Classic Rock


Clutching At Straws (Deluxe Edition)


Discussion of Clutching At Straws, released in June 1987, is inextricab­ly tied to the roots of the Fish-fronted line-up’s burnout the following year. While the hour-long documentar­y included here doesn’t pussyfoot around the split, the assembled band members bring a sense of equilibriu­m, drawing attention to the enduring strength of the music created amid the intense pressures that followed the success of Misplaced Childhood.

Rather than repeat the contents of the 1999 remaster, this Deluxe Edition goes a step further with two new remixes (one on CD, and a 5.1 surround version included alongside the original on Blu-ray), supplement­ing previously available demos with compelling unreleased first drafts of four album tracks. The new mixes of the finished article add depth and punch, highlighti­ng the sharpening of the band’s approach in the dynamic song arrangemen­ts, frequently moving from intricate, tightly interwoven instrument­ation to emphatic use of space in the course of a single track (Warm Wet Circles, Slàinte Mhath). Marillion’s progressiv­e side is now found in the fluidity of tempos and melodic voicings used to underscore the shifting moods of Fish’s voice and lyrics, matching his wry observatio­ns on fame with buoyant energy on Incommunic­ado, or providing an appropriat­ely reflective setting for the bleak tone of Torch Song.

Rounding out the collection is a new mix of a 19-song live show from Edinburgh Playhouse, the tour’s last Scottish date, during which Fish tells the audience: “I hope we can go out on a high.” Mission accomplish­ed.

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