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I own most of Marillion's albums and this one is the most difficult to listen to. Why? Well, it was written and inspired by the band's imaginings (and real life experiences) of child abuse. In typical progressive rock style, the group invented a young female character whose horrific journey from abused child to troubled teen is chartered in their eleven songs. Not surprisingly, the allbum is the band's darkest and most intense album to date.
Whilst many of the songs assume the perspective of the female victim there are less personal songs which, when played alone, are not as difficult to hear. Some of the songs conjure up emotional trauma by using a cacophony of sound. Some of the tracks are instrumentally heavy and have bare bones, moaning vocals. Other songs are lyrically confrontational and deal with concrete ideas and events which rest uneasy in the concious mind.
Whilst 'Brave' is a challenge to deal with emotionally I think that it is worth confronting this horrific subject matter. Artistically, this is an amazing, high quality production and possibly the best music Marillion have ever written with their lead singer Steve Hogarth.
The album is now available on a special two disc features CD. This contains the original album plus a disc of demos, accoustic versions and outtakes recorded whilst making the album. The CD booklet contains lyrics, pictures and band interviews.
Track listing is as follows:
1. Bridge: A song which deals with the idea of a young girl about to kill herself by throwing herself into a river.
2. Living With the Big Lie: A song with highly poetic lyrics from the perspective of an abuse victim. She talks about her experiences within the family home. The track induces a sense of claustrophobia and makes us feel dirty and harangued.
3.Runaway: The attempted escape and cry for help from the abused child.
4. Goodbye to all that;
The opium Den;
Standing in the swing: The mid section of the album is a mad mix of whirlwind instrumentals whipping up an emotional frenzy. The lyrics are abstract and poetic and dela with a dreamy sense of hell.
5. Hard As Love: A possible accont of the abuse victim's battle with her abuser.
6. The Hollow Man: A song with an identifiable structure, this sad song recounts the emotional state of our vicitm.
7: Alone Again In the Lap Of Luxury: A commercial success, this track is rocky and raunchy with a memorable guitar riff. The lyrics 8. Paper Lies
9. Brave: The sense of guilt and shame faced by an abuse victim.
10. The Great Escape: Dealing with the recovery of the vicitm
11. Made Again: A brilliant song of hope on which to end the album, this track is both charming and uplfiting, urging positivity with the lines: "I woke up from a bad dream to a bright new morning, to a bright new world, like the whole world has been made again..."
The second disc includes 11 tracks including several unrealeased demos of album tracks.
For more information on the band see their website:
Marillion's concept album "Brave" released early in 1994 broke a fairly long hiatus for the band, following some criticism of their previous album, "Holidays in Eden" from 1991, which was thought of in some quarters as just a bit too poppy, and a triumph of chart-climbing attempts over substance.
The result was "Brave", a long, deep and sometimes difficult concept album chronicling the journey in and out of loneliness and despair of a teenage runaway. The lyrics are intelligent and moving without resorting to any manipulative hooks, and the music is enticing- it works its way into your subconscious without you really being aware of all the littrle nuances that make this a classic.
This is therefore an album that sounds intriguing the first time you listen to it. The second time, you hear a few things you didn't quite pay attention to the first time, and ditto the third time, the fourth time... and so on. In short, this is one of those albums that tends to grow on you the more you listen to it. It has the sort of depth that can be peeled back layer by layer each time you listen- the mark of a masterpiece.
The songs vary greatly, from the rocking "Hard As Love" to the almost ambient soundscapes of "Bridge" and "Goodbye to All That" for example... and then the beautiful paino ballad "The Hollow Man". The full track listing is:
2. Living with the Big Lie
4. Goodbye to All That
5. Hard As Love
6. The Hollow Man
7. The Lap of Luxury
8. Now Wash Your Hands
9. Paper Lies
11. The Great Escape
12. The Last of You
13. Fallin' from the Moon
14. Made Again
By Marillion standards this is a difficult, less than straightforward album, with many curious twists and turns. Ambient soundscape builds to haunting ballad which melts into an upbeat rock track... and vice versa, especially where the up-tempo "Paper Lies" fades into the strangely wistful, uplifting bagpipes (fear not, this is bagpipes in a *good* way if you can imagine such a thing) of "Brave".
Finally, the fragile but hopeful strummed ballad "Made Again" rounds off proceedings, bringing the album to an ultimately satisfying end.
I would recommend this album for anyone who doesn't necessarily need their music to be "immediate" in any way and is prepared to listen to the album more than just a couple of times. This is an exquisite piece of work that really does get better with each listen- and as I've owned it for over 13 years, I'm in a good position to make that judgement!
It's also worth making time to listen to this album when you can be sure to have an hour or two to yourself. Draw the curtains, turn the lights down and turn up the stereo- and then just lie back and let the music wash over you.
At this moment I can't think of any other albums quite like this- even by the same band- so it's really something fairly unique. Definitely worth finding, buying and listening to.
Thanks for reading....
If ever there was an album that was underplayed in my CD deck, then this is it. Why? Perhaps because it requires a candle-lit room, some decent hi-fi, and seventy uninterrupted minutes to take in all its subtle nuances and superb musicianship, and let's face it, how often do you get that much time to yourself? But lately I have discovered that two thirty-five minute commutes under the Walkman's influence with the candles softly shedding their light behind my closed eyelids is enough to convince me that the public apathy with which it was received ought to have been investigated by Mulder & Scully... "Brave" is the 1994 third offering from Marillion featuring Steve Hogarth on lead vocals, the seventh studio recording overall. As with the third release of the Fish era, this is a storybook-concept album. A joint lyrical effort by Hogarth and John Helmer, it follows the thoughts of a privileged but lonely young woman who has apparently decided that life just isn't worth it. There is no better way to describe the scene as the curtain raises than to quote Hogarth's suitably dispassionately delivered lyrics, so I won't try: "Staring out over the bridge A million photo-flashes from the water down below Dawn light bouncing through the mist Roar of traffic and the crack of police radios And they ask her name Could she please explain? She simply chooses to say Nothing" It's then that we first hear Steve Rothery's trademark ethereal strings, which sound distinctly eerie in the heavily-echoed staccato delivery. A subtle showered crescendo from one of Ian Mosely's high cymbals; a gentle murmur from Pete Trewavas' bass; the return of Mark Kelly from mood-setting duty on keyboards - and a journey through the stormy seas of childhood trauma, teenage angst and beyond, guided by Hogarth's exquisite vocal talent, is underway. As the story unfolds, the music
reflects the woman's mood; sometimes angry, sometimes quietly reflective, and ultimately... well now, that would be telling. You wouldn't want me to give away the ending to a story written on the printed page, would you? Why should a story written on the stave be any different? Yes, there are track marks and suchlike, but they're essentially unimportant; bookmarks only. Make no mistake, "Brave" is a cohesive whole. It took eight months to write this album, and another seven months to record it. What emerged from the chrysalis is an aurally stunning masterpiece with many musical highlights; the incredible crescendo of "Runaway", the tripping drums and claustrophobic vocals of "Goodbye To All That" and the sheer compelling energy of "The Great Escape" to name but three. While the band were busy composing, Messrs. Hogarth & Helmer were obviously putting a great deal of effort into the lyrical side. Consider the following: "When you look into the mirror do you see a face you hardly recognise? If you look into the sun too long do the things you see begin to burn your eyes?" and "Just to express what he's thinking must a man take all the mail will bring? Are we living only for today? It's a sign of the times that we believe everything and nothing" Standard angst fare, you might think. But here's the twist - these lyrics are taken from a track called "Paper Lies". Now, have another look and do your own capitalisation - did you spot all six, folks? This is far from being the only example of skillful writing. In "The Hollow Man", Hogarth takes a most eloquent look at the effects of society on the psyche; "the outside feeding on my inside". It is a song to provoke self-examination; the understated piano accompaniment allows every word to drop clearly into place. I have listened t
o "Brave" countless times, and yet I am still unsure of how it actually ends. Obviously I have heard the closing notes of "Made Again", but does the woman live, or does she die? Buy this album, light the candles, then tell me what *you* think. Track listing: Bridge, Living With the Big Lie, Runaway, Goodbye To All That, Hard As Love, The Hollow Man, Alone Again in the Lap of Luxury, Paper Lies, Brave, The Great Escape, Made Again
Disc #1 Tracklisting
2 Living With The Big Lie
4 Goodbye To All That
7 Opium Den
9 Standing In The Swing
10 Hard As Love
11 Hollow Man
12 Alone Again In The Lap Of Luxury
13 Now Wash Your Hands
14 Paper Lies
16 Great Escape
17 Last Of You
18 Falling From The Moon
19 Made Again
20 Great Escape (2)
21 Marouette Jam
22 Hollow Man (1)
23 Winter Trees
24 Alone Again In The Lap Of Luxury (2)
25 Hard As Love (2)
26 Living With The Big Lie (2)
27 Alone Again In The Lap Of Luxury (3)
28 Dream Sequence
29 Great Escape (3)