In Marillion's early years, their music was primarily progressive rock-based, drawing influence from bands like Genesis and Yes. With Hogarth, the band has managed to retain this core sound while also incorporating a more contemporary sound into their music, drawing comparisons to bands like Radiohead and Coldplay. No matter which album I listen to, I always find their music very melodic and emotional. Perhaps more than any other artist I know of, the words and music of Marillion are woven seamlessly together; a change in the dynamics of the music is reflected by a change in the tone of the lyrics, and vice versa.
The individual band members are all very talented at what they do. Steven Rothery is an exceptionally gifted guitarist with the ability to make his guitar sing, not unlike Pink Floyd's David Gilmour. Bassist Pete Trewavas and drummer Ian Mosley form an incredibly tight rhythm section, with the bass and drums often locked perfectly in time with each other. Keyboardist Mark Kelly is equally at home adding lush textures to songs and also taking the lead with virtuoso solos. And Fish and Hogarth, though like night and day compared to each other, have always provided emotional performances of thought-provoking lyrics. Taken all together, they are able to take listeners on an epic, emotional journey.
As far as free music is concerned, you won't find any complete albums available from Marillion like many of the other artists I feature on this blog. However, if you know where to look, then you can find a good sampling of their current music available for download, as well as a free sampler CD (as long as certain conditions are met - more on that in a bit). In this post, I've done most of the work for you and compiled links to a few sources for some great, free Marillion music.
- First of all, take a look at the band's official MySpace page, where you can currently find a pair of tracks from each of their two latest albums: "Somewhere Else" and "Thankyou Whoever You Are" from 2007's Somewhere Else, and "You're Gone" and "Neverland" from 2004's Marbles.
- Marillion's official website has a downloads page where you can download a couple of radio performances, which include acoustic versions of both older and newer songs.
- last.fm currently hosts another handful of free Marillion tracks. These tracks come from a compilation called Crash Course, which is updated periodically with new tracks as the band releases new material. In addition to the songs listed above, Crash Course currently also contains "The Great Escape" (from 1994's concept album Brave), "Afraid of Sunlight" (the title track from their 1995 album), "Estonia" (an extremely emotional track from 1996's This Strange Engine, inspired by the sinking of the Estonia passenger ferry in 1994, a disaster which claimed 852 lives), "Fantastic Place" (from Marbles), and "Faith" (from Somewhere Else). You can also check the band's last.fm page to see if anything else is available (look for the words "full track" next to a song title). (NOTE: the Crash Course download seems to have been moved to iLike)
- Finally, if you are completely new to Marillion, then you may qualify for a free CD version of Crash Course. Just check out the Crash Course page on the official site, read the terms and conditions, and if you're able to receive one, just sign up for it. I've already received several things from Marillion's website, so I don't qualify for Crash Course, but it looks like it would be a good introduction to the band's newer material.
As great as these songs are, they really only scratch the surface of the world of Marillion. Like a lot of great bands, Marillion's music is best experienced in its original format, i.e. as complete albums, especially since many of their albums are conceptual in nature. If you like what you hear, I would highly suggest checking out an album or two. If you want some recommendations as to where to start, please leave a comment and I would be more than happy to help you out.
http://www.last.fm/music/Marillion/Crash+Course (no longer free - try http://www.ilike.com/artist/Marillion/album/Crash+Course instead)