Jacob Mendez
Jacob Mendez

Frustration, trauma and working under pressure. Marillion and 40 years of the “Fugazi” album

Plate “Fugazi” groups Marillion it finally went on sale in mid-March 1984, almost exactly a year after its very well-reviewed and received debut “Script for a Jester’s Tear”. Already during the tour promoting the first album, it was known that there was an urgent need to find a replacement for the drummer Mick Pointer, whose skills significantly differed from those of the rest of the musicians. Some sources even say that the band received an ultimatum from EMI – either they fire the drummer or lose the contract.

After breaking up with Pointer, the co-founder of the band (the song is devoted to this difficult situation “Assassin”), a tedious search for a replacement began. The first candidate was Andy Wardformer drummer of the group Camel, from which he was expelled due to problems with alcohol and illegal drugs. The musician didn’t last long (you can see him in the music video “Garden Party”), when he left his friends during Marillion’s first US tour. He appeared in the team for a moment John “Martyr” Marterbut only the most persistent biographers remember him.

Candidate number 3 was an American Jonathan Mover (signed as co-author of the single “Punch And Judy”), which, however, the singer did not like Fish. “We were under pressure to start working on new material, so I withdrew, hoping that the situation would improve. But it didn’t,” recalled the charismatic frontman in 1998.

Driven to the extreme, Fish forced his Marillion colleagues to choose between him and Mover. “I knew he wasn’t a good fit for us and at the same time I knew who would be a good fit,” said Fish, who had already had his eye on Ian Mosleywho has collaborated with Steve Hackettformer guitarist Genesis. It was a hit, and Mosley is still a member of Marillion to this day.

Work on “Fugazi” was sluggish – the band kept changing studios, and the musicians spent long hours moving from place to place. The EMI label decided that the producer Nick Tauber I need a helper Simon Hanhart to complete long recordings. The final effect probably satisfied no one.

“Recording at the Manor was a wonderful and frustrating experience at the same time. I remember waiting all evening to record my guitar parts because they had terrible problems connecting two 24-track recording machines. When they finally did, I managed to drink the best part of the bottle in that time.” whiskey with one of the girls who worked there and who later ended up in Fish’s bed. I also remember Richard Branson (British billionaire, founder of Virgin Records) sitting at the kitchen table and a large Irish wolfhound by the fireplace,” the guitarist recalled Steve Rothery on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the premiere of “Fugazi”.

Interesting fact for Marillion fans from the stage with the singer Steve Hogarthwhich appeared in 1989 in the place vacated by Fish – the assistant sound engineer working on “Fugazi” was Dave Meegan, who renewed cooperation with the band in the mid-1990s (including the albums “Brave”, “Afraid of Sunlight”, “This Strange Engine”, “Radiation”, “Anoraknophobia”, “Marbles”). Rothery called Meegan the “sixth member of the band”.

“‘Fugazi’ lacks a bit of coherence. Individual songs seem detached from each other. And their lyrics seem a bit too complicated. Too much play with form, too little feeling,” said the keyboardist Mark Kelly in November 1995, complaining about the production of Marillion’s second album (“The Art of Rebellion. Conversations with Saints and Sinners of Rock” by Wiesław Weiss).

“The music that fills ‘Fugazi’ isn’t that bad. The thing is that when the compositions were ready and we were working on the arrangements, and Fish started writing the lyrics, it turned out that we were flooded with words,” Kelly recalled.

Paradoxically, Fish had a similar opinion in 1993. “Literarily a bit pretentious, language too flowery. But there’s some good stuff in there. ‘She Chameleon’ it’s a great song,” he said.

Cover Jester by Mark Wilkinson is the next step after “Script for a Jester’s Tear”, showing the stereotypical rocker on the road. Fish also explained that while “Script…” was about one man, “Fugazi” is about a relationship between two people, drawing heavily on his personal experiences.

In Great Britain, “Fugazi” reached number 5 on the charts, improving the result of the debut (7th position), but the greatest commercial success was to be brought by the next album, considered to be Marillion’s peak achievement – “Misplaced Childhood” (1985).

“I’ve always been surprised that some people still consider ‘Fugazi’ to be their favorite album. I only have memories of the trauma of making it. The songs are great, and ‘Incubus’ this is my favorite song from these seven years in the band. But what was happening around then can only be described with the word Fugazi,” Fish summed up in 1998, when the expanded edition of “Fugazi” went on sale.

Once again, “Fugazi” hit the market in mid-2021 in a deluxe version (3 CD/Blu-ray, 4 LP). The authors of the remixes of the original sound were: Avril Mackintosh and Andy Bradfield.