Clutching at Straws
Released: June 19, 1987
Peak: 103 US, 2 UK, 81 CN, -- AU
Sales (in millions): -- US, 0.1 UK, 0.35 world (includes US and UK)
Genre: neo-progressive rock
Song Title [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.
All songs written by Dick/ Kelly/ Mosley/ Rothery/ Trewavas.
Total Running Time: 52:19
3.837 out of 5.00 (average of 23 ratings)
Awards: (Click on award to learn more).
About the Album:
Marillion’s third album, Misplaced Childhood, was an exploration of lost love, the trials of fame, and a drug-induced downfall and subsequent rediscovery of childhood. Clutching at Straws suggested that recovery was brief as it leaps back into themes about “the excesses of classic addiction, whether of alcohol, sex or power.” JC-73 It was “written in bars about the people who drink in them.” JC-73
To that end, the album cover depicted “’The Great Bar in the Sky,’ populated with various artists, writers, and poets” JC-74 with reputations for nipping at the bottle.
Like Childhood, this outing is built around a central character, Torch, who struggles to find answers while drowning his sorrows in alcohol. The album displays lead singer Fish’s “growing sense of frustration with the constant album-tour-album way of life, and the viewpoint frequently appears autobiographical rather than character-led.” JC-73
“Warm Wet Circles”
Regarding Torch, “the beautiful, emotive” JC-73 finds the character at the local bar. Fish explained that it’s about “the dangers of getting trapped in the 9-to-5 syndrome and then going down to the pub and talking about things you’ll never really do. The local hero’s the best darts player and you marry the girl you met in the pub at 16.” JC-73
“As Torch recalls losing his virginity, Steve Rothery breaks into an aching solo, full of pathos and longing, and the band execute one of the finest wrought moments of their career. Ian Mosley’s snare cracks and we feel the first bullet smashing into John Lennon on the steps of the Dakota building.” JC-73
“That Time of the Night”
“Just for the Record”
“Torch Song” and “Slainte Mhath”
“The Last Straw”
The 1999 reissue features a second disc of bonus material, including an alternate version of “Incommunicado,” B-side “Tux On,” and previously unreleased versions of “White Russian” and “Sugar Mice.” Of significant fan interest are seven demos, most of which surfaced to some degree on future Marillion and/or Fish solo efforts. “Story from a Thin Wall” served as the lyrical base for Fish’s “Family Business” and musical jumping-off point for Marillion’s “Berlin.” “Shadows on the Barley” evolved into “The Bell in the Sea” while “Sunset Hill” became Fish’s “View from the Hill.” “Tic-Tac-Toe” lent its lyrics to Fish’s “State of Mind” and music to Marillion’s “The Release.” “Voice in the Crowd” evolved lyrically into Fish’s “Vigil” and musically became Marillion’s “After Me.” “Exile on Princes Street” grew into Fish’s “Internal Exile.” Only “Beaujolais Day” appears to have gone no farther than the demo.
In 2022, Fish released a double live album called The Last Straw which featured a full performance of Clutching at Straws.
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First posted 3/14/2008; last updated 3/1/2022.