists this entails a wedge of new money down for what is, in the grand scheme of their canon, a transitional album, but then time has been kind to these tunes.
This was Steve Hogarth’s second outing with the band, when they were still finding their feet after the departure of Fish, and recalibrating their songwriting process to accommodate such a seismic personnel change. Alarmed by Marillion’s dwindling returns, EMI stipulated that the record should include three hit singles, no less. Overseeing the work was producer Christopher Neil, who was midwife for hits by Dollar, Shakin’ Stevens and, more relevantly, Mike + The Mechanics, notably their 1988 US No.1 album, Living Years,
Stephen W Tayler’s 2022 remix definitely adds some top-end clarity to those three, duly delivered singles. Hogarth’s warm, husky charm carries the romantic if unremarkable No One Can. Dry Land was the title track of the 1987 album by his duo How We Live, and while their original recording was good, in Marillion’s seasoned hands the song becomes a groovy, moody piece ringing with emotion. The catchy Cover My Eyes emerged as a hybrid of a propulsive Steve Rothery guitar riff and the verse of another How We Live song, Simon’s Car.
While none of these singles cracked the UK Top 30, the album itself ultimately hit No.7. It’s often considered – not least by the band – to be the most commercial Marillion release, but here too are the hallmark elements of their future, proudly uncompromising style: the wad-holding sense of dramatic timing (Splintering Heart’s double tsunami of tension and release); the melancholy, novelistic storytelling (The Party), and the prog-rock heart of it all (the triptych of This Town, The Rake’s Progress and 100 Nights).
Hogarth’s charismatic presence is palpable on the sensationally energetic final show of the 1991 tour at Hammersmith Odeon, which – caveat emptor – takes up much CD/vinyl real estate on both versions. The Blu-ray offers the most content: three audiophile album mixes (including 5.1), a new 85-minute documentary wherein the band tell the story of the album, plus b-sides, demos, promo videos and a full German TV concert.
Thirty one years on, these fill out the picture of the strong, patchwork record that preceded their magnificent Brave.