Few bands' careers are as clearly divided into two separate eras as Marillion, whose four mid-'80s albums with exuberant vocalist Fish briefly resurrected progressive rock in all its extravagance, only to be followed by an even longer stretch of years and albums with the comparatively mainstream Steve Hogarth fronting the band in a generally more consumer-friendly, adult-oriented rock guise. Without even attempting to enter into a lengthy discussion over each singer's merits, let it be said that a continuous listen through Six of One, Half-Dozen of the Other is tantamount to a wild ride through the mind of a band suffering from multiple-personality disorder -- of which Fish, admittedly, owns nine out of ten. The disc opens with the two most accomplished radio entries from each of the group's two phases, namely the beautiful "Cover My Eyes (Pain & Heaven)" from the second phase and the captivating "Kayleigh" from the first. But from here on out, similarly melodic gems like "Dry Land" and "No One Can" begin to rub shoulders uneasily with such preposterous prog rock epics as "Assassing" and "Garden Party." Ironically, it is the Fish-era material that sounds most uniform -- if only for its outlandish diversity -- when compared to the often clumsy experiments (see the ill-advised pop metal of "Hooks in You" and "Uninvited Guest") of the band's second incarnation. A less democratic but gentler approach would have been to sequence these tracks in chronological order, but truth be told, Marillion is the kind of band that simply defies greatest-hits packages. Dedicated progressive rock fans would be better suited to just shell out for the recently remastered and repackaged original albums.
|Label:||Emi Europe Generic|